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