Besides keeping these songs available, the set nicely reinforces Noel Gallagher as a performer in his own right. The orchestral pomp of the title track just wouldn’t fit with Liam’s sneer anyway. Noel’s acoustic busk of “Morning Glory” bookends “Acquiesce”, and he also sings the choruses in between Liam’s verses. “Talk Tonight” is a wonderfully sensitive plea for sanity, while “Going Nowhere” suffers from the Bacharach overload of the time. Speaking of which, “Half The World Away” bears a strong resemblance to “This Guy’s In Love With You”, but only in the main theme and a few of the chords. While we’re at it, “Listen Up” resembles “Supersonic” from the first album, but has some intricate (for Noel) modulations over the chorus that make it the better song; perhaps such touches kept it a B-side. “Headshrinker” is blown open with a great Stonesy riff, making a nice diversion from the usually worn influences.
Still, some of the songs were better as B-sides. “The Swamp Song”, excerpted as interludes on the Morning Glory album, is interesting to hear once in total, while the accordion diversion at the end of “(It’s Good) To Be Free” is just silly. And although their loud, live plow through “I Am The Walrus” wouldn’t have sat well on an album, it’s great to have here.
As only two of the tracks come from singles released to promote Be Here Now, The Masterplan might have made for a better third album than the overblown mess that did come out. Instead it became a nice reminder what made the band so good in the first place, and might even have helped keep them relevant into the next century.
Oasis The Masterplan (1998)—3½