Classic Rock Review

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Oasis The Masterplan (1998)


Review Everybody’s wondering why songs like “Underneath The Sky” and (especially) “Acquiesce” weren’t on an actual Oasis album. Everybody’s thinking it’s a coincidence of some sort that so many great songs can be disregarded and doomed to merely be: b-sides. Stop and think about the title of this collection though… it’s called ‘The Masterplan’, which could mean a predetermined ‘plan’ that is meant to be ‘masterful’. Is it not conceivable to think that Noel and the gang had this deviant scheme to hide away a bunch of choice tracks on singles (nobody buys singles in the USA) in order to later release the greatest b-side collection ever? Even now, over six years since The Masterplan came out, it still has to be one of, if not thee most talked-about b-side compilation on the planet. So, yeah, I think The Masterplan was a set-up. But that’s enough of that; take what you will from my speculations and opinions. What’s really important here is the music.

Yes, “Acquiesce” is an astonishing song–my personal favorite Oasis track, as I’m sure it is many other’s. The other track here I was equally taken aback by was “Headshrinker”, which boasts smidgens of a punk-rock feeling and an almost irritated sound in Noel’s voice that can’t be ignored when he’s shouting ‘I hope you don’t regret today/for the rest of your lives’. But the sleeper track here has to be “Half The World Away”, which is as relaxed as I recall Oasis ever being in a song. It’s beautiful, it’s smart (‘my body feels young but my mind is very old’) and possesses the single greatest handclapping performance in the history of music. I clap along every time I hear it; and I get the chills every time I hear it. “Underneath The Sky” seems to be another favorite. That makes sense considering it’s short, sweet and has that infamous part about the suitcase. That makes me chuckle every time. “Rockin’ Chair” takes a lot of the same ideas and tones as “Half The World Away”, which is why it’s not as impressive (though still great).

It’s said in the booklet that The Beatles never performed “Walrus” live; so it makes perfect sense that Oasis would cover it–and they do a superb job. Goo goo g’joob, indeed. “Talk Tonight” draws more comparisons to “Half The World Away”. It’s very, very good but again falls just short of the top slow track. “Stay Young” and “Listen Up” sound most like they came from actual albums, and the fact they didn’t make the cut seems unapparent. “(It’s Good) To Be Free”, sadly, is one I tend to skip. We all know it’s good to be free, anyway. I’m never a huge fan of instrumental tracks unless they blow me away. And “The Swamp Song” didn’t blow me anywhere. “Going Nowhere” is genius, pure genius. The way Noel rolls the word ‘Jaguar’ off his tongue is most notable. “Fade Away” is my least favorite track on The Masterplan. It comes off as a second-rate “Headshrinker” with comparable lyrics but poor sound quality. Finally, “The Masterplan”… seems to be in a league of its own. Either you love it or you don’t. It’s dazzling–the perfect closer for such an album. Oh, I mean… for such a ‘compilation’. Whatever. If this were an album, it would easily be Oasis’ best album. But I guess we instead have to call it, simply, their best CD.

Review Finally, we’re saved. After the over-the-top drug-fuelled mess that was Be Here Now, comes this heroic CD of redemption from that Manchester band, faith in whom we all seem to have lost. Here we have B-sides. No, don’t ignore it on the strength of that – Oasis are well known for putting care into B-sides. I guarantee, if you heard Acquiese or the title track, you’d never in a million years guess they played second fiddle to their respective singles.

Acquiese is fantastic. In about 4 minutes of soaring, harmonious rock, we’ve forgotten that Be Here Now ever happened. Suddenly we’re listening to Definitely Maybe again… they’re proving that they can and will really do it. And we believe them.

Underneath the Sky is a little odd, but I like it. Then Talk Tonight, which isn’t bad, but I would have prefered to have Sad Song or D’Yer Wanna Be A Spaceman take it’s place. Going Nowhere is the second classic here after Acquiese – sophisticated and Bacharac-like, with Noel singing worried words from before the band were signed. It’s fantastic stuff.

Fade Away is amazing. Ditched in favour of Slide Away on Definitely Maybe, it would have proved the spark of life for a lesser album… there again, boasting Columbia, Supersonic and Cigarettes & Alcohol, DM needed anything but more livening. So here it is, finally achieving album status. “While we’re living, the dreams we have as children fade away.” A harsh truth, belted out with such energy we don’t care.
Then the Swamp Song. The strange little instrumental that probably mystified folks in it’s respective slots on …Morning Glory, it’s a riotous party-starter. Guitars and harmonica’s link to perfection. For those few minutes, you feel like you’re in the front row listening to Oasis wow-ing the crowd. This is them at their most raw and un-diluted.

The I Am The Walrus cover is the only one I don’t think much of, purely because it sounds a little out of place – probably because it’s not an Oasis song anyway. Still, it’s entertaining enough, and sufficient padding until Listen Up, which begins with a Supersonic-sounding intro, but developing into it’s own song. Then Rockin’ Chair, “I’m older than I wish to be, this town holds no more for me.” Odd how most of Noel’s more reflective lyrics ended up in B-Sides… and a pity, too.

Half The World Away is the next classic after Going Nowhere. Cruelly never released, it got it’s fame by becoming the Royle Family theme. Still, I’d rather have seen this calm little acoustic achieve single status. Next, depressing (It’s Good) To Be Free… written in turbulent times for the band, performed well. Still, can’t hold a candle to Stay Young. There’s one the band hate, yet the fans love. It’s upbeat, if somewhat irrelevant (well they’re not young are they). Headshrinker is raw live material, and the show stops with the Masterplan. Easily one of the finest Oasis songs, it is sophisticated in Whatever style. Truly beautiful, perfect sounding… and the mind boggles as to why it’s a B-Side. I’d easily prefer it to Wonderwall.

All in all, Oasis are redeemed. This is what they’re all about, how they started and why they’re here, all in 14 tracks. These songs have as much right to be here as any, despite their status. The album stands second only to Definitely Maybe. It’s not a careless mistake, like Be Here Now. And it’s not good but not quite perfect, like …Morning Glory. Frankly anyone who doesn’t consider it an official album probably hasn’t listened properly enough. If it weren’t for this one, I doubt anyone would care about Oasis anymore. 5 Stars? Damned right.

Review Oasis were untouchable in the mid 1990’s. At a time when Britpop was at its creative peak, bands like Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Suede, Radiohead and the Verve dominated the UK charts while achieving some moderate success in the USA. Yet Oasis stood head and shoulders above the rest at the time because of their ability to craft gorgeous pop melodies that recalled the Beatles and ferocious rockers that were just as thrilling as the Sex Pistols and T.Rex. No doubt Oasis’ legacy is cemented with Definitely Maybe and (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?. With those two albums, the band merged the best of British rock into two stellar, comprehensive packages, wielding out brutal rockers (“Rock N Roll Star”, “Cigarettes and Alcohol”, “Some Might Say”, “Morning Glory”), lovely ballads (“Slide Away”, “Wonderwall”, “Cast No Shadow”), life-affirming anthems (“Live Forever”, “Supersonic”, “Don’t Look Back at Anger”) and masterful epics with virtuoso guitar solos (“Columbia”, “Champagne Supernova”).

Yet many fans fail to notice that they had an even greater selection of brilliant songs that went unheard of, most which were relegated to B-sides to a single. Like their idols the Smiths and the Stone Roses, Oasis released songs on B-sides that wound up surpassing the material from their two albums. Fewer songs rocked as viciously “Fade Away”, “Headshrinker”, “(It’s Good) to be Free” and the Noel/Liam duet “Acquiesce”; fewer songs were as melodic as “Stay Young” and “Rockin’ Chair”; and fewer ballads were as gentle, sweet and beautiful as “Talk Tonight” and “Half the World Away” (both sang by Noel).

All these songs can be found in THE MASTERPLAN, which collects most of the B-sides that were released during the band’s early years, plus a whopping live cover version of The Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus”. All these songs are so intoxicating to listen to that it is frustrating that Noel did not consider releasing them on the actual studio albums. With the exception of “Swamp Song”, which is a muddle instrumental, there is not a weak track on the album and any of them could have been used for an upcoming third album.

Unfortunately, Oasis opted to release a single-disc compilation of the B-sides, thus negating some of their more essential tracks off the list. Many of these songs including “I Will Believe”, “Cloudburst”, “Do You Wanna Be a Spaceman?”, “Take Me Away”, “It’s Better People”, “Step Out”, “Round Are Way”, “(I’ve) Got a Fever”, “My Sister Lover”, “Flashbax” and the cover of Slade’s “Cum On Feel the Noize” and the Stones’ “Street Fighting Man” are greatly missed. Indeed, a two-disc compilation would have truly some these problems.

Still, for all its flaws, The masterplan is a great purchase and a must-have, not only for Oasis fans but for music fans who crave for the best that 90’s rock had to offer. Indeed, 90’s hard rock does not get any better or more thrilling than this.

April 30, 2013 Posted by | Oasis The Masterplan | | Leave a comment

Oasis The Masterplan (1998)


The Masterplan? Part of Noels ‘master-plan’ was that Oasis would be perceived as a great singles act in addition to a generally great albums band. All the groups he admired ( The Jam, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, The Beatles ) had wonderful b-sides. Noel forgot one thing though.

Even though all the aforementioned acts DID have great b-sides, these b-sides were very rarely better than either the a-sides or songs picked to go onto the albums. Noel tossed away so many songs as b-sides to prove how great his Oasis band was. Too many good songs ended up as b-sides to the general detriment of the regular albums. Fortunately for us, they decided to release this b-sides compilation! ‘Acquiesce’ is a sheer thing of splendorous wonder. Menace, rocking guitars, a great lead from Liam and effective counterpoint vocals from Noel in the chorus. Brilliant.

‘Going Nowhere’ appeared on the b-side of ‘Stand By Me’ from ‘Be Here Now’. Its rather lovely…..far better than at least half of what appeared on that album. Its quiet, un-ambitious, full of melody, tender effective vocals….

All of the ballads here are top-notch, affecting songs. We have ‘Talk Tonight’ which is Noel plus guitar and a few handclaps. That’s all. It’s refreshing to hear Oasis this way. For me, they sound so much more effective when they aren’t trying to bludgeon you round the head! ‘Half The World Away’ will be familiar to fans of English TV show ‘The Royle Family’. Brush-stroked drums and again, a stripped back and sympathetic production. ‘Rockin Chair’ appeared on the b-side to ‘Roll With It’ – lovely lilting melodies, an astutely judged vocal performance from Liam.

An absolute highlight on this set of alternative Oasis. ‘Listen Up’, ‘Stay Young’ but especially the very raw ‘Fade Away’ work as the highlights of the rockier songs. ‘Fade Away’ in particular has an addictive melody and impassioned but not over the top vocal performance. Some of the other songs here are merely OK, but none fail to offer at least a little to the listener.

I could have done without ‘I Am The Walrus’ but there you go. With their love of The Beatles, it was inevitable really.

April 20, 2013 Posted by | Oasis The Masterplan | | Leave a comment

Oasis The Masterplan (1998)


‘The Masterplan’ was Oasis’ fourth album. All songs on this album are b-sides, because it hasn’t always been easy to hear Oasis’ ‘b’ sides outside Britain. There are b-sides of some of Oasis’ greatest hits, like ‘Some Might Say’, ‘Wonderwall’ and ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’. The opening track, ‘Acquiesce’, which is the b-side of ‘Some Might Say’ is backed by the main lyrics of ‘Morning Glory’ at the beginning. It contained an awesome, blazing guitar riff and it should’ve been an ‘a’ side.

Liam sings the verse for this one, but Noel sings the chorus, because Liam couldn’t reach the high notes. The next track, ‘Underneath The Sky’, had a happy-wanderer feel and was all sung by Liam. It was the ‘b’ side to ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’. The next track, ‘Talk Tonight’, is an acoustic, beautifully tender song and made up the ‘b’ side to ‘Some Might Say’. But track four, ‘Going Nowhere’, is the oldest song on this album. It was written around 1990, but wasn’t recorded until after their third album ‘Be Here Now’.

Noel and drummer Alan White are the only Oasis members involved, with piano, brass and horn players to bring a vaguely Burt Bacharach atmosphere. The ‘a’ side to this song is ‘Stand By Me’. Track five, ‘Fade Away’, was a punk-rock song which made up the ‘b’ side to ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol. Paul Weller (lead guitarist out of The Jam) turned up to play ‘Champagne Supernova’ with Oasis which features on their second album ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’ He has turned up again, playing the wordless ‘The Swamp Song’.

It is constant guitar solos and thunderous drumming, which made up the b-side to the legendary ‘Wonderwall’. The next track, ‘I am The Walrus’, was played live and written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. It was played live because The Beatles had never performed this song live. The a-side was ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’. Another b-side to ‘Cigaretts & Alcohol’ was ‘Listen Up’, it used to boast a solo much longer than the one you hear in this version, but Liam wanted it shorter. Noel disagreed, but four years, Liam got his own way.

‘Rockin Chair’ was the b-side to ‘Roll With It’, and it actually sounded familiar to it’s a-side. Paul Weller’s favourite Oasis track is the acoustic ‘Half The World Away’ which made up the b-side to the acoustic ‘Whatever’. Another b-side to ‘Whatever’ was ‘(It’s Good) To Be Free’, which contained more fierce guitars than the previous track. Another b-side that should’ve been an a-side is named ‘Stay Young’.

Noel disliked the b-side to ‘D’You Know What I Mean?’ The Thin Lizzy influenced ‘Headshrinker’ was the b-side of ‘Some Might Say’ in 1995 and it was written about three years earlier, during the band’s punkier phase. Lastly, the best track on this album is the same name as this album, ‘The Masterplan’. This acoustic song contained smooth bass-lines and Noel sung this one. No guesses what the a-side to this song is, it’s ‘Wonderwall’. The sound was amazing, and it was only b-sides!

If you thought Noel’s song writing was great, just wait until you buy this album. Okay, it might only be b-sides, but whenever Noel writes a new song, everyone will expect that song to be great. Credit to Noel for his song writing, but credit to Liam for singing most of them. His voice suits the music well. But there are arguments about which Gallagher sings better. I’m not really sure, they are as good as each other.

Each ‘b’ sides were of the highest quality. Technically, this is a b-album, and just like ‘Definitely Maybe’ and ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’, this album is phenomenal. The most impressive songs on this album are ‘The Swamp Song’, ‘Headshrinker’ and ‘The Masterplan’. What I love about this album was that Oasis had put a lot of thought into their b-sides. I don’t hate anything about this album. If this album got stolen/lost, I might consider buying it again. To end this review, ‘The Masterplan’ contains superb b-sides which also makes this album superb.

April 13, 2013 Posted by | Oasis The Masterplan | | Leave a comment

Oasis The Masterplan (1998)


I have been reviewing Oasis albums recently, and didn’t want to leave this little gem out. The Masterplan came out back in 1998 but most of the songs are older than that. This is basically a collection of B-sides and demos. You might assume that this makes it a poor album, but remember, when Oasis set out they were something special. That early period is where most of these tracks were taken from. So is it second rate rubbish or is it gold dust? Well here’s what I make of the tracks:

1. Acquiesce – This is a wonderful start to the album. Fast, powerful great beat and good lyrically. This is Oasis when they were good. They did actually release this as a single it became so popular, what a B-side! 9/10

2. Underneath The Sky – Another magical song! ‘Underneath the sky above, there’s a story teller sleeping alone, he has no face and he has no name, but his whereabouts are some what unknown.’ Great line. This is a really strong song with a nice happy melody. 8/10

3. Talk Tonight – A slower one. Noel sings on this one and it sounds silky. A really strong song that should make it onto any album. 8/10

4. Going Nowhere – Another really nice simple song. Has a great feel to it, the lyrics flow and Noel’s voice is excellent. There is a nice chilled out feel to this one. Has a real feel of when Oasis started out, before they made it big and were still dreamers. 8/10

5. Fade Away – Hard rocking magic. This is what Oasis were all about, raw sound, passion and power. This is a classic song, Liam sings out the words perfectly. 9/10

6. The Swamp Song – A live bit of instrumental with some class harmonica over the top. 8/10

7. I Am The Walrus (live) – Liam open this song by saying ‘Doesn’t matter if its out of tune, cus your cool!’. I love that attitude. Good song. 8/10

8. Listen Up – More magic. A fantastic song that grabs your attention and shakes you all around. Liam tells is ‘I’m gonna speak my mind’. And he does. Another one that could get on any album Oasis have done. 9/10

9. Rockin’ Chair – A really nice little song. Nothing special about it, it’s just plain good. 8/10

10. Half The World Away – How can this be a B-side? It’s a massive song we probably all know! It’s just a simple acoustic sung by Noel. But it’s just so good! 10/10

11. (It’s Good) To Be Free – More classic Oasis noise. A heavy song that flows brilliantly. Liam at his best whines his way through with sheer class. 9/10

12. Stay Young – This song sums up for me what Oasis were all about. ‘Hey stay young and invincible’. That is the attitude I grew up on, and maybe need to get back! A brilliant rock song that shakes you to your core! 10/10

13. Headshrinker – Oasis get very heavy with this one. It’s a little to heavy to be a classic but it still sounds very good. 8/10

14. The Masterplan – Noel thinks this is Oasis’ best song. He may well be correct. The lyrics are beautiful; the sound is pure bliss, it’s everything Wonderwall never quite was. It’s just a brilliant song and a wonderful way to finish of an incredible album. 10/10

Well, quite simply this album blows me away. To say it’s a collection of B-sides it is simply stunning. Some of the songs are easily my favourite Oasis songs and there are just no weak songs on the album. It really is something you have to listen to, it’s a real shame this album was overlooked by many. If you like Oasis and have never heard this album, you must go get a copy. It really is a hidden gem!

March 25, 2013 Posted by | Oasis The Masterplan | | Leave a comment

Oasis The Masterplan (1998)


Over the past four years, Oasis has released a slew of singles, most of which include at least two or three previously unreleased songs. Fourteen of these tracks have found their way onto The Masterplan, the band’s first B-sides collection.

Of course, with every compilation of this nature, there are bound to be significant omissions, and The Masterplan is no exception.

The most glaring absence—the band’s transcendentally moronic cover of Slade’s “Cum On Feel The Noize,” quite possibly Oasis’ sole act of self-awareness—has somehow been overlooked in favor of a competent if unexceptional cover of “I Am the Walrus.” Likewise, the rollicking “Step Out Tonight,” a song excised from What’s The Story? (Morning Glory) at the last moment due to its striking similarity to Stevie Wonder’s “Uptight,” is nowhere to be found, although such disposable fodder as “The Swamp Song,” a perfunctory blues instrumental featuring Paul Weller, is included.

Despite a sketchy song selection, The Masterplan does a nice job showcasing the band’s more eclectic side. Whereas Oasis tends to limit itself to one or two ballads per album, this collection displays a fuller range, moving from Bacharach-influenced lounge-pop with moronic lyrics (“Going Nowhere”) to Beatles-esque orchestral pop with moronic lyrics (“The Masterplan”), to such future prom-night fixtures as “Talk Tonight,” a ballad that, like “Wonderwall,” is affecting despite its inherent dopiness.

Most of these lyrics could double as yearbook inscriptions, but they serve their purpose, and on songs like the awesome first single, “Acquiesce,” that purpose is generally to not get in the way of the band’s soaring melodies and sneering attitude.

Oasis will never be The Beatles, but it could very well be this generation’s Slade, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

March 25, 2013 Posted by | Oasis The Masterplan | | Leave a comment