Lex on Noel Gallagher (Oasis)

I used to have a recurring dream in which I am running down a dark alley at full speed, consumed with anger and intent on clubbing and head-butting the first thing that gets in my way.  And coming from the opposite direction?  Noel Gallagher, who pretty much has the same idea.

The dream ends with what I can only describe as a “broken-bottle back-alley brawl” of major proportion.

My very first taste of Oasis came sometime during the summer of ’94 when my Aunt Ava stopped by my place for a few minutes one day with a videotape of her “latest musical discovery.”  She said, “I found this band last night on MTV.  They’re great!  I automatically thought you might like them.  They’re called Oasis.  The lead singer and his brother are cute, and they sound like ‘grunge plus Beatles.’  I’m going out to find their album.  See you later.”

She’d been taping MTV’s more alternative music shows, and came across 5 geezers on a rooftop singing what appeared to be lyrical nonsense sewn to a rhythmic sound that was smooth and sharp as a scalpel.  The song was called “Supersonic,” and it is still a wonderful piece of songwriting, arranging, and production.

(Sidebar: Ava has an uncanny knack for picking “the next hot band.”  Her percentage is so high that it even scares me.  Ava has predicted the success of the Police, the Pretenders, U2, Duran Duran, most of the popular 80s new wave bands you’ve actually heard of, Culture Club, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Alice In Chains, and Pearl Jam.)

I placed Ava’s tape into the machine.  The video for “Supersonic” was already cued and ready to go.  The sound of the song had an immediate impact on my musical brain.  It was sound that was brutally genteel, and arrogant.  It had a Stones-y swagger that made me bop up and down for the duration of the song.  I watched the video several times and repeatedly took in the impact of “Supersonic.”

Eventually, I heard their debut, Definitely Maybe.  My cassette copy stayed in my car’s tape player for almost an entire year. I found song after song uplifting and inspiring.  I was in awe of the sound, the production, and Oasis’ songwriter, Noel Gallagher.

I was jealous as hell.  I mean, here was this guy just one year older than me, writing the material I wanted to write, saying the things I wanted to say, and playing in the best band in the world.  It drove me absolutely buggy.  And the bugginess repeated itself when Ava loaned me a fresh copy of their second album, (What’s The Story) Morning Glory.  The music was at once heavenly and cocksure.  “Roll With It,” “Wonderwall,” “Don’t Look Back In Anger,” and “Champagne Supernova” shifted my musical confidence to a new high.

Be Here Now.  I bought it the day it came out, and played it a few times.  The album, as it turned out, was the result of a gigantic cocaine rave up and was marginal.  I should have known something was afoot with the band; I found it hard to remember song titles, melodies, and was kinda put off by the monstrous length of some of the songs.

I really began taking apart Noel’s writing after I purchased an album of B-sides called The Masterplan.  I found songs not previously issued in the States (“Acquiesce,” “The Masterplan,” and a smokin’ version of “I Am The Walrus”) that were equal to, or even better than, some of their most famous songs.  I also found a bunch of songs with Noel’s vocals that just sent me “right back to school.”

(Sidebar:  My favorite “Noel” song is called “It’s Better People.”  Originally the B-side to the British single “Roll With It,” it’s still the best acoustic song of the 90s.  Period.  Seek it out – you will not be disappointed.)

Noel’s songwriting catalog is a treasure trove of songs, musical ideas, and inspiration.  Dig the opening track from Standing On The Shoulder of Giants called “F–king In The Bushes.”  It’s an uncompromising “sound collage” of Noel’s hypnotic music and dialogue from the film of the 1970 Isle of Wight concert.  Awesome, and awe inspiring.

Oasis continues to put out an album of songs every couple of years.  I still buy their music, mainly to see what Noel has been writing and playing.  I am still a big fan of the band, but I am a bigger fan of Noel Gallagher’s amazing talents as a songwriter, musician and vocalist.

(Lex Neon is also known as Alex Oliver, the quirky and often eccentric musical genius of “sunshine pop / rock” band Poppermost.  Check out their music and Lex’s rock rantings at http://www.poppermost.com).

Please note: The Masterplan was originally released November 3, 1998.


~ by Poppermost on May 31, 2009.

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