Tonight (1984)

Don’t Look Down On This Album

I don’t make any apologies when I saw I enjoy this much dismissed album more than I do some of David Bowie’s more acclaimed works. Tonight is an actual album, unlike Let’s Dance which was more a collection of songs. In fact from Bowie’s so called “sell out” period I honestly think Tonight and Never Let Me Down are much stronger albums than Let’s Dance, half of which is comprised of very disposable tracks.

Loving the Alien is one of my very favourite Bowie songs. I didn’t think much of it when I first heard it in a single edit on The Best of Bowie but that changed when I heard the full length version with the instrumental orchestral second half make for one hell of an atmospheric seven minute epic. The lyrics are also among some of the most fascinating on a Bowie song, comparing the Templars (Christians) and the Saracens (Muslims) of the Middle Ages to the current Holy War in Palestine today, in other words, history is doomed to repeat itself – and who is the alien? God himself? The one both sides claim to be on their side.

The one issue with Tonight is that most the songs are not actually Bowie songs, they’re mostly covers of Iggy Pop songs but they’re quality covers. Compare them to Bowie and Mick Jagger’s cover of Dancing In the Street, which for the life of me I can’t figure out why people like that cover so much; the covers on Tonight have far superior arrangement and production values. Don’t Look Down is one of Bowie’s most relaxing songs, I don’t know how anyone could listen to it and say “this is a bad song”. Never being a Beach Boys fan, God Only Knows was never a favourite song of mine and I like Bowie’s version more than the original. The orchestral segments of the cover as well as it’s grander and atmospheric nature really does it for me over the original. Tina Turner’s appearance on the song Tonight doesn’t add anything to the song but doesn’t take anything away ether, while Neighbourhood Threat is a terrific rocker, it’s so 80’s I love it. I found the final two songs on the album disappointing, I Keep Forgettin’ is disposable while Dancing With the Big Boys doesn’t do anything for me, although even these weak song I consider to be better than Let’s Dance’s weak songs. Also that beautiful stained glass album cover alone would make Tonight worth buying on vinyl.

Why does 1980’s Bowie get dismissed as much as it does; because an artist who spent the previous decade working in the avant-garde started to make commercial pop music? If David Bowie was a new artist who first hit the scene with Let’s Dance would this output of music be looked upon with more respect? I like both sides of Bowie, the avant-garde and the mainstream pop star. However if you’re back catalogue is only comprised of music which is serious and there’s nothing which is just simply fun and laid back to counter balance it, then things get stale.

Advertisements

Dig Out Your Soul (2008)

Do Believe the Truth!

Alas! A great Oasis album! The best Oasis album since Be Here Now (yes I am a “best since Be Here Now” person, not a “best since Morning Glory” person) one which is great from start to finish, unlike the patchy efforts of Heathen Chemistry and Don’t Believe the Truth.  Dig Out Your Soul is the most ambitious Oasis album since Be Here Now. Their previous three albums missed the large scale orchestras and choirs present in their 90’s output and instead relied more on the acoustic side of things. Dig Out Your Soul brought it all back, creating the most richly textured Oasis album – one soaked in a trippy, psychedelic, moody, 60’s inspired atmosphere.

The first good sign with Dig Out Your Soul is the album cover – it rocks! I haven’t seen an Oasis album cover that good since The Masterplan but onto the actual songs, the first two tracks are excellent and they’re not singles. The structure of Bag It Up reminds me of Rock ‘n’Roll Star in how the final portion of the song has no vocals with epic over the top instrumentation. This along with The Turning and The Shock of Lightening are the most balls to wall rockers Oasis have done since the 90’s. Waiting For the Rapture is a good mid tempo rocker, although I do feel the demo version is more atmospheric.  I consider I’m Outta Time to be the best song Liam ever wrote. Oasis aren’t the first band to come to mind when I think of love songs; with several of their songs such as Wonderwall I’m unsure whether they would be classified as love songs but this is one song which can undeniably classified as such and such a beauty at that. Falling Down is one of Noel’s finest accomplishments, showcasing Oasis vision of the apocalypse. It’s strangely prophetic this dark and brooding song would be Oasis’ final single, as well as with the album as a whole; signalling the final days of a band whose popularity was shrinking. The album still isn’t without its weak songs, coming in the form of Ain’t Got Nothin’ and The Nature of Reality. With the later I can tell you a lot of Oasis fans hate this song with a passion: Me? I think it’s more mediocre than terrible.

The other important aspect of Dig Out Your Soul which I’ve not heard anyone else mention is this may be a concept album, or at least that’s the impression I get. The songs tell a story of an impending apocalypse as we are told to “Bag It Up” because we are “Waiting for The Rapture” which occurs with “The Shock of the Lightening”. The use of a John Lennon quote sampled in I’m Outta Time reinforces the apocalyptic theme (“It’s every Englishman’s inalienable right to live where the hell he likes. What’s it going to do, vanish? It’s not going to be there when I get back.”) even more so as Lennon said this shortly before his own untimely death in 1980. The remaining songs dealing with the aftermath of the apocalypse such as the alien sounding (Get Off Your) High Horse Lady and To Be Where There’s Life (I believe the title of that one explains itself). This all culminates in the album’s final song Soldier On, that we will soldier on until the very end.

Dig Out Your Soul can proudly sit beside Oasis’ first three albums and partially makes up for the band’s lacklustre run during the 2000’s but hey, we don’t look back in anger, I heard you say.

 

Oasis:  1991 – 2009

 

Dig Out Your Soul Era B-Sides and Rarities

In 2005 CD singles where on their last legs, by 2008/9 they had all but gone, becoming designated to collector’s items. With the three singles to come of Dig Out Your Soul, only one B-side was produced. Those Swollen Hand Blues from the Falling Down single – a good trippy, psychedelic number. The box set of Dig Out Your Soul contained a CD of bonus material comprised of alternative versions of songs, remixes and two alum outtakes, Boy With The Blues and I Believe In All. The rarities produced for Dig Out Your Soul won’t give the likes of Live Forever a run for its money but they are with unearthing.

Don’t Believe The Truth (2005)

It’s Not Getting Better (Man!!)

I find Don’t Believe The Truth to be on par with Heathen Chemistry, half is great and the other half is filler. The album does benefit from a fresh sound with the band’s then new drummer Zak Starkey which is easily apparent but it’s not enough to save the album from being hampered with filler songs. Turn  Up The Sun is the weakest opener on an Oasis album but is still very good. However the Dylan-esque Mucky Fingers offers a great change of pace among Oasis songs. Oasis aren’t the first band I think of when it comes to experimentation but songs like this do show they had their experimental moments. Lyla and The Importance Of Being Idle are deservedly classic Oasis and can rank among the band’s best work but my favourite song on the album is Let There Be Love. A song with what at first appear to be very simple lyrics, is possibly the most socially consciousness song the band ever created.

Love Like A Bomb and The Meaning of Soul feel like incomplete songs to me, a shame since it feels like they are the basis for great songs. Guess God Thinks I’m Abel, Part Of The Queue and A Bell Will Ring fall into the annals of mediocrity that I have listen to them again to even remind myself what they sound like. So yes, another patchy album but the songs which succeed are excellent.

Don’t Believe The Truth Era B-Sides and Rarities

As with the Heathen Chemistry B-sides I was hoping the B-sides for the Don’t Believe the Truth would partially make up for the patchy album; unfortunately this is not the case. These b-sides are some of most boring songs in the Oasis catalogue and when listening to all of them at once they feel like the same song over and over. The only song which thought was slightly good is Sittin’ Here In Silence (On My Own) but only just. Although at the time this album was hailed as Oasis return to form, taking into account both the album and the b-sides I feel this period was the band at its most uninspired.

Heathen Chemistry (2002)

Half the Album Away

Albums can be a funny thing, as in there exist albums I’d give an average rating yet I would listen to again and again. Heathen Chemistry is one such record, an album of two halves, half excellent and half mediocre. Do I look at the album in anger that half of it is a chore to listen to but at the same time five of the album’s songs on their own have given me many hours of music listening bliss.

On the good side; Stop Crying Your Heart Out captures the same unashamedly weepiness of the likes of Wonderwall and Don’t Go Away, while the beauty that is Songbird shows of Oasis’ more tender side. I always remember a comment Liam made back in the 90’s in relation to some of the band’s downbeat b-sides that he was a “rock ‘n’ roller” and didn’t want to play that “wimpy shit”, yet the only two singles he ever penned are two of Oasis’ most tender songs. Little by Little is one of the band’s cheesiest songs, although the lyrics of both this and Stop Crying Your Heart Out indicate Oasis where aware of their falling popularity (“fading like the stars we wish to be”, “’Cause all of the stars are fading away”).

As for the filler half of the album, there is no Oasis song I find obnoxious or unpleasant to listen to; their weak songs are just really dull. I’ll admit I haven’t even listened to the six minute track Born On A Different Cloud in its entirety. A Quick Peep feels like the most pointless Oasis song, a short, overly simple musical interlude which contributes nothing. I also don’t like the album cover; I dislike that sickly green effect. Still, that’s half a great album which I listen to death. Curse you Oasis! I’m a slave to anything with your name on it.

 

Heathen Chemistry Era B-Sides and Rarities

Well I’m shocked; these are some ace B-sides! Naturally when listening to them for the first time my instant reaction is: why where these not the album!? Well I’ve come up with three possible reasons as to why:

-The artist is often wrong about their own work and isn’t aware of the quality of these songs.

-The band is fully aware these songs are better than much of the tracks on the album and make them B-sides in order to keep the B-side tradition alive and possibly as a way of rewarding loyal fans.

-Or I’m just alone on this one and only I think these songs are good/great.

For me the undeniable centrepiece of these B-sides is (You’ve Got) the Heart of a Star. This song holds the distinction of being the last Oasis song I discovered which blew me away. This is also one of the cheesiest songs Oasis ever made but cheesy in the best possible way, it’s such a swoon inducingly beautiful song; my favourite post-90’s Oasis song, as well as one of favourite Oasis songs in general. I just have to say it again, “why was this song not on the album?!” instead of a snooze fest like Born On A Different Cloud. The next big stand out is Thank For You Good Times. If you can ignore the somewhat ironic title as Oasis have caused some disparaging times during this, their lackluster period, it’s still a terrific mood lifter, just what you need when you listen to Ider’s Dream and Just Getting Older (sort of like the anti Stay Young).

Even if these songs where on Heathen Chemistry in place of that album’s filler tracks, it still wouldn’t be up to the standard of the first three albums (then again few albums are) but would make it an excellent record. Perhaps genius never really left Oasis, maybe just the ability to choose a good album track listing.

Standing On the Shoulder of Giants (2000)

Where Did It All Go Wrong?

When it comes to general consensus regarding Oasis, there is near unanimous agreement that their first two albums are masterpieces. After that, it is not so simple. Be Here Now isn’t the most respected album in music history (I absolutely love it as stated in my review of the album) but from my time browsing Oasis message boards and reading various articles about the band, I would say most fans like/love Be Here Now. The other thing the majority will agree on is that the 2nd half of Oasis’ existence (although others might say last two thirds, as I said before it’s not so simple) didn’t reach the standards of their earlier days. With the final four albums, all of them have their defenders and detractors. Fans like myself will never stop debating where it went wrong, at what times did things go right, what tracks should have been removed from the albums and replaced with b-sides, etc.

So where do I stand with Standing On the Shoulder of Giants? Well for a long time I was dismissive of this album. Aside from the first three songs, I found the remaining tracks uninteresting and forgettable. However in retrospect I can contribute this to the first three albums being so incredible, Standing On the Shoulder of Giants didn’t stand a chance by comparison (also I feel they shouldn’t have dropped their classic logo, the old one was so much more welcoming). It was only after milking 90’s Oasis for every second of listening pleasure, that I came to revise my opinion of Standing On the Shoulder of Giants. This is not an album full of arena rockers, rather much of it more slowed paced and mellow than the previous Oasis albums.

Standing On the Shoulder of Giants is for the most part a dark record; what happened to my happy go lucky Oasis? Instead we get an album in which the opening song is called F**kin’ In the Bushes and begins with a sound sample of some thuggish sounding bloke shouting “We put this festival on you bastards, with a lot of love we worked one year for you pigs and you wanna break our walls down and you wanna destroy it? Well go to hell!” (taken from the documentary Message to Love). Or take Gas Panic!, likely Oasis’ darkest song (with a title reminiscent of a certain 20th century atrocity). Standing On the Shoulder of Giants is very much the opposite of Be Here Now, where as that album captured the sound of a band on top of the world, this captures the sound of a band fallen on hard times and trying it’s best to get by and I mean that as a good thing; there is a sense of desperation present throughout the album. At this point in the band’s history they could only go one of two directions – disband or reinvent themselves. Especially considering the brit-pop era had now come to an end. Resulting in an album which was the most experimental Oasis ever got (with a very distinctive industrial like sound not present in any other Oasis album).

Even before I came to reappraise Standing On the Shoulder of Giants, Who Feels Love? was already one of my favourite Oasis songs – such a spiritual and psychedelic tune. While I’m not a spiritual person, when listening to this song it really does feel like as the song describes, “My spirit has been purified”. However I hate Sunday Morning Call. I wouldn’t even bother dwelling on it as every artist is inevitability going to have some bad songs but this was a freakin’ single and it’s one of the most dreary and boring songs Oasis ever created. I can agree with Noel on this one; the song was even made a hidden track on the Oasis singles collection Time Flies, good move. Standing On the Shoulder of Giants is not my favourite Oasis album nor it ever will be but it is a good album and it deserves to be reappraised.

 

Standing On the Shoulder of Giants Era B-Sides and Rarities

These songs are some of Oasis’ most mellow tracks so no air guitaring in front of the mirror (except for Full On) but they are good selection of songs. Look at them as Oasis’ chill out songs.

Be Here Now (1997)

Oasis: Beyond Wonderwall

Oh boy, Be Here Now, talk about a decisive album. I’ll cut to the chase and say that I am a lover of Be Here Now and considering it to be one of my favourite albums of all time. The album cover symbolises the bombastic nature of the record, and it even narcissistically has the date of its release is on the cover. The title on the other hand represents the arrogant nature of Oasis at the time whether or not that was intentional; it’s like Oasis are instructing that you are going to be here now! If the first two albums where about trying to achieve your dreams, then Be Here Now was about living those dreams. The sound of a band high on coke and on top of the world, a real powerhouse of an album with everything turned up to 11.

Be Here Now is not Morning Glory. I don’t want Be Here Now to sound like Morning Glory, we had Morning Glory and now this is something different. Unlike the first two albums, the songs on Be Here Now don’t have as many hooks and are not instantly catchy; Be Here Now is a dirtier, meaner record. When I first listened to the album I didn’t instantly latch onto it and took me a few listens to grow on me, unlike the first two albums which were love on first listen.

The opening track D’You What I Mean? Is 7 minutes and 42 seconds long. Before the vocals even begin we get a minute comprised of helicopter and Morse code sound effects with the final minute of the song just being guitar feedback; that’s the levels of bombastic indulgence we’re talking about here. This song is not radio friendly yet it was the album’s lead single and went to number 1 on the UK charts; only Oasis had the clout to get a song like this to be a single Yet they still even outdone D’You What I Mean?  with All Around the World, an epic all devouring song which lasts for a whopping 9 and a half minutes, and it too was a UK number 1; the longest song in length to ever do so. It’s such a monstrous, epic song; a real celebration of everything Oasis had achieved up until that point.

I disagree with the notion that the B-sides from the Be Here Now era should have been included on the album. They’re great songs but they’re more reminiscent of Morning Glory and don’t match the over the top nature of Be Here Now. But aside from the over the top arena rockers of celebration (God knows just how many guitar tracks are on My Big Mouth and It’s Gettin’ Better Man!!), we do get two more downbeat, emotional songs in the form of Stand By Me and Don’t Go Away; the latter of which being one of Oasis’ biggest tearjerkers.

No band could make Be Here Now today, no one would have clout to do so. But not Oasis back then; I can imagine a record label executive asking the band does All Around the World have to be 9 and a half minutes long, and them replying “Yes if f**king does!”. When was the last time a band made an album that had the same “we’re on top of the world” spirit as that of Be Here Now? I’ve never been a fan of the post millennium music scene, and for me personally 1997 is the last year in which there was a number of high profile album releases which I loved. The final sound effect on the album of a door shutting on the All Around the World Reprise signals the end of the brit-pop era and the end of Oasis’ golden age.

Critics praised Be Here Now on its initial release, only later to detract their praises. The complete opposite to what happened to Morning Glory, which received mixed reviews on initial release and later went on to receive acclaim. Are people just conformist drones who listened to Oasis because it was the “cool” thing to do and back lashed against the band when Be Here Now turned out not to be another Morning Glory; or perhaps I’m just in a minority opinion who think this album is amazing? Who knows? Regardless, for me Definitely Maybe, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? and Be Here Now will always be the holy trinity of Oasis albums. Be Here Now, I salute you!

 

Be Here Now Era B-Sides and Rarities

As I stated before, the b-sides for the Be Here Now where more reminiscent of the Morning Glory era. There are not as many b-sides during the Be Here Now era, but all of them where good. Throughout their entire 90’s output, there are only two Oasis songs I don’t like (Hey Now! and Be Here Now); the band almost literally had no filler. I wonder if the backlash Be Here Now received prevented the album’s fourth single Don’t Go Away (which ended up only getting released in Japan) from having any new songs. (I Got) The Fever is one of my absolute favourite Oasis songs; what a choon! While it’s not the most lyrically significant Oasis song, but it’s one seriously uplifting jam. The band’s cover of David Bowie’s Heros is also superb; you can’t top the original but this is a dam fine cover. Now when will the deluxe edition of Be Here Now be here now?

(What’s the Story) Morning Glory? (1995)

The Master Album

There doesn’t exist an album which I would rate 10.0/10.0, because there is no album in which I would give every song a 5 star rating. (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? is one of a handful of albums which comes close. All but one song is a five star masterpiece of musical greatness. The song I’m talking about is Hey Now!, a song which fails to be catchy or memorable, and should have been replaced by one of Oasis’s many excellent B-sides but why am I beginning this review by focussing on the only negative aspect of what is otherwise one of my top 5 favourite albums of all time. The reaming nine songs are masterpieces of lyrical and musical composition craftsmanship, in other words each track is one of the greatest songs I’ve ever heard.

Roll With It; damn, talk about a catchy uplifting song. Possibly the happiest Oasis song and one I always turn to lift my spirit and to remind myself not to care what naysayers think. Why is Wonderwall considered Oasis signature song? It’s a great song but why it? It’s become the cliché song of choice for guys with acoustic guitars at parties. Even the choir at my sister’s school sings it; I don’t deny it’s an amazing song but with a band with an amazing back catalogue as Oasis, choose another one to play on the radio. Some Might Say is the song which started my Oasis journey. I feel it’s the perfect introductory Oasis song, summing up what the band is all about. Cast No Shadow strikes such powerful imagery however the song Morning Glory is my choice for the centrepiece of the album. The lyric “another Sunny Afternoon walking to the sound of my favourite tune” describes many an afternoon to me; it’s kind of depressing actually. The song is about drug use and that is what this album is, a drug. You can’t stop listening to it, even when you think you’ve had enough of it you keep coming back for more. Even the two brief musical interludes are amazing, even the novelty song She’s Electric is amazing.

Closing the album is song with lyrics which are total gibberish but it doesn’t matter. With Champagne Supernova it feels like Noel took every memorising phrase he could think of (“Slowly walking down the hall, faster than a cannonball” or “Caught beneath a landslide in a champagne supernova in the sky”) and put them all into one song and somehow made it all work. Even the title is memorising, Champagne Supernova: what does that even mean? Who cares! It’s an amazing title. Ok, I know I’ve said amazing about a million times in this review. Allow me to place (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? on top of a pedestal and worship its greatness.

 

 

(What’s the Story) Morning Glory? Era B-Sides and Rarities

With all these incredible B-sides it makes me think Oasis could have possibly made a whole album out of them, or make Morning Glory a double album but nope, they made them B-sides.

Why is Acquiesce considered their best B-side? It’s a great song but like Wonderwall I don’t get why it’s singled out so much. In my opinion it’s the most overrated Oasis song. Talk Tonight on the other hand sends shivers down my spine on every listen;  it has the most vulnerable lyrics Noel has ever written with the story behind the song seems too incredible to be true. I like to think of Bonehead’s Bank Holiday as Oasis’ attempt at a Blur song, a track previously only included in the vinyl editions of Morning Glory. Is it just me or did the songs that not make it the B-side compilation The Masterplan even better than those which didn’t; It’s Better People, Step Out (sounds like an early 2000’s pop punk song) and Round Are Way in my opinion are better than most of the songs on The Masterplan. Speaking of the actual song The Masterplan, a tune which sums the journey of life within five minutes: that we are all part of a masterplan which we can’t understand, so we should just make the best of it. It contains some of best, no, most incredible lyrics Noel has ever written. I love Noel’s comments regarding the song being a B-side, “Well, I don’t write shit songs!”

 

Definitely Maybe (1994)

D’Yer Wanna Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star?

Oasis, a name which invokes power and grandeur. Some might say Oasis sucks, they’re a Beatles rip off, they haven’t done anything good since 1996, the brothers are pricks and just fight all the time, insert British band here is so much better. I’ll probably spend the rest of my life debunking such criticisms just like how I’ll be spending the rest of my life listening to Oasis. Unpretentious songs about liking, nay, loving yourself, being true to yourself, simply trusting what you believe and speaking your mind. Ultimately this brand of non conformity comes at a price, and perhaps Oasis paid this price; could this be one of the reasons they get the stick they do? I’m an optimist at heart, thus one of the reasons Oasis appeals to me. Few other artists can strike up such an emotional connection with the listener and worth getting passionate about to such a high degree.

In the tradition of the movie High Fidelity’s top 5 lists; top 5 side 1, track 1’s, Oasis – Rock n’ Roll Star of Definitely Maybe. When I listen to this song I have to repeat the final 90 seconds over and over again and absorb every moment of its guitar riffing, drum bashing perfection. Oasis are an arrogant band and this song sums this up perfectly. The band’s combination of Noel’s catchy hooks and Liam’s enunciating on words (Gonnnnnaaaaa Liiiiiivvvvveeee Forevvvvvvvvverrrrrrrrr) is what makes Oasis the drug that it is; always coming back for more. Songs like Shakermaker and Columbia are hypnotic; I remember listening to Shakermaker well over a dozen times in a row shortly after hearing it for the first time. The opening lyrics to Supersonic on the other hand, the song which they first released sums up my life’s philosophy. Like many Oasis songs it has an obvious message, but I believe at the end of the day we need to reminded of obvious messages in our lives as we seem to forget them all the time.

Choosing a favourite song from Oasis ain’t easy but does there exist a song more emotionally shattering than Live Forever? In 4 minutes and 30 seconds Liam’s powerful yet at times fragile voice waves a wide gauntlet of human emotion, the desire to be immortal, to never be forgotten. Noel Gallagher was motivated to write the song after hearing a song from Nirvana titled “I Hate Myself and I Want to Die”. Let’s face it, it’s easy to be pessimistic and look cool because of it, it takes courage to express optimism.

I have a poster of the Definitely Maybe on my bedroom wall, and will regularly take a look at it to admire its beauty and always noticing something within it which I never saw before. As with the band’s album and single covers throughout the 90’s, the genius comes from their simplicity.

Oasis hit their peak early on; I remember hearing comments from Noel Gallagher stating he could never write songs like that again or else you would get laughed out of town; you can only write like that when you’re uninhibited and nobody is listening to your music. Definitely Maybe is the punkier, dirtier companion to the cleaner, more commercial sounding Morning Glory; not that makes Morning Glory any less album. The way I see it, Definitely Maybe is like The Terminator, where as Morning Glory is like Terminator 2. Sometimes I wish I could erase my mind of songs so I can listen to them again as if hearing for the first time, that couldn’t be truer here. Definitely, Maybe the best debut album of all time? Not maybe, definitely!

 

Definitely Maybe Era B-Sides and Rarities

What band has better B-sides than Oasis? Their B-sides are better than most bands biggest hits. It’s the greatest collection of unknown songs ever. Their singles where all like mini albums, each with a cover which was a work of art itself. For a time I was content with just listening to Oasis’ albums, but when I really started to delve into the band’s B-sides it was like falling in love with Oasis all over again.

The 1998 compilation album The Masterplan contained most the band’s B-sides up until that point but not all of them; a shame too as there are some absolute gems which didn’t. The deluxe edition of Definitely Maybe brings all the B-sides from the Definitely Maybe era together as well as various other rarities, all apart from a live version of Bring It On Down from the Shakermaker single. Not a major loss as there is nothing particular stand out about it, but it would be nice for it to be there for completist sake. Now if we can just get a deluxe edition of Be Here Now then all will be well with the world.

Take Me Away is such a simple yet powerful song, with Noel’s vocals being so fragile; you can hear the desperation in his voice. Another downbeat song with Noel on vocals D’Yer Wanna Be a Spaceman? is so beautiful it hurts; plus it also gets the vote for my favourite Oasis song title. The story goes that Liam didn’t want to sing these downbeat songs as he considered himself a “rock ‘n’ roller” and didn’t want to play that wimpy shit; says the guy who later wrote songbird. You haven’t heard Oasis’ cover of I Am the Walrus until you’ve heard the full length version from the Cigarettes & Alcohol single; The Masterplan version was shortened by two minutes. The Beatles created it, Oasis stole it. Then there’s Half the World Away, a song which sums up a period of my life (and many other people’s lives), being stuck in a dead end town where you can’t express yourself creatively.

Cloudburst is the only slightly weaker Definitely Maybe b-side; it has energy to it but lacks a coherent structure. Everything else are absolute gems, like a secret collection of songs just for Oasis diehards. It makes me wonder what Oasis have never seen the light of day, perhaps those are the greatest Oasis songs of all.

The Red Shoes (1993)

It’s Really Happening To Ya!

It’s a close call but The Red Shoes is my favourite Kate Bush album; a record which really is all killer and no filler. This is her most pop sounding album, not that being necessarily being a bad thing as pop music is an art form itself, while the album still has Kate’s stamp of unusualness. The back cover of the album shows an array of fruit which is appropriate as The Red Shoes contains some of her most rich compositions. Bush was going through emotional turmoil at the time of the record’s production with a series of personal bereavements and it shows on the album. The album has both the happiest and saddest songs of her career with songs of both despair and hope.

To discuss the happy side of the album, the lead single Rubberband Girl feels very distant from the grace of Running Up That Hill or The Sensual World; instead this is probably the most danceable song Kate Bush has ever done. If Kate Bush was going to do at least one song which echoes a mainstream pop dance song, at least it still has her trademark weirdness. If Kate had to outdo the epic nature of This Women’s Work with another haunting cinematic in nature ballad then she certainly achieved that with Moments of Pleasure; a song about the journey of life itself with every lyric being a piece of powerful imagery. There’s no point even identifying any single examples, all the lyrics to this song are so majestic.  Eat the Music is her most erotic song, loaded with sexual imagery in a seemingly innocent tune. Constellation of the Heart on the other hand, what a jam! This regularly appears on lists of worst/least best Kate Bush songs, but sorry, I absolutely love it. Why Should I Love You? features Prince on back vocals, and it’s clear he definitely had a part to play in this song’s evolution with the final product feeling like something out of Paisley Park; not that there’s anything wrong with it. I highly recommend listening to the un-Princed demo; I find both are excellent in their own way. The vocals on the demo are haunting even if the song does meander a bit; the album version tightens it up. Big Stripy Lie is the least pop/most avant-garde song on the album, one which isn’t pleasant to listen to but it’s not supposed to be; it is after all Kate taking on organised religion. The title track of the album continues the line of Kate’s celtic infused songs, and in my view one of her most energetic; I don’t know about you but this song gets me pumped every time I hear it.

Moving away from happy street to depression alley, these sad songs on The Red Shoes contains some of Bush’s most powerful vocal performances from the impassioned plea in Top of the City (a song which may be about literally about suicide) to The Song of Solomon; her only song in which she curses. But if you think The Song of Solomon is sad bastard music then you ain’t heard You’re the One. What strikes me about this song is that there is no hidden meaning; the lyrics and obvious and direct. Right from the first line, “It’s alright I’ll come round when you’re not in, and I’ll pick up all my things”, you know what you’re in for. It’s such a desperate song and she sure saved the most tragic track for the end of the album. Every song on The Red Shoes is a fascinating piece of work; a rare album in which I can say I find every song memorable.

The songs on The Red Shoes were given more of a live band feel as it was proposed Kate would tour the album. Sadly this never materialised but what we got in its placed was a 40 minute film featuring a selection of songs from The Red Shoes and directed and starring Kate entitled ‘The Line, The Cross and The Curve’. Anyone who is a fan of Kate Bush and her Kate Bush-isms, this film is pure nirvana. Granted Kate’s acting isn’t the greatest but its still Kate, I could watch her in a feature length film and still be completely entranced even if her acting is dodgy. Ok, I’ll try and keep the fan boy sentiment aside. It seems hard to believe this is Kate Bush’s first (and only) foray as a film director as the direction itself is superb. It’s a low budget film but that doesn’t get in the way. Ok the shot of her legs moving uncontrollably is a rather poor special effect and unintentionally funny but you could see it as part of the film’s camp appeal which has always been an element to Kate Bush’s work (dancing devils anyone?). The film is full of breathtaking imagery and recaptures the warm and soft colours reminiscent of Powell and Pressburger and even the ending is suspenseful. It’s a shame this was Kate Bush’s only foray into filmmaking; she later dismissed the film as “a load of bollocks”. How can an artist create such a powerful piece of work but for them to think little of it themselves? Unfortunately this would be the last we’d see of Kate for 12 years.

The Sensual World (1989)

This Woman’s Mediocre Work

It brings me great displeasure to say this but I don’t like Kate Bush’s 6th studio LP The Sensual World. This is the only Kate Bush album I’m not keen on (unless you also count Director’s cut). However I would think based on the album’s three singles this would be another masterpiece. I’ll begin with the good.

The title track, well it has sensual in the title for a reason. The combination of synthesizers and uillieann pipes creates the most well, sensual sound. Like Wuthering Heights I question if there exists another song like it and if it is one of the reasons why Kate Bush’s work acts like a gateway to a world of high culture. This Woman’s Work is my favourite Kate Bush song, despite this being my least favourite album of hers. This is it; this is the saddest song ever – the crème de la crème of tear jerking songs. I can’t listen to this song in a public place or else I’ll well up. Although the song is about having a baby from the father’s perspective, the lyric “Of all the things we should have said that we never said, all the things we should’ve done that we never did” always conjures up thoughts of regret that I have in my life of things I should have done but didn’t; but not necessarily in a depressing manner.

Upon hearing the song Deeper Understanding I could not believe just how ahead of its time it was; a song from 1989 about people not only being addicted but having relationships with computers. I wonder if this song if any way helped inspire the movie Her. Even the music video for the Director’s Cut version in 2011 is reminiscent of Her. By comparison, what could you do on a computer in 1989 that you would be spending hours on it? Is she predicting the invention of the World Wide Web? Also take the lyric “But I was lonely, I was lost, without my little black box, I pick my phone and execute”. Did she just describe an IPhone? Man screw Nostradamus, Kate Bush is where it’s at. This is one of two Kate Bush songs which speak to me the most, the other being Sat In Your Lap.

The rest of the album is mediocre to average. The Fog, Reaching Out and Never Be Mine; I feel there are great songs in there but these tracks feel incomplete to me. Heads We’re Dancing is a song I find lyrically interesting, involving a story about dancing with Hitler himself but the rhythm of the song is lacking. Between a Man and a Woman is completely disposable with its generic lyrics and mediocre rhythm but my least favourite song on the album, as well as my least favourite Kate Bush song in general is Rocket’s Tail. The choir featured in the song are far too loud, to the point that I feel like saying “guys can you keep it down, I’m trying to hear Kate sing” and right in the middle of it all is a very obnoxious guitar solo. It pains me to write this review but I guess you can’t win ‘em all.