Oasis, ‘What’s The Story Morning Glory?’ Deluxe Edition – Album Review
2014 marks the 20th anniversary of Oasis, and in acknowledgement of that milestone, they've begun issuing deluxe editions of their first batch of albums.
Even though it doesn't turn 20 until 2015, their classic second album, 'What's The Story Morning Glory?' has just received the special treatment, giving all the chance to to cast an ear back on this landmark LP, and dig deep into the b-sides, demos and live material included here.
When 'Definitely Maybe,' Oasis' debut, was released in the summer of 1994, it was the right album at the right time. The music world was awash in the dingy faded light of the grunge movement and its effects left in the alternative rock boom that followed. Some might have heard the music as fairly drab and lacking any personality. Oasis burst into the party with punk spirit, cocky attitude and a handful of borrowed riffs that recalled everything from T. Rex to the Beatles in one fell swoop. Overnight, the band became huge in their native England, with a string of singles all clocking in high and the press unable to get enough of the antics of Liam and Noel Gallagher and their cohorts.
In October of 1995, their sophomore effort, 'What's The Story Morning Glory?,' was released to worldwide acclaim and sales. One listen to the album -- and its connected recordings -- and it's easy to see why. This is the band at the peak of their power and though they would go on to release many more great albums, this is where it all solidified.
First off, the thing is stocked top to bottom with great songs; many of their most recognizable hits are here -- 'Roll With It,' 'Don't Look Back In Anger,' 'Champagne Supernova,' and their U.S. breakthrough 'Wonderwall.' That's a hefty batch of hits for one album, but it was not the whole story here either. The album's other tracks are more than capable of standing on their own and the whole thing holds together seamlessly and without filler. The template Oasis put in play on 'Definitely Maybe' holds ground here, but atop that, they add a wide array of colors and ideas.
The album was not without its controversies, most notably the criticism that Noel Gallagher was stealing song ideas left and right. A single released prior to the album, 'Whatever,' was slapped with a lawsuit from Neil Innes (Bonzo Dog Band, Rutles) claiming it was a blatant rip off of his song 'How Sweet to Be an Idiot.' More than a few pointed out the pinching of the piano line from John Lennon's 'Imagine' for the beginning of 'Don't Look Back In Anger, the Gary Glitter call and response of "It's good to be back" on album opener 'Hello,' and the similarities to Stevie Wonder's 'Uptight' on the non LP b-side 'Step Out.'
Hats were tipped, royalties paid, fences mended. Everyone "borrows," but there is a fine art to stealing. Gallahger's knack for writing catchy tunes had truly blossomed here.
All that controversy was a moot point to the countless fans across the globe who gladly joined the Oasis party. The fact that a media fabricated Britpop battle was taking place in the music papers, the charts and record stores between Oasis and "rivals" Blur, only added fuel to the fire.
The end result? Everybody won!
Both bands kept issuing great records, raking in money hand over fist and fans got the goods. Fans are still getting the goods, as this makes two for two very well executed deluxe reissues. It will be interesting to see how Oasis handle their third album, 'Be Here Now,' as it has a lot of baggage with it.
'Morning Glory' is undoubtedly a classic of the era, and more than holds its own nearly 20 years on, but the eye opener here is how much other great material is part of the story. The b-sides alone (many of which were curated on the 'Masterplan' collection) more than hold their own. 'Rockin' Chair,' 'Underneath the Sky,' Round Are Way,' and the aforementioned 'Step Out' are all first rate tunes -- hardly the stuff of flip-side throwaways. The guys tackled the Slade classic 'Cum On Feel the Noize' on the backside of 'Don't Look Back In Anger,' more than doing it justice, and in the process, reclaiming the song from the clutches of the less than stellar Quiet Riot hit version. It's easy to draw a direct line from the straight ahead dirty rock and roll of Slade to Oasis (though Slade had better clothes!).
Another treat with this package is the live and demo material. The demos in particular are quite special, showing off some of these loud and rocking songs in a different light. 'Some Might Say' in particular shines, coming off like some lost Neil Young tune, while 'She's Electric' has more shades of whimsey than the standard version would imply. All the demos show that the songs can actually exist with just a guitar and vocal arrangement, which we think is the true test of a great song. The live stuff here is pulled from a variety of venues, and capture the band on fire, delivering powerhouse renditions one and all. The youth, the adrenaline and the excitement are driving the bus, as drug and fame fatigue had yet to rear its ugly head.
This new deluxe edition has been remastered from the original tapes and supervised by the album’s original producer, Owen Morris. The overall sound of the remaster is warm and full; the book style packaging is very nice, and it includes several high-quality photos.
'What's The Story Morning Glory?' hit the Top 10 across the globe, checking in at No. 1 in several countries (No. 4 in the U.S.). It reportedly sold upwards of 350,000 copies in the first week of its release, and would go on to sell over 22 million copies worldwide. It officially ranks as the fifth biggest selling album in U.K. history, and remains Oasis' greatest work, both commercially and artistically.