Blur – The Great Escape (1995)

Blur went mega after Parklife. The only problem with this afterwards was the competition, mostly from Oasis.

This album is okay, perhaps even a little underrated. It’s just not as strong as some of the other music by Blur and bands around this era in the UK. Still, a review is a review. Let’s dive in.

Stereotypes starts out with some retro 80s like synths and resumes from where Parklife ended. And therein lies the problem with the album, it is more of the same. Still, it’s very good. An English parody, and a very good one at that. It stops and starts again in the middle of the song.

Country House was the hit single off the album and has some good lines. “I’m a professional cynic, but my heart’s not in it.” Awesome. It’s a great fictional story about a dude that has very much everything in his life, or maybe not. It’s reminiscent of The Kinks, in fact.

The next song Best Days is a slow, ballad piece. It’s got some good singing on it but seems a little weak due to the pace of the song. Still, it’s a good Blur song regardless, though the lyrics are weak as well.

The next song is brilliant. Charmless Man may refer to The Smiths This Charming Man, but it’s a great catchy pop song which is a cynical look at someone detestable. It’s rather silly and listenable for sure. Party trick: recite the lyrics of this song to your friends, for a laugh of course.

Fade Away follows. Nice tune here, It’s about relationships and the poison that they can be to themselves in regards to money. The falsetto chorus is wonderful to listen to. It’s a straightforward song with dark lyrics, a good mixture of the two.

Top Man sounds incredibly dated from the word go. But it’s catchy enough, especially throughout the chorus. It’s a good mixture of interesting sounds. One cannot think at this point but how great it must have to be living in 1995. Not a bad piece.

The follow up The Universal is a vision of what may or may not in the future, many years from now. It’s got a lovely tearjerking nature to the song and sounds like a Burt Bacharach piece. Nice piece, and a good sentiment throughout. Sounds like a million dollars, even today.

A quirky song which is Mr. Robinson’s Quango comes next. Horns are everywhere, and the content is very sexual at the end. It’s a good piece, but better lyrically than musically. Worth a good listen.

He Thought Of Cars comes next. Another suburban tale of a person’s life story. It is rather dull this number, and as a result, is less listenable than the other songs on the album. A bit too long to be fair.

It Could Be You has a good riff basis with many guitars on it. It’s a quirky little number that is okay, but Blur has done better, before and since. Classic rock fans will definitely dig this number.

The next piece, Ernold Same, is a few minutes of varied instrumentation and a rather odd tale about a said character who did the same thing over and over every day. It’s a moral reminder to others to have some variety in life.

The song that follows afterwards has really awful synthesiser sounds throughout. Globe Alone otherwise is okay, but nothing great sadly. Could have been reworked easily, mind you.

Dan Abnormal is a lot better than the previous track. It’s a great story about said character. The twist in this is excellent, mind you. The lyrics are fantastic. Damon Albarn could have been a poet in his own right, or maybe just a postmodern poet in his own regard. Good stuff.

Entertain Me is a track which could have been trashed. It’s overly long and sounds a little depressing in its own way. In fact, many of the songs on the album could have been done so.

The next one songs really odd, like Glitch music. Especially at the beginning. It’s a strange romantic tale about Yuko and Hiro. This is a good tale with an ordinary musical backdrop. There is some Japanese at the end of the song. Good stuff.

Spoiler alert: hidden track. An instrumental called Ultranol is here and is merely an Ernold Same instrumental backing track. It’s a good way to finish the record.

Overall, Blur’s approach here weakened its public image. But don’t listen to others about the negativity on this album. Look on the bright side, tunes are plenty here. If you are a classy sort of person, this music may be perfect for you.

7/10

Oasis – Dig Out Your Soul (2008)

The last Oasis album seems prophetic. Surprisingly for the rock group, there seems to be a big air of sadness and melancholy on this recording. This is reflected in the main singles. From all sides of it, Noel and Liam weren’t getting along either.

The music, therefore, is a mixed bag. It should have been a lot stronger an album. It is not. However, without further delay, let’s dive into the album itself.

The first song, Bag It Up, is obviously a drug referenced title. It shows off surreal lyrics, which hold up the theme of the album. Liam’s voice has seen much better days, but the harmonies on this one are fantastic regardless. Apparently, Liam and Noel have their heebie-jeebies in a little bag, if that is clear.

The follow up The Turning follows with a punchy drum beat and surrealistic psychedelic instrumentation. The choir backing vocals in the chorus are not different to that on the previous album in Oasis’s career Standing On The Shoulder of Giants, but it’s okay but an unsatisfying listen. One feels that Oasis could have done better here.

Waiting For The Rapture follows and Noel rambles on a bit here. It’s nothing special and could be bettered in terms of musicality. One can’t help but think that Noel was directly inspired by some later era material by The Beatles. It’s okay but as mentioned, could be bettered.

The Shock of the Lightning is the best song from this album. It sounds so life inspired and upbeat that it doesn’t really seem part of the album itself. But it’s a great listen, and proof that Noel Gallagher could still make great music. “Love is a litany, a magical mystery,” Mint. There’s a drum solo in it too.

The Liam Gallagher penned I’m Outta Time is rather depressing. It could have and should have, been more upbeat. But it’s not. Still, it’s a good listen, when the mood provides. It’s directly inspired by John Lennon and samples an interview which has John Lennon speaking. It’s okay, just very un-Oasis and melancholy, which is not what Oasis were about.

The following piece (Get Off Your) High Horse Lady is pure rubbish. A moaning vocal, repetitive lyrics and a pseudo-shuffle groove does nothing to lift this piece. It’s great when it’s finished, that’s the best bit about it. The sound of footsteps on gravel by a beachside at the end is also unnecessary.

Falling Down is a much better effort, but still, it’s depressing sounding. Still, it’s a good listen and well-structured song. Noel’s singing is fantastic here, he was well and truly ready for his next step – his solo career. But that’s another story. The song here is good though.

To Be Where There’s Life is a punchy and groovetastic song with some overt Indian influences in it. It’s a very good listen, not dissimilar in many respects to Who Feels Love? by Oasis as well. The only problem is that it is not as good as Who Feels Love? but still, it’s worth your time.

The Fender Telecaster driven piece Ain’t Got Nothin’ sounds much like a jam more than anything, but it’s okay. It’s got some of the old Oasis swagger about it but seems much like the rest of the album: hit and miss. It’s an okay listen nonetheless. It’s nice and short though, mind you.

The follow up The Nature Of Reality begins with some random guitar parts before launching into a beatastic piece with more surreal lyrics. It ponders the existence of life, but there could have been a better musical setting for it. It rocks well though.

Soldier On finishes the album on a bad note. It drags on from the word go, and there’s nothing great or special about it.

This, sadly, was the last Oasis album. After Noel Gallagher left Oasis in 2009, the group began a war with each other. Most picked a side between the Gallagher brothers Noel or Liam, but to do so seems illogical. Both were – and are, great musicians. This was their last joint effort before the chaos to be unleashed later on.

6/10

Oasis – Time Flies… 1994-2009 (2010)

Oasis were the best band of the 1990s. There, of course, was always friction between Noel Gallagher and his brother Liam on everything Oasis did. This sadly brewed tensions that by 2009, Noel had enough of. After a backstage incident of violence and Liam Gallagher breaking one of Noel’s guitars during an argument, Noel left Oasis and released a press statement shortly afterwards saying so. The band millions were familiar with had now gone.

But the flip side of the band breaking up was this album. It’s a fantastic representation of what Oasis were from start to finish. It includes songs from every album, as where Stop The Clocks ignored Be Here Now totally and Oasis had not yet recorded Dig Out Your Soul. This album is quite possibly the best starting point for the British rock band. It’s got a variety of great songs galore.

It’s a double disc album. Every album is covered here, and instead focusing on B-sides and rarities like Stop The Clocks did, it focuses on the main tracks of interest. Which is possibly why this album is just as essential as a good album by The Beatles. It also features Lord Don’t Slow Me Down and Whatever for the first real exposure of two very good songs indeed. The former is a fantastic acoustic based rant which sounds like it should have been on Don’t Believe The Truth. The latter is orchestral Oasis pop at its finest.

Is there a weakness with this album? Yes. Too much of the bad quality Oasis album Heathen Chemistry is here. Even so, it is good to balance out some of the stunning A-side single type songs with more variable and lesser-known songs in that respect.

Apart from that specific weakness, everything you love about Oasis is here. It’s a great compilation and shows you how wonderful the band and their music was. Own a copy today. After Oasis, Noel began a successful solo career in Noel Gallagher And The High Flying Birds. Liam Gallagher and the remaining Oasis members recording some ordinary material under the name Beady Eye which had limited commercial success, before Liam Gallagher began a much more successful solo career.

For those who are real fans, seek out the DVD and extra CDs that came along with this album as well. The DVD is fantastic and features commentary by Noel Gallagher.

Madferit.

9/10

Oasis – Stop The Clocks (2006)

This album marked the beginning of the end of Oasis. Although certain events had occurred since the band formed in 1991 that hindered musical and personal progress in the band, it really started here with their first retrospective compilation. Oasis needed to put this compilation out due to the end of their contract with Sony, so Noel Gallagher obliged and made his own mix of Oasis songs, almost completely disregarding everybody else’s advice. This pointed out that he was unwilling to listen to other people’s advice in general with Oasis’s music, and instead wanted to do his own thing. The new democracy style input in Oasis during the 2000s obviously wasn’t a big issue to the group.

The compilation here is actually really good though. It focuses heavily on the songs from Definitely Maybe and (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? eras with a few additions from other eras. Notably, Noel refused to put any Be Here Now numbers onto the compilation and used the “length” excuse as usual. Which is the only weak point about the compilation, it misses out that era totally which still had some good songs on it. It doesn’t have any songs from Dig Out Your Soul either as that album was not released until 2009.

Strangely enough, there was another compilation a few years after this one, once the band had broken up for good. But it seems to be better than most Oasis albums around, so it is definitely worth checking out. Notably, it is a great compilation for more thinking than dancing sort of Oasis mood. Looking through the compilation, it’s easy to see more single tracks on the double-disc album than anything else. It’s a good way to go about an album if you want to make a compilation that sounds good.

Interestingly enough, the album art was done by The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album artist Peter Blake. It’s also the name of an unreleased Oasis song, which Noel eventually released on his first solo album. Strangely ironic indeed.

After this release, the band made the awful Dig Out Your Soul before calling it quits in the unfortunate incident between Noel and Liam Gallagher. This is a great compilation though, perfect for that thinking mood when you need some Oasis.

9/10

Oasis – The Masterplan (1998)

Noel Gallagher took the downfall of Oasis’s third album Be Here Now not exactly well. Shortly after Be Here Now was released, fans became critical of the sound of the album, and Noel really took the fact that Be Here Now was no Definitely Maybe or (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? to heart. Noel dislikes Be Here Now nowadays and refuses to perform Be Here Now era songs with Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. In addition, he refused to add any Be Here Now tracks to the Oasis Stop The Clocks compilation released in 2006.

In a knee-jerk reaction to the negative feedback he received, Noel released this album in 1998. It’s a compilation of B-Sides and rarities from the early Oasis days. It’s a really good listen, proving that Noel Gallagher valued the fans of Oasis more than people realised.

We begin with the strummed chords and Noel singing a demo of Morning Glory before we melt into Acquiesce. This song was so good that it was released as an afterthought single later on in Oasis’s career. It mixes Liam and Noel’s singing wonderfully, and the song itself has a mega riff and soulful meaning. It’s really that good.

The next one is a bit more subtle. Underneath The Sky tells the tale of a wandering traveler. It’s a much weaker song but has some cool lyrics to it: “All he needs in his life is a suitcase, it belongs to a friend of a friend. And as we drink to ourselves we’ll amuse ourselves. Underneath the sky, again.”

Talk Tonight is based on a real-life experience of Noel Gallagher’s which is told in depth in the Definitely Maybe documentary and the Supersonic movie. It’s an ode to a girl who Noel spent some time within the U.S., and who most likely prevented him from suicide. Deep. But it’s a great Noel Gallagher piece with strummed acoustic guitars.

Going Nowhere was originally a Be Here Now b-side. It’s one of only two from the album from Be Here Now, indicating that Noel already disliked Be Here Now intensely. It’s a good piece inspired by Burt Bacharach and is mindblowing and prophetic as Noel Gallagher wrote it in 1990. How unusual, but cool all the same. It’s an orchestral delight.

A good example of the punkier side of Oasis is prevalent in Fade Away. It’s an Oasis classic and just reminds us to be true to ourselves throughout the years. It’s similar in meaning to D’Yer Wanna Be A Spaceman? which is another song by Oasis, but more popular. It’s fast and nasty sounding, which is cool.

The only real stinker on this album is The Swamp Song. It’s a bad instrumental piece which should not have been included on this album. It is totally unnecessary and takes away from the quality of the compilation itself.

What arrives next is much better. A great cover of I Am The Walrus is here, and although it’s edited for length, it sounds wonderful and a great interpretation of the original song. It’s louder and more punk like. It was a cover piece in Oasis for many years.

Listen Up is a song of mixed emotions. Although it has melancholy all over it with the singing, the repeated refrain about not minding one’s own company is strange for a song like this. Liam recommended for Noel to edit this song for the album, which he did just slightly.

Rockin’ Chair is an excellent and underrated Oasis gem. With acoustic guitars and Alan White’s unique drumming on this, they really could have and should have added this to the (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? album. But they did not, sadly. Still, it is here for your enjoyment.

The famous Half The World Away talks about matters in Noel Gallagher’s personal life. It’s a good piece but seems to lack real meaning behind the song. It’s beautifully done though. It is a must hear song in any case.

The weak (It’s Good) To Be Free arrives and reminds one that time is short on this planet. This song isn’t a bad song, but not as consistent as the others. There is a rather jovial outro on this one, and it’s good to hear regardless.

Stay Young definitely should have been on Be Here Now. Noel didn’t put it on after he replaced it with Magic Pie. Guessing what Noel was like at the time, he probably was taking too many drugs to understand this decision. The result? It’s here, for your enjoyment. It’s a great pop song too.

Headshrinker is another blistering fast pop-punk song. It’s like Oasis on speed meeting The Buzzcocks and singing their own version of The Sex Pistols Bodies. It’s a bit of an odd topic for a song, but it’s short and sharp.

The title track is the last track on the album. The Masterplan is really one of Noel Gallagher’s best ever songs. It starts off with strummed acoustic guitar and carefully placed guitar parts, adding a string section and brass section to boot. It is so good that it surpasses every other song on the album. It’s truly uplifting.

This album is highly recommended for Oasis fans who are sick of hearing Wonderwall everywhere. It’s a good batch of songs for your enjoyment. As Noel Gallagher himself indicated, this really should have been the third Oasis album, not Be Here Now. He was likely correct, the B-sides here by Noel Gallagher and Oasis are very good indeed.

8/10

Oasis – Don’t Believe The Truth (2005)

After the terrible Heathen Chemistry, which was basically polished rubbish, Oasis needed to release good music once again. The once glorious and powerful drummer Alan White left, with Ringo Starr’s son Zac Starkey filling in the role for the time being.

At first, things did not go well recording this album. The group seemed to revisit the experimental nature of Be Here Now and Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants by enlisting the Death In Vegas producer duo to begin the album. It did not work out well, Noel Gallagher knew that the effort could have been better. Instead, he requested Dave Sardy to do the job for the group and began reworking the songs on this album entirely.

The result here is better than anything the group recorded post (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? in terms of overall quality of the songs. It has a concise, punchy sound and the group sounds so far more ahead of their contemporaries for the first time in years. It’s not perfect, sure. But it is good music by Oasis once again.

Turn Up The Sun sets the scene, “I carry a madness, wherever I go. Over the border – and back to the snow.” Liam Gallagher’s voice has not aged very well and that is audible here. But his delivery is fantastic on this song, sneering away in a Definitely Maybe way. A good start to the album.

Mucky Fingers is Noel Gallagher’s take on classic rock. It is a name reminiscent of The Rolling Stones album Sticky Fingers and is an almost direct rip-off from The Velvet Underground’s I’m Waiting For My Man. But it’s passable, not laughable. The harmonica part is amazing sounding.

The next song was a hit from the album. Lyla talks about a girl on a melodic and rather excellent pop piece. Zak Starkey does some superb drum rolls here, particularly in comparison to Alan White’s lackluster performance on Heathen Chemistry. It’s a very good pop song.

There are plenty of love songs on this album. Love Like A Bomb is the most direct, and although Liam sounds like he has developed throat cancer, it is mindblowing. That’s how good this piece is. It is easily stuck inside one’s head for days. Good effort.

The Importance Of Being Idle is a great Noel Gallagher effort, telling the tale of oneself being lazy. It’s an interesting subject matter for the listener to endure and is just so well done here. It sounds like Noel meeting a stomp-style romp. A very nice song.

The Meaning Of Soul once again deals with love based themes and goes for a very short time frame. This is years away from the long song fetishism of Be Here Now, it just fits in nicely with the rest of the recording. A great fast paced song.

The next song, Guess God Thinks I’m Abel deals directly with biblical themes and talks about deep and meaningful love by Liam. This is one of the most serious Oasis songs ever made, although they made plenty of serious songs. It has a semi Chemical Brothers like outro but is just a good song once again.

Modern-day grumbles are here with Noel Gallagher’s Part Of The Queue are here. It’s a weaker song, but even then it’s still okay listening.

Keep The Dream Alive is an epic song, but really lifts you up emotionally into the chorus when it arrives. As an epic song, it’s not long like Be Here Now, nor depressing like Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants, nor garbage like Heathen Chemistry. It just fits the bill nicely.

A Bell Will Ring is an optimistic piece written by second guitarist Gem Archer. In fact, although it’s not really overly memorable, it is so very positive it will lift you up into the song as it blasts.

The last song, Let There Be Love is really very good. The Gallagher brothers sing together alternating between different lead vocal roles and it’s a nice piece to close the album.

So, there you have it. Oasis were back at this point and once again, made a decent album for us to enjoy. It really is a shame that the group couldn’t hold it together after 2009, but at least they left this awesome album to enjoy. Don’t Believe The Truth, it’s better than you think it would be. Fans of this album should chase out the studio interviews on YouTube that the group did for this album, a brilliant idea to show the effort behind this, their best later career album.

8/10

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

There came a time where British music and culture was a thing to be celebrated. This was in the mid to late 1990s, and this album is the best representation of that.

The album itself was recorded in a 2 week period in Wales with producer Owen Morris, and with new drummer Alan White replacing Tony McCarroll. The songs here are really excellent. Let’s explore in depth the songs on this awesome album.

The album begins with strummed chords for another song on the album (take a guess which one) before erupting into Hello. It’s a relatively average song but you can definitely hear the difference between Definitely Maybe and this recording. The song is a better layered and textured piece with more emotionally oriented singing from Liam Gallagher. It’s great listening.

The pop song Roll With It follows with a strong message and deep and meaningful singing from Liam. It’s an excellent song, although rather repetitive. Still, it is a good song of the time.

Wonderwall is a lovely ballad. It ironically, for Oasis’s biggest song ever, didn’t make it to number one on the pop charts in the UK. It’s a great song, from Liam’s heartfelt vocal to the acoustic guitar strumming away and the cello sound. It’s a great song and has not aged one bit.

Don’t Look Back In Anger is a stadium sounding song, and yet another hit single. It’s often quoted and is a reminder to the listener not to deal with issues in the past. A great song with Noel Gallagher on lead vocals. Mint.

The following track, Hey Now! is a little weak but still is a great song to listen to. Liam sing this extremely well, and it is loud, Definitely Maybe style.

The Untitled piece part one is a rather odd musical pastiche sampled from a rather poor Oasis instrumental named The Swamp Song. It isn’t really necessary here but lasts less than a minute.

Some Might Say is a profound-sounding song about the treatment of oneself and others. It was the band’s first number one single and is great fun to listen to. “Some might say, they don’t believe in heaven. Go and tell it to the man who lives in hell.” Simply awesome.

Cast No Shadow sounds soothing and lush. Although the song itself drags on somewhat, it makes up for it with the most beautiful of sounds there. Liam nails his job here, an excellent piece.

The Digsy’s Dinner sequel, She’s Electric is next. It’s a joyous and upbeat song about trivial matters of a girl. It’s a good song but falls short of being a great song.

The most open drug advocating song is here in the title track Morning Glory. It’s a loud and interesting rock song. It has a swirling guitar outro that you will bang your head to.

Untitled part two arrives mixing Morning Glory into the next song. It sounds a little different here with the sound of water sloshing around. Once again, it is very short.

Champagne Supernova closes the album nicely. It’s a really great and underrated song. It starts off quietly with the most profound lyrics Noel Gallagher ever wrote. It then builds up to a crescendo before going quiet again. It has many different sounds and textures on it. A winner.

This album is a truly enjoyable listen to anyone who is either a fan of pop or rock music. It is light years ahead of many other records, including other Oasis records. Cherish this album, and own it today. Recently a remastered reissue was released of this album, so fans ought to check this out.

9/10