'Different Gear, Still Speeding'
First things first, I love this album.
I've played it over and over and I feel great, and isn't that the point of rock n roll?
It would be easier to pretend to be arty and hip all the time so I could get loads of work on the Guardian writing about music. Sometimes I can't work out how I can listen to black metal, dubstep, discordant underground, Crass, Indian classic and dub in the same half hour but I do and on top of that I still love the Beatles. And the Stones. And I love this record. It just connects with me. I wish I could mix music up with fashion and be cool and nerdy about it all but I can't. I still love Mott The Hoople and Captain Beefheart at the same time. Fiercely.
And I love Beady Eye.
I love their songs, Liam's voice, the loose way the band play, I love Chris Sharrock's drums, I love Gem Archer's trad rock guitar, I love Andy Bell's melodic suss, I love the way they sound like a band. I love the way they won't apologise for what they are and what they love. I love the way they dare to love anything in these cynical times. I love the way they dare to dream that they can be up there with the ”Ëclassics.' I love their naivety that makes them pose for pictures like the Beatles Rubber Soul sleeve. I love the way they knick riffs and production tricks from their heroes- thinking it will sprinkle the magic dust on what they do and, you know what, I love the way they pull the whole thing off because even when they get too obvious Liam starts singing and it sounds pure because the kid still has one of the great British rock n roll voices.
I might go and listen to my Islamic chanting album, Patti Smith or some mid eighties hardcore later but right now I'm listening to Beady Eye and I'm feeling really good. I feel like I'm glowing with everything that's great about rock n roll. I feel reaffirmed and I feel alive- and surely beyond all the criticism and the sniping that's what it's all about.
Of course this is an album with lots of baggage. The first release after the acrimonious split of the biggest band in the UK, it sort of sets it's own challenge.
Noel v Liam, Liam v Noel, where do you stand? Do you have to make a stand?
The Oasis implosion was an inevitable part of their story since they appeared on the scene all those years ago. Like the Beatles their split has been full of acrimony and that sort of blinding heartfelt honesty and heart of the sleeve pain and regret and sadness that seem to go hand in hand with being a northern band.
I'm with Paul Weller on this one- when he was asked which one he was going to back he said both- two for the price of one- perfect response.
Everyone kinda knows that Noel is going to deliver something pretty damn good. Every time I speak to Alan Mcgee he raves about the Noel demos and as Noel readies his album for its summer/early autumn release this year and is rehearsing his new band as we speak it's younger brother Liam whose first out of the traps.
Now it's a tired old joke but no-one expects much of Liam, ”Ëhe's a bit daft' they mutter, ”Ëhe's only the singer' they decide. They forget that he is also one of the iconic faces of the British nineties music and has one of the great voices on British rock n roll and has a head start because of this.
He also took the rest of Oasis with him and they are great players and songwriters waiting to prove themselves and in the few months since the split have crafted a great album that will confound expectations.
Because Liam has made a great album.
A great album full of warm, life affirming songs that are quite touching in parts- full of life, love and still with enough of that rasping anger to cut through. He's been given a chance and taken it and ”ËDifferent Gear, Still Speeding' is a victory.
Time changes everything.
All you ever hear is people going on about the good old days and how no band can ever make records as good as the ”Ëgods' . I'm sure Beady Eye themselves are guilty of this. In interview they talk of these gods' and how that's their basic template. And true. It is. The album oozes that kind of classic British songwriting of the past.
But they do it so damn well. I'm sting here listening to this album over and over thinking it's as good as any of the records they love.
And this is a controversial point of view.
Produced by Steve Lillywhite and recorded in London's RAK studios, a foretaste of the album was made available when 'Bring the Light' was given away as a free download on Nov. 9. The track was downloaded 350,000 times within the first 24 hours of availability. I flashed it on my facebook and people went berserk, complaining about Beady Eye and Liam Gallagher- there was a classic British resentfulness of him and his band. I doubt anyone had even heard the song and people that did complained that it wasn't ground breaking.
You don't buy into Beady Eye for the groundbreaking. That's not the point. You buy into them for great songs that have a warmth and humanity that so often goes missing when people try and bend music into new shapes. They may not be original but, f@@@, they make you feel so alive.
They make the big, warm music that has been a part of my life as much as the weird and wonderful.
When I was growing up in the seventies I was a glam rock kid. I'm not going to edit my past and claim that I only loved Bowie and Trex although I did love them but I also loved Slade and the Sweet and most of all Mott The Hoople- Beady Eye remind me of this- bands that are people's bands, bands that really connected with minimal hype or highbrow explaining, bands that knew how to have fun but could also make these incredible lamenting songs that connected with the world outside the ivory towers. Songs that articulated stuff that you just couldn't articulate and you certainly could not talk about in tough English towns.
Beady Eye have that knack. There is no pretence- just an instinctive magic and that aforementioned warmth as Liam lets his guard slip and the humanity pour out- not easy to do if you have to be bluff and northern all the time as we all know oop here.
Music is like that, purely instinctive- when you know, you KNOW.
Noel should and will possibly and secretly be proud of his kid brother.
1. Four Letter Word ”â
Kicking off with that droning riff that was on the next a couple of weeks ago as a teaser to the album, Four letter Word is a continuation of The Hindu Times- that kind of Oasis stretching out and getting droney and about as mystical as you can get without the acid. It's a great rocker and sets the album up perfectly.
2. Millionaire ”â
country licks make this almost a country rocker that bounces along into almost Charlatans country when the Charlies were doing North Country Boy. Liam has several different vocal styles on the album, dropping the hands clasped rasping voice several times- maybe that was the result of the brotherly tension in Oasis and out from his brother's presence he is possibly less the angry young man although when I recently interviewed he claimed that anger was always part of his make up.
3. The Roller ”â
Hooked around those descending piano chords that Lennon loved so much that he used them over and over for the likes of All You Need Is Love and Instant Karma (the chords are actually nicked by Lennon from one of his favorite songs, Three Blind Mice) Beady Eye have somehow managed to squeeze another song from the riff. It's one of the hose great life affirming I'm walking down the street f@@@ you songs like Oasis' Rock n Roll Star. The piano is drenched in that ADT effect so loved by the Beatles as well- always loved that sound.
4. Beatles And Stones ”â
Love this one. With a riff that sounds like My Generation (Not the only Who influence on the album, Townsend's mob are a big and often overlooked influence on Manchester rockers- the early Roses were besotted with them) Great rasping, driving melody and classic vehicle for Liam. The title is either a cheek cop at the critics or a celebration of the bands that dominated a decade back in a time when bands did that kind of thing- oddly the reaction each Beatles and Stones album was as mixed as it ever was for Oasis/Beady Eye- rose tinted specs have changed everything. The song seems to be saying that listening to their music makes your day- it's a beautiful and naÃÂ¯ve sentiment that you cant help falling in love with it. Great chorus as well. And who cares if the House Of Love already used the same title? it's a different twist we are dealing with here (although if they had called it Blur v Oasis that would have been funny!)
5. Wind Up Dream ”â
Slide guitar! Kinds like something on the Beatles White Album like Glass Onion meeting A Storm In Heaven Verve. Atmospheric and bulbous sixties flavoured romper that slide guitar adds a great flavour to the tune.
6. Bring The Light ”â
Piano driven rocker and one that everyone must have heard by now because this was the first rack floated on the Internet. This as also the track that caused the big debate all over the Internet. For me it's a great rock n roll tune, love the piano hookline and its collision of Jerry lee Lewis rock n roll, more Beatles White album (it has the rollicking chops of Birthday off that album) and Trex backing vocals and the simple but effective baby come on' strapline- pure rock n roll
7. For Anyone ”â
One of those tunes that confounds Liam critics. Often portrayed as hairy northern yob- this is Liam's other side- acoustic and pretty with a lamenting melody, For Anyone is one of those upbeat, acoustic ditties that Liam seems to specialize in like Songbird. It's almost childlike in its innocence and one of the best tracks on the album.
8.Kill For A Dream ”â
The lighters in the air anthem moment and psychedelic ooze from Andy Bell- the intro even has that Indian mysticism vive from all those late sixties bands seeking salvation in minor key melodies. There is a great churning guitar hookline that trips out throughout the whole song. Ends with one of those na na na outros for maximum crowd participation and a feature of classic sixties lovers anthems since McCartney put down the ultimate na na na on Hey Jude- the Beatles greatest song.
9. Standing On The Edge Of Noise
Wam Bam Thank You glam supayob stomper that is kinda like the Beatles' Hey Bulldog jamming with Slade- a boozy barroom brawler of a song with stomping brass section. Love the seventh chord just before the chorus- so beautifully old school- does anyone even play sevenths on a guitar anymore.
10. Wigwam ”â
Another big anthem- and a surprisingly light and moody kinda like Polyphonic Spree mashed with the innocence of early Small Faces tripping out in some pastoral space- with a great la la la hook. You remember when bands used get sent to the country to get their heads together in the country but took loads of acid and sung sons about gnomes well this is like that but without the gnomes, obviously. Very, very trippy- have they been taking acid or just listening to those great English psychedelic records from the late sixties. The Amorphous Androgynous spirit hangs heavy here.
11. Three Ring Circus ”â
A Gem stomper, a Geordie boys own rocker for people to throw lager around and nod their modish mops to.
12. The Beat Goes On ”â
Best track on the album and has to be the second single. Built around the D chord shuffle that reminds old rockers like me of Johnny Thunders classic Cant Put Your Arms Around A Memory before entering this great meletron driven lament, the Andy Bell written lament that has everything you need from Beady Eye- it's so utterly heartfelt and simple and yet so achingly beautiful that its hard to imagine the brawling Liam of old even understanding how sing such a tune. His avowed pleasure in just being the vocalist is underlined here, he makes a great song genius just by singing it. The aforementioned mellotron trips me straight into the melancholic memory lane trip of the Beatles genius Strawberry fields with a flavour of the Kinks in there. The songs sounds utterly childlike in its goofy innocence and I mean that as a complement.
13. The Morning Son ”â
Is this Liam's answer to Noel's Acquiesce? A song about brotherly love and family feuding or about something else? You can pay dearly for trying to read into the Gallagher's lyrics, often there just to hold the melodies sometimes they say something profound and deeply personal, not that they would want you to think that.
The song builds and builds to a great climax, that has the same sort of spiritual yearning and beauty of George Harrison's All Things Must pass- the single greatest post Beatles moment from any of the fab four. Whether Liam and the Beadies have discovered god is another question but they have somehow discovered how to make a song that feels like it and that takes some doing.