At the height of psychedelia and the worldwide Summer of Love, Traffic retreated from the bright lights of the city and the music industry hurly-burly to get their act together in the wilds of rural Berkshire – where, away from the outside world, they worked on an organic fusion of jazz, folk, pop and R&B elements that would herald a game-changing new maturity in British rock.
Over the next twelve months or so, Traffic’s symbiosis of bucolic living and naturalistic music would be mirrored by events of the other side of the Atlantic: The Band’s rootsy country/soul/R&B stew, The Byrds’ move into country-rock and Crosby Stills & Nash’s intricate harmonies and acoustic-led instrumentation would all strike a chord with British rock bands and the burgeoning hippie scene in general.
Traffic’s concept of getting it together in the country, together with the nascent West Coast sound and the first real stirrings of what would subsequently become known as Americana, had a seismic effect. Numerous bands – Brinsley Schwarz, Bronco, Heron etc - began to live communally, retiring to remote farmhouses and country cottages to write, rehearse and even record in splendid isolation.
The peacock plumage and acid-in-wonderland lyrics of psychedelia were rejected. Instead, The Band’s down-home appearance and tales of old-time rural America were adopted wholesale. Polite, middle-class young men raised in quiet suburban towns on a diet of Marmite, The Dandy and early closing on Wednesdays suddenly assumed the appearance of weather-beaten, late 19th-century Klondike Gold Rush prospectors. The Aquarian Age was slowly turning into the Agrarian Age.
Across The Great Divide: Getting It Together In The Country is the first compilation to shine a light on this curiously neglected stitch in the constantly-evolving British rock tapestry of the late Sixties / early Seventies. Joining huge names like Rod Stewart, Traffic and Fairport Convention are cult underground acts, mainstream Sixties pop groups updating their sound, a post-Dylan wave of back-to-the-land singer/songwriters and a clutch of righteously obscure rural rockers whose music failed to find an outlet at the time.
Over three 3CDs and four hours of music (including several tracks that have never previously been issued), and housed in a clamshell box containing a 44-page booklet, Across The Great Divide assiduously charts the fascinating period when a posse of British musicians bravely attempted to build Cripple Creek in perfidious Albion’s green and pleasant land before shrugging their shoulders and moving on to either glam-rock, hard rock or the movement’s logical successor, the spit-and-sawdust pub rock circuit. Happy trails!