The Bloody Classics - Oasis
Oasis (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? 1995, Creation Records
Roll With It
Don't Look Back in Anger
The Swamp Song — Excerpt 1
Some Might Say
Cast No Shadow
The Swamp Song — Excerpt 2
So, here we are at the pinnacle of Britpop. I think most music lovers have a band or artist that they consider to be “their band”. For me it’s Oasis. The first band I ever really got into, the band I thought would go on forever. I’ve grown up and moved on but Oasis and the period of time around this album’s release still hold a special place in my heart. The band that shaped my childhood had formed in Manchester in 1991 and this was their second album. Brothers Liam (vocals) and Noel (guitar) were joined by Paul “Guigsy” McGuigan on bass, Paul “Bonehead” Arthurs on rhythm guitar and Alan White on drums (original drummer Tony McCarroll recorded the drums on Some Might Say before leaving the band), (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? is the fifth best selling album in the UK ever having sold more than 22 million copies and gone fifteen times platinum. It was a number one album, staying in the top three for seven months.
Oasis took inspiration from the Inspiral Carpets (obviously), The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Stone Roses, The Faces and The Kinks. They wanted a simple, unfussy rock sound and they achieved their aim with this album.
Hello is such a strong start, the glam rock guitars just burst out at you. I’m transported right back to the mid-90s, the echo is awesome, it’s really just a great rock song. Roll With It, the album’s second single release and the one that lost the first skirmish of the battle of Britpop (It was released on the same day as Blur’s Country House) is lyrically pretty simple but still has a great beat, it’s very much a standard rock song. Wonderwall of course is the classic love song. I find the album’s fourth single release hard to listen to objectively because I’ve heard it at almost every wedding I’ve ever been to. It’s a well crafted tune but I suppose it just feels a bit “meh” to me when the rest of the album is much more punchy. In all honesty I just think they have quite a few much better songs - Don’t Look Back in Anger being a perfect example of one. That gentle guitar at the beginning is so evocative. You can’t listen to this song without imaging 50,000 people in a field waving their lighters in the air (nobody even has a lighter anymore, do they?) It’s got a positive message of moving forward in life and not holding onto the past and though I would personally argue that there is nothing wrong with putting your life in the hands of a rock and roll band, the lyrics which Noel Gallagher claims are meaningless are pretty cool. Hey Now is a strong, slightly grungy drum track. Some Might Say, the lead single and the band’s first number 1 is all crashing guitars, it’s another great rock track. Cast No Shadow slows things down. Written about Richard Ashcroft, the frontman of The Verve, it’s downbeat and gentle. She’s Electric, my favourite song on the album, brings things right back up again, it’s both a fun and funny (which Oasis songs rarely are intentionally), upbeat song about a casual relationship and the melody is brilliant. Morning Glory has one of the best intros ever, 90% guitars and 10% helicopter blades, it’s proper rock. After the second instrumental break the album closes with a ballad, Champagne Supernova. It’s a lovely, gentle song, even Liam’s vocal is delicate.
I have so much history with this album that I know I’m biased, but I do think every song is great although I could probably take or leave Wonderwall. Controversially, my favourite Oasis album is actually Be Here Now though so make of that what you will. This is cool, simple rock music though with no airs or graces.
Of course this album will be forever associated with the battle of Britpop with Blur’s The Great Escape. I don’t really think this is worth reading to much into in a legacy context (hence why I picked Modern Life is Rubbish as my Blur album a few weeks ago), except of course to say that the exposure was important to both bands and obviously played a part in sales and recognition. The incredible level of media interest was particularly helpful in generating sales for Oasis.
In 1996, the band played 2 concerts at Knebworth Park in Hertfordshire, with 2.5 million people applying for the 250,000 tickets, it remains the highest ticket demand for concerts in British history. I still tell the story about how I had one of those coveted tickets for what I believe was the “Hyde Park ‘69” moment of my generation and my Mum wouldn’t let me go. I won’t bore you with the details but suffice to say the anger I felt as an 11 year old has barely dissipated with the passage of time.
Oasis hold the record for longest top 10 chart run in the UK, having had 22 top ten singles in a row and their influence has been massive. Later Britpop bands like Ocean Colour Scene and Kula Shaker and then the Arctic Monkeys, The Killers, The Strokes, Coldplay and probably any British person that’s picked up a guitar since this album was released owe them a debt. Oh, and my youthful fashion exploits in the mid-’90s also owed a lot to Liam Gallagher, but the less said about that the better.