Top Ten Best Oasis Songs According to Luke

In my quest to come up with the ten greatest Oasis songs of all time I used only one indicator of a song's greatness: how much I like it... so maybe this list is a bit subjective, but any list any where is usually completely subjective so cut me a bit of slack. These are ten incredible songs and they are the ten (eleven?) best oasis songs in my opinion. I attempted to pick at least one song from each album, but in the end I did leave Heathen Chemistry completely off of the list, despite the fact that it is a pretty good album.

Anyways, have a read and enjoy.

10. Stand by Me

The lone representative from Be Here Now, Stand by Me continues to be the only song Oasis continues to play live off of the album. It might suffer from sharing a title with an iconic song, but the general tenderness of the song elevates it to a fantastic level with one of the most sing-along-able live choruses of any Oasis song. It perfectly captures one of Noel Gallagher’s greatest talents: the ability to transcend the audience-artist divide and make the listener feel at one with the band, the song, and the emotions present.

9. Gas Panic!

Another sole representative from an Oasis album, Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, Gas Panic! is one of the most electronically experimental Oasis songs ever produced. It is built upon the same famous “Oasis Chord” that also features in Wonderwall, D’Ya Know What I Mean, and several others, the Em-add9, though it’s presence is barely distinguishable behind the wall of intricately programmed white noise, bleeps and blips, and fantastic atmosphere. The song itself is a bit weird in a Noel Gallagher songwriting sense in that there is no bridge and really no chorus, but the song is a powerful interpretation of Noel’s cold-turkey kicking of cocaine, heroine, and acid.

8. Wonderwall/Don’t Look Back in Anger

This might be a bit of jip, counting two songs as one, but Wonderwall and Don’t Look Back in Anger, the band’s two most successful US singles, are inextricably linked in my mind and probably the minds of everyone who was between 10 and 30 in 1995/1996. We all know the songs and if either one is ever played at a bar we all sing them at the top of our lungs, even if the notes outreach us. There is really no explanation necessary as to why they’re on this top ten list, but one might be necessary to explain their low ranking, and that is simply that there are better songs… believe it.

7. Cigarettes in Hell

A b-side from the Go Let It Out single, Cigarettes in Hell, shows why Oasis is such a special band: even their b-sides are classics. Many Oasis fans and non-fans probably don’t understand why Cigarettes in Hell is this high on the list, or even on the list at all, but it really is a fantastic song which is among the most psychedelic things Oasis has ever done. It intertwines backwards guitars, a rousing Noel vocal, and a slightly modified Dear Prudence guitar solo with one of the most Rock and Roll sentiments ever expressed:

I don’t mind not feeling immortal,
Cause it aint all that as far as I can tell,
And I don’t mind not going to heaven,
As long as they’ve got cigarettes in hell.

6. Cast No Shadow

Written for Noel’s good friend, former Verve frontman, Richard Ashcroft, Cast No Shadow is a magnificent combination of slide guitar, interesting lyrical content, and a vocal delivered pitch perfectly by Liam. The shuffling drums provided by Alan White elevate the song past any previous Oasis epic/ballad by replacing Tony McCaroll’s punky inconsistency and framing the song with sentimental beautiful. It is simply a perfectly executed, gorgeous song about the difficulties of expressing oneself through song.

5. The Importance of Being Idle

One of two songs off of this list from Oasis' most recent studio effort, Don’t Believe the Truth, The Importance of Being Idle is exquisite proof that Oasis have not only lost its touch, it has actually improved and become more interesting. The song is unlike anything in the Oasis catalogue before it, a stirring, drum scuffling freak-out about laziness with more layers of interesting sound than an Earlies album. Noel’s mixed falsetto soars above the song with power and bravado, one of his best vocal efforts ever.

4. Cigarettes and Alcohol

Although the first guitar line is lifted from a T-Rex song, Cigarettes and Alcohol is the ultimate statement song for Oasis. It’s unthinkable to hear a song today off of a debut album with so much swagger, confidence, and presence. Liam’s snarling voice gives what could actually be a bit of a laugher of a song, intensity and enough attitude to knock the wind out of Johnny Rotten. How can a song with the following line not be great:

Is it worth the aggravation to find yourself a job,
When there’s nothing worth working for?
It’s a crazy situation,
But all I need is cigarettes and alcohol.

3. Guess God Thinks I’m Abel

The second song on this list off of Don’t Believe the Truth, Guess God Thinks I’m Abel is the only song on my top ten list written by Liam, although Love Like A Bomb is so close to cracking the top ten it’s crazy. Liam is no longer simply the drunken, Grizzly Adams beard wearing singer anymore, he has proven himself as a fantastic songwriter, and Guess God Thinks I’m Abel is all the proof anyone needs. It has a great groove, relying on hand percussion for its rhythm and among the best melodies in the Oasis catalogue. It is simply a show stopper.

2. Slide Away

Slide Away is the ultimate Oasis rock/epic/ballad, the kind of song Oasis will be forever remembered forever. Coming off of Definitely Maybe, Slide Away simply blows the listener away with slick guitar lines and the patented Oasis wall of guitars as well as what I think is the greatest Noel written chorus of all time. Whereas Live Forever captures the “us against the world” attitude present in many of Noel’s songs, Slide Away layers the sentiment with crying guitars and lyrics which start quite downhearted but end with the most tender and gorgeous final thoughts.

1. The Masterplan

Noel himself believes The Masterplan to be the greatest song he has ever written and I would dare to say that anyone who hears this b-side off of Wonderwall would almost assuredly agree. There is little that can be said for the song other than it is the apex of Noel’s songwriting aspirations, with the verse, bridge, and chorus combining seamlessly with Noel’s phenomenal lyrics. For a band that go from gentle to punk in a matter of seconds between tracks on an album, Noel manages to perfectly capture each aspect of the band’s personality in one phenomenal song on The Masterplan, starting out with the slow building verse and ending with the crescendo of the chorus and outro. All the while the overriding Oasis sentiments of “us against the world” and “we can do anything” are summed up in one of Noel’s best and most intense choruses:

So dance if you wanna dance
Please brother take a chance
You know they’re gonna go
Which way they wanna go to
All we know is that we don’t know
How it’s gonna be
Please brother let it be
Life on the other hand won’t make us understand
We’re all part of a masterplan
-Luke Barnard


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RetroReview: George Harrison - All Things Must Pass

Question: Who was the first Beatle to record a solo #1 single and/or a solo #1 album?

Answer: George Harrison on both counts. My Sweet Lord and the album it came from, All Things Must Pass, hit #1 in 1970, the same year Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band (featuring Love, God, and Working Class Hero) and McCartney’s self titled debut (featuring Maybe I’m Amazed) were released.

Now that piece of obscure music trivia might surprise most people given the relative lack of discussion and radio play Harrison’s solo work has gotten since the early 70s and the ridiculous amount of attention paid to both Lennon and McCartney’s contributions to music. In fact I’m going to go ahead and go out on a limb here:

Neither John Lennon nor Paul McCartney released an album half as good as Harrison’s All Things Must Pass.

This isn’t personal preference; it’s blatantly obvious if one listens to the albums and evaluates them without prejudice. The songs are better, the playing is better, the lyrics are better, the flow of the album is better… the whole thing is arms and legs above anything any other Beatle produced after they broke up and should rank as one of the best albums of the 70s. But for some odd reason, people have mostly forgotten about it and what George Harrison did after the Beatles disbanded, so let’s set the scene before a discussion of All Things Must Pass.

The History:

-Harrison releases All Things Must Pass, the first ever triple album. It hits #1 on the Billboard Album Chart.
-Releases the single My Sweet Lord, it hits #1.
-Releases the single Isn’t It a Pity, it hits #1.
-Releases the single What is Life, it hits #10.

-Puts on The Concert for Bangladesh, the first ever mass charity concert, playing to 40,000 people. The band includes Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Leon Russell, Badfinger, Eric Clapton, Ravi Shankar, and Bob Dylan. The event raises nearly $250,000 for the starving in Bangladesh.
-Ringo Starr releases the single It Don’t Come Easy, it hits #1. Harrison wrote and recorded the song for Ringo.

-Releases The Concert for Bangladesh. It hits #2 on Billboard.
-Wins Grammy for Album of the Year for The Concert for Bangladesh.

-Releases the album Living in the Material World, it hits #1 on Billboard.
-Releases the single Give Me Love, Give Me Peace On Earth, it hits #1.

It takes a bit of time to marry the commercial and critical successes of Harrison with the image of the quiet Beatle whose solo work has gone almost completely under the radar. Critics might argue that his material didn’t have the impact or staying power like Lennon and McCartney, but the reality is Harrison chose to put himself off the map. After 1973 he continued releasing albums every few years until the 80s, but his focus was no longer on music and they were mainly just a dumping ground for ideas. He released just two albums after 1982, easing into a comfortable retirement, though he did have success playing in The Traveling Willburys in the late 80s.

Whereas the death of Lennon cemented his legend and made his work infinitely more popular and McCartney promoted himself and his image by releasing albums at a torrid pace (and continues to do so), Harrison receded into the background, his incredible work becoming lost as the other Beatles remained in the public consciousness.

So why am I writing so much on things other than the album I’m writing a review of? Any time one reviews any work of a legendary artist or an album that was first released more than thirty five years prior, it is a necessity to create a launching point from which the album and/or artist should begin to be looked at from. The massive popularity, both critically and commercially, of George Harrison’s work in the early 1970s, and in particular All Things Must Pass, can’t be discussed enough when you realize that if you were to ask any music fan or critic in the early 1970s who the solo Beatle they respected, loved, and listened to most was and you would almost undoubtedly be told, “George Harrison.”

Now some people will probably argue at this point that Lennon overtook Harrison critically and commercially with the release of Imagine, but the reality is that Lennon’s celebrity and legend has shaped the view of his career. The single Imagine, hit #3 on the charts in 1973, but Lennon remained firmly behind Harrison in terms of both critical praise and album sales, going up against Living in the Material World.

It is then much more impressive to view Harrison’s achievements knowing the period they were achieved in and the musical culture they were released during. People think of Imagine as the ultimate solo album by any Beatle, but it played second fiddle to an album by Harrison that, although very good, was inferior to his own debut, All Things Must Pass.

The Album:

It is rare for an artist to have the creative reach and catalogue of songs necessary to release a double album, much less a triple album, which is what All Things Must Pass is: the world’s first triple album. Over the course of 23 songs and 105 minutes, Harrison constructs an incredible array of songs encompassing every style and influence he could possibly come up with. It is all things that all albums should be: tender, haunting, barnstorming, creatively interesting, unique, and boundary breaking. The first plaintive tones of I’d Have You Anytime (cowritten with Bob Dylan) through the toweringly heavy guitar lines of The Art of Dying and ending with the loose, jazzy sounds of Out of the Blue each song manages to forge its own fantastic identity while fitting perfectly within the framework of the epic scale of All Things Must Pass.

Anyone who doubted any of The Beatles ability as musicians (a criticism which has been thrown at them by critics who look back at them with modern contexts plaguing their impartiality) must acknowledge the immense skill with which Harrison’s guitar lines are layered and woven throughout the album. Almost every type of sound and song type can be found on All Things Must Pass and Harrison manages to perfectly marry each song with his playing style, evolving and changing his sound through intricately picked chords, slide guitar which cries with every picking, and distorted riffs which come across as heavy as any of the time.

The best moments are those which find Harrison at complete ease in his playing, singing, and lyrical content. Songs such as Isn’t It a Pity (upon which Coldplay based their song The Scientist), All Things Must Pass, and Beware of Darkness would be remembered as among The Beatles greatest moments if Lennon and McCartney had allowed them to replace far inferior songs (Oh Darling!, Sun King, She’s So Heavy, etc.) but instead they are nearly forgotten. They are all as beautiful and delicate as Something and yet improve upon the theoretically wonderful songwriting style which gave us both Something and While My Guitar Gently Weeps. This is not to say, however, that these epics are in any way superior to the rest of the album, especially the more up-tempo rock songs such as the incredible The Art of Dying and the wonderful Wah-Wah (written about Harrison’s frustrations with McCartney as The Beatles broke up).

Harrison also crosses over into the singer-songwriter genre with songs such as Run of the Mill, Behind that Locked Door, and the best of the slower songs The Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let it Roll). It’s nearly impossible to attempt to sum up the best moments of the album simply because each song has its own charm and due to the fact that the album flows so well that each track is necessary to the album’s overall greatness.

All Things Must Pass is among the greatest albums of all time, the crowning achievement of one or music’s most important figures, and a tragically forgotten record featuring some of the best songs released in the last 35 years.

Be sure to click over to to listen to some of the best songs from All Things Must Pass including Isn't it a Pity?, The Art of Dying, Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let it Roll), and My Sweet Lord.

-Luke Barnard


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