The Most Important Album Ever

I don’t usually post my random mouthing off thoughts about albums shortly after my first listen, because I think most albums are at least worth two before I mouth off about them. I also don’t usually post my thoughts about my general “I should listen to this” albums, the ones that still take up a place in my Downloads folder, albeit a shrinking one. Maybe they’ll get a Minidiscovering on Status, but they’re not usually worth a whole entire blog post about them. I’d be writing about nothing but music otherwise.

This evening, I decided to dive into the one in that folder that I was probably least likely to ever get around to, that being (What’s the Story) Morning Glory by Oasis. I’m making an exception for it because I realized something right around “Hey Now!”, and that’s that I’ve never heard an album that was intended to sound important. As in, purpose-built to be important.

Everyone’s heard of what gigantic tools both the Gallagher brothers are, but I’ve never thought ego itself can bleed into music quite like this. Of course, I listen to prog and it sounds like masturbation. This sounds like a different kind of masturbation, the kind where you can tell they were shooting for the sound of an album where every song is an enduring radio hit. Of course, this one’s got a few–“Wonderwall” and “Champagne Supernova” being the obvious examples.

You can kind of imagine it just from the song titles–“Some Might Say”, “Cast No Shadow”, even “Don’t Look Back in Anger” to a degree. They’re really vague but powerful-sounding titles, aren’t they? There’s statements made in them, statements wrapped up as these little pop gems. And when you actually listen to the songs on it, they’re huge sounding. It’s not shoegaze huge, it’s not just a wall of sound. It’s an important, grand wall of sound. All the vocals are super treated, there’s strings, the vocal melodies have this soaring quality to them like everything being said is gospel.

“Cast No Shadow” really has some lyrics that sound so huge and so declarative that it’s actually kind of amusing to learn it was written for the “Bittersweet Symphony” guy, Richard Ashcroft of the Verve.

Here’s a thought for every man
Who tries to understand what is in his hands
He walks along the open road of love and life
Surviving if he can

Bound with all the weight of all the words he tried to say
Chained to all the places that he never wished to stay
Bound with all the weight of all the words he tried to say
As he faced the sun, he cast no shadow

Such a personal origin, totally blown out by this important, important-sounding song. Right after that, you get “She’s Electric”, which is this stompy piano thing, again, very “that’s the single” sounding, but my favorite part is when, out of the corner of my ear, I catch the lines “But I quite fancy her mother/And I think that she likes me.

Oasis is odd.

I really have to stress the distinction. I’ve heard albums where every song on it stays relevant, but they usually sound pretty effortless, or at least natural. Two that stick out to me are the first Boston record and the first Cars record, and I love both and I own both. Boston has some organ bits and grand intros, but when you get down to it, isn’t it really a straight 70’s rock record? There’s not really a ton that’s challenging about “Peace of Mind”. It’s just catchy.

And on the topic of that Cars record, again, the pop tunes sound really effortless, but more importantly, there’s songs that sound like screwing around. “I’m in Touch With Your World” doesn’t really have riffs or leads or anything, it’s more like sounds. Stray fireworks of electronic bloops and guitar licks. And not to say that that’s a bad thing! It stands out among the, again, effortless pop tunes. “My Best Friend’s Girl” and “Just What I Needed” and “Bye Bye Love”, they don’t come off like they took a ton of time to bang out.

I’ve heard albums that have the big crazy gigantic song at the end of the album. I’ve never heard an album where every song tried to be that big crazy gigantic song. A lot of the codas on these things are really just repeating the refrain and some noodling too, but again, the rhythm section is so gargantuan that it’s mostly amusing. All this sonic chaos, and all you can say for it is “I need a little time to wake up”.

It might sound like I’m complaining, but I’m probably not. I do this thing a lot where I’ll mention something I find really odd and people around me will think I’m complaining, but it’s not. The album itself is catchy, and the thing sold like cocaine-dusted Frosted Flakes, so I guess it gets to sound as important as it wants. This might be one where I really like a few songs (“Champagne” and “Anger” are easily the best songs on here) and the rest of the album’s pretty good, I’m not sure. I’ll have to give it some more listens.

One thing I will say in closing is that the mix of this thing, if you can get a rip of the SACD surround mix and downmix it to stereo, it’ll eat the shitty, compressed CD mix this album was infamous for. When “Champagne Supernova” gets all big and loud, it actually gets big and loud, not just distorted. Sounds fucking great.

The SACD surround mix of “Champagne Supernova”, downmixed to stereo

4 Responses to “The Most Important Album Ever”

  1. Caby Says:

    You may not be complaining, but I sure am. Oasis got played to death over here. I hope both the Gallagher brothers get peed on by a dog every day for the rest of forever.

    “Let’s get every instrument on this song, that’ll make it sound fancy”
    “Good idea. Should we learn how to pronounce words though?”
    “Nah, why bother,,”

    On a different note, I thought Bitter Sweet Symphony was an Oasis song when I was little. They all kinda blended together.

  2. mariteaux Says:

    I was wondering how an actual British person thought of them as I wrote this…I’ve heard people complain about Queen in the same way, but Queen are legends so all is well. Oasis are…legends for the wrong reasons? It’s okay, I don’t think the album is good enough that you’ll hear me playing it a lot :3c

    And yeah, it kinda sounds like one, doesn’t it? It’s an okay song. I don’t think it’s worth hundreds of millions of views, but it’s alright.

  3. devon Says:

    I’m still grateful I got this mix too, since it’s a massive difference compared to completely brickwalled original. It’s just more pleasant to listen it, less heavy on your ears. Wish Definitely Maybe got a better mix, but this is impossible I guess.

    It’s interesting thing how Oasis from the start wanted to be big, pushed both of for most impossible dreams of getting insanely big and ever so huge egos of Gallaghers. They sounded extremely big until it spectacularly crashed with Be Here Now (and instantly killed britpop). Definitely Maybe is more shoegaze-y big and like you said WTSMG was written to be big, pompous, filled with pop hits to the brim and keep listener absorbed with it – honestly it’s Oasis record which keeps the engagement the best. Later quality dropped off and it just became too much of cocaine-fuelled excess.

    That’s an interesting fact that Cast no Shadow was written for Richard Aschroft, but somewhat not surprising actually. They were close friends (during 1995 European tour I think, when they first met the Verve but not sure)

  4. mariteaux Says:

    I definitely think the intent was to make a big, successful pop record that’d play well in pubs and on the radio where there’s a lot of other noise going on. And hey, yeah, it worked!

    I normally love albums that are very poppy and song-song-song but I could probably leave this one. Not sure, I’ll have to listen to it again. It conflicts me because the songs I love, this is definitely the cleanest sounding mix for them. People say it’s the least true to their intent but results >>>>> intent.