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Singles Explicit Lyrics, Best of, Enhanced
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Singles bookmarks the end of one era and the start of another for one of the UK's most popular bands. Travis: Singles, a collection of all their singles to date, plus a recently recorded brand new track, "Walking In The Sun," a slice of breezy melodic pop.
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The tracks are basically divisible by the albums. The tracks from "Good Feeling", their debut, are more Britpop infused, with standout tracks such as "U16 Girls", "All I Wanna Do Is Rock", and "More Than Us". The songs from "The Man Who" are definitely more polished, and it is easy to see why they hit is big with this album. There are few bands who can produce songs like "Driftwood", "Turn" and "Writing to Reach You" on the same record. The tracks from "The Invisible Band" take the sound to the next level, with more stadium-rocking tracks like "Sing", "Side" and the country-infused "Flowers in the Window" (perhaps my least favorite of the tracks). This is my favorite Travis album, as it is the most consistent. Next we have tracks from the fan favored but critically underrated "12 Memories", which is their weakest album, but one that packed more than a few great songs. Included here is the hit single "Re-Offender" (one of their best songs), "Love Will Come Through" and the politically-charged "The Beautiful Occupation". The highlights of each album are here, and it makes for a nice, comprehensive overview of their work so far.
Being a singles collection, there are loads of good songs that are not included here. Missing are some of my favorite Travis songs like "As You Are", "Last Train", "Happy to Hang Around", and "Peace the F*** Out". But this is to be expected, as there is a sharp difference between a "Best of" package and a "Singles" compilation. Many good songs are overlooked. But what I am happy about is the inclusion of "Coming Around", which was a one-off single released between "The Man Who" and "The Invisible Band". The new song, "Walking in the Sun", is a good tune in the typical Travis style, but I wouldn't buy this compilation on the strength of that song alone.
Overall, you can't go wrong with a Travis CD. They have had many great songs and I hope that they have many more to come. For someone new to the band, this is the best place to start. The fans probably have all the albums, so this compilation is not an essential purchase.
"Sing" is a perfect opener for the compilation (also for their album "The Invisible Band"). It kicks off rather oddly with some bizarre artificial sounds, then proceeding into a mid-tempo, melodious tune. Fran Healy's voice is pleasant to the ear, and the instrumentation is sleek, brisk, but not overproduced. The whole CD continues in the similar fashion, with highs and lows of vocal delivery and mild shift of tempo from song to song. The standouts for me are the aforementioned "Sing," the spry "Driftwood," the cute "Why Does It Always Rain on Me," the somewhat somber "Love Will Come Through," and the fan favorite "Turn."
Some reviewers complained that the songs are not placed in the chronological order. In my humble opinion, however, the misplacement makes the disc fun to listen to. Casual fans would not be under the impression of what each album sounds like by merely listening to several songs. Moreover, Travis' songs tend to have a "samey" feel which prevents any song from appearing incongruous.
Overall, this "Singles" compilation provides an incredible listening experience, like a breeze in the summer days, lovely, comforting, and engaging. As an introduction to the band, it certainly kindles my interest in seeking their other releases.
I don't know what Amazon's editorial reviewers heard, but the "Singles" album that I have does not have 29 tracks as listed on here, but instead 18 tracks (63 min.), all of Travis' singles, plus one new track (the unremarkable "Walking in the Sun"). There is a lot of great music on here, no question about it, including the 5 singles from "Good Feeling" and the 4 singles from "The Man Who". Most annoyingly the songs are not presented chorologically. Thus the beautiful "All I Wanna Do Is Rock" from their debut album is followed by "This Beautiful Occupation", a lame song from the lame "12 Memories" album. This collection does contain the essential "Coming Around", a mega-hit in Europe in the summer of 2001 and previously only avaiable as a single.
As a big Travis fan from the early days, it pains me to see how Fran Healy and the boys have lost the pedals in recent years. While "Singles" is not a bad collection, if you really want to hear Travis at the top of their game, purchase "The Man Who", which in the US was released with several bonus tracks that are essential in the Travis catalogue, including "Blue Flashing Lights", "20" and "Only Molly Knows".