I was a pretty big fan of Stevie Winwood in the late 60’s. Traffic was an interesting experiment, part blue-eyed soul, part exotica- the Indian music motifs, jazz elements and psychedelia was an interesting brew, even if it didn’t always work, e.g., the first part of track,”Colored Rain” from the Mr. Fantasy album (also known as Heaven is in Your Mind in the U.S.) is a romp- classic early Winwood- on-pitch blues ‘shouting,’ carrying a great melodic line which just falls apart halfway through. Dave Mason’s on again/off again role in the group wasn’t really a big deal for me; his “solo” album, Alone Together, is a record I’ve enjoyed since its release (separate review later). I remain riveted to the Blind Faith album, which was another experiment, bringing together part of Cream (Clapton and the pugnacious Ginger Baker) with Winwood and (the unknown to me at the time) Rick Grech. That band didn’t last long, as we know. 
When the Barleycorn album was released as a Traffic record, I was overjoyed. I bought a copy in Chicago, where I happened to be when it was released- a U.S. pressing on United Artists.
The original UK recording, produced by Winwood and the redoubtable Mr. Blackwell (among others), was recorded in the UK by Andy Johns. My U.K. copy of Barleycorn is a first press, variants of which appear to have been mastered by Sterling bearing the “LH” inscription (Lee Hulko mastered many great sounding records).
The music is more accessible than some of the earlier Traffic-it still has that pop tune mixed with jazz quality, including horn parts and percussion that make it more of a ‘soul’ record than a hard rock record.
Barleycorn also represents, to me, the last of the “old” (or “young,” depending on perspective) Steve Winwood. Mason is MIA, but the story is, Stevie wanted to do a solo album, and Barleycorn turned into a Traffic album. It is dynamic, awash with Hammond organ and great flares of sax, the fluttering of flute and the marvel of Jim Capaldi’s drumming. The title tune, based on ye olde English Folk Song, is solid, and a classic.
Which pressing? My “go-to” is the UK first, but the first UA is fine and probably much cheaper (at least in the States). Since the album was apparently mastered in the U.S., at least if you are buying an early copy with “Sterling” in the deadwax, there’s no reason why the U.S. pressing shouldn’t hold its own. But, the UK has that characteristic warmth. If you like this album, you really should have both, right?
 Johns, who died in 2013, had a pretty sensational discography including Tull’s “Stand Up”, Led Zeppelin’s II through IV, Houses of the Holy, Physical Graffiti and Coda as well as the Stone’s “Exile on Main St.” among many others.
 Welcome to the Canteen is a live, greatest hits-style album, which, though satisfying on many levels, doesn’t really cut new ground (Mason reemerged with them briefly during this period); Low Spark, a hit for Traffic, is more polished but sounds more commercial to me than Barleycorn and earlier Traffic albums. Despite this, “Many a Mile to Freedom,” a track from Low Spark, is a heart-felt blues lament styled as a pop ballad and moves me.