Album Details

November 10, 2009
Pop/Rock, Soft Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Album Rock

Album Review

Raven's 2009 two-fer, Oh How We Danced/Whale Meat Again, pairs the first two solo albums from Traffic drummer/lyricist/songwriter Jim Capaldi on one CD.
Jim Capaldi began his solo career just as Traffic had reached their peak, releasing his solo debut, Oh How We Danced, in early 1972, not long after the high-water marks of John Barleycorn Must Die and The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys. Oh How We Danced isn't so much a break from Traffic as a detour, one where he's joined by then-current and former bandmates (Steve Winwood and Dave Mason, respectively), assisted by Free's Paul Kossoff, the Move's Trevor Burton, Rick Gresch, Jim Gordon, and the Muscle Shoals Horns, among other rock luminaries. In feel, this isn't much different than early-'70s Traffic, but the album is quite different in form, relying less on the winding, jazzy improvisations than the well-worn, soulful grooves, given heart and soul by both the Muscle Shoals Horns and Kossoff, who particularly tears it up on a drastic reworking of the Al Jolson-written title track. For as much fire there is here and elsewhere ("Love Is All You Can Try" works up a good head of steam), Oh How We Danced is distinguished by its mellow vibe, generated by the genial familiarity of the players, Capaldi's sweet unassuming voice, and the emphasis on his set of strong songs instead of the virtuosity of his musicians.
Whale Meat Again, Capaldi's second solo album, appeared in 1974, just before Traffic released their final album, When the Eagle Flies, and while it, like Oh How We Danced before it, has appearances from his Traffic colleagues Steve Winwood and Rebop Kwaku Baah, it feels like a break from his band in ways that his debut never did. True, it's not a drastic break, but where Traffic was getting jazzier with each album, Capaldi kept things down to earth, relying heavily on the blues whether it was in the Plastic Ono grind of the title track, or in the sighing dobros of "Yellow Sun," a lengthy jam that's all about groove, not what's being played. Oh How We Danced also maintained a groovy, mellow feel, but the emphasis there was clearly on the songs, and here it's more about mood: not the instrumental interplay, but ratcheting up the soulfulness in the performances and singing, giving this album a funkier, open feel that lingers longer than the songs.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Eve
  2. Big Thirst
  3. Love Is All You Can Try
  4. Last Day of Dawn
  5. Don't Be a Hero
  6. Open Up Your Heart
  7. How Much Can a Man Really Take?
  8. Oh How We Danced (Anniversary Song)
  9. It's All Right
  10. Whale Meat Again
  11. Yellow Sun
  12. I've Got So Much Lovin'
  13. Low Rider
  14. My Brother
  15. Summer Is Fading [Including We'll Meet Again]