2. (Whatís the Story) Morning Glory?
- Roll With It
- Donít Look Back In Anger
- Hey Now
- Some Might Say
- Cast No Shadow
- Sheís Electric
- Morning Glory
- Champagne Supernova
Now and again, an album comes along and everyone is listening to it. Be it a purchase, or a download/copied CD/taping, it propels itself into the public consciousness and everyone has a crack at liking it.
More often than not, within a year or two most have donated the CD to a charity shop, deleted the files, taped over it. You get that Iím working across era here, trying to be inclusive, because weíre not just talking recently. Anyhow, the scenario, whereby the bulk of the listeners who were taken in by the public loving of an album eventually move on from it, erase it from memory, youíre probably talking about ninety per cent of albums to make it Ďbigí. If not more.
Donít believe me? How is your copy of Travisís The Man Who doing lately? Do you know anybody who admits to ever even listening to James Bluntís Back to Bedlam?
Lots of albums sell big, you see. And itís not to be sniffed at. But to stand the test of time, to still be known a generation on, to have defined a whole generation and have kids come to your solo shows to hear you sing songs that were released when they werenít even born. To make an album that successful that your every move was front page news in the red tops for a decade afterwards. Itís the dream, right?
Morning Glory is not universally regarded as Oasisís best album Ė itís not my favourite. But itís the album that made Oasis universally regarded. For just a year or two there, they were the biggest band in the world. In the UK, they defined and permeated a generation far more than anyone had done since at least the Pistols, and in a way nobody has quite managed since.
In fact, in the UK only Adeleís 21 has matched it for sales in the time since (at the time of writing Adele is around 100,000 ahead, though Oasisís 2014 reissue is presumably closing the gap again) and only three others have ever outsold it Ė two of which are greatest hits (from Abba and Queen) and the other being Sgt. Peppers.
So you get the picture. It sold like hot cakes, still does.
You only have to listen once to see why.
It is not a stretch to suggest that every song on the album could have been a single. Circa 95-96, they might as well have been so widely known were they. In fact, between the UK, US & Australia, six of the albumís ten proper tracks got the A-side treatment Ė Roll With It, Wonderwall, Donít Look Back In Anger, Some Might Say, Morning Glory and Champagne Supernova. And Sheís Electric was a radio single too, whatever thatís meant to mean.
If thereís a criticism that has been levelled at Oasis over the years, it was that Noel was a musical magpie; a status he absolutely revels in, mind you. But album opener Hello was actually a credited sampling, its chorus line ĎItís good to be backí lifted from now disgraced Gary Glitter. Donít let that distract you from what a stomper of an opener this is. Teasing Wonderwallís opening chords briefly, it then bursts into life with Noelís guitars and that trademark vocal that so many had fallen in love with the year before. A powerhouse live, it sets things off in style before giving way to Roll With It. The dumb rocker of the set, itís undoubtedly throwaway and when Iíve not listened to it in a while I convince myself itís no good. But then I drive to it and find myself going just that little faster, and you know what Iím singing along too. And yes. Itís amazing live (there may be a trend as we work our way through).
Wonderwall will need no introduction. In the past 25 years there are probably only a few songs as well known. Much like, say, Smells Like Teen Spirit, the mass appeal and heavy rotation of it can make you forget just how much of a work of brilliance it is; starve yourself of it for a little while and it all sounds so fresh, those gentle chords at the start, the vocal coming in, the drums joining at Ďbackbeatí, the anthemic chorus. And, hey, singing along to it in a stadium or arena isÖokay you get itÖ
Iím wishing I hadnít droned on about the live stuff so much now, because the next track Donít Look Back In Anger is probably the ultimate arm round your mate singalong of its time. Noelís chance to shine vocally, his first time away from a b-side or bonus track and he takes it well, though in contrast to his brother his vocal has improved over the years and heíd probably do it greater justice now than he did then. And itís fair to say that most Oasis fans salivate at the prospect of the younger Gallagher ever having a crack at this one, a rumour that there was such a version in the archives sent the Oasis forum world into meltdown a few years back. What a song, though. It has that typical Oasis quality of not necessarily meaning an awful lot whilst managing to mean everything to a whole lot of people. I dare you to try and listen to it and not sing along to the chorus at least.
Next up is probably the least well known track on the album, Hey Now. Boasting a pained yet glorious vocal from Liam, heavily melodic guitars and some of the sadder lyrics that The Chief has penned in his time, it still carries that message of hope that Oasis, certainly in their early years, wanted to be renowned for, ďfeel no chain, coz timeís no chain.Ē Itís a track many bands would have been proud of, but at this point in Oasisís career it found itself brushed aside, never featuring live or getting the airtime of the rest of the album.
A short interlude (effectively part of The Swamp Song that would appear on the b-side of Wonderwall) closes the first half before Some Might Sayís chugging, distinctive guitars unfurl and another remarkable vocal, another anthemic chorus transplant themselves in your mind. It was the bandís first number one, though the album version differs slightly from the single (geek alert hey). What a song though. In 2006 Noel described it as what he would think of if people mentioned ĎThe Oasis Soundí and itís hard to disagree.
Cast No Shadow is the albumís tenderest moment and one of the most poignant things the band ever committed to record. Liam Gallagher is for me the finest vocalist of his generation but in 1995 he was making sounds far and above what anyone had ever really managed to do; the unorthodox technique lending itself to a sound as distinctive as it was unique, but on this track itís really hard to describe it as anything other than beautiful. It was dedicated to Richard Ashcroft, a close friend of the band and one of many beneficiaries of the resurgence of popularity guitar music enjoyed in the UK in the wake of this album.
Continuing the track nine tradition started with Digsyís Dinner on Definitely Maybe, Noel has fun with rhyming different family members on Sheís Electric but it nonetheless maintains that infectious quality. Everyone knows this song, even if they havenít heard it. Youíre whistling it right now in all reality.
Things get serious again with the ode to cocaine, Morning Glory, the finest song the band ever committed to disc. A wall of sound opens it up but the riff wins out and all of a sudden, ďAll your dreams are madeÖí and you go on a little journey. The amount of naÔve teenagers who sang along to this wondering why Noel had written a song about waking up with an erection was really quite something, I was one of them mind you. Itís pacing and sparse lyrical content perfectly paint the picture that is sought, and the chorus really is something else. No mean feat on an album full of memorable choruses but this is the best one. No real surprise though, given itís quite possibly the best song made by anyone, ever. A masterpiece.
Did I mention that itís awesome live?
Another short interlude and then Champagne Supernova. Compared to the likes of Stairway To Heaven upon release, it is probably one of the bandís most famous songs and ergo another that can at times be overplayed. But, much like Wonderwall, remove that familiarity once in a while and you remind yourself that the hype, it really was worth it. The instant beauty of the musical melody at the start, Liamís opening lines, the crescendo it all builds to. Where were you while we were getting high?
And then fifty minutes have gone and your time is up. Fifty four if you bought the vinyl and got treated to Boneheadís Bank Holiday, a funny little tale of going to Spain, to have a good time. It was meant to be sang by Bonehead but he got too drunk, rendering the title a little redundant.
Just writing all that I could hear every note, and I loved it. And yet the most amazing thing about Morning Glory is the content that was left off it. There have been some highly popular double albums over time; White Album, Exile on Main Street, Mellon Collie to name but a few. If Noel hadnít been so blasť, this would have easily topped them all.
Acquiesce. Talk Tonight. Headshrinker. Rockiní Chair. Itís Better People. Round Are Way. The Swamp Song. The Masterplan. Step Out. Underneath The Sky.
They are the ten Oasis originals that appeared as b-sides in 95-96 (though in the case of Step Out it was actually originally part of WTSMG before Stevie Wonder discovered that Noel had bragged about ripping off his chorus line melody from Uptight and demanded royalties). This year, Morning Glory was reissued and remastered, with two bonus discs, the second of which contained all of the aforementioned b-sides, along with a couple of covers, Boneheadís Bank Holiday and a rather impressive remix of Champagne Supernova. Upon getting my hands on the release, I declared to a friend that disc two would be the best album of most bandsí careers and I stand by it.
Disc three, featuring live stuff and demos, ainít half bad either.
In fact, Iíll be honest. When I did my own voting for this, Morning Glory placed fourth. But if I counted this yearís reissue as an album as a whole, it would be first, and by a mile. The output that the band produced in that period is remarkable, and there are very few artists who could lay claim to achieving such prolific brilliance in such a short space of time (The Beatles circa 1967 the only one that really jumps out to this biased observer).
Some might say they should have stockpiled the songs that they gave away so haphazardly on b-sides, prolonged their stay at the top. Instead of The Masterplan had that third Oasis classic that the world so wanted.
But this is part of their legend. That something as mind-blowingly good as Acquiesce could be churned out on a b-side is so refreshing, all the moreso that you know it will never happen again, what with the b-side being about as relevant as taping the top forty.
Yes, (Whatís the Story) Morning Glory? is a truly special album and this was a time that I am glad I lived through. The excitement of being an Oasis fan in the mid-90s is hard to comprehend if you werenít there. They were absolutely brilliant. Whatever you think of their later work (I personally love it), their peak was sensational. They were the Andrew Flintoff of rock and roll; may not have stayed at the top all that long, but when they were there boy did they make it count.
But you already know that. Because you certainly didnít put this album into a bargain bin.
Write-up by GIMH