Ah….time….how precious it is. And, in some cases, what we like to forget. Moments in our memories that somehow include: Koosh Balls, Birkenstocks, overalls, 90210 and (shudder) DIAL-UP ISPs. But, luckily, the MUSIC of the 1990s made a more promising, indelible mark, and in the case of some, live on as classic art in the truest sense. Welcome back, as I continue to countdown the top 10 albums of the 90s. In case you missed them, here’s what has come to pass so far.
First Post – Numbers 10 and 9
Second Post – Number 8
To quote the universal heartthrobs known as Color Me Badd…Thinkin’ Back…
7: Oasis – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory
Since I got the obscure pick out of the way at #10, why not go high and inside and deliver the (maybe) controversial one here. Look, I get it, they check ALL of the boxes why a vast majority would dislike a band:
Obnoxious Lead Singer? – CHECK
Sound a little TOO much like a seminal 60’s band? – Oh My Gosh BOLD MARKER CHECK
Proclaim to be the biggest band in the world? – probably since they were in a garage CHECK
(and in this distinct time frame) NOT Dave Mathews? - What Would You Say! CHECK
I’m nodding along with you, I totally understand….but here’s the thing. All that, whether put to the side or glared at directly, does not take away from the simple fact, that this is not only a tremendous piece of work, but was groundbreaking(ish). It can be argued, that up until the point that "Live Forever" (from the debut record Definitely Maybe) made some noise on U.S. terrestrial radio, (ask your folks, kids) there REALLY hadn’t been a British band that cracked the code for about 10-15 years.
Because of some of the records that came out in the 80s, and others we will talk about later down (up?) the list, the American 20-something was listening to more “alternative rock” than just about any other genre. And in that alternative town, there were many streets: Grunge Blvd, TrippyJam Ave, Jangley St….and Oasis with THIS record, started to pave BritPop Road. Were there other UK bands with them trying to grab the asphalt to pour? Sure! Blur with Song 2 (or, as most refer to it…the WHOOHOO song) was a decent radio hit, but in the U.S. ranks right alongside Tommy Tutone’s Jenny for one hit wonders. Stone Roses TRIED to win over a stateside audience by totally changing their sound with Love Spreads. Those of us who loved them from the first album (in my top 10 of the 1980s) recoiled at the Zepplin-like departure; those who didn’t know them, save for the hype, cast them astray.
So, in a way, it’s even more astounding that this band, with ALL of those check marks I pointed out earlier, was able to take the momentum from their first release, and build on it tremendously.
Morning Glory is a band at full throttle, putting care into every note, every beat, every measure of sound. It produced not one, but TWO #1 singles on the Billboard Modern Rock chart. “Wonderwall”, the first of these, is a standout track. Straightforward in its simplicity, it draws the listener in from the jump, with the recognizable Noel Gallagher (the nicer? of the two brothers) guitar setting the tone, before Liam’s (yup, he would be the bad brother) distinct voice (rasp and whine…oooooh that would be a GREAT name for a 2016 post-rock indie band from Idaho!) comes over the top. It’s not tricky, it’s not overt, but damn does it grab you instantly and not let go. The other chart topper, “Champagne Supernova”, to me, is even better. A composition written for (UK) stadiums, with psychedelic over AND undertones, (the music is Sgt. Peppers 101…in the best way possible) to be enjoyed as it washes over the listener, and starts to invade the part of them that FEELS the song. And really, if you can weave in an image of a cannonball rolling in a hallway, how can you go wrong? The record is not just those songs however. “Roll With It” “Some Might Say” and “Don’t Look Back In Anger” not only received moderate radio exposure, but became live set staples for a decade-plus for the band. Is there filler? Yes, but even that is pretty good for filler sake. Sadly, like the band at #8 on my list, this would be the zenith for Oasis.
The subsequent releases, while having very high highs, did not have the mass appeal that one (read: LIAM) would have hoped or thought they deserved/earned. (I will say as an aside, I do believe Standing on the Shoulder of Giants is a much better record than it gets credit for) If you haven’t listened to Morning Glory in a while, I would implore you to give it a spin, it might be better than you remembered…
….or the checks in the boxes may still get in the way.
Comments? Hit me up on:
twitter @dougplourd or @notetationdoug
Coming Up NEXT :
A band starts version 2.0 of themselves…