Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

hi everyone

well, this feels as equally pointless to write about as much as it is some sort of obligation, really. Noel Gallagher's debut solo album has been officially on sale for some ten days now, and indeed available a good deal longer than that thanks to the usual strange "internet leak". not that the latter damaged the former, at all - it sold well over 100,000 copies in a week and went in at number one on the album chart. that's quite impressive.

is it, then, really worthwhile me writing any sort of comments or review of it? i kind of think so, for right now i am still trying to work out if it has sold so well because it's rather good or if it has because "it is Noel Gallagher". after 3 or 4 plays of it, i cannot make up my mind which is the case, quite frankly.





when it appeared i did write a piece on the debut single, The Death Of You And Me, suggesting it was not perhaps the masterpiece it could have been and hoped for. to be honest, and i know this does not make a great deal of sense, the whole of the album is more of the same, except slightly better.

the ten tracks run to a neat 42 minutes or so, and whilst you are never inclined to switch it off or skip any of the tracks, you're never really given anything that says to you "turn the volume up" or "play this song again". with little exception, the album is profoundly and astonishingly middle of the road, ideal for having on in the background or indeed in the car as you are more worried about concentrating on traffic than the vibes. there is the great danger, then, that Noel Gallagher has turned himself into a modern day version of Phil Collins, Dire Straits or a curious, somewhat peverse combination of the two - selling distinctly average records by the tonne to people who will listen to it and not be troubled enough to hear it properly. what a very strange fate for a chap who spearheaded the return of rock to the charts in the mid-90s onwards.

the thing is, though, this does not seem to be all that bad, really. whereas brother Liam wishes to carry rock to the masses until he departs the earth, Noel seems content to be praised for his (very much there) skill and talent, not keen to deviate away from an accepted sound that has made him, in a number of corners and within a great many circles, treasured and admired. Liam wants worship, adulation and praise; Noel wants respect, credit and admiration.

in regards of that last bit, there's a good deal of fuss by some about any comparisons which feature Liam, Noel or Oasis in any combination. we shall get to that in a little while.





there are two tracks which stand out a fair bit from this rather background album, although one of them i cannot remember which it is and i don't have the disc with me. the one i do remember is AKA..What A Life!, which i would have said should have been the first single, and subsequently a blueprint for the album. it's a great song. i think, oddly, the other song that struck me was the other to feature "AKA" as a title, AKA...Broken Arrow. apologies if it is the one after that, (Stranded On) The Wrong Beach, but it's whichever song that (ahem) 'cheekily' borrows the bassline from Goldfrapp's superb Strict Machine from ten or so years ago.

UPDATE : it is indeed (Stranded On) The Wrong Beach that "borrows" the bassline off Goldfrapp's Strict Machine, having listened to it again in the car this morning!

the other eight tracks, in all honesty, neither inspire nor offend the listener. they exist, it seems, to allow Noel to have an album out and tour it, which seems to be what he was after. and this is no bad thing, really, as that's what the fans wanted to, in particular as, unlike Liam, Noel made it clear that he would be playing Oasis songs.

which is probably why tickets for his solo shows sold out in record time, despite the price of them.





you are reading the above correct, a ticket for Noel Gallagher is exactly 35p cheaper than The Stone Roses. is one overpriced or one underpriced?

and, to digress a little but trust me, it will all tie in and make sense eventually, the mind boggles as to why so many rushed to pay so much to be at a Noel Gallagher gig when this seems to be what the majority do there.





what is the point of that, exactly? i gather this is all too frequent an event at gigs these days, but what's the bloody point of being at a gig if all you are going to do is film it with a phone? i don't care how fancy your "i" or "blueberry" phone is, the picture and sound are going to be wonky, with the image usually being so shaky that no one in their right mind would want to watch it. what on earth do these people do with this footage? why not just enjoy the gig, man? i live with some concern that this is what awaits at Heaton Park next year, really.

right, if the High Flying Birds album is little more than an excuse for Noel to be playing both these songs and Oasis numbers live, let's have a look at how this is working out, as well as the "Team Liam" and "Team Noel" fanatics who seem to think, strangely, that it is a crime or just plain wrong to compare what either or both are doing to the Oasis records.

for a start, Noel is trading in on his Oasis stock big time, with both the album (3 tracks at least, in particular Stop The Clocks, are known to have been intended for Oasis) and the subsequent promotion from Noel featuring unmissable Oasis references. in fact, if you search NME or any other music magazine or newspaper that has spoken to Noel in the last 6 or so weeks, you will note that the talk more or less centres on Oasis from Noel. and usually negative, too - he has, sadly and i am sure to the frustration of all fans of him and his music - all but dismissed everything Oasis did after the first two albums as "rubbish which should not have happened". he has back-tracked on that a little, but not much. he has also claimed that he "maybe should not have quit the band" after all, as it would have been "nice" to tour (What's The Story) Morning Glory for its 20th anniversary in 2015.





to that end, Liam, presumably struck down with universal love after the reunion of The Stone Roses, said he would readily reunite with Noel in 2015 to make such a thing happen, saying that both of them would have to "stand down" in their respective opinions of themselves and each other to make it happen for the fans and for the music. Noel has recently knocked back the idea.

in regards of Noel's knocking back of much of the Oasis material from album 3 onwards, well, have a look at the setlist from his debut tour :

Its Good To Be Free
Mucky Fingers
Everybodys On The Run
Dream On
If I Had A Gun
The Good Rebel
The Death Of You And Me
*New Song*
Wonderwall
Supersonic
I Wanna Live In A Dream In My Record Machine
AKA What A Life
Talk Tonight
Soldier Boys And Jesus Freaks
AKA Broken Arrow
Half The World Away
Stranded On The Wrong Beach
Dont Look Back In Anger
The Importance Of Being Idle
Little By Little


i have highlighted the 9 out of 20 songs he did which were originally by Oasis, and by my reckoning 4 (four) of them are songs from the period that Noel declared to be "rubbish". i know that Noel has a perfectly good track record of in no way thinking before he speaks (wishing certain musicians "get AIDS and die" sound familiar?), but he really needs to make his mind up - yeah they are his compositions, but if they are "rubbish" then perhaps stop making money off them, chap? this of course will not happen, but with Liam declaring that Beady Eye shall be "one million times better than Oasis" and Noel not so much suggesting as demanding that his solo stuff be seen in the light of Oasis, i really don't get why certain fans insist one should pretend that the band never existed.





so, is Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds an album worth getting? a bit of a moot point, perhaps. with over 100,000 copies sold there is a case to suggest that everyone who wants it now ha it, isn't there? i really, at this stage, suspect it shall be a case of "The Smiths syndrome", whereby everyone who wants it buys it on release, and then there is only a trickle of sales the week after. if it turns out to be another Morning Glory and keeps just selling and selling for him, good luck to him.

a second album, apparently more "psychedelic" and recorded with an outfit called Amorphous Androgynous (who i am relatively sure remixed one of the last Oasis singles), is planned for next year. i have a feeling that, whereas Liam announced that Beady Eye are to record a second album "whether people like it or not", anything that Noel chooses to release is going to sell rather well, whether people actually like it or not.

if any of these comments have been of use, outstanding!


be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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