Friday, 2 October 2015

20-years since Whats The Story Morning Glory

(What's The Story) Morning Glory? was the album that propelled Oasis towards Maine Road, Knebworth and breakdown. The band pushed it as far as they possibly could between 1994 and 1996 - they burned bright - white light, white heat.

It was released 20-years ago today. I was 19-years old. The band had been an important part of my life, a fixture, since April 1994 when I saw them supporting The Boo Radleys at the Tramway in Glasgow ahead of the release of Supersonic. They blew my mind - the look, attitude, the songs...

They were f**king consistent - in fact they were better than that - they were improving all the time; live and in the studio. Noel was becoming more confident by the month.

Lets take a look back at the album that took over the world in 1995.

It's worth noting the b-sides that were released at that time and thinking of the album it could have been! Talk Tonight, Acquiesce, Round Are Way, The Masterplan...

On to the album - it just blew up. Some Might Say and Roll With It were the singles that proceeded the album. Cracking songs, much in the vein of Definitely Maybe. But Morning Glory was much more varied than Definitely Maybe, which in the words of Noel Gallagher was '10 singles with a nice corny track at the end.'

Morning Glory had the mellow acoustic moments like Wonderwall (an out and out love song) and Cast No Shadow, the emotional Don't Look Back In Anger (with Noel on lead vocals!) and the sky scraping Champagne Supernova. Definitely Maybe remains my favourite Oasis album, but Morning Glory was an important step away from the debut - along with the b-sides mentioned above, it highlighted that Noel was developing as a songwriter and he had a lot to his cannon. Noel wanted his band to mean as much to people as The Smiths, The Roses, The Jam and The Pistols...he succeeded!

The album opens with the cheeky glam stomp of Hello with Liam singing 'it's good to be back, it's good to be back'. In truth, the lads hadn't been away. They kept on gigging and releasing throughout 1994 and 1995 and all the while Noel Gallagher was writing and storing songs away. An interview with Bonehead from the time of release said that he was in tears when Noel played the album on acoustic guitar to him.

Everyone was familiar with Roll With It due to the summer slanging match with Blur that set the peaking point of Britpop that lasted a full year until Oasis reached Knebworth the following summer.

Wonderwall was the song that took Oasis to a different audience. A crossover smash hit, this was a song that transformed and transfixed the nation. I remember going for a drink in neighbouring Wishaw at the time of release and me and my friends were walking about town after the pub closed and unfortunately came across a gang who looked like they were going to kick our heads in. They shouted across the road asking what we were doing in their town and despite not being a fighter I remember taking my belt off, thinking I'll get a good whack in first before we take a kicking.

Then one of them saw I had an Oasis t-shirt on. Within seconds, both groups of lads were singing Wonderwall and punching the air in delight! Next time we were in town we met for a drink!

This song probably deserves a blog in its own right. For all their self proclaimed love of The Beatles, this was the first time Oasis produced something that could be termed Beatlesy and the nation fell in love with it.

Liam's voice sounds incredible - rich and soulful. He was only 23 when it was released, so would have been a youthful 22 when he recorded it. His voice stretched and strengthened from over a year on the road from the release of Supersonic.

The structure is what would become classic Noel - verse - bridge - chorus. Some bands talked of only writing and recording songs for themselves, in interviews around this time Noel talked of writing songs to be whistled by the milkman and the guy off to buy his 20 Benson and Hedges. With Wonderwall, he got the country singing.

Noel famously said to Liam during recording the album - 'You can either have Wonderwall or Don't Look Back In Anger, but not both.'

Liam took Wonderwall and despite a heft trawl through the wonders of the internet - there seems to be no evidence that he ever demo'd or has ever sang Don't Look Back In Anger - at least not recorded.

So Noel gets DLBIA which begins with the chords of Imagine pounded out by a kid from Burnage. It is a bitter sweet song, Noel is in fantastic form with vivid lyrics and his voice suits the song, soaring for the chorus. Funny at times, especially with;

Please don't put your life in the hands, of a rock n roll band
Who'll throw it all away

Other lyrics go back to his childhood - stand up beside the fireplace, take that look from off your face

And the you ain't ever gonna burn my heart out line was one that you sang from the very bottom of your heart with full gusto. And did we ever find out who Sally was, or is the myth that Liam suggested the line true?

Hey Now, at least in my humble opinion, is a total plodder. Round Are Way, The Masterplan or Acqueisce would have been a much better selection on the album. From memory Noel said he was wanting to write something like Neil Young - he failed. In comparison to the highs of Wonderwall, DLBIA, Cast No Shadow and Champagne Supernova then this is a low and probably the most boring song in the Oasis cannon up to that point. It unfortunately lasts for almost 6-minutes, far too long.

Swamp Song is 45-minutes of a promising jam with all kinds of gutsy attitude that would become Oasis entrance music for a while.

Meanwhile, Some Might Say soars towards the stars. The guitars are turned up and sound magnificent. This was Oasis' first number one. It is pop rock perfection. Doesn't really mean anything, doesn't matter. Noel dovetails Liam throughout and it all just sounds glorious. And any song that allows Liam Gallagher to sing suuunnnnnssssshiiiinnnnneeee is a winner in my book.

Some might say, we will find a brighter day

Cast No Shadow is dedicated to the genius that is Richard Ashcroft in the sleeve notes (remember them?!). Mellow, heartfelt and soulful, it is one of Liam's best vocal performances. Check out his exceptional performance at Knebworth below.

Bound with all the weight of all the words he tried to say
And as he faced the sun he cast no shadow

One of my abiding memories of Morning Glory is travelling from Carluke to neighbouring Lanark in my mate Dave's car listening to the album. We were heading to the house of some guy he worked with at the time and it was in quite a rough part of Lanark. The sun was shining, windows were open and the sounds of Morning Glory were everywhere. It was incredible. She's Electric was blasting out of Dave's friends house, it just sounded absolutely perfect for the time and the environment. I love The Beatles story of McCartney taking Sgt Peppers to a party and opening the windows of the flat at dawn to blast it out. It seemed like every single house in this estate in Lanark was playing Morning Glory on this sunny Autumn day.

Somehow She's Electric has become a bit of a staple at weddings. It is poppy, catchy and funny. You can't fail to like it.

Morning Glory is electric - absolutely sensational - Oasis in pure punk form and Liam really going for it with the vocals. I was lucky enough to be at Knebworth in 1996 (in the front pit after bribing security) and my mate Elliott hoisted me on his shoulders for this. Looking back at 125,000 people going nuts was unbelievable. Ferocious.

Untitled/Swamp Song 2 eases us into the closer. Paul Weller allegedly appears on Swamp Song and Noel apparently wanted to call it The Jam which would have been amazing!

Champagne Supernova is a skyscraping anthem. It feels fantastic, starting off with acoustic guitars and Liam singing his heart out and then it just builds and builds. The beat kicks in and Liam and Noel lead the song towards the sun.

Cause people believe that they're gonna get away for the summer

 You and I, we live and die
The world's still spinning round
We don't know why
Why, why, why, why?

There is a brief respite and then Noel launches into one of his most stratospheric guitar riffs, just to tease us, before Liam comes in and lulls us down before it all kicks off again.

Someday you will find me, caught beneath the landslide
In a Champagne Supernova, a Champagne Supernova in the sky

This is a gem, an absolute belter, with moments of searing brilliance leading to some of the most tender and soulful Liam lyrics in the Oasis catalogue.

Where were you while we were getting high
We were getting high, we were getting high....

Oasis were certainly getting high 20-years ago and they took a hell of a lot of people along for the ride. Take some time to listen back to (What's the Story) Morning Glory? over the weekend and think back to those heady days when Oasis kicked down the door to the mainstream and a whole heap of bands rushed through. A seminal album from the time.