Dedicated to Mr Peter Healy, RIP
‘For you, Petey’
When my daughter handed me the new Liam Gallagher album, As You Were, this Christmas, it was accepted with a smile but also with more than a hint of interpretation.
Not since the release of Oasis’ fourth offering, ‘Standing On The Shoulder of Giants’, had my interest in the Brit-Pop Super-Group been above mild. Admittedly, like supporting a ‘useless local football team’, I was always willing to keep an eye (not truly an ear) out for the escapades of ‘The Brothers Grim’.
They’re like, an isolated flame continuing to flicker, refusing to die, across my musical horizons. ‘Do You Know What I Mean?’
A brief history will show that Oasis and The Gallagher Brothers, Liam and Noel, have always remained ‘box office fare’ for both internet public and tabloid journalists, alike. As much for their on-stage/off-stage antics as their musical exploits.
And just like a Greek Tragedy, in 2009, we finally had ‘The Oasian Implosion’. The band split in a nuclear fashion, 10 minutes prior to taking the stage at a Parisian Festival. Rock ‘n’ Roll-style!
Noel went on to form his ‘High Flying Birds’.
Whilst Liam formed the non-descript ‘Beady Eye’.
Then in late 2017, after much promotion through both radio and terrestrial talk-shows, we finally had the first ‘solo’ studio offering from Liam Gallagher.
Visually, the album artwork is quality. The simplistic creamed backdrop, framing an emotionless photograph of The Younger Gallagher, heralds the impending intent.
Does the music match this powerful ‘first impression’?
Breaking The Wall of Glass
The record opens with the aggressive harmonica-led riff of Wall Of Glass. Immediately this ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll’ stomper piques the interest. Of course, it echoes the Anarchic Days of the mid-nineties, definitely (maybe!). It also reaffirms the vocal power and prowess of Gallagher. ‘One day, you’ll shatter like a Wall of Glass’…
What an opener!
The second track, Bold, feels honest, intriguing, reflective and very Oasis-esque. ‘Yes, I know, I’ve been bold… I didn’t do what I’ve been told’
Think: Cast No Shadow.
Think: The Master Plan.
And then comes the ‘filth-monster’ (to paraphrase Gallagher, himself!), Greedy Soul. The swagger, aggression, the attitude! Liam Gallagher is back, and ‘you’re getting told’… Make no mistake!
Paper Crown slows down the hectic pace, with melodic isolative intelligence, the sort that John Lennon would be proud of… ’hold your breath and don’t look down, and the pages of your paper crown’.
This is followed by the stand-out track on the album: For What It’s Worth. Although, a Beetle-esque tribute, it’s emotional, open and (I feel) Gallagher’s attempt to ‘wipe the slate clean’ on some of his previous escapades. The message of the song is captured in the very first line: ‘In my defence, all my intentions were good’. This track is more than a song. It’s an admission, an acceptance. It’s the anthesis to the record’s ‘point-to-prove’ artwork, this is very much the softer-side of the Manchurian Hell-raiser.
Track 6, When I’m in Need is the weakest offering on the record. It simply shouldn’t be here. It’s a contrived, plodding, meandering parody of the psychedelic-era Beetles… minus the mushrooms. ‘She’s so purple haze, you know what I mean…’
The pace picks up again with the warning ‘You Better Run’. This song is foot-stomping fun, exactly what Rock ’n’ Roll is meant to be. ‘See me, a living wonder, I’m gonna see you on the other side, Well I’m gonna steal your thunder… you better run, you better hide!’
I Get By is a follow-up-filler about revival, that keeps the record ticking over nicely. ‘I’m all messed up, but I’m over you’…
Chinatown is great. It’s melodic. It’s explorative. It’s acoustic and stripped down. With this track, it’s fair to say that ‘Happiness is still a warm gun’. Enjoy!
Chinatown, like a geographical location, is unfortunately where the album peaks and from there on we drift through the final trio of tracks (Come Back To Me, Universal Gleam and I’ve All Need) across a desert-like plateau of blandness. The songs themselves are bland. The voice of Gallagher lifts them considerably above.
The album ends disappointingly with a whimper rather than a memorable stomping finale.
Overall, As You Were is an upstanding, proud and honest piece of work. It’s got an attitude, feeling, a few surprises and it’s imperfect, too. There’s plenty to work with. There’s still life in the ‘aul dog!’. The production (from Kurstin et al) is sharp, crisp and strong throughout. It echoes the album’s artwork in this strength. And it’s the production which sets it apart from previous Oasis albums.
This record reaffirms the vocal agility of ‘The Younger Gallagher’. As a performer, he’s got that talent, that can raise what would’ve otherwise have been an average song, into something much more notable.
In conclusion, As You Were is a Reaffirmation.
…and what about Liam’s renowned tea-making abilities?
Standout Track: For What It’s Worth
What’s Noel been up to?
Our next review will reveal all!