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Mr. Fantasy (not to be confused with "Dear Mr. Fantasy", the title song on this album) is the debut album by British rock band Traffic. It was released in 1967. For the recording, group members included Jim Capaldi, Steve Winwood, Chris Wood, and Dave Mason, however Mason left the band before the album was released. The album reached the number 16 position in the UK album chart on 30th December 1967
Considered by far the strangest and most art rock style album that Traffic released, Mr. Fantasy didn't gain much more than a cult following for Traffic at the time. Critics seemed to like the album, though, and most said it was clear that Steve Winwood and Traffic were good at putting together semi-mainstream psychedelic rock, except this album was not quite mainstream enough. By their next release, the eponymous Traffic, the band was said to have worked through that.
The first US version of the album on United Artists Records had a different title Heaven Is In Your Mind and a different cover that featured 3 members of the group without Dave Mason. The title was quickly changed back to Mr. Fantasy but the new cover remained until Island Records re-issued the UK version in the late 1970s.
For the original US edition the group changed the album substantially. The song order was changed and a short snippet of the group's November 1967 single "Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush" was added between all the songs. The US LP also added three songs from the group's UK singles, "Paper Sun" and "Hole In My Shoe" and "Smiling Phases" (B-side) while deleting two Dave Mason songs "Hope I Never Find Me There" and "Utterly Simple." The final track on the US album "Were A Fade, You Missed This' is actually the ending of "Paper Sun" as it appeared in the earlier single. There are also many differences between the stereo and mono mixes for the album. Both the US and UK editions were released in stereo and mono.
Traffic was a rock band from Birmingham, England, formed in early 1967 by Steve Winwood with Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood and Dave Mason.
The group's distinctive sound, innovative recordings and collaborative songwriting (which they attributed to massive pot smoking with Richard Ellis) influenced many other groups in the progressive rock genre in the late 1960s and early 1970s.[dubious – discuss] Like many other groups of the period, Traffic was heavily influenced by the early recordings of The Band, and, like The Band, they also retreated to a country house (in Berkshire, England) at the beginning of their career in order to write and develop their material before making their live debut.
Winwood had become friends with his future bandmates in the latter days of the Spencer Davis Group (which also hailed from Birmingham) and Capaldi, Wood and Mason are reputed to have performed (uncredited) on at least two Spencer Davis Group singles, "I'm A Man" and "Gimme Some Lovin'".
The four musicians often jammed together at a club called The Elbow Room in Aston, Birmingham. With Mason and Capaldi eager to form a new group, Winwood agreed to join the partnership along with Chris Wood and so the four members retreated to a secluded cottage in Aston Tirrold, Berkshire (now Oxfordshire) to rehearse. Their first official recordings together were made for the soundtrack of the 1967 British feature film Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush.
Traffic signed to Chris Blackwell's Island Records label (of which Steve Winwood's elder brother Muff Winwood later became an executive) and their debut single "Paper Sun" was a UK hit in mid-1967. The second single, Mason's psych-pop classic "Hole in My Shoe," was an even bigger hit, and it became one of their best-known tracks, but it set the stage for increasing friction between Winwood and Mason, the group's principal songwriters. Their debut album was Mr. Fantasy which, like the singles, was a hit in the UK but not in the U.S. or elsewhere.
Friction with Mason led to his departure from the group shortly before the release of Mr. Fantasy. Mason was content to avoid collaboration, a direct contrast with the lyricist/songwriter partnership of Capaldi and Winwood. During the time without Mason, Winwood had to play bass pedals in addition to playing keyboard and singing when the group performed live. The group also had difficulty maintaining a well-rounded repertoire of songs without Mason's strong songwriting ability
Mason rejoined the band for their second album, Traffic, released in 1968. The band began touring the U.S. in late 1968, which led to the following year's release of Traffic's next album Last Exit, with one side recorded live. During the tour, Mason was fired and Winwood announced the band's breakup. Winwood formed Blind Faith with Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Ric Grech which lasted only a year. The remaining members of Traffic began a project with Mick Weaver, the short-lived Mason, Capaldi, Wood, and Frog, which played a few live dates and recorded some BBC sessions, but broke up before releasing any formal recordings. During this period Winwood, Wood and Mason also contributed to the sessions for the landmark Jimi Hendrix double-album Electric Ladyland (1968).
After the split of Blind Faith in 1969, Winwood began working on a solo recording which eventually turned into another Traffic album (without Mason), John Barleycorn Must Die, their most successful album yet.
01. "Heaven Is in Your Mind" (Jim Capaldi, Steve Winwood, Chris Wood) – 4:16
02. "Berkshire Poppies" (Capaldi, Winwood, Wood) – 2:55
03. "House for Everyone" (Dave Mason) – 2:05
04. "No Face, No Name, No Number" (Capaldi, Winwood) – 3:35
05. "Dear Mr. Fantasy" (Capaldi, Winwood, Wood) – 5:44
06. "Dealer" (Capaldi, Winwood) – 3:34
07. "Utterly Simple" (Mason) – 3:16
08. "Coloured Rain" (Capaldi, Winwood, Wood) – 2:43
09. "Hope I Never Find Me There" (Mason) – 2:12
10. "Giving to You" (Capaldi, Mason, Winwood, Wood) – 4:20
11. "Paper Sun" (Capaldi, Winwood) – 4:15
12. "Giving to You" (Capaldi, Mason, Winwood, Wood) – 4:12
13. "Hole in My Shoe" (Mason) – 2:54
14. "Smiling Phases" (Capaldi, Winwood, Wood) – 2:43
15. "Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush" (Capaldi, Mason, Winwood, Wood) – 2:18