Monday 22 August 2016

Oasis: Non-Album Recordings Part One: 1993-1998

'You can now buy 'Little By Little - The Alan's Album Archives Guide To The Music Of Oasis' by clicking here!

Please note - several B-sides have already been reviewed as part of our article for 'The Masterplan' and have been skipped rather than re-reviewed here

Non-Album Recordings Part #1: 1993
 [1] 'I Will Believe' is the earliest Oasis recording officially released so far, from the band's first ever radio session in August 1993 and taped at Gleneagles, back when the band had only recently stopped 'The Rain' and metamorphosised into Oasis. Understandably scrappy (this was still a very inexperienced band) it's an interesting combination between what other bands sounded like in 1993 and the Oasis roar to come. Noel's words aren't quite there yet (full of stock phrases like 'main in the middle' and the narrator being 'driven round like a dog on a leash), Liam's vocals are almost gentlemanly and only Noel and interesting Tony McCarroll are on the money musician-wise, playing with a 'harder' edge Oasis will soon make their own. This is still a nice, catchy song though with a nice Oasisy affirmative chorus that whatever the world throws at the narrator he'll always have faith. It's a shame, actually, that the band never returned to this song and dumped it from their live sets long before they got their first record deal. Had it been played by the modern era of the band, with Liam in full sneer,  I reckon it would have sounded rather good. Find it on: the CD single 'Supersonic' (1994)

'Good evening Great Britain!' The live recording of 'Bring It On Down', which predates the studio take on 'Definitely Maybe' by a good year (it was taped the same day as 'I Will Believe'), is a good demonstration of the early Oasis live sound and how the group were evolving in their early days. The song loses the drama from the wall of noise and Tony McCarroll is playing way way outside the box rather than keeping to the beats as per the record, while Liam is an amalgam of so many other lead singers he admires, rather than his own man. For all that, though, the 1993 Oasis still sound great and better than almost everything around at the time, with a sassyness and danger long missing from period rock. It's a real shame that a full Oasis set from these early days was never taped! Find it on: the CD single 'Shakermaker' (1994)

The one song from the eight-track demo that sounded very different to the recordings/mixes made later was [  ] 'Columbia', with the 'demo' version given its own official release as part of Oasis' debut single 'Supersonic'. In common with the other songs from the demo tape, it's close but not quite there yet, with the guitar-work sounding more like contemporary rock (the first Oceasn Colour Scene album from 1992 comes to mind) and Liam is also lacking his usual swagger, singing rather than sneering the vocals in a heavy 'Stone Roses' style Mancunian.  The demo tape - and especially the outtakes (and very especially 'Snakebite') - reveal that Noel was obsessed with busy, manic guitar parts and the same is here too with the familiar crunch of 'Columbia' given a durdurdurdurdurdeedee riff instead of the der der der der der one. Instead of the rip-roaring finale, where Liam is all 'c'mon' and Noel is all 'yeah yeah yeah' we also get spoken word for the first time, apparently sampled from a record of ethnic music, the song skating away on a mass chant of words we can't understand like it's a Pink Floyd film soundtrack rather than a rock and roll song. Noel will later find a way of bringing these spoken word elements into his music, but for now it sounds like the right idea for the wrong song and rather detracts from the impressively tense 'Columbia', which sounds a monster even here in diluted early form. Find it on: the CD single 'Supersonic' (1994)

[2] 'Alive' is another rather odd early song. The heavy electric guitar sound is already there, but the Oasis fluidity isn't as yet. Liam continues to sing as he thinks songs ought to be sung, downplaying his harsher tones and not yet 'living' the song. Then again this would be a hard song for him to sing even now, being one of his brother's wordier efforts. The chorus cry of 'I'm Alive' is very Oasis (sounding like an early version of 'Live Forever') as is the 'warning' lyrics about wanting 'something for nothing'. However the words rattle along at a rate of knots, full of too-clever-by-half phrases and unusual rhyming schemes that make this song sound a little cold and calculating compared to the 'heart' that Oasis bring to almost all their other records. Still, a fascinating little window into what Oasis sounded like before they were famous and while this was one of the weaker songs in the band's early set, right to be abandoned at 'eight-track demo' stage', they're already a tight and charismatic little band. Find it on: the CD single 'Shakermaker' (1994)

The rather strange [3] 'Strange Thing' is more evidence that in their early bands Oasis were like every other British band around in the early 90s, with a Stone Roses type laidback groove and some dappy lyrics about 'looking to the future' even though 'life is a strange thing'. Liam sings this one 'straight' - or at least as straight as you can with a voice as tough as old boots - doing a fair impression of Stone Roses singer Mani The one thing that sounds out of place is Noel's guitarwork, which is already about ten times as loud as anything the Stone Roses had ever done, with a rather awkward ten-note phrase that's quite unlike anything he'll ever play with Oasis again. Kept in the vaults until the 'Definitely Maybe' re-issue of 2013, it's arguably the weakest of the band's early songs and probably the right one to be left on the shelf. However it's still remarkably good for an unsigned band and a fascinating curio of how Oasis sounded on their way to discovering who they really were. Find it on: the limited edition 1000 copy replica of the 'Eight Track Demo' promotional cassette that was part of the 'Morning Glory' deluxe re-issue (2014)

'Cloudburst'  is a fascinating early recoding from the band's earliest sessions that shows the Oasis template falling into shape. 'Wake up there's a new day dawning' sneers Liam for almost the first time, missing only a 'sun-sheee-ine' to be the vocalist we all know and love. A typically Oasis mix of positive and negative, there's a change in the weather and the rain is about to fall, while the wind 'makes me older'. However, along with a punchy aggressive riff (heard en masse for almost the first time) Liam sounds tough enough to take whatever life throws at him. Oasis will go on to write better songs, but here is where their sound truly begins and it's a brilliant performance, taut with tension and full of promise. Find it on: the CD single 'Live Forever' (1994)

The earliest example of a career-long run of acoustic Noel ballads begins with [  ] 'Take Me Away' (B-side to Supersonic). A mournful lament about the need for escapism, this song's earnestness is rather undone by some truly odd lyrics ('I'd rather be under the sea' - quoting from The Beatles' 'Octopuses' Garden' - but I'd probably need a phone'). The most interesting lines come at the end of the song, when Noel takes a rare moment to address his growing audience, an early sign of the 'mirror' held up between band and fans that was perhaps the key reason for Oasis' success in the first half of their career (before the band got further and further apart from their 'roots', as millionaire rock stars so inevitably do). For Noel seems to be addressing 'us' at the end, the listeners, explaining that there's no difference between us, that 'I could be you if I wanted to  but I've never got the time' and that 'you could be me and pretty soon you will be - but you'll probably need a line', possibly referring to both the art of writing and drugs! This song doesn't really have the legs of Noel's later B-sides and it's a surprise it's here at all actually; Noel had much stronger songs ready to go for the back of that all-important second single. Find it on: the CD single 'Supersonic' (1994)

The cute [  ]'D'Yer Wanna Be A Spaceman?' (B-side to Shakermaker) is an early example that there was more to Oasis than bluster and noise. A lovely acoustic parable song about holding on to your dreams for as long as you can, Noel's narrator has just bumped into an old friend, remembering playground dreams of being astronauts and realising that, while the images have dulled, the same playful drive exists in him as an adult. His analysis of the difference between children and adults is spot-on ('You don't wanna be a spaceman - you just want the gold') and his narrator's responsibilities relating to bills and children all too believable. While Noel absolutely nails this song, however, with an exuberant vocal, the rest of the band sound less sure - Bonehead, given a rare chance to play lead, simply noodles while a sighing choir of distant voices going 'ahh' makes this song a little too ELO when Noel was probably aiming for The Kinks. Find it on the CD single 'Shakermaker' (1994)

'Right?' 'Wrongggggg!' A multi-tracked Noel is having fun with himself on what's officially listed as the [  ] 'Acoustic' version of 'Up In The Sky' but which sounds suspiciously like a 'demo'. This is one of my favourite of the band's flipsides, with Noel offering a completely new reading of the song to the version on the first album. As usual, Noel sounders wiser and more sober than his younger brother and treats the song as a playful joke rather than a great insult offered by the universe, which is curious because he's actually playing the song not just on acoustic but on bluesy slide guitar (which usually signals 'authenticity' a bit more than 'comedy'). Though Liam sneered that no one would dare be like him, as if challenging all comers, Noel sounds rather pleased with the fact. Find it on: the CD single for 'Live Forever' (1994)

'Whatever' - released to hit the Christmas market in 1994 and marking a neat halfway house between the rockier 'Definitely Maybe' and the more polished 'Morning Glory' - is the first of only two stand-alone Oasis singles. Featuring a mix of heavy rock and violins for the first time, it's probably the first song Noel wrote after knowing that he and his band were a 'hit'. A pretty, chirpy song clearly dashed off in a hurry to 'cash in' on 'Live Forever' and give the public another singalong, neither writer nor band seem to have been very impressed with this song, dropping it from its natural home on the simpler first side of 'Morning Glory' and never playing the song in concert. Even the title 'Whatever' sounds a little off-hand and dismissive, although it is the main hook of the song, and with lots of OTT applause tacked onto the ending perhaps in protest over how insignificant they felt the song was (but how well it was likely to be received in the year that oasis could do no wrong). However this is a pretty song much loved by fans for precisely that informality and the very Oasis lyric that you shouldn't care whatever people what you to be (complete with perhaps the Noel Gallagher nonsense filler lyric that somehow makes perfect sense: 'So just get on the bus and don't cause no fuss'). Noel also got into trouble when, for the first time, one of the sources he 'nicked' from took a dim view of his writing style: Oasis nay-sayers had a field day when it was announced that one of the Beatles parody-band Rutles, Neil Innes, was suing Noel for similarities to his solo song 'It's Good To Be An Idiot' (Innes will sarcastically throw in a line from Oasis' 'Whatever' into Rutles 'reunion' song 'Shangri-La' on their 'Archaeology' CD of 1996 in amongst all the usual Beatles quotes). Too insubstantial for an A-side, but with the potential to be a very lovely B-side, 'Whatever' is a lot better than its reputation suggests. The orchestral parts, which have really divided fans ever since, are a little twee for the most part but work well in the angrier middle eight, adding a touch of 'I Am The Walrus' spookiness to the track. In retrospect, perhaps the best thing about this song is the hilarious demo, which Noel had 'forgotten' was being shot that day. He turned up late, hungover and clutching a McDonalds meal he proceeded to eat during the shooting before deciding to get his own back and sending up his brother every time the camera was on Liam. The result is prime Oasis that says more about the band than any of their ore lavish music videos: hilarious, subversive and fun. Find it on the CD single 'Whatever' (1994) and the compilation 'Time Flies...' (1998)

The mournful [  ] 'Sad Song' is one of Noel's better loved solo performance flipsides for the band. Written during the pre-Oasis years, it finds its narrator lost and frustrated, one of many people 'walking with their heads pressed to the ground'., trapped in a town where 'it's all the same at the end of the day'. Restricted to a life of cheating and lies and getting away with it, Noel pleads with the listener that we can't let life go on like this - we can't go on 'throwing it all away'. A pretty track which again hints at the depth and range of the Oasis sound (something the general public never quite 'got' about this group), this is a fine song that deserves wider release a at a time when maturer, melodic songs like this were clearly being used by Noel to test the waters for 'Morning Glory' the following year and which deserved a higher profile release at the time. Thankfully in the modern age its rightfully restored to its proper place at the end of most CD copies of 'Definitely Maybe' where it 'sounds' like it belongs as a sort-of summary of the whole album, even though technically the recording dates a little after that. Released as a single in France (with 'Cludburst' on the B-side), this track was also a 'bonus' track on some copies of 'Definitely Maybe' and additionally made available on the tenth anniversary DVD version of the album in 2004 and the 20th anniversary 'deluxe' re-issue

One of the earliest of the many Oasis demo recordings kicking around is an early band version of  [  ] 'Cigarettes and Alcohol', finally released some twelve years after it was a recorded. In that time 'Alcohol' has matured into a full throttle vintage, but this early recording sounds more like the 'eight track demo' sessions (though it appears to date from slightly later than those), with Liam so laidback he sounds like he's got his feet up, in great contrast to the 'Definitely Maybe' version, a candidate for the most intense of Oasis' early songs. Just to show you how 'wrong' this is after knowing the future version, Liam sounds almost regretful to not 'find himself a job when there's nothing worth working for' and sings 'sunshine' as a normal two syllable word (!), while the wall of noise comes in two clearly defined sections, neither of which sounds all that desperate. The demo if enough to show off what a great song this could be, though, if given the right arrangement, but as the song says 'you gotta make it 'appen!' This is also pretty much the last time Oasis will demo a song using the whole band - from here on in Noel will perform most of the demos solo. Find it on: the 'Stop The Clocks' limited edition promotional CD (2006) and later the 'Definitely Maybe' deluxe re-issue (2014)

'It's Better People' is a B-side that seems to have been rather forgotten. It's one of the few flipsides of 1996 vintage not to make the 'Masterplan' compilation, for instance, and was never played by the band live. Perhaps that's because Noel sounds like he never finished it, with this track having the 'feel' of a polished demo rather than a 'master' recording. The song is a good one though, Noel taking up the 'hippie' mantra by saying that life is better when we all treat other nicely. A nice guitar riff that sounds like the opening of 'Wonderwall' (which one came first?) is emphasised by some nice tambourine and percussion work and a floaty chorus line about how if everyone could be nice to each other all at once 'life would never be the same'. Not the greatest ever Noel Gallagher song, perhaps, but one that deserved to be remembered - funny how the weakest B-sides of 1995 have been paired with the weakest single of the year. Find it on: the CD single 'Roll With It' (1995)

Oasis taped a legendary gig at Glastonbury in June 1995, their second appearance at the festival and their first with new drummer Alan White having something of a baptism of fire. The concert would still have been fresh in people's minds when the 'Roll With It' single came out in August, with a curiously low-fi recording of [  ] 'Live Forever' that sounds suspiciously as if it was taped in the audience. This suits the slumming-it-but-loving-it recording too, which is very messy compared to Oasis' usual discipline in this period but everything is having such a good time they don't care. This is a song we need to hear people singing along to after all - it's that kind of a song - so for once the audience don't detract, although it's a shame Noel's guitar was recorded so poorly. Find it on: the CD single 'Roll With It' (1995)

'Round Are Way' is another glorious Oasis B-sides most bands would have released as an A-side without question. The setting is an everyday neighbourhood waking up to another new morning, full of pupils doing lines, a football trying to get a goal in the park and - this being Oasis - birds singing for 'yer' because they already know 'yer'. . You can just imagine Noel, cushioned by a year of success, trying to write a song that his fans would identify with and remembering the Manchester of his youth.  The deliberate mis-spelling of the title, Lima's mis-pronounciation of 'singing' as the very 'in' 1995 word 'minging' (meaning manky) and the cheeky repetition of 'Up In The Sky' over the closing bars (the two share very similar tempos) suggest that writer and band didn't think much of this song (another curious absentee from the 'Masterplan' compilation). But it's a delight: Oasis' happy jolly sound really suits this song about the kind of modern-day living all of their fans would have recognised. A glorious harmonica part by Mark Feltham is also one of the greatest guest appearances on any oasis record, which like the song itself takes a theme usually associated with sadness and depression (the same thing happening day after day in the same restricted predictable town) and turning into a hymn for stability and modern day living. Great fun - and why wasn't this on B-sides comp 'Masterplan'? Find it on: the CD single 'Wonderwall' (1995) 

'We're doing it now - we're rocking! What? This is gonna be fooking mega!' Noel's original 'masterplans' included a Ringo-style novelty song per album with family appeal, in the style of 'Digsy's Dinner'. Sensing that Bonehead was the band member most likely to be loved by the aunties and uncles, Noel set about writing a quirky novelty song about an imaginary  [  ] 'Bonehead's Bank Holiday' suffered by the 'everyman' guitarist figure. Poor Bonehead saves up his money for months to go away in Spain and spends most of his time away sitting next to a dotty girl named Avaline and who was with her mother Dot who 'had a face like a nun in pain' and 'didn't half talk a lot'. Bonehead could have got the nagging and rudeness at home if that's what he'd gone away for and he imagines what his 'real' friends are on their 'polluted beach' back home.  Noel spends much of the song listing modes of transport, as he did on 'Goin' Nowhere', and adding in a singalong 'la la la la la' chorus because it was the easiest thing for the people back home drunk on their summer hols to sing along with, apparently. However that was true in the studio too: Bonehead was never a natural vocalist and will, in fact, never open his mouth on any Oasis recording during his time with the band. Sensing his nervousness the day of the recording session, Liam 'kindly' took him to the local pub for a few hours and by the time they turned up later neither was capable of doing anything except taking the mickey out of the lyrics. The most 'Monkees' moment of Oasis' career,  the finished recording is not made for repeated listening but is hilarious - once at least - with multiple aborted attempts by Bonehead to overdub his vocals complete with Noel's urgency and Liam's egging on left on intact, mistakes and all, jabbering on underneath the whole song like an extra percussion track. Bonehead is game for anything, even this song, and puts on his best mockney accent while Liam ruins his voice with an outrageous falsetto, though Noel plays safe by singing the lead vocal himself, treating his voice with echo to disguise the fact it's not in the easiest of keys for him to sing. The song ends with a full minute of Bonehead and Liam still nattering while Bonehead decides to put on his best enunciating voice. They promise they're going to get it right the next time when the song gets played again - but you just know the song's going to end in disaster! Noel's simple demo, where you can finally hear all the words, was also released later but lacks the good-humour of the, erm, 'finished' version which is another welcome link between band and audience, showing they can afford to take the mickey out of themselves sometime. Find it on: Originally this song was only available on the double-vinyl version of 'Definitely Maybe', where the track appeared at the end of the first side between 'Hey Now' and 'Some Might Say'. The studio version and the demo additionally appeared on the 'deluxe' CD re-issue of 'Morning Glory' in 2015.

Taped at a radio session in 1995 and belatedly released twenty years later after becoming a favourite of the bootleggers, Noel's solo acoustic cover of [  ] 'You've Got To Hide Your Love Away' is one of his better Beatle covers. Lennon's folky song from the 'Help!' album sounds good given a faster paced tempo and a s lightly less moody touch, with Noel sounding joyous rather than upset or guilty. 'Hey!' was a key 60s word Oasis used a lot and made their own, so it makes sense to hear Noel covering this song and shouting 'Hey!' in the chorus the same way Liam shouts 'Hey Now' or the Neil Young cover 'Hey Hey My My'. With no space for the small orchestra of the original, Noel simply 'la la las' the song instead. Sadly the 'released' version spares the blushes of the original tape where a gormless Radio One announcer, not realising the heritage of the track Noel has just played, informs the guitarist 'that could be a single that track!' Sadly The Beatles never did release their version as a single though it's one of their greatest songs from a particularly fab year for the fab four. Find Oasis' version on the deluxe CD re-issue of 'Morning Glory' (2015)

[  ] 'Some Might Say' also appeared in demo form to promote the 'Stop The Clocks' set on a rare CD that became somewhat redundant a few years later when it was re-issued on the 'Morning Glory' deluxe set. A simple acoustic guitar demo by Noel, it's played with a much more melancholy tone a la 'Sad Song' rather than the optimistic anthem it will become. As usual with Noel's demos, the words are already here complete and even the 'solo' passage is here- or at least the acoustic guitar version of it is. Dare I say it though, without Liam's snarl this song sounds a little boring performed like this. Find it on: the 'Stop The Clocks' promotional CD (2006) and the deluxe re-issue of '(What's The Story?) Morning Glory' (2015)

Believe it or not, the best-selling spoken word single in the history of the British charts is [  ] 'Wibbling Rivalry', fourteen minutes of Noel and Liam swearing at each other wich paked at #52 in the UK charts despite the band's best attempts to ignore it and disown it (technicaly the single is credited to Oas*s). I'm not sure what that says for the state of British culture, but it does say a lot for how big Oasis were in 1995. Noel and Liam were meant to be being interviewed by John Harris for NME when he innocently asks the brothers a question about the band 'having the reputation for being rock and roll animals'. This is clearly a sore point between the pair, with Liam almost proud of his antics ('Keeping it real! It's part of it!') while Noel is horrified ('Rock and roll is turning up and doing the gig!') Noel turns on his brother and tells him he should 'support West Ham, get the fook out of my band and become a football hooligan', Liam tries to interrupt only to get knocked back for five minutes while being told to 'shut up!' over and over before explaining that Noel's a lightweight drinker anyway  'I'm sick of all these bands who don't get into situations - that's the way we are', comparing Oasis to the Sex Pistols as 'the best band in the world'. Noel chants 'Bullshit!' for the next minute and complains that as the band only ever made one album that's proved his point. Poor John Harris tries to drag the band back by suggesting the Rolling Stones were a band who managed to do both but Noel's having it: 'Are you saying the Rolling Stones were a great band just because they got into trouble?...It's not about you, it's not about me, it's about the music!' Noel then starts throwing Liam's own quotes at him ('It's rock and roll!'), Liam says a fight 'just happened' 'it just arose' and 'it's reality mate!' while Noel argues 'We're not a bunch of boxers!' Liam adds 'I've got a life outside the band!' Noel asks him 'Well - go and smash that bar up then? Throw the TV out of the winder?' Liam explains 'I don't want to do that!' Noel asks 'What are you about then?' but won't give Liam time to speak. 'Do you think I'm stupid? Don't talk to me like that!' sneers Liam, before laughing 'Sit down, you're getting yourself into a state, you've had too many cheeselets...' 'You don't speak for the band' sneers Noel. 'Do you?' 'Yeah I do!' Liam sighs to the interviewer 'He was born to be a priest, him' but Noel's not having it: 'The difference is I don't get caught! Liam reckons he's worked out how to prove his point to his brother and argues that John Lennon had the same problem. This is too much for Noel who turns round and asks 'Oh, you know John Lennon personally then do you?' Perhaps remembering his visitation in his teens Liam responds 'Yes I do!' Noel jokes: 'Well you must be pretty old then, how old are you?' Liam's feeling old: 'Fifteen Thousand and fooking...' before Noel interrupts 'Remember, I watched you being born!' Liam then sticks the boot in that Noel wants the band to be tee-total ('and go like that...' - sadly the tapes don't come with visuals!) Harris, playing with fire, asks what the line about 'white lines' in 'Cigarettes and Alcohol' is doing there then and the brothers then argue about whether drugs and getting into trouble is the same thing ('We all do white lines!' says a shocked Noel 'That is no big...that's a part of life!') A tickled Harris responds 'The Who hated each other too!' and Liam responds 'There's a line and we're right up to the edge of it and one of these days...' In retrospect it's a miracle Oasis lasted another fourteen years after this.  Split between two tracks, which fade down and up again (and titled 'Liam's Track and 'Noel's Track even though both brothers speak - usually at once), this single contains 79 uses of the 'f' word (or one every eleven seconds). Though fans like to laugh at the stupidity of the battle and the intensity, it's a fascinating insight into what being in or around the band was really like and what comes over most is that both are 'right' as far as they go - it's just that, as with most brotherly relationships, the others won't recognise the other viewpoint as being valid. Find it On: Released as a stand-alone single, amazingly this song was put up for digital download sometime in the 2010s!

Though in truth Noel Gallagher can't be heard much on the one and only song credited to the super-group 'Smokin' Mojo Filters', we leave it here because it must have been such a monumental moment for the guitarist. Noel appears on a cover of The Beatles' [  ] 'Come Together' with not only his idol Paul Weller but a real live Beatle himself in Paul McCartney (making this the only time to date members of the fab four and Oasis will actually play on the same recording). Weller takes the lead on this swampy gutbucket blues so close to his own voodoo style (this cover has a very similar groove to his version of Dr John's 'I Walk On Gilded Splinters' from contemporary best-seller 'Stanley Road'), but Macca can be heard on the backing vocals (losing it on the end as he screams 'come come come' Hey Jude style), while Noel trades lead guitar frills with the modfather on what must have been one of the best (if most nerve-wracking) moments of his life. After all, Oasis have only been around for eighteen months at this time and though Noel was already talking the talk he hadn't been around that many rock legends by this time. This recording also marks the only time Noel ever played with drummer Steve White, a regular in Weller's bands and the older brother of Oasis newboy Alan. Find it on: the various artists charity CD 'Help!' which raised money for refugees in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1995)

[  ] Step Out  sounds suspiciously like Noel has been listening to John Lennon's similar 'Steppin' Out', although it was actually the similarities with Stevie Wonder's song 'Uptight' that got him into trouble (when Noel heard a court case was brewing he dropped the song from 'Morning Glory' and agreed to give Wonder a co-credit on the song). However Oasis' song is even poppier, falling over itself to go out for a night on the town with a loved one who hasn't been out the house for a while. Listen out for perhaps the most Noel Gallagher line in this entire book: 'Let's step out - because it's a brand new day!' Like many a B-side this song runs out of ideas before too long but the charming riff, the catchy chorus and another fine band performance (with McCaroll particularly on form) add up to another minor but still under-rated record, senselessly missed out of the 'Masterplan' compilation. Find it on: the CD single 'Don't Look Back In Anger' (1996) and the deluxe edition of 'Morning Glory' (2015)

Running out of the early crafted B-sides from  the band's pre-fame days to get them out of trouble, [  ]  Cum On Feel The Noize (a final B-side to Don't Look Back In Anger) is the start of a run of Oasis cover versions. It's odd, actually, that a few Beatles references aside  this hadn't happened before. While most of the 60s and 70s bands we cover had a love of music somewhere in their DNA, Oasis were true music lovers and part of their 'quest' from their early days was to turn the world's youth back on to rock and roll bands again after a 1980s where synthesisers had largely replaced guitars and pop had replaced rock. Oasis were better placed than most - theirs was the first generation that could have fun rummaging through the toybox of sounds from yesteryear without this looking odd or suggesting a lack of ideas (the way it had if even an 80s band had looked back a mere 15-20 years to the past). This B-side was adopted, bad spelling and all, from Slade who had a #1 hit with it in 1973. Like many a Slade original it's harmless novelty dressed up to sound slightly naughty, cutely rebellious without being in any way threatening. Oasis' version is straighter, sacrificing the arch giggle of the original for pure unadulterated aggression (although they can't resist a comic dig at the band's Birmingham, accents on the fade). The effect is mixed: hearing Liam sing 'we'll get wild wild wild!' like he really means it is a joy, but the rest of the band aren't as clear what their role is, randomly thrashing away in the hope of lasting towards the next chorus. Later Oasis cover songs will be less wild, but also less fun. Find it on: the CD single 'Don't Look Back In Anger' (1996)

The first of two collaborations between Noel Gallagher and The Chemical Brothers, [  ] 'Setting Sun' is easily the worst. Though the title is so Noelly it borders on parody (this is another song where the 'sun' becomes a source of inspiration), the melody is lifted straight out of 'It's Good To Be Free' and sounds hideous against the ugliest set of thudding drums and keyboard effects yet. 'You're part of a life I've never had -I tell you now it's just too bad' Noel sounds as if he's improvising (though a few scant performances during Oasis sound-checks over the next few years suggested he at least the words), while the song was a last minute substitution for one he'd written with his brother in mind, 'Comin' On Strong', which still hasn't been heard yet (even on bootleg). Not one of Noel's better ideas, bizarrely Pitchfork Media rated it as the highest Oasis-linked song of the 1990s in an end-of-decade poll where this song came in at #43. Find it on: the Chemical Brothers album 'Dig Your Own Hole' (1996)

Angel Child is another example of Noel Gallagher not being a typical love song writer. At first 'Angel Child' sounds like a love song - a perfect innocent who can never do no wrong. But Noel keeps interrupting himself from his revelrie and respect for how great a person is with a tired aside about how they're not using their gifts properly. Generally assigned to the lost of Noel songs about girlfriend Meg Matthews, I reckon this is another song that touches on the Gallagher brotherly love. You'd be more likely to describe your younger brother than your wife as a 'child' and while 'angelic' isn't the first word that comes to mind about Liam he does have an innocent butter-wouldn't-melt-in-the-mouth air about him. Note too the line 'does it make up for the shit that you're giving for the songs that you sing?' Ray Davies used to write similar songs about his brother Dave, half proud at his younger sibling's confidence in ways he could never manage and half horrified that his own pushing for fame has turned his sibling into a 'monster' ('Long Way From Home' from 'Lola Vs Powerman' in particular). However this is far from a nasty, bitter song like the ones Noel will be writing about his brother in a decade's time; this is instead a love-hate song about a love-hate relationship that both annoys and thrills big brother, discussing his brother's 'eyes of beauty' and ability to see a different way of living to most people that borders on affectionate. Liam doesn't appear on the song at all, by the way, and probably only heard it once it was finished. The result is a fascinating complex song about a complex relationship that should have been on the Masterplan compilation, if not the 'Morning Glory' LP. Find it on: the CD single 'D'Yer Know What I Mean?' (1997)

Heroes is the Oasis cover song of 1997, this time by David Bowie. Most Bowie songs try to shock or outrage or simply confuse, but this one is probably his most covered song precisely because it doesn't sound like a Bowie  track. In fact it sounds much more like Oasis material this one, with a tale about how everyone is entitled to their 15 minutes of fame 'heroes, if just for one day'. Noel takes the lead, above one of the loudest and most distorted backing tracks yet, full of criss-crossing guitars so tightly rammed against each other that it's hard to make out which one plays which part. The result tries hard to sound proud and exuberant, but Noel is a naturally more melancholy character than his brother and only succeeds in sounding falsely optimistic. The result is a rather leaden lump that doesn't have the exhilarating I-can-do-anything the song demands, although to be fair nor did Bowie's original. A rare mistake in the band's B-side career which hints at just how much the band had taken their eye off the ball across 1997 in an effort to sound bigger and madder than ever. Find it on: the CD single 'D'Yer Know What I Mean?' (1997)

The growly (I Got) The Fever  is a Noel song that sounds less happy than at any time so far (was it written to fit with the down-with-food-poisoning A side as a 'theme' about throwing up and feeling rotten?) We never find out what the 'fever' is but it sounds like the 'millionaire blues' - sweating over the songs on the radio, awake in the middle of the night with the worry of whether something is going to be good enough, the pressure of 'all those who came before me'; no wonder Liam screams '...and it's got me on my knees!' half in prayer, half in despair.  Suddenly the entire Oasis exuberance and belief of old is swept away, the sheer fun of it all replaced by worry over letting people down and the band having to top their efforts each time around. We know that Noel was running out of songs, having written a fair chunk of the first two albums, many B-sides and a few songs for 'Be Here Now' before Oasis even had that name, never mind a record contract. Three years of frenzy has left him with no time to write and he can no longer connect to that hopeful, optimistic man he once used to be. A whiny Noel guitar note runs through the entire five minute song and into the next track 'Sister Lover', the recording cutting through the beginning of it, as if the drone of the song lasts long past the end of the record. An odd 'comedy' ending ('Jazz! Nice!') is then tacked on the end and sounding more out of place than it would in any other Oasis song. Perhaps that's the point, Noel's narrator doing anything he can to distract himself or commenting on his need to stick religiously to the same Oasis 'sound' which once came so naturally but now feels like a trap. Or perhaps it's simply there to diffuse the most intense Oasis recording to date. Better songs on the same theme are to come, but in the here and now this is a brave move to make and still surprises you with its attack and sobriety when heard in the context of all the songs that came before it. Find it on: the CD single 'Stand By Me' (1997)

Sister Lover (also B-side to Stand By Me)  is two compositions in one - partly a dappy love song vowing support, the other continuing the dig at organised religion heard on 'D'yer Know What I Mean?' The second is more interesting, Liam sneering that 'faith in the lord is something I will never have - 'cause the lord don't got no faith in me!' A belated attempt to tie the two together ('I got more faith in my sisters') doesn't work: this is all too clearly two very different fragments of a song stuck together, like much of 'Be Here Now' needlessly stretched out to six minutes (long past it's natural breaking point). The generally down mood of the song is once again impressive, though, making for a nice tonic to the rather gormlessly cheerful recent A-sides and the multi-part guitar work of Oasis' first line-up is heard at near its best here, a creepy canopy under which Liam's depressed narrator cowers. Find it on: the CD single 'Stand By Me' (1997)

A live recording of [  ] 'Cigarettes and Alcohol' recorded in Manchester around Christmas 1997 - broadcast as an MTV special in some parts of the world - appeared on the Japanese-only 1998 single 'Don't Go Away'. Nothing special, it's evidence that success had already sharpened Oasis' soft edges in this era. It's interesting as last live gasp of the 'Bonehead and Guigsy' era though. Find it on: the CD single 'Don't Go Away' (1997)

One of the most important songs in this book you might not know is Liam's first ever song, given away not to his own band but Britpop legends The Seahorses, who sadly split up not long after releasing their one and only album in 1999. It speaks volumes that Liam felt unable to offer [  ] 'Love Me And Leave Me' to Oasis, even though it's closer to his brother's style than 'Little James' will be. The words to 'All You Need Is Love' via 'Acquiesce' ('I believe in brothers, I believe in friends') set to the music of 'Songbird' (though at a slightly slower pace), it's oddly romantic and lovey-dovey; perhaps Liam just wasn't ready to show the world this side of him yet. Though no long lost classic of the highest degree, it's a sweet enough song and Liam's vocals go well with those of his idol John Squires, a one-time member of The Stone Roses. This track is very much in the early Oasis mode when the band were desperate to sound like their fellow Mancs and as such lacks the urgency and innovation of the best of Oasis, but the tune is a good one and the words are pretty darn good for someone writing their first song with a few clumsy mistakes ('Don't you ever tell me it came from above, just love me and lead me to love!') but some really good ideas too ('I don't believe in the wars we fight just to prove how real we are!') The Seahorses were also Oasis' support act on their 'Be Here Now' tour and, with a touch of the same fraught atmosphere as the main act, split up not long after. Find it on: The Seahorses album 'Do It Yourself' (1997)

Just to round up a couple of other oddities from this era not worth a full entry of their own - Noel, meanwhile, was hanging around rap stars in this period and his guitarwork can be heard - and seen in the video of - Goldie's song 'Temper Temper' in 1998. I've spent an age looking this track up and wish I hadn't bothered - Noel doesn't sing, barely plays and the hideous backbeat has given me a whacking headache that even 'Talk Tonight' on repeat can't shift. Noel also plays guitar on Travis' 1998 single 'All I Want To Do Is Rock' which is the highlight of a truly gormless song - why sing so much about wanting to rock and then not actually do it on an ugly mid-tempo song that's so unmemorable I can't remember a thing about it and I've just heard the flipping thing twice. 

[  ] The Fame (B-side to 'All Around The World')  is the tipping point for Oasis after several 'nearlies' and particularly for Noel. Having spent most of their short career so far 'celebrating' the lifestyle of cigarettes and alcohol, this is the sound of a man whose caught between relishing all the excess and rubbing it in the faces of people who once wrote Oasis off and would 't give them a chance ('Is my happening too deafening for you?') and laughing at the stereotype addict he's becoming. 'It's because of the fame I've forgotten your name - it's a shame' runs the chorus, as Noel realises that a year of binging on coke and enjoying his money has left him further away than ever from the man-in-the-street he once used to write for. Now he finds himself trapped and transformed into something he vowed he'd never be, a phoney, 'a man of choice in an old Rolls Royce - and I'm howling at the moon'. Noel is still torn, though, laughing at everyone else with their 'quiet life' not knowing what this sort of life could be like. There's even a line about being dragged 'further from my throne' every time the drug pedlar calls and gets him to collect a special parcel or two. For now the Oasis wall of noise sound thunders on for almost the last time, complete with unusually chaotic drumming from the usually precise Alan White, leaving the impression of a song caught halfway between party and hangover. The result isn't the strongest Oasis B-side by any means, but its interesting to hear Noel's usual venom reserved for no one but himself. Find it on: the CD single 'All Around The World' (1998)

[  ] Flashbax sounds as if it came in a pair with 'The Fame' from the first. Going back to the theme of 'D'yer Wanna Be A Spaceman?', Noel tries to connect with the person he was before all this madness happened to him and what it was that once spurred him on. However it suddenly hits him: he wasn't any happier then, he was as lost and lonely as he is now. His conclusion, jokingly added as being given 'in my well paid opinion', is that 'these things they really don't matter': the music, the fame, being a star - nothing at all has changed. A charming lyric is accompanied by an excellent melody which rises and falls as if trying to shrug off a whole lifetime of searching for something. It also goes through several stop-start sections, the very mirror of a person trying to remember something important, the memories on the very tip of their tongue.  The production too is a good one: Noel really does sound lost and alone, his single-tracked vocal (for a change) simply one of many sounds competing for our attention. A murky whistled section adds a nice element of danger, dispelled by a sudden resolution back to where we started. The result is a clever song, one of its creator's best, and suggesting again that a lot of thinking was going on after the poor reception handed out to 'Be Here Now'. What's more, it changes the band sound for good this time: while Liam generally gets one traditional-sounding Oasis single from this point onwards, this is Noel's shift towards thinking differently, using music as a way of working out 'issues' rather than connecting with an audience the way he once did, for the simple reason that he knows deep down the music has changed nothing for him - that he is as troubled and in need of answers as they are. Find it on: the CD single 'All Around The World' (1998)

A brief band argument is drowned out by the crunching sound of [  ] Street Fighting Man, a sign of what an out of control period this was for Oasis. Written and recorded by the Rolling Stones in 1968, it was famously banned by the BBC for 'inciting violence' which is ridiculous - the whole point of the song is that 'sleepy London town' is too backward and polite to ever start the revolution it truly needs to put things 'right'. Reduced to 'singing in a rock and roll band' as their only way of 'connecting' with their audience, The Stones ' version is a typical mix of genuineness and mocking humour. Oasis once again dispense with all that for a noisy abrasive attack on a society that won't change. Liam's sneer sounds good but is too low in the mix to have full impact, cushioned by the usual dizzying array of guitars. Alan White is having the time of his life though, embellishing Charlie Watts' snappy drum licks on the original with thundering Oasis-style drum rolls, neatly combining two bands' sounds in one. The resulting recording doesn't exactly get the mixed message point of the original across, but it's a good song re-done with care and that's more than you can say about 99% of cover versions in this same era. Find it on: the CD single 'All Around The World' (1998)
A rare outside collaboration, the Noel Gallagher/Chemical Brothers song [  ] 'Let Forever Be' even made the top ten after being picked as s ingle from their album 'Surrender'. Like many Chemical Brothers recordings its heavy on sampling and spends too long stuck in a repetitive groove, with the highlight coming from the typically bouncy Noel Gallagher groove over the top. 'What does it feel like to wake up in the sun?' he asks, which given our reading of what the 'sun' means on his other compositions is effectively him passing down the baton of fame to another band and trying to remember what it felt like to live life so intensely. It's pretty much the last time Noel sounds like his old confident, happy self without any sense of regret or guilt or sadness about it all. If Oasis had recorded this track it could have been a winner, but all those irritating effects just distract from the story Noel's trying to tell. Find it on: the album 'Surrender' credited to The Chemical Brothers' (1999) or the CD single released in 1998

Oasis were big fans of and by 1998 god friends with Paul Weller, one of the 'core' influences that Noel had always cited as having an impact on his songs (and, by the time Oasis turn up in 1994, the only one of his main idols still going with anything like the intensity of his youth). Though Oasis didn't often do stuff for 'outside' releases they didn't want to pass up the chance of recording some 'Jam' cover songs and chose some very revealing songs to cover. Typically, the brothers weren't talking at the time and decided to record their songs separately. Liam chose [  ] 'Carnation', an urgent mid-tempo song from their final album 'The Gift' in 1982 which is performed with Ocean Colour Scene's Steve Craddock in the 'Noel' role. It's a good song and one well suited to Liam's sneer, full of self-loathing as the narrator tries hard to back away from an offered chance of romance, declaring 'I would only crush it's tender petals' if given something beautiful to hold. However Liam sounds as if he's sleepwalking through the song and doesn't quite 'feel' the song the way Weller does on the original, going back to his 'auto-sneer' he thinks everyone expects of him instead. The 'la la la' singalong finale is just embarrassing, not wracked with heartbreak the way it should be. Not that Noel does much better on his solo rendition of [  ] 'To Be Someone' (also known as 'Didn't We Have A Nice Time?') from 1978's 'All Mod Cons'. Again this is a song that should be right down Noel's road, a song that like many of his own early compositions dreams of how great life is going to be when he's a success - only to discover by the third verse that he's 'scared without my bodyguards' and 'stuck in an expensive car' kept apart from the camaraderie that made his youth so fun. However, this is a song that really needs a full band behind it to work (it's a song about the importance of friendships more than anything else) and like his brother Noel's at least a take away from truly 'understanding' this song. Both tracks are worth diffing out though, especially if you're a fan of Weller's art too. Find them on: the Various Artists set 'Fire and Skill - The Songs Of The Jam' (1998)

More (much more!) next week!

Other Oasis related articles from this site you might be interested in rewading: 

'Be Here Now' (1997)
‘Heathen Chemistry’ (2002)

‘Don’t Believe The Truth’ (2005)

'Dig Out Your Soul' (2008)

'Different Gear, Still Speeding' (Beady Eye) (2011)

'Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds' (2011) 
'Chasing Yesterdays' (Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds) (2015)

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