By James Bentley
Early last month marked 25 years since Oasis released an album that would quickly become one of the most influential music successes in British history; ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory ?’. This was the follow up to the band’s 1994 debut album ‘Definitely Maybe’. Although this would be a tough success to follow, the mancunians did so... with ease. ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?’ was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales over the course of just 12 days. However, according to the band, their time at the farm is remembered more for the drugs, booze and football as well as the chaotic fist fights, cricket bats and smashed guitars that followed. Despite this, a masterpiece was at the forefront.
‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory ?’ certainly has a more polished and enriched sound to it and this is immediately evident from it’s opening track - ‘Hello’. Not only do the riffs of the electric guitars sound healthier, but the drums also seem to express a stronger and more vibrant composition. Furthermore, Liam’s vocals only seem to have progressed further in both power and confidence.
Following on from ‘Hello’ is ‘Roll With It’. Whilst still holding elements of that dirt and grittiness present throughout ‘Definitely Maybe’, it also embraces the more upbeat and positive ambience that is ‘(What’s the Story)’. ‘Roll With It’ also defined the well documented Britpop rivalry that the band shared with Blur. Between this and ‘Country House’ it was a battle of the bands for the number one spot that week. Spoiler alert ! It would be Blur that would go to number one. However, as it has been quoted so many times in the media over the last two decades ‘Blur may have won the battle, but Oasis won the war’.
The next two tracks on ‘Morning Glory ?’ are not only two of the most important and successful songs on the album, but the most important and successful of the bands career (as well as ‘Live Forever’). With Noel on acoustic, Bonehead on piano and the clarity of Liam’s vocals, ‘Wonderwall’ is the band’s first attempt at a soft rock ballad. With lyrics such as ‘Today is gonna be the day...’, this song holds a place in every Mancs heart. Furthermore, can anybody honestly say they’ve not been in the shower, at a wedding or just staggering home drunk, and not suddenly just felt the urge to belt out "I said maaybeeeee"!
Not only was ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ the first Oasis single to feature Noel solely on the vocals, but it was also the second Oasis single to reach number one in the UK - and with the power of that spine-tingling chorus, there’s no question as to why. It is also heavily influenced by the Beatles. From the very first second, the opening piano riffs replicate John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. Noel has also stated that the lyrics ‘So I start a revolution from my bed / ‘Cause you said the brains I had went to my head’ were inspired from a cassette tape that he had picked up from the United States, containing memoirs from the late, great John Lennon. However, what draws us Mancunians to this song is that it wears its proverbial heart on its sleeve. After the tragic events of 2017, we will forever sing that song, with pride, with respect and most importantly with love.
‘Hey Now’ is possibly the most underrated track of the album. I’m not suggesting that it’s the best song on there. However, between Liam’s vocal delivery, and each band member performing to an equally high standard, I do feel that this track does not get the appraisal that it deserves. Perhaps the listener is still trying to catch their breath back from Sally, who knows!
‘Some Might Say’ was not only the first single to be released off the album but it was also the first Oasis song to reach number one in the UK. A crowd pleaser, a road trip cruiser, a stadium anthem and a back garden barbecue jam if I ever heard one. I also consider ‘Some Might Say’ to be more relevant than ever during these difficult and unprecedented times. As we enter a second lockdown, lyrics such as ‘Some might say that sunshine follows thunder’, ‘Some might say, we will find a brighter day’ convey a very positive and inspiring message. So for everybody reading this, look after yourselves and keep yourself safe.
‘Cast No Shadow’ is undoubtedly the most gentle track on the album. With the vocals shared between Noel and Liam and it’s Verve-like composition, this track provides a brief element of warmth and peace between the two brothers. It also offers a sense of melancholy as we know where things currently stand between the two today.
Now, every album has that one track that wasn’t released as a single, but could have been one anyway. On ‘(What’s the Story)’ it’s ‘She’s Electric’. Between Liam’s surprisingly impressive high pitch vocals, the upbeat melody and the simplicity of the lyrics; ‘She’s Electric’ makes for a song that everybody knows and wants to sing along to. The chorus also interpolates lyrics from a children's television programme in the 1980’s called ‘Me and You’.
‘Morning Glory’ is certainly the toughest track on the album. With overly amplified and gritty electric guitar riffs that closely resemble ‘Rock N Roll Star’, and lyrics such as ‘All your dreams are made / When you’re chained to the mirror of your razor blade’ (snorting Cocaine), this song doesn’t take any prisoners. That polished and enriched sound appears almost completely absent on this track. Nonetheless, the song sits perfectly comfortable on the album.
Last but not least is ‘Champagne Supernova’, 7 minutes and 28 seconds of pure blissful brilliance; it’s the curtain nobody wants to close. It is everything great about the album rolled into one track. It retains that positivity and enrichment, but with a few pinches of sadness sprinkled on top as it draws the album to a close. Furthermore, lyrics containing oxymorons such as ‘Slowly walking down the hall / Faster than a cannonball’ illustrate just how much of a humble genius Noel Gallagher can really be. Although bittersweet, it’s a beautiful conclusion to a masterpiece.
From ‘Hello’ to ‘Champagne Supernova’, ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory ?’ illustrates how these working class lads from Burnage had dipped their toes in the pool of fame. A life on the dole, going to Sifters and getting high in the garden, had been exchanged for worldwide tours, money, fame, women, parties and a shit load of Class A drugs - and they were loving it. It might not have received the appraisal it deserved upon its initial release, but the people loved it, and like Noel recently stated, this was an album for the people, and after 25 years - it still very much is.
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