Friday, November 05, 2010

FDF Volume 3 Issue 207 - Travis - The Man Who

By: March

Album - The Man Who
Artist - Travis
Key Players - "Fran" Francis Healy - vocals, guitar, Andy Dunlop - guitar, Dougie Payne - bass guitar, Neil Primrose - drums
Produced By - Nigel Godrich, Ian Grimble, Mike Hedges

Release Date - May 24, 1999

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I have to admit when this record came out I was 100% smitten. I fell in love hard and fast. Sadly that affair was short lived as the band took (to me) too long to get a follow up out and when it did come out it lacked the real fun/pop to this. I tried going with them for a few more records but we are on a break. This to me is their strongest release.

Overview - This is the second studio album from the Glasgow Scotland based band Travis. The band would take their name from a character in the film "Paris,Texas". When the album came out it was ignored by radio and the critics were a little rough. On a total fluke the band played the Glastonbury Festival that was a dry day and as reported in the papers as soon as the first line of "Why does it Always Rain on Me" was sung it began to rain. After this radio and word of mouth spread. The album would be a breakout hit for the band and would earn awards in 2000 for "Best Album" and "Bet Newcomer". Success would be broader overseas where the album would go #1 (in the UK) and chart in the top 200 on 8 other charts. The blend of quirky pop love songs feel at the time Coldplay was making a strong hold on the US charts.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The album starts with "Writing to Reach you" a strumming guitar and a second sort of droning on. Quickly Primrose gets things in order and the vocals begin. Healy has a soft voice that is a perfect mix for the bands style. The guitars bass and drums all fall into a comfort zone and Healy sings up a register with some pleasant harmonies sung underneath. The song doesn't stray from the formula that is put out at the start during the verses. Finally after the second verse the band opens up some but quickly falls back to the tone and tempo set forth. Primrose counts off "The Fear" and sets a slow tempo and Healy chirps in to the microphone. Dunlop and Payne begin to roll the song forward as the second guitar chimes in. Once again the song is laid back and pretty but doesn't feel overly interesting. Healy is in fine voice but it doesn't jump out at the listener. Dunlop is given a quick run on the guitar but the band is quick to follow back in their place. "As You Are" continues with the hushed vocals. This time a piano is far more dominant instrument before the guitar and drums are brought up. As the band approaches the chorus Healey does open up some sounding a bit more urgent and he seems to really open up. The laid back feel of the song has is it feeling slightly quirky. There is a short guitar solo that focus on tone and some bells chime along with it before a standard sounding guitar solo comes up. For the first time the band seems to have found the volume knob, and they keep the sound up for the rest of the track. Come "Driftwood" the intro gives you a good feeling of the sound you would almost expect from the band. The guitars have a nice jangle to them and Payne keeps a solid back bass line. Healey is much more playful in his vocal delivery and the guitars are awash with acoustic and electric. Primrose appears to play with brushes on the drums giving it a gritty sound as well. The guitars have a nice full sound as well and there appears to be strings in the mix later in the track. What appears to be a sitar is struck at the start of "The Last Laugh of the Laughter". The piano once more takes a dominant role at the start of the track and Healy sings in a higher falsetto than on other tracks. The track "Turn" starts with a bigger sound before the vocals come up and the first verse if hushed. The verse slowly builds and as the chorus approaches Healy begins to soar. The guitars bass and drums bear down more and the song has a good driving urgency too it. When Healy sings the chorus he really pushes himself and the band gets in to full "rock" mode which is a really nice change. The band need(ed) to have more moments like this. Easily one of the stand out tracks of the album. The big single from the album comes in "Why Does it Always Rain on Me?". The track has a nice even tempo and the strings add a good full sound. When Healy sings the verses they are hushed and falsetto per the norm, but as the chorus comes you find yourself tapping your toes to the basic drum tempo laid down. The chorus is very catchy and Healy once more soars vocally. By the instrumental and vocal break down its easy to understand why this single ended up being so big. Acoustic guitars are dominant once more as "Luv" begins. Harmonica is heard over the strumming guitar before the bass quietly joins in. The band return to a very laid back quiet feel after the last two tracks. It keeps the same feel for the duration with the focus on Healy and the guitar. The vocals come right up on "She's So Strange" and Healy continues to be strong. As a fan of "bands" you sort of long for the full band to unload at times. They all seem comfortable in their roles and as pretty/nice as the songs are you sort of want more. A car door slams and "Slide Show" begins to grow with Healy and the acoustic guitar (shocker!) . About 2 minutes in there is a quick electric guitar solo but the band is quick to keep that all in check. The track ends and there is a lengthy silence before a track called "Blue Flashing Lights" begins. This is another rocking track and shows what the band is capable of. Sure there are acoustic guitars but the drums actually get "struck" and the bass chugs along and there is a heaviness to the song that is welcomed.

Where are they now? - The band are still active both in studio and live. The bands last studio album came in 2008. Fran Healey has a new solo album (released October 2010) and is currently touring the US to promote it. The road to get here has not been without its bumps. In 2002 Primrose dove into a shallow pool in France and broke his neck. The pressure with that as well as the bands fame nearly broke them up, and they decided to go on hiatus for a year

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - The first time was April 27, 2000 when the band opened for Oasis at the Orpheum in Boston. It was a good show and my affair had really started to grow with the band so it was a fun/strong show. The second (and last) time was only about a month later. The band played Lupos in Providence on May 15, 2000. This show was really great I have to admit. The band was in fine form and Fran was VERY chatty and his stories actually had you wanting him to talk more. The band did covers of "The Weight" (the Band) and Joni Mitchells "River" which were just terrific. The band had a lot going for them and they showed they were great on stage.

FDF Overall Take - Okay I will admit this fully: When this cd first came out I fell in love and wanted everything to do with this band. The melody, the song writing I just loved. I couldn't convince many friends to follow suit and felt this could/would just be a band for me. Fast forwarding now 10 years this album is a big old snooze fest. Wow. Its good, it sounds good but wow its really effing boring. I started to fall out of lust with the follow up to this record for the very reason the band just wanted to be "wimps" it seemed. This is a late night record for sure, don't put this on in any rush to get a party going. If you asked me "Should I get this record" I'd honestly say "Yes", its good..but wow...just dull at the same time.

Official site is here

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

The mp3's have been taken down...

Why Does it Always Rain On Me?

Bonus download - the often talked about cover of Britney Spears "...Baby One More Time

You can buy the album here.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


At 11:09 PM, Anonymous iKent said...

Such a classic album. You neglected to mention Nigel Godrich's influence on this album and their next. Considering his era-defining work with Radiohead, Beck, and Travis, Godrich is a modern day George Martin. When Travis parted with Godrich, you begin to realize how special The Man Who is.

At 1:30 PM, Blogger March to the Sea said...

excellent points iKent.


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