Top Ten: Underrated Noel Gallagher songs
Published on July 7th, 2011 | Jonny Abrams
To celebrate yesterday’s announcement that former Oasis mainstay Noel Gallagher is set to release not one but two albums under the curious moniker of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds….
Rocksucker looks back over his career thus far and handpicks ten songs which we consider to be either unfairly maligned or just plain underappreciated.
Doubtless you’ll have opinions of your own – not least those who treasure the unrepresented Dig Out Your Soul – so feel free to have your say in the comments section at the bottom of the page…
1. ‘Mucky Fingers’ (Don’t Believe The Truth)
Granted it sounds a bit – okay, maybe more than a bit – like a few different Velvet Underground songs but it wouldn’t have been such an issue had Oasis not been accused of plagiarism so often in the past.
Taken on its own merits, ‘Mucky Fingers’ is a blast of wistful sunshine with a darn tasty harmonica lick and that’ll do for us.
2. ‘The Hindu Times’ (Heathen Chemistry)
Much like Charlton Athletic defender Christian Dailly, ‘The Hindu Times’ sounds like it could be a religious periodical.
Er…aside from that rather weak observation, it is also an effective microcosm of Noel’s song-writing: the vintage psychedelia lead guitar, the nonsensical lyrics about weather and rock and roll, the sun-gazing blare of distortion and more tasty melodic hooks than you can wield a guitar like an axe at. This was like 1995 all over again; which, come to think of it, was probably an issue for many.
In terms of good-time rock and roll, though, ‘The Hindu Times’ has got a lot going for it.
3. ‘Who Feels Love’ (Standing on the Shoulder of Giants)
We can see why people wouldn’t like this one: it’s ploddy, it’s very slow, it’s Beatles-aping (quelle surprise) and it’s got lyrics about the sun shining on everyone.
In its defence, those lyrics are entirely apt insomuch as there’s a kind of monged and loved-up feel to it which does indeed radiate a warming glow; just as long as you haven’t decided to hate it by the first minute, that is.
Approach it with an open heart and thy cockles shall be warmed.
4. ‘D’yer Wanna Wanna Be A Spaceman? (‘Shakermaker’ b-side)
A long-term Rocksucker favourite, this sweet and simple ditty was overlooked when it came to compiling b-sides collection The Masterplan but, like ‘Half the World Away’ and ‘Rocking Chair’, it captures Noel at his reflective and nostalgic best.
“I haven’t seen your face around since I was a kid / You’re bringing back those memories of the things that we did / You’re hanging round and climbing trees, pretending to fly / D’yer wanna be a spaceman and live in the sky?” – sadly, and naturally, Noel’s capacity for such innocent loveliness became eroded the more successful and self-conscious about his song-writing he became but at least it remains perfectly preserved in songs like this.
A lost treasure.
5. ‘It’s Gettin’ Better (Man!!)’ (Be Here Now)
On an album that trod a fine line between grand ambition and plain foolhardiness, this penultimate track took the rush of ‘My Big Mouth’ and melodiousness of ‘I Hope, I Think, I Know’ and smushed them together into a knock-out rocker which, while almost certainly overlong at a whopping seven minutes, boasts enough festival-friendly hooks to have made it an estranged bedfellow for earlier classics such as ‘Acquiesce’ and ‘Some Might Say’.
6. ‘Let There Be Love’ (Don’t Believe the Truth)
It became pretty much standard practice to pan any of Oasis’ attempts at ‘epic’ from Be Here Now onwards but, let’s face it, if a new band had come out with this then they’d have been hailed as the second coming.
It’s dark, it’s creeping, it’s tender, it’s slow-burning and it’s wields one of Noel’s most unusual chord progressions: all in all, ‘Let There Be Love’ would have been a fitting curtain-raiser for any Oasis album.
7. ‘It’s Better People’ (‘Roll With It’ b-side)
A luscious little piece of acoustic psych, ‘It’s Better People’ also failed to make the Masterplan draft. That in itself is no shame given the ample competition involved but it’s such a sunny recording and so effortlessly graceful that it deserves a wider audience.
Thinking on actually, wasn’t it used on a Sky Sports football highlights programme or some such back in the day? Do comment below if you can remember but be prepared to take responsibility for a lot of people picturing Matt Lorenzo whenever they hear it.
8. ‘(Probably) All in the Mind’ (Heathen Chemistry)
On an altogether underrated album, ‘(Probably) All in the Mind’ stands alongside ‘The Hindu Times’ as a loveable slice of faintly psychedelic pop-rock, at least for those who don’t wear their cynicism like a badge.
One of the most overtly Beatles-y songs in Oasis’ back catalogue, it also glows with the kind of sweetness and good vibes that are harder to fake than many might think.
You could discuss how derivative this is until the cows open their doors, sling their coats on hooks and yell “honey, I’m home!”…but, in its way, this could only have come from Noel.
9. ‘Roll It Over’ (Standing on the Shoulder of Giants)
Although ‘Gas Panic!’ tends to take the kudos as this album’s epic-in-chief, slow-burning closer ‘Roll It Over’ has a brooding majesty and subtly triumphant chorus (albeit a little too close for comfort to that of ‘All Around the World’) that places it at least on a level pegging with its counterpart.
Taking the anthemic quality of some of his earlier works and placing it in an atmospheric setting, ‘Roll It Over’ merits more in the way of analysis than “it’s the last track on an Oasis album, therefore it goes on for ages”.
10. ‘Underneath the Sky’ (‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ b-side)
You could argue that, as it made the Masterplan cut, ‘Underneath the Sky’ has already been afforded sufficient recognition; and, yeah, you’d have a point. However, we at Rocksucker would argue that, as Noel’s most convincing and mood-shifting stab at psych-pop to date, it should be placed on a pedestal alongside such classic Oasis b-sides as ‘Acquiesce’, ‘Stay Young’, ‘The Masterplan’ and ‘Half the World Away’.
Well, that’s quite enough out of us. Do you agree with any of our choices? Any glaring omissions? Have your say in the comments section below…
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds release their self-titled album through Sour Mash Records on 17th October. For more information, please visit noelgallagher.com