Let me say right off the bat, (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? is is a cultural landmark. Not because of what it is necessarily, but because of what it represents. Today the Oasis album celebrates 25 years.
Setting the scene
When it was released, it received some pretty sniffy reviews. All based on it’s perceived inferiority to the predecessor, Definitely Maybe. Critics complained of “banal lyrics” and the album being “generic classic rock”. Nonetheless, it marks a time of change in attitude here in the UK. Emerging from a period of economic recession and into a new era under New Labour. Premier League football was an exciting new ball game. Before it became the all-conquering financial juggernaut of today. Also, we were in thrall to some brilliant TV – Shooting Stars, Father Ted and The Fast Show to name a few.
It’s when the dominance of American rock bands was on the wane after the rawness & introspection of the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam & Soundgarden. So it reminds us here of a time of resurgence for British music, renewed and full of fun, attitude & innocence.
25 years ago Oasis were the standard-bearers for a lot of that fun, attitude & innocence. Without question, they were a conduit for people to rediscover some of the great British bands of the 60’s, which is no bad thing.
The Gallagher brothers overtly oozed bravado & attitude in a way none of their contemporaries did. The likes of Jarvis Cocker & Brett Anderson wore their coolness in a more understated way. Most importantly, Noel had the ability to write some fantastic pop songs.
To me, Oasis are so special that the day ‘Be Here Now’ came out was also the day of my school results. I was more concerned with getting to the shop that morning to buy the new album than I was about getting to school to get my grades.
25 years ago the Oasis classic (What’s The Story) Morning Glory was the first album I learnt word for word. It was because of the entire Britpop scene and BBC Radio playing Oasis, Blur, Pulp et al every morning, that I decided that my career of choice was in radio. 25 years on, having spent the vast majority of that period as a professional radio presenter & DJ, I still love it.
But, has the intervening 25 years changed our perspective of the songs on the album. Let’s revisit and rank them to see which ones truly provide the ‘Glory’ in 2020?
11. Hey Now
Probably the only song on the album that you could genuinely argue is filler.
Hey Now is a plodding, MOR tune. It’s overly long at nearly 6 minutes which is a sign of things to come on the much maligned (unfairly in my opinion) Be Here Now. And more so what is undoubtedly the low point of Oasis’ canon, Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants.
It’s not a bad song by any means but is nowhere near the quality of the rest of the album.
10. Swamp Song
This is only at No.10 because they didn’t put the whole song on the album. In fact, it’s not even named on the sleeve.
The full version was only deemed good enough for the magnificent collection of B-Sides that was The Masterplan. It also featured on the Wonderwall single.
If the full version had been included, this would definitely have been one of the best tracks on the album.
It’s synonymous with the iconic gigs at Manchester City’s Maine Road in April 1996, with the new Kippax stand looming over a band at the peak of their powers.
These concerts were documented in the ‘There & Then’ concert video. It included a live version of The Swamp Song, that they opened with each night, on the accompanying CD.
The Swamp Song is also something that Blur & Oasis have in common as Blur released a song with the same name on ‘13’.
This is a really strong album opener. But the mists of time have made the use of a Gary Glitter sample highly unfortunate. The connotations of that refrain are deeply uncomfortable, which undercuts what is a great marker to indicate how good the rest of the album is. I’m sure that in the much-desired event of an Oasis reunion that the lyrics for this would sit atop The Swamp Song beautifully if they chose to include it in their set.
8. Roll With It
Enshrined in pop music folklore as the song that went toe-to-toe with Blur’s ‘Country House’ in the UK, and lost. In the Teutonic battle to be Britpop’s supposed kings by getting to No.1 in August of 1995, but other than that, what is memorable about Roll With It? Not a lot really.
Noel Gallagher himself even said the song was “sh*t” in an interview with Dermot O’Leary last year. It’s not a song that’s aged well, and after the initial riff, it kind of bumbles along.
Looking back on that battle for the chart top spot now, it’s pretty easy to see why Blur won it. Not least because of the superior video, which featured a Shooting Stars-era Matt Lucas & Keith Allen, amongst others. That said, Blur may have won the battle but, by their own admission, lost the Britpop war to the bolshy Mancunians.
7. Don’t Look Back in Anger
I know this is won’t be popular but Don’t Look Back In Anger is a blatant pastiche of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’.
By the standard of the rest of Noel Gallagher’s songwriting canon, there are many songs that are far better musically than this one.
Don’t misunderstand, I love singing along to this as much as anyone. I’ve lost count of the number of DJ gigs I’ve finished by playing this. But it’s now so firmly established as almost the default Oasis song to play, it almost borders on cliche. In short, overkill & overuse has ruined this song after 25 years.
6. Morning Glory
The start of the final 3-song salvo of the album, as it flows into the reprise of The Swamp Song & on into Champagne Supernova.
Those last 3 songs complement each other beautifully and the title track stands alone. Just as Oasis letting rip in a way they didn’t really do elsewhere on the album.
Thanks to some class guitar work from Bonehead and some thunderous drumming from the then newly hired Alan White. This is Oasis at one of their more visceral moments. Producer Owen Morris helped the elements meld together to create an absolute belter of a tune.
5. She’s Electric
It’s a guitar-pop classic, an unashamedly catchy & uplifting tune that, despite only being an album track in the UK, it’s an Oasis song I can comfortably play at gigs without any risk of quizzical looks from punters asking “What the hell is this?”. In fact, you can almost see the relief on their faces when I don’t pay Wonderwall or Don’t Look Back In Anger.
4. Some Might Say
The bridge between ‘Definitely Maybe’ and (What’s The Story) Morning Glory. It’s the only track on the album that original drummer Tony McCaroll played on.
It’s the song that retains the raw energy of Oasis’ debut album, yet shows the development of Noel’s songwriting.
It was their first UK No.1 single, and if you bought the single, you were also treated to two outstanding B-sides in Acquiesce & Talk Tonight. It was a sign of the chart dominance of Oasis that was to come over the next couple of years.
3. Cast No Shadow
Oasis, unlike some of their contemporaries such as Manic Street Preachers, weren’t generally known for their lyrical depth. There were some notable exceptions in the back catalogue. Look at Live Forever, Whatever, Talk Tonight & Champagne Supernova for example.
Cast No Shadow was a heartfelt love letter to The Verve’s Richard Ashcroft. The man who, for a while at least, took on the mantle of Britpop’s standard-bearer when ‘Urban Hymns’ was released to such rightful acclaim in 1997.
25 years on, this song not only holds up from the time, but has actually improved with age, and is one of the best songs Oasis ever produced.
Quite simply, an era-defining song. An absolutely monstrous anthem for anyone under the age of 50.
Wonderwall is one of the great anomalies of UK chart history that it was held off the No.1 spot by Robson & Jerome, remember them? Jerome played Bronn in Game of Thrones if that helps.
Even if you hate Oasis, you have to respect this song as a timeless classic, and it is their biggest selling single in the UK, clocking up over 1.3million sales. Even Alex James of Oasis arch-rivals Blur has admitted that he wished that he’d wrote it.
You may not have realised it yet, but you do know all the words to this as somewhere deep within your psyche they’re lying, possibly dormant. You may never have sung it before but, maybe, today is gonna be the day…
1. Champagne Supernova
They saved the best for last.
A sprawling, uplifting, majestic, 7 and a half minute epic. Not only the best song on WTSMG, but it’s also a perfect crescendo to the high-watermark of Oasis’s career.
It’s so iconic, that Noel named his London home, Supernova Heights after it. Its a song at home being played to 60,000 people in a stadium. But also at sunset on a beach. Or sitting on your own in a moment of introspection. It’ll still send a tingle down your spine and make you look at the song in a different way, no matter how many times you’ve heard it. That is the mark of a truly great track.
Revisionists might well argue that (What’s The Story) Morning Glory isn’t the best album of the 90’s, and with some justification. There’s no taking away from the fact that it was the biggest selling album of the decade. It has now sold 5 million copies in the UK, and 22 million worldwide.
(What’s The Story) Morning Glory is the emblem of the last great musical movement the UK produced that genuinely affected the culture and the mood of the nation. But 25 years on from this Oasis banger you can clearly hear a band at their absolute peak, heading towards their iconic Knebworth gigs the following year.
This Story was Glory-ous.
And that’s our ranking of songs from (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? by Oasis after 25 years as a retrospective. What do you think? Did we get the order wrong? Let us know in the comments below.
Check our more of our music articles HERE.
9 Drummers That Became Lead Singers
It’s widely regarded that drummers are the most important members of a band. That’s what a drummer will tell you anyway. Sometimes though, they move from the drum stool to the front of the stage. Here are nine drummers that became lead singers.
9. Dave Grohl
The often labelled ‘nicest man in rock’ is the first on our list. Starting life as a drummer in hardcore bands he then joined Nirvana and changed music history. His drumming with them was solid, and perfectly complemented the chaos of Kurt Cobain’s manic guitars. You’d think the legacy he left with Nirvana would be enough. But after Kurt’s tragic suicide, he set up Foo Fighters and departed the drum stool for lead vocals and guitars. And what a fine job he does as the Foo’s are one of the biggest rock bands on the planet. Imagine being that talented and nice. We’re not jealous. Ok, maybe a little.
8. Don Henley
Not content with being a founding member of one of America’s greatest bands, The Eagles, Don decided to go solo in 1980 after the band split. Ok, this one is a bit tenuous as Don shared vocal duties with fellow Eagle Glenn Frey, but bear with me. In 1980 he went out front into the bright lights of a solo artist and released a slew of cracking songs. Boys of Summer being his most well-known, and what a gem that was. It was a wise choice to leave those sticks behind.
7. Phil Collins
Perhaps one of the most famous names on our list, Phillip David Charles Collins started life behind the kit with prog-rockers Genesis. Although he did lead vocal duties whilst drumming after the departure of Peter Gabriel in 1976, it’s his solo career that really took off. Genesis had some big hits throughout the 80s with Collins’s drumming and singing. But the bigger hits came with his solo career from 1981 onwards. There’s no denying he has some great chops behind the kit, but his voice is as familiar as your favourite shoes. And so are his hits. ‘In the Air Tonight’ was his debut solo single. It doesn’t get much better than that.
6. Roger Taylor
The legendary Queen drummer is known for his ability to hit those falsetto notes on many a Queen hit throughout their career. But he also had a string of solo albums don’t you know? Since 1981 he has released five solo albums. His last being from 2013, so maybe there are more to come? He sang and played most of the instruments on the albums as well. That’s impressive. They are also pretty good albums too. Although he still performs behind the kit with Queen and Adam Lambert, he’s shown he can be centre stage as a lead singer.
5. Todd La Torre
If you’re not a fan of progressive metal, then this one may have passed you by. Todd La Torre is the current singer for the progressive metal band Queensryche. But it wasn’t always that way as he started off in his career behind the kit. Having started playing at fourteen, he spent the next twenty-four years playing in a variety of local original and cover bands. It was only in 2010 when he joined Florida-based metal band, Crimson Glory, as their lead singer. He then replaced Geoff Tate as the frontman of Queensryche in 2012, continuing to this day. Although he’s been at the front of the stage for twelve years, he says that he still feels like a drummer who likes to sing. You can take the drummer away from the kit, but he’ll always be a drummer.
4. Karen Carpenter
Although Karen sadly passed away at aged thirty-two, she managed to achieve a lot of success in such a short space of time. There had been various musical iterations with her brother Richard, but success came when they settled on The Carpenters. Karen was a very accomplished drummer and played live during the early years of the band. It was the success of her vocal abilities that ultimately took away from the kit and to the front of the stage. Not to mention the fact her small stature made it hard for fans to see her behind the kit on stage. If you want to be reminded of her drumming prowess, just have a look on YouTube. An incredible talent taken too soon.
3. Taylor Hawkins
Most famous for being the man behind the kit for the Foo Fighters, Taylor Hawkins has recently gone to the front. I wonder where he got that idea from? He’s released solo efforts with his own band Coattail Riders, and more recently, The Birds of Satan. There’s no denying Hawkins’ love of Queen and Roger Taylor, and his solo albums reflect that. He has a rather good voice and is certainly a showman. That is obvious from his energy behind the kind. I guess the natural progression is to take that to the front. I’m sure Mr Grohl gave him plenty of advice about going solo.
2. Ringo Starr
Ok, so John Lennon once said that Ringo wasn’t even the best drummer in The Beatles, but that’s a bit unfair. Ringo was great at what he did, holding the beat and keeping that groove. Serving the song is one of the most important things a drummer can do. And Ringo did that perfectly. He’s also gone on to release an astounding sixteen solo albums. Yes, his vocal range is limited, but a discography that big is impressive. He also secured two back-to-back number one hits in the US. Go Ringo!
1. Levon Helm
Levon Helm was the drummer in the critically acclaimed American roots rock band The Band. They backed Bob Dylan in the 60s but went on to have success under their own name. An innovative and creative drummer, Levon also had a deeply soulful and country-tinged voice. He used that voice to good use with six solo albums through the ’70s, ’80s and 2000s. He won not one, but two Grammy awards for his albums and was also a film actor. Sadly, he died in 2012, but what a musical legacy he leaves behind.
That’s our list of nine drummers who became lead singers, did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below.
Read about seven underrated rock albums that defined the 2000’s HERE.
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