Rachel revisits perhaps Britpop's most iconic album to explore what about it secured its - and the band's - place in musical history.
Many music fans and critics view 1995’s Battle of the Britpop as one of the most memorable music moments of the modern era. The two biggest bands of this British movement, Oasis and Blur, were pitting their highly anticipated new singles Roll With It and Country House against each other in a battle for UK chart dominance, and tensions between the two groups really began to brew. As NME wrote at the time, “Although Liam and Noel liked to fight each other, what they really liked doing was picking a fight with somebody else”. Blur won this battle with their single topping the charts. However, some may say they lost the war, with Oasis’ next album (What’s The Story?) Morning Glory becoming the best-selling album of the decade in the UK and resulting in Oasis becoming one of the biggest bands in the world.
The style of this album was a notable departure from the band’s debut Definitely Maybe – it has a distinctive anthemic theme to its tracks, differing from the edged rock of the previous album. The use of string arrangements and varied instrumentation in songs such as Don't Look Back in Anger and Champagne Supernova was new to Oasis. Noel Gallagher summed up his own perspective on the album's aesthetic in an interview with Rolling Stone in 1995; "Whilst [Definitely Maybe] is about dreaming of being a pop star in a band, What's the Story is about actually being a pop star in a band”. Writing and recording seemed to be a fast and chaotic process, with producer Owen Morris claiming the album was recorded in 15 days, at a pace of one song a day.
This album thrust Oasis from being a crossover indie act to a worldwide rock phenomenon. It has been referred to as a prominent record in the timeline of British indie music, representing just how far into the mainstream independent music had ventured. Critic John Harris highlighted the particular significance of Wonderwall to Britpop's legacy: "When [Oasis] released Wonderwall, the rules of British music were decisively changed. From here-on-in, the lighter-than-air ballad became obligatory, and the leather-trousers era of rock'n'roll was over".
'Blur won this battle with their single topping the charts. However, some may say they lost the war, with Oasis’ next album becoming the best-selling album of the decade in the UK and resulting in Oasis becoming one of the biggest bands in the world'.
The record initially received very lukewarm reviews from critics; many deemed it inferior to Definitely Maybe, with the songwriting and production being particular points of criticism. One of my favourite things about Oasis is that when you really pay attention, you’ll realise that some of Noel Gallagher's lyrics are pretty terrible, and yet amazingly, most listeners simply don't care. Champagne Supernova contains that memorable couplet that completely defies logic (‘Slowly walking down the hall / Faster than a cannonball’), but somehow, when delivered, it absolutely works. Regardless of Noel’s at times borderline childish lyrics, his talent for clever, shifting arrangements is what ultimately gives his words an air of sophistication and charm. It’s as if the wild, drunk rockstar of Definitely Maybe is coming down from his buzz and starts handing out life advice that may or may not make sense when you wake up the following morning.
'One of my favourite things about Oasis is that when you really pay attention, you’ll realise that some of Noel Gallagher's lyrics are pretty terrible, and yet amazingly, most listeners simply don't care'.
When it comes down to it, an album should be designed to be heard in its entirety, yet an album of popular music needs the ability to be split up into individual tracks that are strong enough to stand alone as radio hits. What’s The Story is one of those rare pieces of work that succeeds on both levels, and one that has defined a genre of its time. Wonderwall, Don't Look Back in Anger, Some Might Say, Champagne Supernova; these are the songs that legacies are built upon, and that unite crowds of people worldwide.
Undoubtedly, (What's the Story) Morning Glory? is a landmark album that needs little introduction. Its legacy has been self-perpetuating as the years have gone by, proving itself to be the Oasis album that goes down in history.