The Masterplan (1998) Collected B-sides That Rivalled And Often Surpassed Album Tracks And (In Some Cases Like "Acquiesce") Even Their Respective A-sides.
Funny enough, from having given up on Oasis a long time ago to the point I gave away most of their albums I have reached a point in which I reviewed all of their discs in two weeks. That was not deliberate or anything. Rather, it was a sort of rediscovery and a way of burying the hatchet with a band that was always there when I needed it. Maybe this reapproach was motivated by having listened to a lot of bands from Manchester recently (with The Stone Roses and Joy Division topping the list). I am not certain, but I am glad it happened. And now, I am reviewing the final album by them I haven’t reviewed up to this point: “The Masterplan”.
Chronologically, the album followed “Be Here Now”, and it was released when the band had announced they were to take a three-year break. A compilation of b-sides, it was only going to be issued in countries where you couldn’t buy the singles, but in the end it was released worldwide.
Now, the key to understanding why the album is so masterful is keeping in mind that Noel had stockpiled a large body of work, and that some of those songs were even better than albums tracks which did make the final cuts. It is easy to criticize the inclusion of about half the songs on “(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?” knowing that cuts like “Rocking Chair” and “Half The World Away” were available then, not to mention “Round Are Way” and “The Masterplan”. And I haven’t even mentioned “Acquiesce” yet, the defining song about the sibling rivalry between the two brothers in which they alternate vocals until singing together “because we need each other/we believe in one another/and I know we are going to uncover/what’s sleeping in our soul”. Continue reading →
Even when the album has some compositions that many years down the line have stood the test of time respectably, there are others that seem absolutely gratuitous. These include “I Can See A Liar”, a song that as one of the weakest lyrics of Noel’s career by his own reckoning, although it is quite a punchy tune and the lyrics (while unfinished) paint an interesting portrait of an Elvis-like figure “sitting by the fire/trouble in his heart, laughing as he goes into overdose… I wonder what he thinks of me”. But that is strictly a personal appreciation, and the song is not only lacking a proper development but the lyrics that are featured denote a lack of effort (“I can see a liar/sitting by the fire”). That problem is aggravated on the song “Put Yer Money Where You Mouth Is”, about as repetitious as “Roll With It” but without a nice sentiment to wash you over.
Liam’s first composition in particular showcases what little imagination the man has, with one of the most egregious “Hey Jude” appropriations I have ever witnessed. Not even brother Noel could pull it off at the end of “All Around The World”. What made him think he could do any better? Well, if we think of the reason Liam learnt to play guitar (“If Noel can I can”) then we can determine that he is not the most sensible person around. From day one, it was all a game in which he strove for recognition. It was all a matter of “If Noel does it, I can do better”. Say what you wish about Noel, he was a very talented composer, a very methodical crafter of songs. Start placing his compositions next to Liam’s and treating them as equal and acrimony is bound to start accumulating. Continue reading →
I Hated "Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants" Upon Its Release, But Now It Is Easy To See It Had Its Fair Share Of Decent Songs
The first album of original compositions that Oasis released after a three-year break, “Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants” was the first record without Guigsy and Bonehead. Only the two Gallagher brothers and drummer Alan White remained onboard, and they were to be soon supplemented by Andy Bell and Gem Archer, two dudes with fantastic hairdos and about as much attitude as a cucumber. You won’t get to hear them on this record, though, as Noel played all guitar and bass parts himself.
The disc is notable for a markedly somber tone, inspired not only by the loss of two original members but also by events such as Noel leaving drugs behind after all those years of use and abuse. “Gas Panic!” in particular was directly inspired by the panic attacks that made Noel resolve to steer clear of substances for good. The song (much like the disc) is a bit of a perplexing listen at first. There is such a strong psychedelic thread running through it all that I must admit I detested it when I first bought it, and after living with it for a month upon its release I had never listened to “SOTSOG” again until now that I felt like reviewing it.
It is quite funny, but now I don’t feel the album is that much of a letdown. Of course, knowing what came afterwards tips the scale in its favor a little – yet, that little is enough to appreciate its good bits. Continue reading →
Oasis' Third Album ("Be Here Now") Failed To Live Up To Expectations, Despite Having Some Isolated Great Moments. Love The Rolls Royce In The Pool, By The Way. And So Did Keith Moon, Of Course.
The traditionally hard album for every band was to be even harder for Oasis, who had to live up to the dazzling standards they previously set on “Definitely Maybe” and “(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?”. This time around, though, the band was too far gone into drugs and fast living, and they were to try everybody’s patience. The lack of temperance was what broke the album’s back, as a vast majority of compositions clock at over 7 or 8 minutes.
That running time is merited only once, on the opening “D’You Know What I mean?”. It was the album’s first single and Oasis’ third chart topper. Noel seriously let rip in the solo, and the accompanying video was phenomenal.
The other number one yielded by “Be Here Now” was “All Around The World”. That was a song which had been around for a long, long time. The date of composition can be set after the “Definitely Maybe” album, probably around the days of “Whatever” (one of their finest non-albums singles, savagely left off “The Masterplan”). Noel refused to record it until they could afford to do it as elegantly as he had envisioned. Too bad he had to stretch it over 11 minutes. Not even the three key changes can make it more appealing in the end, and the “Hey Jude” comparison is too obvious, too gratuitous and too true to be avoided. Continue reading →
"Oasis: Revealed" Came Out In 1996. Written By Lee Henshaw And Published By Parragon, It Covered Their Crowning Achievements As A Band.
This was the first book in English that I ever bought. That was fitting enough, as the first album I ever purchased was “(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?”. And the second one? “Be Here Now”. I had quite a story with the Gallagher boys and their gang when I was a teenager. I eventually disowned them, but good albums are good albums and deserve their share of praise. And as always, if you get to know the story behind the words and the music then the ties can become more endurable.
This book certainly made me feel an increased love for the band, even when it was (and will always be) a modest effort. It is not that revealing, to be brutally frank. It covers the story up until the band rocked Maine Road. That means it reaches up to 1996. Only “Definitely Maybe” and “Morning Glory” are covered as a result. You get a good glimpse on the band’s formative days, and all the obvious events and incidents (the fight on the ferry during their first European tour that resulted in the “Wibbling Rivalry” CD, the run-in with Blur, Knebworth…) are covered.
The obvious comparison is Paolo Hewitt’s “Getting High – The Adventures Of Oasis”. It covers the same period, but it is the “official” account. It is a far lengthier book, and you even learn about mother Peggy Gallagher and how she met Thomas, not to mention having a minute overview of the boys’ teenage years. In terms of content, it wins hand down. Continue reading →
Read the introduction to this review by clicking here.
“Don’t Look Back In Anger” was the first single in which Noel handled lead vocals. In actuality, he was to sign both “Don’t Look Back In Anger” and “Wonderwall”, but Liam demanded singing one of the two projected singles. He picked “Wonderwall” maybe as a way of irking Noel. It would have made better sense if the elder Gallagher had sung that one. After all, it was written about Meg. And the song is seldom sung by Liam live – he only is behind the mic when the song is not done acoustically, as on the “Familiar To Millions” live album.
The introduction to “Imagine” heralds a true carpe diem anthem, and Noel “borrowed” more than that piano part from John Lennon. The phrase “So I’ll start a revolution from my bed/Cos’ you said the brains I had went to my head” comes from an interview with the late Beatle. The song is overwhelmingly beautiful, and Noel employs a device he otherwise abuses in the best way here: changing the grammatical person during bridges and choruses in order to make the song go from individual to plural, from “my” song to “our” song. Continue reading →
"(What's The Story) Morning Glory?"(Oasis' Second Album) Included Their Defining Hits "Don't Look Back In Anger" & "Wonderwall".
To review this (the very first CD I ever bought) fills me with a strange mixture of emotions. Most of all, I feel as if washed over and stripped of all experience by a wave of nostalgia as I realize how innocent I was back then. How I absorbed every instrument, how I thought each lyric over and over and how certain songs like “Hey Now” and “Don’t Look Back In Anger” marked the end of my teenage days. “There’s no time for running away now”.
But leaving aside its retrospective value, it is impossible to refute the appeal of this CD. “Definitely Maybe” was certainly more “Definitely” than “Maybe” in terms of quality, but its sound scheme was too lineal. With this album, Oasis discovered that their sound could be occasionally vulnerable without them being portrayed as weak because of that.
The first single was “Some Might Say”, a song Noel wrote while the rest of the band was being ejected from R & R misbehavior from a hotel the previous year. It was their first number one, after having chased the top of the charts like crazy. The song reprised T-Rex’s “Get It On” and had Liam singing “sunshine” in the vein of John Lennon, much as he had done on “Rock & Roll Star” from the previous disc. Continue reading →
Bonehead's Front Room Was Immortalized In The Cover Of Oasis' Debut, "Definitely Maybe" (1994).
Oasis’ record-setting debut album came in 1994, at a time in which the reputation of the band had already turned them into cultural icons in England. Their early singles “Supersonic”, “Shakermaker” and “Live Forever” are included along with “Cigarettes & Alcohol”, a cut that captures their infamous swagger better than a hundred clippings. “Supersonic” was their first single, it made the Top 40 and Noel has termed it their own take on “I Am The Walrus” – IE, a lot of nonsense strung together. The first lines, though, do make a lot of sense and go hand in hand with “Cigarettes & Alcohol” towards defining their image of hellraisers: “I’m feeling supersonic, give me gin & tonic / You can have it all, but how much do you want it?”.
“Shakermaker” was their second single, and it resembled “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing” more than fleetingly. It is widely considered as a misstep now, but the succeeding single was their first truly indispensable song: “Live Forever”. It established Noel’s predominant themes of individuality and unity (the classic “Us” Vs. “Them” dilemma that characterizes his output), and it was the first true ace the band laid on the table. It gave them their first Top 10 success.
The swaggering “Rock & Roll Star” did also receive considerable exposure, and it was one of the earliest songs Noel wrote for the band. So was the trippy “Columbia”, with some lyrics ostensible penned by Liam. Continue reading →
The "Classic" Line-up: Paul Arthurs ("Bonehead"), Noel Gallagher, Liam Gallagher, Alan White and Paul McGuigan ("Guigsy")
When I began the blog, I was certain the one and only band that I was very well-acquainted with that I was not going to cover was Oasis. They were the first band I really listened to – heck, I even bought my first CD player in order to listen to their albums.
My decision not to cover them was based on the fact that I sincerely believed I had nothing to say about them that could be kind. Although their early successes are indisputable, their whole image became nauseating to me to the point that I ended giving away many of their CDs. The “bad boy” attitude is very fine when you are a teenager, but there comes a point when you don’t look a rebel any longer but an outright cretin. Continue reading →