Quick Review: 15 years ago, the release of (What’s the Story) Morning Glory

I have lots of music that I enjoy. But few albums rank as high as this 1995 release from Oasis. I estimate that between its release on October 2, 1995 and today (to be fair, I didn’t purchase the album until sometime in 1996), I have heard Morning Glory hundreds of times. (My best estimate at this point would be around 1,200 times.) Some quick thoughts about this masterpiece:

1. This is Oasis at their musical peak. Coming off a very successful debut album, this finds the band both brash and melodic. Many of the lyrics may not make sense (just read the lyrics to “Some Might Say”) but it is an irresistible combination of music, swagger, and atmosphere.

1a. Some of these songs are spectacular, particularly “Don’t Look Back In Anger.” The three-song run from tracks 2 to 4 (“Roll With It” to “Wonderwall” to “Don’t Look Back in Anger”) is great.

2. The popularity of this album would cement their claims of being the biggest band in the world. Perhaps most importantly, it even became popular in the United States with “Wonderwall” becoming a hit, other songs (like “Champagne Supernova”) making some radio headway, and Oasis playing much of this album on MTV Unplugged (which is a very fun album to listen to).

3. There is an atmosphere surrounding this album that comes out in some of the music. This was during a period of music known as “Brit-Pop” though Oasis was on the more traditional, brash side of this movement (while bands like Blur where more on the artistic/experimental side). London was being reborn after years of drudgery, Tony Blair was on the horizon of British politics, and all seemed bright again in England. Part of the irony is that Oasis was leading this charge, a band of working-class members, led by occasionally vulgar brothers, and hailing from the dreary northern city of Manchester.

4. I have many good memories of hearing this album. I was discovering a number of bands at this point, most of them British. The link between the Beatles and Oasis seemed (and still does seem) pretty clear. While some have always been mad that they tried to ape the Beatles, I don’t hold it against them. At the time when I first found this album, it is a short step from listening to Revolver to then listening to Morning Glory.

5. Though they weren’t on the album, there are a number of very solid B-sides from this era. These songs were evidence that Noel Gallagher was swimming in good music at the time – all of the B-sides could have easily made an excellent album in their own right.

All in all, an excellent album. With Oasis being no more and all the albums after Be Here Now lacking their 1990s swagger, I will return to Morning Glory many more times to hear Oasis at its peak.

Quick Review: You Never Give Me Your Money

This book by Peter Doggett, which shares its name with a Beatles song from the Abbey Road album, is about the interactions between the Beatles from 1968 through today. While most of the information about 1968 to 1970 can be found elsewhere, the rest of the book was illuminating what happened between the four after the break-up.

Once the Beatles broke up (unofficially in 1969 and officially in 1970), the four members went their separate ways. In the forty years since then, the relationships have been primarily marked by two types of events:

1. Squabbles.

2. Brief moments of friendship.

The squabbles began in the late 1960s as Apple Corps started falling apart and the group couldn’t agree about who should handle the business end of their relationship. Reading about all this took some of the tarnish off what I knew about the Beatles. The author kept hinting at this as well; despite all the great music and idealism, the band couldn’t even be friends after breaking up.The Beatles, heroes to many, were reduced to sniping at each other over money and control.

The brief moments of friendship were pretty consistent. However, a lot of the talk about possible reunions (and they received a number of large offers) tended to push them apart rather than pull them together. It seems that they eventually realized that once they were Beatles, they couldn’t stop being Beatles. But they also chafed at being remembered together, as if they didn’t exist as competent individuals.

Ultimately, the events recorded here say much about human frailty – even some of the best musicians are just human. In fact, it is remarkable that the individual members were able to produce some of the fine solo work that they did while the business and personal fights were taking place in the background.

So while the Beatles will remain known for their music, innovation, and idealism, they can also be remembered for their faults.