Sunday 30 October 2016


My friend Gordon Reid has written a few guest blogs before - including one on Prince at the Hydro.

Gordon contacted me and asked if he could write a guest blog on one of his all-time favourite bands who were in the middle of playing their farewell tour; set to include a show at St Lukes in Glasgow.

I admire Gordon's passion and dedication; how could I refuse?

Augustines, 27th October 2016, St Lukes, Glasgow by Gordon Reid

It`s not you , It`s me. I`m not really in the right place for a relationship just now. I think we should just be friends.

In early September fans of Augustines received the equivalent of that “Dear John” letter via Twitter and Facebook when the band announced that the current tour would be the last. 

They were quite clear that they haven`t argued or fallen out, still love each other but the challenges for artists in the modern music industry are so hard now. This is something Murray and I spoke about a few years ago when discussing new bands and record deals . Spotify might be a wonderful thing for fans and bigger artists but its hard to see how it helps the little guys and without new music coming through ………… however that argument is for another day.

My wife Heidi, discovered We Are Augustines back in 2011 and introduced me to them. It was love at first sight / listen for me and I have been hooked completely ever since. We have seen them every time they have played Glasgow , travelled through to Edinburgh and booked festivals just because they were playing. I once shouted a conversation with them behind a tent at TITP where I`m sure they never understood a word I said and just politely nodded and smiled at me. I`ve stuck with them through a name change as they returned to their original name Augustines. I`ve given them a bottle of single malt whisky as a gift at the Queen Margaret Union  in Glasgow and met Billy in the bar at Broadcast when he was doing his solo show at the start of the year. It was my first gig after my mum passed away and I took comfort in music as I have done all my life. 

From Rise Ye Sunken Ships through Augustines to This Is Your Life I have bought and consumed their music. This is what it is like when you find a band who speak to you and it becomes a connection although I`m basically a stalker in this relationship.

The hardest part of the marriage came on Thursday night at St Lukes, Glasgow . The gig had a set list but went on tangents through the night , someone shouted down from the balcony and Billy went off singing New Drink For The Old Drunk acapella. 

Rob and Eric came out to speak to the crowd, it became like a planned break up speech that rambled as other parts were thrown in but the crowd didn`t care. They were raucous, the music was loud and I didn`t want it to end because I knew what the end meant. 

One part stood out for me and probably shows what music means to many. We met a friend, Fraser, at the gig and I knew that one particular song meant a lot to both of us. Without going into detail, when they sang Philadelphia I just reached over and put my arm around the daft bugger and gave him a cuddle that we both needed. Music brings out emotions that we struggle to control, Heidi was in tears several times as were many standing close to us . I sang every word all night but couldn`t find the voice to sing Landmine, it just became to hard for me to do.  The writing on the back wall at St. Lukes says “ RISE” and it seemed appropriate on the night .

So we saw then at the start, rose with them as they grew and then went through the wringer as they told us it was all over and walked away into the dark night.

I loved them then, I love them now and I`ll love them for always .

Friday 28 October 2016


As the atmospheric swirl of instrumental opener Wide Awake floats around my headphones and leads into the pounding soulful rock of Steal Your Heart. I think back to the first time I caught Vigo Thieves live. It was a Thursday night upstairs in the glamorous setting of The Commercial Hotel in Wishaw.

They were a little drunk, everyone in the venue was a little drunk - hey, it was a Thursday night upstairs in The Commercial. You wouldn't want to be sober! Only trouble is, I was! I'd driven over to catch a band my friend Helen had been raving about and she said that they were amazing live.

Singer Stevie Jukes ended up topless. Gordon on bass, the life and soul of the band may have joined him. They went for it. With songs like Blood Red, Won't You Be Mine and Steal Your Heart, they had something. I became a fan and in time we became friends.

Steal Your Heart had a little bit of Springsteen about it, I loved (and love) the circular guitar riff and the pleading and soulful vocals.

Things ain't right and things need to change
I can feel it in the wind and taste it in your tears

Stevie's lyrics have always mixed reflection with love, hope, dreams and ambition. At times it is almost like he is offering advice to himself. It's the kind of advice that turned some of his songs into anthems for some; leading to euphoric shows at packed out tents at T in the Park and sold out shows at King Tuts, The Arches and the ABC. I shared many of the bands highs and was also around for a few lows, it was a rollercoaster ride - being in a band is.

Stay young in your heart
And young in your mind

So yeah, anthems. Heartbeats was a game changer. The first time Stevie sent it through I was amazed.  Stevie's songwriting was developing big time and he had the attitude and work ethic to go with it. I remember being impressed when a CD of the Heart and Soul (Pt I) EP was popped through my door with a ticket for the launch night at Sleazys. So impressed that I ended up co-managing the band with Stevie for a while - it was quite a journey.

Stevie (vocals), Gordon (bass), Alan (drums), Barry (guitar)

Always one for an idea and definitely someone with a vision, Stevie, Gordon, Barry, Gorman and Alan handed out glowsticks to the audience at Sleazys, turning a dark and sweaty basement on Sauchiehall Street into something brighter, more positive and show like. This was no basement gig, this was a band wanting to be bigger and better.

Heartbeats has such a simple piano riff throughout, the beat is....well like a fast heartbeat, Stevie's vocals soar skywards. It is amazing what an anthem this became, the video was widely shared, T in the Park used it for a promo video and fans fell for it big time.

Hear the truth in my voice with the songs that we sing

Love is the fire that's burning
When your heartbeats
Together we stand divided we fall

The original version of Heartbeats

Listening back now I do find it amazing that a record company didn't pick up on Vigo Thieves. I mean listen to Believe. It is HUGE. Jam packed with soul, emotion, hooks and when the beat kicks in it has that sense of freedom in a song that allows you to go crazy.

Do you believe in the fire in your soul?

Vigo Thieves believed, passionately!

Blinding Lights into Forever - INCREDIBLE! Forever is probably my favourite Vigo Thieves song. This new version on the album is sensational. What I love is the way the band build towards the chorus and it's as if the song and chorus are going to kick in, but the beat drops out and the chorus just kind of floats and soars. I love it, I think it is beautiful and clever.

Then the second verse DOES kick in and builds to the second chorus and this time it DOES kick in and it DOES fly. When the band played this live it was pure escapism for me - a brilliant song. An anthem.

So yeah, the big songs keep coming. This Love is drives forward at pace, another catchy piano/keys riff leads into big beats and Stevie singing his heart out and asking urgently;

Can you feel it?
Can you feel it?
This love?

The outro lifts thing even higher.....and higher.

Stevie at a sold out Arches

I remember coming back from a trip to London with Stevie on the train one time. He wrote down a list of songs he was working on and talked me through them. Gold was a song he was excited about - although I think he only had the title! Everything else was in his head, being worked on.

Razorblade is polished pop rock, it sounds perfect for the radio, for a drive with your mates in the sunshine, windows down. There is a beautiful slowed down piano version of this somewhere...

Of brother don't be away
Cause when the sun is rising in your eyes
I'll take it all away

Sound of Summer was a very early Vigo's tune I loved but the band ditched. They were moving on, Stevie was writing songs like Heartbeats, Believe and Forever. I'm glad they revisited it. The pop kid in me loves the chorus and in another dimension (or a country like America) this would be a radio hit. The shimmering guitar riff is a beauty as well.

Stevie celebrating becoming the first unsigned act to sell out 2-nights
back to back at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut

Songs That We Sing starts with a brilliant sounding electric guitar, it sounds deliciously raw and builds to pounding drums. Another big tune, stadium sized.

Will you be my lover, will you be my friend, is it what we're waiting for?

Ghosts flows, surges and soars from the off. This was a big live favourite; the crowd sang the lyrics and also the riff and when Chris Cruickshanks saxophone kicks in it just adds to the Springsteen vibe. Then there is a stabbing synth and it all kicks off again.

Al, Barry, Stevie, Gordon and Chris

Steal Your Heart (Pt II) was my favourite Vigo song for quite some time. Largely because it was so different from everything else. Slow, Stevie pouring his heart out, it really gets me. One time I was down in London with the band, having fun, playing shows and dreaming of a record contract. We all vowed to get tattoo's of lyrics from a song if it happened. Mine would have been the second line from;

You're looking for the love to heal the pain from all the scars
So just live for the moment and you'll shine like the stars

I remember listening to this on headphones on the train and just falling in love with those lyrics. Look at them written down - pretty poetic! Someone really down, hurt and scarred and being offered that advice to keep going. Again, it was probably Stevie offering advice to himself.

The song builds and there are glorious angelic like backing vocals leading back into the chorus from Steal Your Heart (Pt I).

Look out for the hidden track.

So there you go; Heartbeats (the album) by Vigo Thieves. It misses Love Is Dead, She's On Fire and Blood Red and it should probably have been released 2 or 3 years ago but better late than never. :-)

What Heartbeats does do is provide a lasting document of a band that shot for the stars, a band that dared to dream big, a band that wanted their songs played and sung in stadiums.

What disappoints me as a music fan is the hundreds of thousands of pounds wasted by major label record companies on bands (in Scotland alone over the last few years) with not a fraction of the songs that Stevie and co had/have. Nor did any of the bands have the star quality or frontman charisma of Stevie. The Vigo Thieves were (and are) a band of brothers, a real band of friends, not put together by an advert or by a company.

Listen to songs like Steal Your Heart, Heartbeats, Believe, This Love and Forever. Close your eyes and dream.

Keep an eye out on Saint PHNX - Stevie and Al's new band. Who knows what will happen with the Vigo's.

Friday 21 October 2016

The Darkest Part Of The Night

My daughter Zoe seems to have inherited my love of a good pop song with a memorable chorus that you can sing on first listen.  We have 3 CD's of mixes for the car featuring artists as diverse as Little Mix, Taylor Swift, Carly Rae Jepsen, Kim Wilde, Kylie, Madonna, the dreaded All About The Bass by Meaghan Trainer (Zoe's first pop song), Whitney Houston..... great fun pop songs that we enjoy listening to, dancing to (not in the car!) and singing a-long with.

I have to admit to trying to get her into a few of my favourite bands and this hasn't really worked. Zoe definitely has her own taste! Although last year The Charlatans Come Home Baby with its huge and uplifting chorus quickly became 'our song'.

Whitney Houston's 80's classic I Wanna Dance With Somebody came on Radio 2 on the way to Zoe's nursery earlier on this year. She immediately picked up on it and asked me to turn it up and I was thrilled to oblige - it is pure pop gold. The song led to Zoe becoming aware of other Whitney classics like How Will I Know? 

We had Taylor Swift's 1989 album on heavy rotation in our car for ages. It was the first album that Zoe ever bought and for that it will always remain an album dear to our hearts. Memories of driving along singing to Shake It Off and Style will always bring a smile to my face. And Carly Rae Jepsen has two bona fide pop classics in Call Me Maybe and I Really Like You.

And then, earlier this month I burned the new Teenage Fanclub album on to a CD so I could listen to it in the car - we have an old car!

On the 4th song in Zoe asked me to turn it up. She then called from the back to say she had heard the song before - the album was only just out - she hadn't.

In the same way that Zoe instantly fell for the chorus of Call Me Maybe or pop genius of Little Mix's Black Magic, she fell for the flow and hooks of Teenage Fanclub's The Darkest Part Of The Night! The song felt familiar.

I never got to finish the album on that car journey; as soon as the song was finished I had to play it again....and again.

A month after the release of the album and it remains a firm favourite in our car and house. Yesterday Zoe's friend Orla came round to play and they were dancing to Little Mix and then Zoe asked if I could put on Darkest Part Of The Night! I duly obliged, although I'm not sure what Orla made of it! Little Mix had to go back on afterwards.

And then today we drove into Glasgow to pick up a present for my brothers birthday on Sunday and  Zoe asked for Teenage Fanclub. We must have listened to The Darkest Part Of The Night a dozen times, both singing a-long and playing air guitar. A memory I will cherish. On around the tenth listen Zoe was even singing a-long to Raymond's guitar solo - a great moment!

Thankfully I'm In Love and Thin Air are also getting some play. The rest of the album and back catalogue will come!

The Darkest Part Of The Night is quite a deep song for a 5-year old to get into and be singing a-long to in full voice. Yet the simplicity with which it is delivered - melody, flow and the lift of the chorus - make it brilliant guitar pop. Something the Fanclub have a real knack for.

Fingers crossed for a Fanclub festival appearance in 2017 that I can take Zoe to. She has already seen Edwin Collins live and her first ever gig was Duglas T Stewart singing with Stevie Jackson's Disco Sharks! Oh and she loves her Aunt Carla's songs with TeenCanteen and Ette and has designed the 7-inch of TC's You're Still Mine, featured in their video for How We Met (Cherry Pie) and has an engineer credit on the album! And is also the cover star of the Ette album!

Zoe, Carla and Duglas - 3 people I love who love pop music

Sunday 16 October 2016

Citz Sessions

The Citizens Theatre is a beautiful venue in the Southside of Glasgow, just a short walk from the centre. The magnificent Victorian Theatre is looking to start putting on live music (and also to raise funds for the Theatre Redevelopment Fund), so decided to ask a few people to curate some special nights under the banner of The Citz Sessions.

The first night was curated by Ann McDonald from The Shop Assistants, although Ian Smith, my friend and co-founder of Last Night From Glasgow, was also involved. This delivered a brilliantly eclectic line-up.

As Ian had a front row seat I thought I would ask him to write a blog on Friday night at the Citizens.

Citz Sessions - curated by Ann McDonald of The Shop Assistant

Guest blog by Ian Smith

So on Friday Night I attended the first of 3 Citz Sessions concerts, specially curated events run to raise funds for the Citzens Theatre Redevelopment Fund. 

The evening began with 4 songs from Annie Booth, Annie spends some of her time as a member of the fabulous Edinburgh band Mt. Doubt. Those who know me, will know Ive been raving about their debut album all year. I'm also a big fan of Annie, her songwriting talents belie her years, part Sandy Denny part Christine McVie - both fragile and commanding at once. She walks that dreadfully tricky line where contemporary folk meets traditional, her voice demands complete silence and the audience duly oblige - its a stunning start to what will prove to be a genuinely wonderful evening of music.

Next up is Fennela (Mairi Fennela Whittle to be exact). Mairi is the daughter of a good friend of mine and is a classically trained musician, who truly understands the voice as a musical instrument. She begins with a frankly staggering rendition of My Funny Valentine, her effortless jazz stylings bring comparisons with Billie Holiday and  Cleo Laine, it is however - in my opinion - when she drags us into the darker world of her songwriting that she truly shines, her closing track I Will Not Win much more Martha Wainwright or Sharon Van Etten than anything that came before - its a change of style from much of her set but as the chap behind me in the audience said "that was worth the entrance fee alone"

Third up - our very own - Emme Woods, Emme brought a full entourage - Barry James O'Neil (Kassiday) on Keyboards and Vocals, Neil McKenzie on Trumpet and TTV's very own Jamie Logie on Guitar. The band looked dashing suited and booted to compliment the sophisticated surroundings. Emme (Morgan) was on fine form, the change in this artist over the 10 months that I have known her is staggering. She is now a commanding front woman with a voice to die for. In Barry she has found a perfect foil both as a songwriter and as a performer, they wrap around each other beautifully and the added colour provided by Neil and Jamie turned the Citizens into a David Lynchesque Desert soundscape for 20 minutes. Their cover of God Only Knows was a particular highlight and brought some shade to what was otherwise the heaviest set of the evening.

View from the front for Emme Woods

A small break for the bar was next before we were treated to the occasionally bewildering but always delightful world of Frances McKee. Referencing a song from Sex with an Ex and the presence of Eugene Kelly in the audience, she quashed our curiosity "Never - only ever professional" "I shagged everyone else in the band though" she said before "Only Joking".
No performance from Frances would be complete without the odd forgetten lyric or misplaced note but that has always added to the charm for me. She remains one of the City's if not Country's most important song writers full stop.

Now came what I personally had been waiting for. When asked to get involved with this event I pitched an idea that would see all the acts performing with only a grand piano, clearly this was not to everyone's liking but to my absolute delight TeenCanteen grabbed the opportunity and took the stage adorned in black. It was a nice, if cruel touch to put Debs (so used to hiding behind the drums) front and centre. We were treated to reworking of several TeenCanteen classics (yes you can say classics after only a few months) and a Shop Assistants Cover Version. The opening - Sirens - has been one of my favourite songs for over 2 years now but on Friday night, it took on a whole new life as Carla's lead vocals wove in and out of the frankly heartbreaking accompaniment provided by Sita, Debs and Chloe. Kung Fu Heartbeats - just four vocals, handclaps and finger snaps was another highlight from a cracking night in a wonderful venue.

TeenCanteen - harmonies and a Grand Piano

Another very short break before the final act, I have to say I was both excited and fearful of what Clare Grogan and Altered Images might turn out to be. The new band, a three piece all girl combo were tight and funky as hell and Clare's vocals were heard long before she was seen, it took a loud Wegie "I'm behind you" for the audience to turn around and see our local Diva atop a chair and reclining in a Marlene Dietrich stylie. She reached the stage and delighted us with a stripped back, lively and note perfect journey through early 80's pop. I Could Be Happy and Happy Birthday were unbridled joy but it was Don't Talk To Me About Love that reminded the audience of what a talent she was and on this performance still is.

Claire Grogan captured in full flight

Thursday 13 October 2016

Never Ending Mixtape

Never Ending Mixtape - the first instalment 

OK, I always said I wouldn't....but I finally got Spotify. Hey, it is 2016, almost 2017!

Spotify is handy, I'll always treasure vinyl and my CD's are unlikely never to be thrown out, only taken from boxes in the loft if I go to play something on iTunes and realise I haven't exported it. Although with Spotify I don't even have to do that anymore. In fact, I haven't used iTunes since getting Spotify.

I'm enjoying making mixes. Or playlists as the kids call it in 2016.

So I thought I would start a mixtape and add to it every month, becoming a regular blog. So here is the first instalment on what may well become - The Never Ending Mixtape..... CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

Watch The Sunrise - Big Star
Starting the never ending mixtape with a song I discovered via a mixtape by The Chemical Brothers a long, long time ago in the 90's. This is beautiful.

Rock and Roll - The Velvet Underground
The Velvets are always a good and cool band to feature on any mixtape ad I am pretty sure they will feature again.

Feel so Sad (Glides and Chimes) - Spiritualized
A band that can really take you on a journey. See previous blog.

Makes Me Wanna Die - Tricky
Safe From Harm - Massive Attack
Killing Smile - Death In Vegas
Hey Lisa - David Holmes
Little Fluffy Clouds - The Orb
Tricky, Massive Attack, Death In Vegas, David Holmes and The Orb are all bands I discovered through my best mate Reddy. We had so many incredible nights in and out in our late teens discovering, listening to and talking about music. Reddy had such a cool and eclectic taste. He still does. One night we listened to Screamadelica non-stop until dawn. Reddy really feel for the Bristol scene led by Massive Attack and Tricky and The Orb's Little Fluffy Clouds is a song I can't listen to without thinking of times together. Good times.

Kathleen Sat On The Arm Of Her Favourite Chair - Hooton Tennis Club
Indie guitar bands are still alive and kicking - thank God. Two guitars, bass and drums, a sense of humour, some hooks...sublime

Feed The Tree - Belly
OK i had an indie crush on Tanya Donnelly....and still do. This is brilliant.

Shaky Ground - The Lemonheads
Nic Dalton and Tom Morgan played a HUGE part in The Lemonheads by writing some incredible songs for Evan Dando that fitted him like a glove. This is songwriting at its best for me.

Fade Into You - Mazzy Star
Just sublime, Hope Sandoval is also on the Death In Vegas track.

Reel Around The Fountain - The Smiths
Stolen Car - Beth Orion
Here's Where The Story Ends - The Sundays
The Only Living Boy In New York - Simon and Garfunkel
Bitterblue - Cat Stevens
Burned - Buffalo Springfield
Ultimate Painting - Ultimate Painting
L.S.D - The Pretty Things
Opus 40 - Mercury Rev
He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's The Pilot - Grandaddy

Girls Keith - Scoundrels, Dirty Gentlemen
Stones-y rock n roll Superb! Don't know much else about it - Spotify discovery!

Monday 10 October 2016

Feel So Sad by Spiritualized

Spiritualized are a band/artist that I have loved since I fell for their Ladies And Gentleman We Are Floating In Space album in 1997. Jason Pierce (J Spaceman) was (and is) a visionary; a true artist.

I checked for previous albums and remember buying Lazer Guided Melodies and Pure Phase out of FOPP on Union Street. I always looked forward to new releases and shows. There were never that many shows, but there was one particularly memorable Barrowland Ballroom show with Pierce playing side stage, hiding in the shadows and just letting his music, band and lights take control.

J Spaceman and Kate Radley

What I didn't do - was delve deep into the back catalogue of Spiritualized. That would have highlighted a number of pre Laser Guided Melodies releases.

Two months ago I did something I said I would never do. I signed up to Spotify! I wrestled with my conscious for a while, but quickly forgot about it when I discovered entire back catalogues were at my fingertips. I'll continue to buy records and cd's and support artists. They can't survive without the help of their fans.

When you search for an artist on Spotify you are presented with their 5 most popular tracks. I was amazed I hadn't heard of Feel So Sad (Glides and Chimes) which was far and away the most popular Spiritualized song with over 6 million plays. So I checked it out.

Feel So Sad was originally released in June 1991. Discogs lists it as Space Rock/Psychedelic Rock. The 12-inch single had the A:side as Feel So Sad (Rhapsodies), lasting an epic 13 minutes and 18 seconds, with the B:side Feel So Sad (Glides and Chimes) lasting 6 minutes and 30 seconds.

This is a prime example of me buying something if I like it on Spotify. That 12-inch is mine.

Feel So Sad (Rhapsodies)

This is soulful, hymnal, lysergic, uplifting, soothing, beautiful....timeless. The feeling and production is sublime. J Spaceman's voice sounds wasted. As in many of the Spiritualized songs that were to follow - he's in a reflective mood and talking to God.

Sweet Lord is this my fate
To live my life in this state

Sweet Lord it's a sin
To live this life sufferin'
I feel so sad

It is what happens when Pierce stops singing that is truly mind blowing. It is majestic. The arrangements, melodies, riffs and feel that is conjured up over the course of the song is mind blowing. It floats, it soars, it comes back to almost nothing, just soothing ambience.

Pierce comes back in at around 7-minutes. His fractured, wasted, delicate vocals sound dreamy and like they are floating. Things then build, pulse and combine so that by 10 minutes and 40 seconds there are 4 or 5 gorgeous melodies entwined and sounding like heaven.

Feel So Sad (Rhapsodies) is special, it is incredible! Just listen to it, it is a work of art. 13 minutes and 18 seconds of beautiful sounds. Feel So Sad (Glides and Chimes) is a shorter instrumental version, although still clocking in at 6 minutes and 30 seconds. The beautiful layers are there for all to hear - just stunning.

J Spaceman with Kate Radley; 
a girl who inspired Ladies and Gentleman We Are Floating In Space
and The Verve's - Urban Hymns

Sunday 9 October 2016

Be Here Now

Oasis are re-releasing 1997's Be Here Now album, remastered, b-sides and unreleased demos from Noel Gallagher's Mustique Holiday.

I've written about Oasis a number of times and it is safe to say I fell head over heels in love with the band when they arrived on the scene in April 1994, 3-months after I turned 18. They had sky scraping anthems like Live Forever and Slide Away , they turned out b-sides like Acquiesce and The Masterplan; Some Might Say soared and Wonderwall wooed a nation.

I have to say that the Be Here Now era of Oasis was a disappointment for me. Don't get me started on Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants! I fell out of love and that heady rush of love I had with the band from 1994 all the way through to Knebworth in 1996 was never recaptured. It was only with Heathen Chemistry that I really got back into them, but it was never the same.

Why was Be Here Now a disappointment?

The simple answer for me was that I just didn't get the feeling from the songs that I got from those released before. I'd been spoiled with two cracking albums and loads of b-sides. I wanted more of the same. I didn't get it.

Looking back, the Mustique demos situation offers a clue. Noel wrote the first two albums and all the incredible b-sides while he was dreaming of escape, when he was falling in and out of love. Now he was on holiday with the Stones, Kate Moss and Johnny Depp. Not quite the same vibe regardless of how much cocaine he could get up his nose.

If you were Meg Mathews then you'd be thrilled to have Wonderwall written about you, but I bet she doesn't mention The Girl In The Dirty Shirt when she is reminiscing about the heady days of Britpop.

Reflecting more, Oasis went from wanting to be the best to being the biggest band. It was all 'size matters' when we all know it's what you do with it that counts.....isn't it :-)

Wonderwall and Don't Look Back In Anger sent Oasis stratospheric. Knebworth was insane. It was brilliant, what a ride.

From that point on there was a period of time when you couldn't criticise Oasis. You were shot down in flames if you did. I remember when D'You Know What I Mean came out and I was at a party where it was being played on repeat. I asked for Stay Young (one of the b-sides) to be played and said that it should have been the single as it was a total summer anthem. It was like I had walked into the party from the moon!

Stay Young - live in Manchester

The NME and music publications knew Oasis features and interviews would massively boost sales, so they couldn't criticise. They needed Noel and Liam.

Some people had walked into the Oasis party a little late, they wanted Be Here Now to be as good as the songs and albums it was following. It wasn't anywhere close to it, but they didn't care, they believed the hype, or wanted to believe it. Or, many truly did fall for it; people who had been too young or too out of tune to miss the glory years from Supersonic through to Knebworth wanted a slice of the action, they wanted to be part of the band for a generation....and Oasis were.

In that sense, and I know from speaking to fellow Oasis fans, Be Here Now is an incredibly important album. It would have been the first album that many teenagers bought, the first band they fell in love with and the first shows they went to; in the same way Definitely Maybe had been so important to me - right band, right time.

The hype around the 'comeback' single and the album was outrageous. Radio 1 played the single back to back, occasionally 3 times in a row! The country went daft, everyone was out to buy the album. No-one said a bad word about it.

There was a BBC documentary Right Here, Right Now that showcased the Gallagher's attitude, belief and humour alongside songs from the album; ranging from a studio romp through It's Getting' Better Man, to a poolside Don't Go Away.

The hype worked; 424,000 copies were sold on the first day! 
By 1999 it was the album that was most sold to second hand shops in the UK.

I have rarely listened to the album as a complete work of art. Selective songs - yes, but I have had absolutely no desire to listen to Magic Pie over the last 19-years!

Ahead of a deluxe boxset re-release, I thought I would listen to Be Here Now again, 19-years down the line.


D'You Know What I Mean was a strong comeback single. I just preferred (and still do) the b-side summer sing-along of positivity Stay Young. However I totally understand why they went with the 7-minute and 42 second epic instead.

They looked great; on the sleeve, promo shots and the crazy promo video that must have costs hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Noel's guitars sounded great, Liam (of course) sounded amazing, there were backwards vocals, psychedelic sounds, it was like the band were moving forwards in terms of trying some new sounds. D'You Know What I Mean? was a line/question that Noel often used during his 100 mph interviews.

The first of many Beatles song titles/references comes early and features 2 in one line!

The fool on the hill and I feel fine

In the heady days of July 1997, this was all over the radio and all over the country. Oasis were continuing to soundtrack the nation but the chorus was lazy and uninspiring, completely at opposites from the verses and bridge that hinted that the band might just be moving forwards.

Liam Gallagher, D'You Know What I Mean video shoot

My Big Mouth was one of two Be Here Now songs to be played at Knebworth. It's got a ferocious feel to it, the multi(multi) tracked guitars are played with pace and aggression and Liam matches that with a fantastic vocal delivery.

I enjoyed listening back to this initially, but delving into it, it feels like Noel was getting somewhere with some lyrics and then he filled in the blanks with whatever came to mind. Could have been better if some more time was spent on it...and not in terms of song length!

Beatles reference - The Long And Winding Road in the 1st verse.

Magic Pie.....must I listen to it again? OK here goes.......

It is a struggle to get through this song. It takes an age to get to the chorus and then Noel sings about having a magic pie. Somehow this song is dragged out to 7 minutes and 19 seconds. I would be lying if I said I made it to the end. Congratulations if you can. Where was the quality control? Did anyone dare criticise Noel in 1997? Why this was on the album ahead of b-sides Stay Young or the Noel sung Going Nowhere remains a mystery to me.

Stand By Me is like music to your ears after the torture of Magic Pie. There is a brilliant positive flowing upsurge for the bridge to the chorus;

The cold and wind and rain don't know
They only seem to come and go away

Stand by me, nobody knows the way it's gonna be

Stand By Me catches your attention, Liam's voice is great, still only 25 at the time of release, Liam was the coolest front man around with a sensational voice. The melody is strong, one of the best moments on the album, if not an Oasis classic. Like all of Be Here Now, the song is stretched out a little long though.

Liam live circa 1997

Stand By Me live at Wembley 2000

I remember liking I Hope, I Think, I Know when it came out.  Great song title, powerful, pacey and Liam sounding in good voice, spitting out the bridge to the chorus. It flows well and teases by almost going into the chorus of Wonderwall.

The aforementioned The Girl In The Dirty Shirt is a plodder. No wonder Noel and Meg split up if this was the best he could come up with for her after Wonderwall!

Fade In-Out sounded great in 1997 and it sounds great in 2016. I haven't listened to Be Here Now for a long, long time. Probably not in this century! There is a menacing feel to the intro and guitars and Liam's voice strains with the energy and soul he is pouring into it. There is a great bit when Liam and Noel's voices join together to sing;

Today is just a daydream
Tomorrow we'll be cast away

This time the length of the song has a purpose with Liam screaming Cold Turkey Lennon style before  everything goes mental, leading us back into the chorus.

Don't Go Away is a song that I have listened to this side of 2000! Liam's yearning vocal and the fact he hits the bridge and chorus so quickly give the song much more feeling to it. It sounds like Noel has actually given it some tender, loving, care.

The bridge flows into the chorus and it's uplifting and soulful. It's hug your mate, punch the sky and sing your heart out like the best Oasis songs.

In the time of my life
'cause I need more time
Yes I need more time
Just to make things right
So don't go away

Noel also comes up with a beautiful and tender acoustic outro. It's one of only 2-songs (not counting the All Around The World reprise) under 5-minutes long.

The title track is..... well the lyrics don't really mean anything but at least they are fun and the song has a bit of a groove to it. But it is lazy, Liam turns it into Columbia off of Definitely Maybe at the end . If you were choosing an epic Oasis comeback setlist then this would be nowhere near it. And to be honest I don't much (if anything) of Be Here Now would be.

Beatles reference - Let It Be

And then we arrive at the 9-minute and 20 second All Around The World. In early interviews Noel talked of this song and said he was saving it for his third album and that he wanted to enter it in Eurovision. I remember reading a review where it was described as something like Hey Jude made by kids from a council estate in Burgage. The recent Supersonic documentary had incredible footage of a pre-signed Oasis rehearsing this song in Manchester.

I like it. It has that sense of dreaming and escapism that Noel's best songs tend to have.

Take me away
Cause I just don't want to stay

These are crazy days but they make me sssshhhiiiiiinnnneeee

Pretty simple, pretty effective. And then it goes on......and on.......and on.....and on.

Guitars are layered upon guitars, there is a hell of a lot of na na na na na's and then the chorus is rammed down your throat enough times to make you vomit. Seriously, there is another 5-minutes of it. It gets pretty sickly. There is no valid reason for this song to be over 9-minutes long. Blame cocaine.

I made it to 7 minutes 48 seconds and then skipped forwards.

It's Getting' Better Man was my personal favourite from the album back in 1997. Loud and squalling guitars, a flowing bridge and chorus and a sense of Pistols punk energy. They played it at Knebworth and I had it on bootleg before it appeared on Be Here Now.

Maybe the songs that we sing are wrong
Maybe the dreams that we dream are gone

It's stretched out but at least the band sound like they are enjoying it, rather than some of the other tracks that sound like they are being dragged out. The production doesn't help, this is a song that should have soared like those on Definitely Maybe.

Oh FFS I forgot about the All Around The World reprise!!! And do you know what, in 2016 this is one of my favourite songs on the album. Horns, strings, great beats, crashing symbols.....I enjoyed listening to it.

Be Here Now hasn't aged well for me. In fact it dated incredibly quickly.

In 1997 Radiohead brought out the incredible OK Computer, The Verve had Urban Hymns, Primal Scream gave us the glorious melting pot Vanishing Point, Spiritualized released the sensational Ladies And Gentleman We Are Floating In Space and earlier in the year Blur had released a brilliantly eclectic eponymous album. Oasis sounded bloated and uninspired in comparison to their competitors, but also against the skyscraping anthems they produced with ease between 1994-1996.

Noel had set the bar high, he has talked of being Champions League winners from 1994-1996 and then struggling to get top 4 in 1997. Not a bad assessment. Continuing that theme; Standing On The Shoulder... was relegation form!

The Masterplan, a b-sides album (featuring only 2 from the Be Here Now era) was released in 1998, the year after Be Here Now and it is head and shoulders above. That golden period from 1994-1996 for Oasis produced so many good songs.

Oasis then had the cheek to release something even worse than Be Here Now - Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants featuring the likes of Little James and the god awful I Can See A Liar, I'm not looking forward to listening to that again for the 20th anniversary! In fact, I won't!

I think the band only recaptured some of their magic in 2002 with the release of Heathen Chemistry when Andy Bell and Gem Archer had joined the band and been involved in writing and recording. But they could never recapture the magic of 1994-1996.

I'll always have time for Noel and Liam as they meant so much to me during an important time of my life. They soundtracked nights out, I made lifelong friends through a shared love of the band....but Be Here Now kind of felt like the band were cheating on me - they were better than that.

Listening back has been interesting. There are some good songs, but for me Be Here Now doesn't light a spark and for me that is what Noel and Liam are all about - making your spine tingle, causing you to punch the air and sing from the bottom of your heart. Too many of the songs are 'alright', almost all are too long and I just don't hear any soul in the vast majority of the album.

Thursday 6 October 2016


Cover version of the month #17

Ryan Adams covers Wonderwall

I think Ryan Adams is the only person to have ever got that song right
Noel Gallagher

Wonderwall was the song that truly sent Oasis stratospheric. There had already been lots of talk of The Beatles and comparisons through songs like Live Forever and Slide Away, but much of the earlier Oasis material tipped more of a nod to the ferocity of The Pistols with a dab of T-Rex, rather than the Fab Four.

Wonderwall changed everything. Oasis had released a number of acoustic b-sides, but this was the first acoustic single. In the Autumn of 1995 it felt like the whole world was singing it. Somehow it was kept off the number 1 slot by Robson and Jerome!

Oasis crossed over with Wonderwall. They had already won hearts and fans across the world, but all of a sudden they had a song that kids and their Gran's could sing. Noel Gallagher once said he wanted to hear his songs being whistled by the milkman. The butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker were all whistling them, humming them, singing them.....everyone was.

The original Oasis version of Wonderwall

Many songwriters (and bands) tire of playing their most famous hits at times. Liam sang it, then Noel took over, then the crowd practically sang it for the band or for Noel as a solo artist. Liam's voice sounded soulful, Noel's made it more tender, stadiums singing in unison made it an anthem.

Noel tired of Wonderwall, but hearing it being covered by Ryan Adams changed things......and it changed how Noel would go on to perform the song.

I went to see Ryan Adams in he's playing away and he just does Wonderwall right in the middle of the set. The f**king place went silent. It was so beautiful. I was just like 'F**king Jesus Christ what a f**king song!' Afterwards I told him, 'You can have that song, man, because we could never quite get it right.       Noel Gallagher

Post hearing Ryan Adams

And here is a wonderful heart wrenching version by Ryan, silencing a huge Glastonbury crowd. Pretty astonishing! To have the balls and talent to perform like this to such a huge crowd is incredible. Adams slows things down, Wonderwall suddenly sounds like a song written many moons ago by a seasoned country singer with a broken heart. His delivery is beautiful, enhancing the soul the song always had and also increasing its beauty.

I know who I'm singing it to....unfortunately I don't think she does.
Ryan Adams

Ryan is a serial coverer of songs....and albums. He's covered Is This It? by The Strokes and 1989 by Taylor Swift in full. What else? Pretty much anything by anyone - from Elvis to his near namesake Bryan Adams!

So expect to see Ryan Adams featured again on a future cover of the month blog.

Previous covers of the month