As per the suggestion of Daren Urban "Urbane" Sprawls, I have decided to publish the liner notes I recently wrote for an Oasis mix comprised exclusively of post-Morning Glory tracks. Although I do cheat somewhat by including a handful of songs from The Masterplan, an album that came out in 1998 but is comprised of songs from 1994 to 1997. I also break my own rules right off the bat with the inclusion of the "Wibbling Rivalry" excerpt which was recorded before the Morning Glory album, but released soon afterwards. I must confess that my desire to make the best possible compilation of less-heralded Oasis songs overwhelmed my desire to follow my own arbitrary rules. My real goal here was to illuminate the ever-expanding back catalogue of what I think is the greatest contemporary rock band (Radiohead being an "alternative" or "experimental" rock band, Animal Collective being whatever it is they are, Arcade Fire not being particularly good, etc.) The idea is that you listen to these selections and then you go back and you listen to "Rock N Roll Star" or "Some Might Say" or "Wonderwall" or "Slide Away" or "Live Forever" or "Champagne Supernova" or "Don't Look Back in Anger' or"Cigarettes and Alcohol" or "Morning Glory" or "Cast No Shadow" or "Supersonic." The very thought is staggering.
That’s “Abel” as in “Cain and…” not “able-bodied man.” The brotherly connotations should be obvious, although Liam subverts his “hard-man” image by casting himself as the murdered brethren. This was written during a period at which Liam claimed to be a church-going sinner (although he rejected the Bible due to its lack of aliens). He has since claimed he never set foot in a church, but no matter, Liam’s lyrical offers of friendship, reconciliation and love still resonate. The strongest components of this song are its melody (a Gallagher specialty), textured percussion, yearning backing vocals and thundering coda.
Keep in mind this is a live, and not particularly great, version of the song which is therefore lacking most of the instrumentation I mention in the write-up. But something is better than nothing. The YouTube giveth and the YouTube taketh away.
4) "Lyla" single b-side - "Eyeball Tickler"
A terrific example of Liam’s late-period throat-shredding. Legitimately badass riffs buttress nonsense lyrics, pummeling drums and Liam’s voice at its most fearsome. In short, classic Oasis. And the only song on this anthology which wasn’t written by a Gallagher. It comes from the pen of Gem Archer, guitarist, songwriter and Noel’s lieutenant since joining the group just after the release of Standing on the Shoulder of Giants in 2000. He claims to write specifically for Liam’s inimitable voice and when Gallagher Jr. screams those ‘ahhh’s you believe. In everything. You can almost see Liam slap the microphone to the ground as the song fades out (something he used to do all the fucking time).
Whiplash. “The Sex Pistols are the greatest band ever, mate” Liam declared. This is the sound of his John Lennon/John Lydon vocal stylings reaching an early apex. Dig those elongated vowels. Dig that chunky guitar solo. Dig the Stevie Wonder reference about bowing down “to the tears of a clown.” Dig out your soul, a little later.
Noel’s lyric, “damn my education, I can’t find the words to say” is also a key line to appreciating much of the group’s lyrical content. Like the way Robert De Niro finds the poetry in his characters’ inarticulateness, Liam often found an emotional undercurrent in Noel’s mishmash of nonsense, cliché and occasional poetry. Or as Terrence Malick once put it, “When people express what is most important to them, it often comes out in clichés. That doesn’t make it laughable; it’s something tender about them. As though in struggling to reach what’s most personal about them they could only come up with what’s most public.” Shockingly, this was a single only in Oasis-crazed Japan.
Too long, too loud, too stupid, yet somehow just fucking right. Only the Brothers Gallagher would publicly apologize for their loose lips with a song featuring dozens of squalling guitar tracks. First unveiled to the lucky 200,000-strong crowd at Knebworth, at Oasis’ commercial zenith, it is one of only three songs from Be Here Now that Noel still enjoys (the other two being lead single “D’You Know What I Mean?” and the aforementioned “Don’t Go Away.”)
One of the most recent entries in the long line of British pop songs to mine the rhythms of The Stranglers’ “Golden Brown,” this tune features a desperate, passionate vocal from Noel and a late-night tempest of percussion, piano and acoustic guitar all swirling together in a sledgehammer waltz. Also one of the highlights of Noel’s lyrical renaissance on Don’t Believe the Truth, the song both owns up to the band’s failures (“every beginning has broken its promise”) and promises fans a future worth believing in (“keep on/ trying”).
In his review of 2005’s Don’t Believe the Truth, All Music Guide critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine declared that it was the album with which Liam Gallagher “reclaimed his crown as the best singer in rock.” No vocal performance makes that case as strongly as “Let There Be Love.” The melody/lyrics of the verses can be described as Lennon-esque in the most flattering sense of the word. Liam’s naked vocals ache on the high notes and soothe on the comedown. Only the chorus could be described as a (relative) disappointment. But this is more than made up for by a bridge of astonishing melodic invention and one of Noel’s finest vocals ever (before he disappears into the clouds on the Imagine cover).
Andy Bell, bassist and songwriter for the band, once compared them to tour-mates the Black Crowes saying: “The Black Crowes are all about riffs. We’re all about chords.” And it’s on a song like this, full of big, open, majestic chords that the ineffable magic of Oasis is felt at it fullest. The space between the chords and within the chords themselves “gives us room to dream,” as Jonathan Rosenbaum loves to say about films employing extended long-takes. Within these vast chords, Noel and Liam are able to evoke both time (“a world come undone at the seams” referencing the chaotic times of 2005) and timelessness (“Suspended clear in the sky are the words that we sing in our dreams”) in what Noel would rightfully call “a modern hymn.”
A tune that simply gets everything right from the glam rock stomp to the intertwining vocal melodies to the huge chorus to the howling coda to the cool-as-fuck vocal delivery to the whimsical-yet-menacing lyrics to the return of the “ecstatic harmonies” of “She’s Electric” and “Champagne Supernova.”
17) Dig Out Your Soul - "Falling Down"
Noel’s second attempt to rewrite “Tomorrow Never Knows” is perhaps not as earth-shattering as his first (that is, his collaboration with the Chemical Brothers, “Setting Sun”) but it undoubtedly more thoughtful. Singing like a man lost in outer space (his own description), Noel sighs about the summer sun, kissing the world goodbye and other notions of psychic drift. It’s not all resignation though. Noel reveals his cosmic wit by informing God Almighty, “if you won’t save me, please don’t waste my time.” And when he declares “we live a dying dream/ if you know what I mean” Noel is both decrying Oasis status as a giant-sized cult band and winking at the true believers. If the psychedelic legacy of the 1960s must give way to the mundanities of “modern rock,” then “Falling Down” serves as an moving epitaph. Dig that piano reverb.
“My family don’t seem so familiar.” A fortunate example of Noel producing a song as exquisitely as he wrote it. A creative zenith at the band’s absolute commercial bottom, Noel penned the tune in the post-traumatic afterglow of his decision to quit shoveling cocaine up his nostrils. Abandoned by founding members Paul “Bonehead” Arthurs and Paul McGuigan, scorned by critics, outsold by rivals, regarded as an instant nostalgia act by a formerly adoring public who only wanted to hear the old hits…panic wasn’t “on the way,” it was living with the band, under their skin, at every moment. This is their victory.