11 May 2022

Travis - Get The Life/ L.E.T.


"Look Around You" synths meet smooth pop, backed with 60s indebted instro

Label: Charity 12
Year of Release: 1984

Some eighties sounds have, despite their dated synths and occasionally deadening production values, remained current and deeply influential. I was talking on Twitter recently about the way Simple Minds "Don't You (Forget About Me)" seems to have swept into every subsequent generation's consciousness not (in my opinion) because it's an immaculately crafted song, but because it's a box of production tricks  which fulfils so many ideas about what an eighties track should sound like - those Live Aid friendly hollers from Jim Kerr, despondent synth washes and gutter-kicking post-punk lyrical touches ("rain keeps falling...") make it seem like a three minute time capsule of the era.

Other songs, on the other hand, mesh together everything the eighties left behind, the elements that were never hugely successful, and therefore never properly resuscitated, making them feel like strange artefacts in their own right. "Get The Life" here does exactly that - the introductory synth lines squeak and squeal in a way that would please Synthesiser Patel off "Look Around You", the basslines pulse and knock and metallic robot voices join in on the backing vocals, because of course they do. The whole track feels as if it should be seen through the fuzzy colours of a VHS off-air recording, and makes me feel old in a way some of the music from the same era doesn't.

This needn't be a bad thing, of course - music which is firmly and unquestionably rooted in its time period has its own charm. What makes this more baffling, however, is the way the instrumental B-side appears to aping the basement grooves of the sixties. Analogue synths aside, it's all go-go girls, honking electric organ sounds, driving rhythms and groovy babies by the dozen.

It seems likely that the Travis on this record is Graham Travis, a Wakefield performer who later went on to record a cover of the Spencer Davis Group classic "Gimme Some Lovin'" in 1987, so perhaps his mind was always on such things anyway. If anyone knows for sure, please leave a comment.

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