Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Oasis 2: (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?

The British always have a way of pumping up musical hype, mostly so they can tear it down again. (Anybody remember the Bros? Didn’t think so.) So when two bands with mod haircuts and retro vibes showed up, the weeklies over there tried to make Blur vs. Oasis as relevant as the Beatles vs. the Stones.
The big difference is that the Beatles and the Stones got along, whereby the boys in Blur learned quickly to ignore the japes from Oasis. Here in the States, it didn’t make much of a ripple, when both bands were making decent records. Somehow (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? established Oasis as the clear winners of whatever battle they had with Blur, on only their second album. In fact, it took their fourth single (if you count the three that came out in the UK before the album did) to make an impression, and that’s why most people can still recognize “Wonderwall” from the first few notes.
Some have questioned how a Beatle purist like ourselves could like this album, which is understandable. For one thing, when it came out, the Gallagher boys had barely started to be as pretentiously loutish as they would shortly become. Also, it was a great set of power pop songs crafted so well it took several listens to realized whence they’d been pinched. Example: while we noticed the cop of “With A Little Help From My Friends” at the end of “She’s Electric”, it was two years before we realized that the bridge rips off the bridge to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, and we had to read about that. The origin of the word “Wonderwall” is obvious to any diehard George Harrison fan, but that didn’t stop Liam from publicly disparaging the quiet one, who knew that no reaction only proved how stupid the kid was, particularly since Noel came up with all the songs.
And there are still a lot of songs to enjoy on this, such as “Roll With It”, “Cast No Shadow”, “Hey Now”, “Some Might Say” (there’s that T.Rex riff again), and even all 7½ minutes of “Champagne Supernova”. A favorite is still “Don’t Look Back In Anger”, which starts out like “Imagine” and features Noel instead of Liam on lead vocals. (Soon afterwards Noel took the mike for an MTV appearance while Liam sulked in the balcony, and showed that he was just as capable of carrying the band on his own. Yet it would be years before he made the leap.)
“Morning Glory” is the only real clunker here, since it doubles the feedback and fuzz with helicopter effects and is just noisy. Overall, the recipe works, and the latest anniversary edition offers up 28 further tracks, including the complete “Swamp Song” tapped for those interludes, the vinyl-only “Bonehead’s Bank Holiday”, all the B-sides that made collecting their singles worth the cash, and a mess of live versions and demos. Call it a guilty pleasure, but we still like it.

Oasis (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? (1995)—4

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