After a nearly two-year hiatus from the studio, Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi teamed up for Traffic’s fourth studio album, John Barleycorn Must Die. With this album, Traffic showed their instrumental prowess with a series of extended tracks, including the popular “Glad” and “Freedom Rider” (both of which run over six minutes). Considered in its entirety, John Barleycorn Must Die is arguably Traffic’s best effort. (Note that I said, “arguably”. Big fan of The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys here, too.)

For the collector of early CD pressings, it is noteworthy that John Barleycorn Must Die is the only U.S. Traffic issue originally pressed outside the U.S. The first U.S. issue of Barleycorn was pressed in Japan by JVC. This version appeared on the Island label (then under Atlantic Records and the Warner umbrella) under catalog number 90058-2.

The Japanese Barleycorn disc has a stark label design — large blue Island banner with a black Island logo, single black outer ring, and black text with no paint coating. The disc states “MANUFACTURED BY VICTOR COMPANY OF JAPAN, LTD. MADE IN JAPAN” along the perimeter.  The matrix code is “90058-2-V1E22”. (Interestingly, there is an error in the matrix code that was corrected on the disc. Instead of simply “90058”, a part of the catalog number, the disc shows “900858”, with an ‘X’ over the first 8.)

The inserts accompanying the Japanese Barleycorn pressing were printed in the U.S. The booklet is simple with no inner pages, just printing on the inside front and back covers. Included is a historical note on the classic song “John Barleycorn”, along with pictures of the band members.

Shown below are the cover and back insert for the original U.S. issue of John Barleycorn Must Die, along with the Japanese pressing.

 

The cover for the original U.S. issue of Traffic John Barleycorn Must Die (Island, catalog number 90058-2). This is the standard cover artwork for this album.

 

The back insert for the original U.S. issue of Traffic John Barleycorn Must Die (Island, catalog number 90058-2). As noted along the bottom, this insert was printed in the U.S.

 

The Japan for-U.S. pressing of Traffic John Barleycorn Must Die (Island, catalog number 90058-2). Note the statement along the bottom indicating a Japanese JVC pressing. The matrix code is “90058-2-V1E22”.

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