Somehow, it’s been 24 years since the original release of Good Feeling, the debut album from Travis, and now it has the honour of being freshly released on vinyl by Craft Recordings (part of UMC/Concord Records). There’s something great about having albums from this era reissued on vinyl because while there were a few back in the day, it wasn’t something we craved with CDs in their prime and that was good enough for us.
While this wasn’t specifically Travis’ big career moment, which would come later with the Nigel Godrich-produced The Man Who (1999) (and also The Invisible Band in 2001), when the band cemented their place in the soft-indie-rock world after the rain at Glastonbury provided a perfect moment for that classic single to reign itself, this was an introduction I remember. Produced by the legendary Steve Lillywhite, Good Feeling may not be flawless but with all the songs written by lead vocalist and guitarist Fran Healy, this made an impact and gave the band a chance to hone what would come later.
Recorded at Bearsville Studio and opening with lead single All I Want to Do Is Rock, it sets a welcomingly raw attitude for most of what’s to following. The track has a fantastic freedom that urges the band to let go and do whatever sounds right. Following it up with U16 Girls, which retains its classic status, this one holds that catchy hook which is echoed through the likes of the mighty The Bluetones and features a drawling Healy alongside a deft and dodgy reminder about dating girls of the right age, and checking with their Mother, something that fitted the 90s vibe.
While the rhyming couplets of The Line is Fine is something that the band return to in other albums, this track drops a little of the moment and now feels a little twee, plus Good Day to Die and Midsummer Night’s Dreamin’ feel like songs that were lurking around every corner for all bands from the late 90s. That being said, title track Good Feeling plays a blinder, capturing the essence of what Healy wanted to do at the time and tells you everything about the band. This is a song that gives you what you want, it’s simple, singalong and becomes a cult classic. It’s Travis discovering a part of who they are, and together with that wonderful piano, works a treat.
Tied to the 90s sits amongst that middle section, and the bounce-brilliant Happy, and here’s a song that encompasses the pure, joyous energy of the moment once again. All five members, including Healy alongside Andy Dunlop (guitar), Dougie Payne (bass), Neil Primrose (drums) and Page McConnell (keyboards) are in their essence here. Tied to the 90s is weirdly both prescient and contemplative, even in its upbeat nature. It reflects the feeling at the time but also the nostalgia ride we’re on now. Another landmark in their discography as well.
If anything, it kicks off the second half of the album where the band settle down a little and head towards what’ll come after Good Feeling, but I’m here for it. It was clear that tunes like More Than Us was musically a step up into the big time, it’s packed with emotion and features a magnificent string section that found itself amongst many of the big hits of the time. I Love You Anyways, Falling Down and Funny Thing all sit in this latter box to round-up a strong debut that stands the test of time, which is all you’d want from your band.
How’s the sound quality on vinyl, you ask? It’s as rounded and fresh as you’d anticipate with a 180g heavyweight black vinyl pressing, and we also have the bonus of the classic sleeve and original packaging reproduced for this brand-new reissue. If you’re still an indie kid, and if you were you know you are, this is another fine record for that ever-growing collection.