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It's Better to Travel

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Album Review

Less overtly jazz influenced than their later albums (and the only album on which the core duo of keyboardist Andy Connell and singer Corrine Drewery is joined by drummer Martin Jackson, who had formed the group with Connell in 1985), Swing Out Sister's 1987 debut It's Better to Travel is a dreamy collection of mostly electronic pop songs that manages to sound warmly organic through the judicious use of real strings and horns and Drewery's lovely voice, which recalls the throaty purr of vintage Dusty Springfield. The album spawned a worldwide hit in the coolly sophisticated "Twilight World" and an all-time classic in the sunny opening track "Breakout," one of the finest U.K. pop singles of the late '80s and one of the few hits from its era that doesn't sound completely dated in retrospect, but unlike many albums in this style, It's Better to Travel works as a complete unit. Album tracks like the Northern soul-tinged "Fooled by a Smile" and the cinematic instrumental "Theme From It's Better To Travel" are every bit as good as the singles, and the well-paced album has a natural flow. The CD adds four bonus tracks, remixes of the two hit singles, and "Surrender," plus the meditative instrumental "Communion."

Customer Reviews

All that jazz and stuff

This was one of the first CD's I ever bought, that dates me. It's a very well produced album. The singles it spawned were the strongest tracks by far. The rest was reflective of the time quite light and great for all the wine bars that were popping up around the eighties. Having said that, inoffensive, bright , happy music. What's wrong with that? Catch the live renditions of Breakout, Surrender etc from the Live Tokyo album. Really well arranged and the musicianship is absolutely spot on. They've stood the test of time which proves their music has a big audience.

The kick in the pants that '80s pop needed...

Released in 1987, this was a much needed kick in the pants to the 80's pop scene. With superb arrangements of great pop songs, this album takes its place as one of the best to come out of the decade, and still sounds fresh in 2006 going on 2007 due to the way that the synths and electronic production are so expertly mixed with live brass. From the perfect pop (and UK/US chart hit) of 'Breakout' to the sophisticated musical arrangement of 'Twilight World' (check out the 'off by a tone' string arpeggio which recurs throughout the track) to the almost perfect 'hook' of 'Fooled By A Smile', this is one to add to your collection. Proper musicians with proper song writing and arranging skills who could actually play their instruments! If like me you were a teenager when this was originally released, listening to this brings back so many great memories!


Jesus this brings back memories of really good times. Just a shame ITUNES doesn't have the videos on offer for all these great tunes of the 80's.


Formed: 1985 in Manchester, Lancashire, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Although Swing Out Sister's music is unashamedly commercial pop, their impeccable indie credentials (keyboardist Andy Connell and drummer Martin Jackson were formerly of A Certain Ratio and Magazine, and singer Corrine Drewery had no professional experience at all before joining), jazz-tinged arrangements, and knack for clever hooks move them closer to the indie dance territory of St. Etienne or late period Everything But the Girl than to the cookie-cutter dance-pop of Kylie Minogue or Paula Abdul....
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It's Better to Travel, Swing Out Sister
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Customer Ratings