Oasis – Heathen Chemistry (2002)

Before we begin, this album is very ordinary. In fact, it’s terrible.

Oasis was in a creative rut at the time. Noel Gallagher had some bad moments on the previous two albums and was totally uninspired musically as a result. The songwriting duties, therefore, were divided now amongst the other group members. Liam Gallagher, once deemed a great singer of his generation, was unable to sing properly after years of damaging his voice doing his slouching and hands-behind-the-back pose onstage. The new guys on bass and second guitar Andy Bell and Gem Archer contributed little of worth. And the once mighty and powerful drummer Alan White had lost interest in drumming for Oasis completely. He now couldn’t even keep time.

This was a sad state of affairs for Oasis. The ageing rock group still could not get their act together. Sony even threatened to drop them after the poor commercial performance of Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants. Prompted by this, Oasis went back to the studio and released this awful rubbish in 2002. It changed nothing and added more problems to the fan base of Oasis, who by this point, had stopped listening anyway to their newer work.

Still, it has a few good moments, but not great ones in general.

The Hindu Times begins this recording, and it sounds terrible. Ironically, it is one of the better songs on the record and made it to #1 on the UK singles charts. Liam sounds awful here, with his voice showing considerable age. Nice try though.

Force Of Nature is even worse. It is sung by Noel Gallagher but lacks any magic or listening desire to the album. The chorus is awful, as Noel rants in a wannabe country way about his stash of weed being smoked. Unbelievable.

The following piece is okay. Hung In A Bad Place is a straightforward rock song which sounds good but lacks energy. Liam sneers through this piece, but one can’t help but wish for him to fix his singing voice.  It’s okay nonetheless.

After that, quite a good song arrives for listening on the album. Stop Crying Your Heart Out is a far better effort by the group, and is really touching. Liam Gallagher gives it his best here, but the drums are mixed out. Noel obviously lacked faith in Alan White’s drumming skills at the time.

Songbird is not really good, despite the fact it is short. In fact, the length is all that is really good about it. Liam Gallagher wrote this one about his then-girlfriend but it’s a forgettable Oasis piece.

Little By Little is actually really quite good. Noel sings this one, and there are some amazing lyrics such as “True perfection has to be imperfect. I know that sounds foolish, but it’s true.” It is a good listen amongst all the other mainly poor tracks.

The instrumental A Quick Peep is rather forgettable. Nothing is great about this, despite the fact it features a 1960s organ keyboard sort of sound. Worth skipping, it’s not good.

Next up we have (Probably) All In The Mind, a really ordinary piece. They probably were high recording this one. It’s so dull. Not exactly a great statement to make.

She Is Love is a pathetic excuse for a song. It’s soppy, boring and lacks anything really interesting about it. Why Noel did not make good music on this album is a mystery to everyone involved. It’s about his current wife.

Born On A Different Cloud is lame. Liam steals some lyrics from John Lennon and tries to sound wise as a person. It’s not a good idea for him, he is anything but wise as a person. It’s just pretentious drivel and goes over six minutes. Not necessary here.

The album finishes off with the short and okay Better Man. That is if you made it this far along. Like Hung In A Bad Place, it sounds similar and lacks energy. We then endure silence for nearly half an hour, before launching into the low grade instrumental The Cage. That’s not worth your time, either.

This album generated very little interest in what Oasis were doing at the time. Obviously, the band recognised it was a poor effort as well, and lifted their game for Don’t Believe The Truth. The sad fact is that this album is actually worse than the worst moments of Be Here Now and Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants. Noel Gallagher shouldn’t be proud of this, it’s Oasis’s worst album by far.

4/10

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