Let me just start by saying a sentence I was absolutely not expecting to say about a solo album from the former Oasis front man Liam Gallagher.
It is really fucking good!
I know some of you will be questioning my judgement (or sanity) especially after two dodgy albums from Beady Eye and the tale end of Oasis being far from their best work. But the mouthiest Gallagher brother has returned from his self imposed exile with a collection of really strong songs, sung well and that have some real pep to them. I am pleasantly surprised. Now don’t go running with the idea that he has completely reinvented himself, because the album is still soaked in Beatle-esque influence, tone and in some cases direct quotes from the Fab Four. There also may be a case to be made that he has lifted his game so substantially in order to raise a musical middle finger to his big brother. Whatever the reason, the results are bloody great.
From the wailing harmonica opening of Glass Wall, it is ON.
Crash hot band, killer guitar and the stand out thing is Gallagher seems to have unlocked some secret skeleton key code and is now an actually great singer. He was always a great front man and he still has some of the sneering Manc swagger for which he is known, but he is using his voice in a much more melodic way, his upper register is beautiful and the songs are smashing. Bold opens with the fantastic opening line “Gonna take you off my list of to do’s, Gonna sing my Soul shaped coffee blues, Coz it’s alright, It’s alright now.” The refrain of ‘I didn’t do what I was told’ will be banging around your head for days. Greedy Soul is a stomper, and no prizes for guessing who it’s aimed at. There is an echo of Supersonic on the vocal delivery which is not a bad thing. Yes some of it is obviously going to be Beatles-esque, as everything he has ever done has aspired too has, and after over two decades of using the Fab Four as a how to guide book, he has gotten very good at it. But while in the past his Beatles obsession has often come across as ham fisted at times, this new record just seems like the master classes have paid dividends, and he is making truly great music that in informed by, rather than carbon copies of The Beatles sound. Also lyrically he seems to have become, I hesitate to say, evolved. For What It’s Worth, is a song of regret, of contrition. Given that his extra curricular actions lead to the very public break down of his marriage, it would seem this track is a very public apology.
For what it’s worth,
I’m sorry for the hurt,
I’ll be the first to say
I made my own mistakes,
For what it’s worth,
I know it’s just a word,
And words betrayed
Sometimes we lose our way.
You Better Run is defiant, with an almost Kasabian zing to it. There are times when As You Were conjures flavours of Kasabian, Beatles, The Rutles, Glam Rock, Ocean Colour Scene, even Jagwar Ma. Chinatown is a stand out for me, I keep playing it over and over.
That said, there are many stand outs and Come Back To Me and Universal Gleam are right up there. I’ve All I Need is glorious. Doesn’t Have To Be That Way and All My People are ace! Great sound, awesome production. Fifteen track and not a dud on there.
Liam Gallagher has defied the odds and his own track record and released one of the best albums of 2017. Noel Gallagher and His High Flying Birds, next release (due out in November) will need to be pretty flipping epic after this, if the lead single Holy Mountain is any indication, both Gallagher brothers are producing their best work in years.
Liam Gallagher As You Were -it’s a fookin’ belter!
Review by Ian Bell