Originally released on Marmalade in 1969, Jackson 's lone solo album is the initial salvo from the new UK reissue label, Sunbeam, the brainchild of Steve Carr and rock scribe Richard Morton Jack.
Marketed (somewhat correctly) as a long lost Traffic album, the release was produced by Jackson's Worcester neighbour, Dave Mason and features various Traffic permutations (Mason, Chris Wood, Jim Capaldi, and Steve Winwood) throughout, with the entire quartet backing Jackson on the first single, "Me and My Dog" c/w "A Day at The Cottage," whose non-LP B-side, which is included among several bonus tracks, is a reference to Traffic's cottage in Berkshire, where blueprints for many of the album's tracks originated from all night jam sessions).
The album's personnel reads like a Family tree of late 60's UK rockedelica, including future Traffic bassist, Ric Gretch, along with his then-current partners in Family, Jim King and Poli Palmer (who also played with Blossom Toes, who appear on backing vocals), Luther Grosvenor (future Spooky Tooth guitarist who later changed his name to Ariel Bender and enjoyed much fame with Mott The Hoople), Julie Driscoll, and Reg King from The Action. In fact, Jackson originally played alongside Capaldi and Mason in the primordial Traffic lineups, The Hellions and Deep Feeling, the latter also featuring Palmer and Grosvenor.
Rock history aside, the album itself is a wonderful amalgamation of jazz, psychedelia, and folk influences, with the opening track "The Journey" driven by Rob Blunt's electric sitar and Mason's throbbing basslines and "My Ship, My Star" softly drifting along the open seas like an early, acoustic version of Jethro Tull.
The tearfully reflective "When You Are Small," featuring Jackson on sitar and Winwood on bass, provides the lyrical inspiration for the album's title and cover photo, a snapshot of Jackson 's pouting daughter Cherie shedding a tear. And despite some warbly playback in the transfer from the original ?" analog master tapes, the song perfectly captures the lost yearning for youthful innocence, occasionally reminding me of the later solo work of the Moody Blues' Ray Thomas (cf., 1975's "From Mighty Oaks").
"Sing To Me Woman" features some tastefully blistering guitar solos from Mason and is included here in both album and single mixes, as is "Song For Freedom," while the extended jam version of "Me and My Dog" finds Traffic firing on all cylinders and is practically worth the price of admission alone, despite its annoying, midflight dropoff, as if the tape (or musicians) ran out of steam! Nevertheless, this is an essential purchase for Traffic and Family completists, as well as anyone interested in late 60's UK rockedelica. ~ Review by Jeff Penczak
Gordon Jackson's only album sounds a little like a Traffic LP with a singer who isn't in the band. The similarity is really no surprise, since Traffic men Steve Winwood, Dave Mason, Jim Capaldi, and Chris Wood all played on the record, and Mason produced. Other notables with connections to the Traffic family tree or Marmalade label also appeared, including Luther Grosvenor; Rick Grech, Jim King, and Poli Palmer of Family; and Julie Driscoll. There's a languid, minor keyed jazz-folk-psychedelic vibe to the songs, which have a meditative, spontaneously pensive air, appealingly sung by Jackson. Touches of Indian and African music are added by occasional tabla and sitar. What keeps this from being as memorable as Traffic or some of the other better late-'60s British psychedelic acts is a certain meandering looseness to the songs that, while quite pleasant, lacks concision and focus. That was a quality also heard in the album from the same era by fellow Marmalade artist Gary Farr, Take Something With You, and while Thinking Back is better and more original than Farr's effort, the songs are more interesting mood pieces with a yearning, mystic tone than they are outstanding compositions. At times this is like hearing psychedelic sea shanties (as on "My Ship, My Star"), such is the lilt of the tunes, though hints of blues and more playful pop-psych whimsy are heard in cuts like "Me and My Dog." ~ Review by Richie Unterberger (Allmusic Guide)
1. The Journey (4:52) 2. My Ship, My Star (6:13) 3. Me And My Dog (4:11) 4. Song For Freedom (4:52) 5. Sing To Me Woman (5:27) 6. When You Are Small (7:16) 7. Snakes And Ladders (5:57)
Bonus tracks 8. A Day At The Cottage (non-album B-side) (3:34) 9. My Ship, My Star (demo) (4:29) 10. Song For Freedom (single mix) (3:56) 11. Sing To Me Woman (single mix) (4:30) 12. Me And My Dog (long version) (7:09)
Tracks 1-7 from original album 1969 Tracks 8-12 from singles and sessions
Produced by Dave Mason
Gordon Jackson - Thinking Back (1969) [Remastered 2005]
Gordon Jackson - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar Rob Blunt - Electric Sitar, Acoustic Fingerstyle Guitar Remic Abacca - Tabla Jim Capaldi - Drums, Backing Vocals Jim King - Soprano Sax Poli Palmer - Piano, Organ, Backing Vocals Rocky Dzidzorni - Conga Chris Wood - Flute, Tenor Sax Dave Mason - Electric Guitar, Slide Guitar, Bass Steve Winwood - Bass, Piano