photo & text by nacrowe
when my family moved to NIGERIA in the mid 1990s we would spend a few weeks each summer staying with a relative in ENGLAND in a suburb north of LONDON. its an era i really look back at fondly and, as it turns out, the timeframe coincided with can argued were the peak years of the BRITPOP movement. undoubtedly the biggest record of the period was (WHAT'S THE STORY) MORNING GLORY? (CREATION, 1995) by legendary MANCHESTER band OASIS. tracks like "DON'T LOOK BACK IN ANGER," "CHAMPAGNE SUPERNOVA," "SOME MIGHT SAY" and of course "WONDERWALL" are celebrated milestones of an era that marker a distinct generational realignment in BRITISH culture and even politics.
there are so many touch points with this record.
culturally (WHAT'S THE STORY) MORNING GLORY? marked a shift away from the decidedly introspective and self-reflective SHOEGAZE movement of a few years prior and provided a more aggressive stance in the wake of NIRVANA and the stateside ALTERNATIVE ROCK movement. this was a record and a band that were unabashedly, uncompromisingly and unapologetically BRITISH. it was also a record that didnt hide behind characters and sophisticated literary ambitions which was the case with BLUR and their equally impactful and era-defining PARKLIFE (FOOD, 1994) album. lyrically what it did have were non-sensical, free-association, stream-of-consciousness lyrics a la THE BEATLES' "I AM THE WALRUS" by songwriter and guitarist NOEL GALLAGHER. the opaque and inscrutable nature of the lyrics counterintuitively for the listener put more emphasis on the performances of singer LIAM GALLAGHER and the melody within the music itself. its an interesting switch and bait.
fairly or unfairly, OASIS politically was effectively the living embodiment of the working class in ENGLAND. this was in contrast to BLUR, who were portrayed as upper-class art school sophisticates. the rivalry was manufactured and kinda bullshit, much like THE BEATLES and THE ROLLING STONES before them, but its an image that survives to this day. LIAM himself was the poster child of LAD CULTURE, which celebrated womanizing, excessive alcohol consumption and soccer hooliganism. so its interesting that TONY BLAIR tapped into BRITPOP and specifically OASIS in order to reach that desired younger and decidedly urban demographic. it worked and the LABOR PARTY regained control of government in 1997 in a landslide. the sight of NOEL at 10 DOWNING STREET in the aftermath is also seen as the jump the shark moment of the BRITPOP movement in general. when what was a youth movement now became BRITISH CULTURE writ large. their is no real analogue to the political significance of this record in an AMERICAN context. not ELVIS PRESLEY, not BOB DYLAN and not BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. its still an interesting topic.
like most people who are OASIS obsessives, what i love about this record are the melodies and song-craft of NOEL and the brash over-confidence and demonic chutzpah of LIAM. its not even up for discussion how powerful this combination of distinct forces found in THE GALLAGHER BROTHERS was during this period. lightning in a bottle. my favorite song on (WHAT'S THE STORY) MORNING GLORY? has long been "MORNING GLORY" with its whirling, siren-like guitar intro to its opening couplet of "all your dreams are made when you're chained to the mirror and the razor blade." when that first chorus crashes in i am never in a bad mood. its empowering and intoxicating to take in. just like it was when i first heard it when i was eleven.
is most definitely worth revisiting and checking out again. and for god's sake THE GALLAGHER BROTHERS need to just make up and regroup already. have COLDPLAY as your backing band, i dont care. the world needs to hear "ROCK 'N' ROLL STAR" in a stadium again!