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Baker's Dozen

Grit In One’s Third Eye: Robyn Hitchcock’s Baker’s Dozen
Julian Marszalek , February 11th, 2013 11:14

English songwriter and frontman of The Soft Boys, The Venus Three and The Egyptians, Robyn Hitchcock leads Julian Marszalek through his most played LPs


Traffic – Traffic
Dave Mason was quite earnest. You know, he was the one with the sitar on the first record but back in 1968 it wasn’t such a bad thing to be an earnest hippy wandering around and wondering what it all meant and where it was all going and there was this whole patina of this, oh you poor straights! You’re not turned on and you don’t get it like we do, which George Harrison had at his worst. Dave Mason had that, oh why can’t you un-beautiful people see what we’re going through? But to be fair, he was aware that he was part of the problem as well as the solution.

I feel it worked quite well because Steve Winwood’s voice was more haunted and more haunting. In a way, it didn’t really matter what he was singing about because it had that Steve Winwood sound, like an English folk Ray Charles, if such a thing is possible. Mason was the what’s-it-all-about? guy and Jim Capaldi was a bit like Mason and Chris Wood didn’t sing but his flute and sax playing was terrific. You listen to him play the sax at the beginning of ‘No Time To Live’ and it was like a birdcall and then slowly Steve Winwood’s piano comes in. Winwood must’ve been about 18 when he did that and the lyrics are quite mature, certainly for an 18-year-old and I love that. It’s like folk-jazz-soul and oddly enough Paul Weller seems to echo that.

They’re still on the right side of their bad-ass weed here and not too morosely stoned and still enjoying the ride. I loved it as a 15-year-old and I still love it as a piece of music. It doesn’t sound like a forced amalgam; all the bits really blend in. It’s really joyful and like a best of the spirit of 1968. I really love this record.

They were photographed out in fields at the time and I used to wander around in fields and sit in trees with my friends pretending we were on album covers!