So here’s a great Friday tune. A rip-roaring number that, if you aren’t already, will get you all revved up to go out on the town, now that we can somewhat go out on the town again. A tune to blast out at eleven and… well… before I get too ahead of myself, let’s get back to some context.
During the mid-1990s, the Manchester quintet known as Oasis had a pretty terrific run of new music, one that I would have to say could rival any band in history, in terms of being prolific and the quality of their rock and roll. And I’m not just talking those brilliant first two albums. They also released a string of hit-making singles in this same period that showcased some pretty amazing b-sides*.
The fourth such single to be released from their sophomore record, “(What’s the story) morning glory?”, was the Noel-sung ballad, “Don’t look back in anger”. And of the three additional b-sides included on the CD single I managed to find as an import, each were great, but I actually recognized the fourth track as a song from my youth. Little did I know that even the commercially successful version from 1983, the one I remember singing to myself while walking to school in grade five, recklessly done by LA metal group, Quiet Riot, was also a cover.
Indeed, I was amused to learn that the original was actually done way back in 1973** by glam hard rockers, Slade. I, of course, knew of this group only by their 1983 hit, “Run runaway”, and though I liked that one well enough during my music video youth, I never felt the urge to check out their version of “Cum on feel the noize” until I sat down to write this post.
I always really liked this Oasis cover for the way it was just fun and raw, rock and roll, and captured that lightning-in-a-bottle live energy of theirs. But really, all of these versions of “Cum on feel the noize”, by such very different musical groups, were all approached from the same direction. All of these are loud and brash and a hell of a good time.
Personally, I’m still going with the Oasis one here over the others: I just don’t see myself cranking up the other two all that often. But… it’s Friday. Crank whichever one floats your boat and just giv’er!
*Some of these were later collected on the group’s 1998 compilation, “The masterplan”.
**I would’ve been way too young to possibly know this one at the time, having been born a few months after its release.
For the rest of the 100 best covers list, click here.
Oasis. Yeah, I loved them. But there was also a period where we grew apart, me and Oasis.
As I wrote in my post detailing their appearance on my Best tunes of 2000 list with “Go let it out”, I found their third record, 1997’s “Be here now”, just a tad over the top, even for them. I didn’t even bother with the next one, “Standing on the shoulders of giants”, at the time, and took me many years before I gave that full album a chance.
My return to the Oasis fold started with their 2002 album, “Heathen chemistry”, their first album with new band members Gem Archer and Andy Bell (of Ride) and their last with longtime drummer, Alan White. It was marked attempt by Noel Gallagher to rein things back in a bit, and to try to recapture some of that magic that made the Manchester, England rock band so big in the first place. I’m talking here of the magnificence and exuberance that was their first two records. And I swore I heard a bit of that the first time I heard the lead off single from “Heathen chemistry”. I remember that I was back in Toronto for the weekend and driving around with my brother-in-law Nick and “The Hindu times” came on the radio. I also remember exclaiming aloud that it sounded like Oasis. To which Nick, thinking I was just stating the obvious, replied, “That’s because it is”.
As piqued as my curiousity was with this first single, it wasn’t until a few months later that I was really pushed to give Oasis another chance. My younger brother, Mike, came up to Ottawa to visit that summer and with him brought a bunch of CDs to keep him company on the long Greyhound trip from Bowmanville. One of the evenings that weekend was spent spinning CDs and sharing tunes and the two new ones that really stuck out for me was Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s self-titled debut and the CD single of “Stop crying your heart out” by the Gallagher brothers and their friends.
“We’re all of us stars
We’re fading away
Just try not to worry
You’ll see us some day“
Noel’s lyrics aren’t always clear and aren’t always deep but they’re well put together for the melody and still manage to evoke moods and feelings. “Stop crying” is a motivating and uplifting number. Yeah, it’s a piano ballad with Gem Archer earning his keep. But it soon gets anthemic because… of course, it does. Big guitars, shimmering and crashing cymbals, towering strings, and over top it all, it’s Liam, sneering and crooning and jerking our tears and pulling our heartstrings.
Sing it with me: “Hold onnnnnn!”
Man, that Noel knows how to conjure rock and roll, doesn’t he?
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2002 list, click here.
(This year’s edition of Ottawa Bluesfest has been cancelled, for obvious reasons. In previous years, especially on my old blog, I would share photos and thoughts on some of the live music I was enjoying at the festival throughout the duration. So for the next week and a half, I thought I’d share ten great sets, out of the many I’ve witnessed over the years, one for each day on which music would have be performed. Enjoy.)
Artist: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds When: Friday, July 8th, 2016 Where: City Stage at 9:30pm Context: One of the problems with multi-stage music festivals is that, invariably, you run into situations where there are multiple artists that you want to see playing at the same time. It’s happened to me more than a few times over the years and I’ve had to make a decision on who I wanted to see more, weighted based on whether I had seen the acts before and the chances that I’d have to see the act again. One of the most grievous scheduling conflicts I ever had to negotiate was on that Friday back in 2016 when I had to leave an incredible set by Swedish singer/songwriter The Tallest Man on Earth only a few songs into it in order to get a good spot to catch Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds.
My wife Victoria joined me that night (as she does on occasion), just as she did the last time I saw Noel Gallagher live, back when he was performing with Oasis at the 2008 V fest on Toronto Island. A few of you might recall how that one turned out. Some drunken, middle-aged hooligan had hidden himself under the stage, climbed up in the middle of the set, and pushed the elder Gallagher brother from behind, cracking a few ribs in the process. After the fracas and some confusion in the crowd, the band came back out and performed a handful of songs but it wasn’t a complete set. So although we can say we saw Oasis live, we always felt like we were cheated, knowing there were songs they could have played but didn’t.
Eight years later, Oasis had of course broken up and Noel Gallagher had at that time put together two solid solo albums with a new band. I’d always thought Noel more talented than his younger brother Liam and though Victoria doesn’t agree, I’ve always felt that he had the better voice. Don’t get me wrong, Liam is a great frontman, but his force is his attitude and confidence, more than his talent. Nonetheless, seeing Noel Gallagher live again was too good a chance to pass up and it wasn’t hard to convince Victoria to join me.
Out of a set of twenty songs, exactly half were songs that Noel wrote during his days with his original band. He dutifully played the hits – “Champagne supernova”, “Wonderwall”, and the perfect closer, “Don’t look back in anger” – to all of which the crowd was pleased to help him with the vocals and he welcomed it, stepping back from the mike while we sang the choruses. What I found really cool, though, is that he also dug deep into the B-sides, playing some of the more popular (“The masterplan”, “Fade away”, “Half the world away”) but also the not-so-popular (“Talk tonight”, “D’yer wanna be a spaceman”). And it wasn’t for any reason more complicated than that those were some of Noel’s favourite Oasis tracks.
The other half of his set was dedicated to the songs he has written with his new band, The High Flying Birds, and these are no less excellent. Tracks from both the self-titled album and the previous year’s, “Chasing yesterday”, were well-represented and though, some in the crowd were less familiar with these songs, they were well-received. And why not? Some of these tunes, like “Ballad of the mighty I” and “AKA… what a life!”, are far better than some of the tunes he wrestled together during his time with Oasis. In the High Flying Birds, Noel is calling the shots. He doesn’t have to contend with his brother’s ego and he has just as fine a backing band. The five-piece were on fire, assaulting us with a wall of guitars and waves of organ, sometimes augmented by a three-piece horn section, and they played straight through to just before 11 o’clock, not bothering with the whole encore charade, opting instead to play as many songs as possible.
About a third of the way through the set, I think it was during “Champagne supernova”, I looked around at the joyful reaction and attentions of the crowd and turned to my wife and said, “Now why would he want to get Oasis back together?” It was pure rock and roll, Noel style.
Everybody’s on the Run
Lock All the Doors
In the Heat of the Moment
Fade Away (Oasis song)
The Death of You and Me
You Know We Can’t Go Back
Champagne Supernova (Oasis song)
Ballad of the Mighty I
Talk Tonight (Oasis song)
D’Yer Wanna Be a Spaceman? (Oasis song)
Half the World Away (Oasis song)
Listen Up (Oasis song)
If I Had a Gun…
Digsy’s Dinner (Oasis song)
The Masterplan (Oasis song)
Wonderwall (Oasis song)
AKA… What a Life!
Don’t Look Back in Anger (Oasis song)