Christ knows how we got it, but we got it, and we've had it for weeks and weeks. So what is it ? It's the new Oasis LP and we've got it and we've reviewed it, read the results here. But don't just stop there we've also got reviews of the new LP's by Urge Overkill, Babybird, Julian Cope, Supersuckers, Sharkboy, Tarnation, Paw, Gorky's zygotic mynci, Dirty three.
Oasis(What's the story) Morning Glory - Creation CRE189P
If we had 1p for every column inch written about Oasis in the last year we would be very very rich, especially all the bullshit written about the Blur v's Oasis grudge match single releases, and the up and coming albums. Is it important ? is it hell, what's important is just how good the Oasis album is going to be, and will they screw it up. This is very first review you'll read of the album, the difficult second album, the album that either kills or cures, will it be as good as the last one ? only time, and you can tell.
What's the story was written in no time at all, literally two weeks in a little studio in Wales. The recording was (according to the publicity) continually stopped by the brothers fighting. But if they had fought as much as the press said then they would have had about 5 minutes to write and record this.
"Hello" starts off with a really quiet accoustic guitar and then just belts in to a real 1-2-3 thrash Oasis track. "nobody ever mentioned the weather./life is a game we played......" it's short and it's sweet, and it ends off with a salute to Gary Glitter "hello, hello, it's good to be back, good to be back". Is Noel trying to tell us something here ?
And then we have the Beatles, or rather we have Oasis doing a damn fine redition of the Beatles, as they would have been had they been brought up with a Manchester nasal whine. "You gotta roll with it" starts the chorus and God does it remind us of the Beatles in the early sixties, if you screw your ears up you can just about hear John Lennon doing the backing track. It's a fine track, one that any band worth their salt would be proud of. But I wouldn't have released it as a the first single, no siree, there's much better stuff on this LP.
"Wonderwall" Starts with a cough, and gets better and better, another quiet accoustic start, with what sounds like a viola in the backround. The cool kick drum and bass breakbeat drive along just the nicest track on the LP.. The chorus "maybe yer gonna be the one that saves me/and after all your my wonderwall" has me hook line and sinker, this is the one your going to be humming in that melancholy moment, walking for the bus in the morning, coming home in the car late at night. Hey it even mentions some some Beatles like lyrics "and all the roads that lead you there are winding" The crap two finger repetitive piano riff over the last 30 seconds ruins it slightly, mainly because it means it's all coming to an end.
It's Lennon's Imagine no kidding this is the first few chords of Imagine, mixed with loads of Beatles it even says "so you gonna start a revolution" "Don't look back in anger" reminds me of the sixties, it sounds like the bastard collaboration of the Beatles, Waterloo sunset era Kinks, with a dash of Bowie-esque singing. It's cheesy very cheesy but hell if you're going to do a pastiche at least copy the best.
"Hey Now" starts with some heavy drums, and you think "great", back to the old Oasis sound, then that bloody John Lennon kicks in again. Then it just chugs along at funeral pace, it's dull, very dull. If it wasn't the for the few subtle bits at the end I'd dismmiss it as probably the worst song Oasis have ever committed to vinyl, the false ending and the Canned Heat "on the road again" boogie guitar and harmonica reprise are sad feeble gimmicks.
And then came side two, and the familliar "some might say". This is more like it, "some might say/ we will find a brighter day" the old Oasis theasaurus (Jackanory edition) lyrics, and the guitar sound that we know and love. This even sounds like they spent some time on all the guitar bits, instead of just whipping it off in a couple of hours, which other tracks are guilty of. It's got lots of subtlte little moments, sing-along lyrics,a rowdy chorus that should have the mosh pit heaving when they play it live, can't complain I can only heap flowers and coronets on it "itching in the kitchen" I love it.
One to three Booooooogie.... "Step out" is top, A-1, sorted, a kick ass, kick-drum driven, fast frentic song that just makes you want to put your foot down and drive as fast as you can. I'm trying very hard to not mention Status Quo or the Pistols, but hey I can almost hear Francis Rossi doing a cover version of this. It also features one of those great Rock n' roll guitar and drum roll endings, that I've not heard since the likes of the Pistols and Pretty Vacant.
"Cast no shadow" christ this has a breakbeat backing,. The chorus or rather the bit that comes betwen the verses which sounds like more an extended repeated verse goes "as they took his soul, they stole his pride/ as he faced the sun he cast no shadow". Sod it, this is Oasis getting deep, no nursery rhyme lyrics, this is real big boy stuff, God is that the BeeGees doing backing vocals, and do we detect a steel guitar . It's the sort of thing Oasis aren't meant to be able to do, and Blur with their college education can do. Well eat on this Mr Albarn.
Oh sod it, I was enjoying this LP, then Noel you had to go and do your Lennon impression again, then mix in a bit of "I'd like to teach the World to sing" as a chorus. And it's back to the playground rhymes, but I did like the "she's got a brother/ we don't get on with each other/ but I quite fancy her mother/ and a think she quite likes me" The song ends with "She's electric/ can I be electric too" what is this ? Gary Numan ? I don't want to hear this pap. Take "She's electric" back and have another go at it Noel. But please keep the opening "She's electric/she's from a familly of eccentrics"
Morning glory, hell is that choppers coming in, is this the ride of the Valkyres, it sounds very heavy metal to me, but at least it sounds like thay haven't eaten a book of influences for this one. "when your chained to the mirror and the razor blade " ahhh it's about drugs, yes it's a druggy one "what's the story morning glory/ need a little time to wake up, wake up". Hey we get some psychedelic guitar on this one too, it must be a drug thing. Still I think i'm going to be singing the chorus over and over again in my quiet moments, or even in my bloody noisy moments. Because this is bloody full-on noise, and it sends shivers up my spine.
Segue, a segue, bloody hell, choppers to guitars (no puns please), to out of tune radios, to water washing on the seashore to an accoustic guitar, what are they trying to do to us ? "How many special people change/ how many lives are a little bit strange/ where were you when we were getting high/ slowly walking down the hall/ faster than a cannon ball/ where were you when we were getting high/ some day you will find me caught beneath the landslide/ in a champagne supernova in the sky" Hey it's deep again, it's epic, it's long (7 minutes plus), and it's easily the best track on the album. It starts off mellow with harmonica accoustic guitar and the breakbeat kick-drum, of Cast no shadow, but when it hits the chorus, it rocks, with great meaty chunks of wailing screaming GUITARS. Oh it's lovely, play this loud, take it off, put it back on again, and then play it even louder. Buy the album for this track, Oasis pull out all the stops, and go for broke, and it's well worth the wait.
Difficult second album, no problem mate, this is better than (the) Second Coming, plus we didn't have to wait quite so long. But like Second Coming it needs a few listens before you start to get on with it. It's never going to be as good as the first LP but then their sound isn't a novelty any more.
All songs written by Noel Gallagher , 11 tracks, approx 60 minutes. 9/10 (and getting higher by the second)
URGE OVERKILL - Exit the Dragon - Geffen
Only a couple of years ago no one could have ever expected Chicago's pseudo- sophisticates Urge Overkill to make it onto Top of the Pops , seeing as their sound makes no sense outside of a long straight US highway. But with the help of one Q. Tarantino, who picked up on their astonishing Neil Diamond cover of 1991, and put it into one of the vital scenes of the vital Pulp Fiction , the unthinkable happened. OK, so their drummer couldnt make it, due to a pressing appointment at the Betty Ford Clinic or equivalent, but their new heightened profile has put them into a position to break into the big league. Exit the Dragon , surely a nod to substance abuse rather than Bruce Lee , is really more of the same stuff that made up their last album Saturation, with a heavier emphasis on the melodramatic ballads that Nash Kato sings so well. The brilliant View of the Rain and epic closer Digital Black Epilogue really are a match for The Hit, and the terrific Tin Foil gets to the point as well. Much of the rest suffers from the usual Urge failing of rock songs that don't really rock, not in a UK context where Oasis top the charts at regular intervals and Teenage Fanclub are seen as gentle troubadours, though they breathe fire next to this. Drummer Blackie O either doesnt play on this or is just tied to a click track, cos Urge certainly rock live. Still, Somebody Elses Body and The Mistake show that self mythology shows no signs of going out of fashion, and you can always imagine yourself transported elsewhere for the rest. Only reasonable, but flecked with genius nonetheless.
BABY BIRD - I Was Born A Man - (Baby Bird Recordings)
If I told you this was the first of several releases planned this year by a man who has so far written and recorded over four hundred songs in the privacy of his own home you might not get too excited by the prospect, but if I said that Baby Bird, one Stephen Jones of Sheffield, was the Next Big Thing, following in the footsteps of Pulp or the Beautiful South, sounding nothing like either, but with a similar sense of humour, you might raise an eyebrow and open your ears. This is really no more than a demo, despite Jones protestations, but the songwriting ability is obvious on tracks like the exquisitely cynical CFC, the transsexual tragicomedy Mans Tight Vest and the affecting Dead Bird Sings, as good today as when the Sugarcubes called it Birthday sometime in the Eighties. And like Bjork, Jones has a voice to cherish, and now a proper band to back him on stage. They get better with each show and are heartily recommended, as is this curious but highly promising work.
JULIAN COPE - Twenty Mothers - Echo
And twenty (rural?) mothers pose with Julian on the sleeve, now that the arch hippie has appointed himself Bard of Wessex, and tries to get away with titles like By the Light of the Silbury Moon. In fact that track is no more than a Hawkwindesque thrash, dare I say it, but there's quite a lot of worthwhile work here, as Cope has given up on what the neighbours think, and apparently attempted to make a record about families like his own and just what they mean to him. It's an astute move, seeing as it's something we all have in common. Though it won't take him beyond his enduring cult status, it certainly gives the album an accessible theme. Therefore it goes from I'm Your Daddy, for his own infant daughters, through Leli B, an ace robotic instrumental dedicated to his mother-in-law to the corruscating Senile Get, a blunt tale of his wife's grandmothers decline, and hardly something your average Britpop band would get near. You can smell the piss from here. Queen/Mother (of the junkies) is this albums dedication to Courtney Love, but I suspect it may have no effect on its subject, and though Try Try Try was his first hit in years, the terrific disgust of Greedhead Detector could easily catch the public ear right now, as this concerned parent rips into various public monopoly executives by name (They think they've been slighted if they haven't been knighted) In fact you could hardly ask for a more reasonable neighbour than Mr Cope. Long may he remain the bastion of the local PTA.
SUPERSUCKERS - Sacrilicious - SubPop
Wow! Johnny Thunders has been dead a few years now, though Keith (mentioned on this record!) still lives, so there must be a gap in the market for the dumbest possible American Rock, which, of course the Supersuckers fill admirably. I ain't too sure from where they hail, but it's fair to say that it isn't Paris or Heidelberg during the Age of Enlightenment. This record is dumb (but knowing) big time. Recent single Born With A Tail is easily the best track, and the guitar solos are possibly the lamest ever put to vinyl. But hell, who cares! It mentions Sid Vicious (Marie), it rhymes digging a ditch with son of a bitch (Double Wide), it cops everything from Led Zep to Otis Redding (Bad Dog and My Victim, respectively), it even rips off Ozzy Osbourne (Ozzy, not surprisingly). Mere facts like its mediocrity count for nowt here. And they were pretty good the one time I saw them. It may not be a guaranteed winner, but at least they've bought a ticket for the lottery.
SHARKBOY - The Valentine Tapes - Nude
Sharkboy is really just Avy, a low rent PJ Harvey from Brighton, who mysteriously seems to have kept her contract with Nude records, home of the hit and best known for Suede. This, her second album really is as dull as titles like Sugarmanshine and 3D angelshell suggest (this may not apply to any readers under the age of twelve, but you'll grow out of it). A few understated if inoffensive songs performed by a woman who appears to have no interest in stretching her voice anywhere near emotion, let alone a second octave, just aren't going to cut it at all. and the fact that the arrangements seem strictly studiobound is another negative. There's no movement in these tracks, at best they evoke other artists who do it better, but the general feeling is like something from the mid Eighties, where pretension was mistaken for importance. Right, so it's back to teaching at the language school. Not even Virgin AM could fall for this.
TARNATION - Gentle Creatures - 4AD
Years ago when I worked in a record shop I used to wonder why all the country imports always had only ten tracks of three minutes each on them. But this Tarnation album gives me the answer- any more and you're beyond suicidal and into the storming McDonalds with five assault rifles stage. Not that this is actually bad, in many ways it's perfect. Singer/songwriter Paula Frazer does a Patsy Cline as well as anyone I've ever heard, even on Stars in their Eyes with that nice Matthew Kelly and has a suitably funereal band to back her up too. But authenticity does not guarantee entertainment, even on the opener Game of Broken Hearts, which must come straight from the bottom of a well to you, the listener. Other drab but accurate tracks include the eloquent threat Do You Fancy Me? (same but with a cello) and Listen to the Wind (same but sung by a bloke.) Though it's by no means crap I defy anyone to listen for more than three songs. At least there are no guitar solos. At least...
PAW - Death to Traitors - A & M
Mmm, top Kansas heavy rock band release second album. That really should get me going. But in fact Paw made a sporadically interesting debut a couple of years ago, colliding country and metal to some effect, especially on the single Jessie, a tribute to a good dog featuring tough riffs and steel guitar. Two years on the road haven't done too much for their inspiration, and this overlong album lacks any similar highlights, with only the faintly absurd title track grabbing the ear at all. There's a lovely photo of some horses on the sleeve though.
GORKY'S ZYGOTIC MYNCI - Bwyd Time - Ankst
West Wales leading teenage pastoral psychedelic combo present their third album to a world that is finally starting to catch up with them, and it really is a thing of beauty. A friend of mine berated Gorky's for their cover of the Beach Boys Good Vibrations claiming it was the least tuneful bit of their live set, and I know what he means. Bizarre fragmentary songs like Miss Trudy and Eating Salt is Easy evoke nothing more than Barrett era Pink Floyd and Brit Psych-pop circa 1967, but never sound forced or contrived. This is as much Britpop as anything else going on these days and if you have to make more of an effort to find what's there then that's a tribute to its depth. Except for Iechyd Da, that's just a Welsh drinking song. Other standouts are the kiddie scaring The Game of Eyes and the positively Californian (but sung in Welsh) Paid Cheto Ar Pam. Gorkys are great and the only thing that can stop them being massive is their facial hair.
DIRTY THREE - Dirty Three - Big Cat
Now, how do I go about selling the Dirty Three to the world, seeing as they're an Australian trio, unsurprisingly, consisting of a drummer, a guitarist and a man who plays violin and accordion. Hmm, that doesn't sound too interesting. Oh, and I forgot to mention that all their work is instrumental too. They're apparently better known, if at all, for their work as a backing band, so we've even got the problem of sidemen allowed to cut loose for once to worry about. But this album is in fact a pleasantly diverting way to spend an hour. Opener Indian Love Song sounds like something the Velvets might have cooked up at a soundcheck circa 1966, as it chases its own tail to no effective conclusion, and tracks like Everything's Fucked and Dirty Equation are just as good. In fact it doesn't sound like the singer is missing, rather that the projectionist has forgotten to put the film on. Unexpectedly diverting.
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