Tag Archives: Parachutes

Rocks In The Attic #783: Travis – ‘Live At Glastonbury ‘99’ (1999)

RITA#783I can’t help but think that Travis missed the boat. They were actually stood on the boat at one point, and everybody was waving them off. Then they looked behind them, and realised that everybody was waving at Coldplay, who were stood on an even bigger boat, sailing off into mainstream waters.

1999 marked the year of my first Glastonbury, and Travis were crowned the breakthrough performance of the festival. I stood there with thousands of others on the Saturday afternoon as they played the Other Stage. The festival had been dry and sunny so far, but threatening rainclouds started drifting over the fields.

A fortunate bit of serendipity occurred when the heavens opened as the band played their current single, Why Does It Always Rain On Me? The soaked crowd was delighted, as were the BBC executives broadcasting the highlights of the festival, and the music press heralded the band as the champions of the festival. They returned to headline a year later.

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I saw Travis headline in 2000, but I also caught Coldplay, playing the Other Stage at a similar time slot as I had seen Travis the year prior. I already knew a few of Coldplay’s singles – Shiver and Yellow had already been released, and the radio was already playing Trouble in advance of its October release. I bought their debut LP, Parachutes as soon as it was released a few weeks later.

History seemed to repeat itself: Coldplay were labelled the breakthrough performance of the 2000 festival, and they swiftly became the darlings of the music press and BBC Radio. Just like Travis, they returned to headline the next Glastonbury (in 2002, with 2001 being a fallow year).

But over the years, while Coldplay went from strength to strength, becoming a household name for casual music fans and a shortcut for bland, post-Britpop radio-friendly rock, Travis just seemed to…disappear.

Everybody had agreed that The Man Who, Travis’ second studio album that they were touring at the time of their ’99 performance, was a belter. It spent 11 weeks at number 1 in the UK album charts, and sold over 3.5 million copies. But then Coldplay came along and seemed to blow them out of the water, probably while Travis were stood on that boat in the harbour.

Aside from hearing about their drummer breaking his neck diving into a swimming pool, and an out-of-court settlement for ‘borrowing’ the Wonderwall chord progression for Writing To Reach You, I haven’t heard much else from Travis. Their third album, the aptly named The Invisible Band, was the last I heard from them. What happened?

Hit: Why Does It Always Rain On Me?

Hidden Gem: Blue Flashing Light

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Rocks In The Attic #778: Zero 7 – ‘Simple Things’ (2001)

RITA#778I love this record. It’s a beautiful slice of soulful downbeat electronica from 2001, and a chilled-out companion-piece to Bent’s Programmed To Love from 2000, or Air’s Moon Safari from 1998.

Those chill-out years, around the end of the ‘90s and the early 2000s, really produced some classic albums – far superior to what was happening in rock music at the time. It didn’t last long though, with the Strokes and the White Stripes creating a new back to basics blueprint for rock music that still resonates today. Coldplay even set the foundation for their meteoric rise with one foot firmly in the chill-out genre on their sublime 2000 debut Parachutes.

I introduced Zero 7’s Simple Things to my wife-to-be soon after we started dating, and it’s full of happy memories as a result. It’s the sound of long Sunday drives, or the soundtrack to early morning city streets when there’s nobody around, or the anticipation of a roast dinner cooking in the oven. Who needs drugs when you’ve got Yorkshire Puddings?

Hit: Destiny

Hidden Gem: I Have Seen

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Rocks In The Attic #11: Coldplay – ‘Parchutes’ (2000)

Rocks In The Attic #11: Coldplay - ‘Parchutes’ (2000)Everybody seems to love Coldplay these days, or if you’re a muso you hate them. They’re constantly the butt of jokes on American sitcoms, and generally used disparagingly to indicate that somebody has really bad taste in music.

But in 2000, they were the next big thing and I distinctly remember buying the record as soon as it came out. I was already a big fan of Yellow, which was playing everywhere by that point, but I had also just seen them at Glastonbury and I had really liked the rest of the songs they played in their set. Later a friend would recount that we already seen them play – at a local band level – at The Roadhouse in Manchester, second or third on the bill, when they had been starting out. But I don’t remember that at all. I remember seeing our friend’s band – but not Coldplay.

The thing that strikes me most about this album is how it sounds like nothing else they did after. It’s so downbeat and melancholic – which I like. A lot of the songs on this record are what I would describe as beautiful, and that’s not something I usually look for in an album.

I’d still be a fan now if they had continued in that direction – but I think they traded in what melancholia they had for catchier tunes; and even though some of their later stuff is just as downbeat as the songs here, it doesn’t sound as authentic. Shame.

Hit: Yellow

Hidden Gem: We Never Change