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Since 1994's What's The Story Morning Glory, Oasis have been on a downhill slope, giving us mediocre (Heathen Chemistry), to downright poor (Standing on the Shoulders of Giants) albums. The only exception, probably being Don't Believe The Truth. I would probably not be wrong in saying that 90% of this was to do with the fact that Noel split up the song writing duties and began stockpiling his own work. Well, 17 years later and Noel no longer has anyone to answer for. All I can say is the Chief is back.
Opener Everybody's on the Run is an epic, Ennio Morriconne inspired, string laden love song which could easily have been the last track on the album. 'Hang in there love, you gotta hold on', is probably my favourite lyric on the album. It's a beautiful song.
The first 6 songs of the album are breathlessly good. Dream On is a jumbled up, crowd pleasing, sing-a-long in which Noel sings about 'running out of batteries' and 'hanging from a ladder.' Its absolute nonsense but its amazing.
A dodgy, phone recorded version of I Had a Gun has been on the internet for a while but it doesn't quite prepare you for the epic nature of what could easily be Noel's greatest ode to love. 'Let me fly you to the moon' Noel exhorts in what is an undoubted stand out moment on the album.
The Chief wanted to come back with a whisper with first single The Death of You and Me, which has elements of The Importance of Being Idle, but what he does is transport us to New Orleans for Mardi gras. It's pure magic. (I Wanna Live in a Dream In My) Record Machine is the next song, one which has been bandied about for a few years. There have been demo versions of this floating around YouTube for a while so expectations were high. No disappointment here. The song has a fantastic guitar solo which is very reminiscent of early Oasis. The biggest shock on the album is AKA...What A Life. It is underpinned by a massive drum beat and fierce piano riff which gives us Noel's first dance song. 'I'm gonna take that tiger outside for a riddddddddde'. Noel is certainly on top form and this tiger better be strong as we are all on this ride.
The next chapter is this incredible album is Soldier Boys and Jesus Freaks which could easily be influenced by The Kinks. 'All the people on the village green are gathered round their TV screens'. Great stuff. AKA...Broken Arrow is probably my favourite track on the album as I type. This could be Wonderwall II. No one does acoustic better than Noel and I fucking love it. (Stranded on) The Wrong Beach could be the catchiest song on the album. 'Oh me oh my' Noel blares as he takes us on his journey.
The last song on the album is Stop The Clocks. Noel apparently wrote this song in 2001, declaring it as probably the best song he has ever written. He has never quite got it to fit on an Oasis album but here it is a perfect ending to a perfect album. It is finished with an erratic guitar solo which leaves us breathless for more.
Reading this review I am sure you don't need me tor recommend this anymore than I already have. It's an incredible collection of songs written by the finest songwriter of our generation. Buy it now.
Download AKA...Broken Arrow, Everybody's on the Run and If I Had A Gun
For almost the entirety of his time in Oasis the fans wanted Noel to do a solo album. He however resisted the temptation and stayed loyal to the band. With the relationship he had with his brother it seemed inevitable however that Oasis wouldn't last for ever and in 2009 the end for the band finally came. Whilst Liam got custody of the band and formed Beady Eye, Noel had the creative spark that had made Oasis and as soon as his solo project was announced I was really interested to see what he came up with.
Finally Going Solo
It had been a long time coming as Noel had regularly shown his vocal talents on Oasis tracks but he never seemed like he was going to step away from the comfort of his band. The spat with Liam forced his hand and this debut solo album is a chance for Noel to show the world he doesn't need his brother and can do it himself. Of course with the writing credits for Oasis's biggest tracks it would be fair to say that Noel would have no problem creating a decent album. I personally felt that Oasis started to go downhill when Noel relinquished all writing responsibilities and poorer quality tracks penned by Liam began to appear more and more often on their albums.
Is It Any Good
The simple answer is that yes it is. For fans of Oasis this is exactly what you would want from a Noel Gallagher solo album. It stays true to the formula he used to write some of their best work and by sticking to what he knows best he creates an album of 10 decent tracks. In comparison to what I've heard of the Beady Eye album, Noel clearly walked away at the right time and his solo album is a lot better than Liam's reformed band's debut album. What he does is deliver exactly what you would expect and for that reason, although it doesn't break any new ground, it's a very good album.
High Flying Birds
The inspiration for the name of the album came from the Jefferson Airplane trackof the same name, whilst Noel also decided to use it as the band name as a homage to Fleetwood Mac or to give them their original name Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac.
From the quiet opening of "Everybody's On The Run" you can tell that Noel has found his passion for music again. It opens with silence before the drums, guitars and strings start to wind to the vocal. At 5 and a half minutes long it's a bit of an epic starting point but it is exactly what Noel is good at. His vocals are strong from the start with a hint of echo that really works. Instantly this is a track that would have been at home on any Oasis album, but as an opener it's a great way to start his debut album. The strings meander through the entire track and whilst the tracks pace is quite slow it works really well.
After a slow start the pace picks up well in "Dream On". It's a very guitar centric track with a decent drum beat that really highlights Noel's vocal talents. His voice is strong and sounds really comfortable when accompanied by the musical backing. The pace of the track has picked up and continues a very strong start to the album. The pace drops a little with "If I Had A Gun", which sounds like it was written for Oasis. If it wasn't for the lack of Liam's vocals on this album it would feel like an Oasis album, but it's an album that really highlights where the musical talent was in the band.
Next up is the albums lead single "The Death Of You And Me", a slightly slower track that builds up slowly and really grows on you the more you listen to it. The drum beat really creates a solid foundation for Noels vocals, whilst the guitar accompanies his vocals well. There are a few more experimental sounds within the album and they seem to fit well into the tracks. The pace of the album slows even further with "(I Wanna Live In A Dream In My) Record Machine". It's another very strong track that really showcases Noel's vocals and musical ability. It has a very strong guitar lead that works really well. The lyrics work well and really fit the context and pace of the track, just like they have on the whole album so far.
One of my favourite tracks on the album is current single "AKA What A Life". It has a fast pace, which Noel seems quite comfortable with vocally. The guitars and keyboard really take the lead and create a very effective musical bed for Noel's vocals. It's a trend that carries on into "Soldier Boys And Jesus Freaks". The drums are more prominent on this track but the pace is quite quick and the vocals come across very strong. The whole album has heavy Oasis influences and that's exactly what I expected and wanted and Noel really doesn't disappoint.
The fast feel of the album continues into "AKA Broken Arrow". It has a good introduction that blends into a very structured verse and chorus sound. The pace isn't quite as quick as the previous tracks as although musically it is quite quick, the vocals purposely slow it down a little and this combination really works well. As we come towards the end of the album there is no real let up with "(Stranded On The) Wrong Beach". A looping guitar accompanies Noel's vocals for the early parts of the track and the two really complement each other well. For me this was the albums weakest track, but the more I listen to it the more I seem to like it.
It's perhaps no surprise that the album finishes with "Stop The Clocks", a track originally written for Oasis. It is perhaps also not a surprise that this is my favourite track on the album. It was originally written in 2001 but never released by the band and actually makes a poignant end to Noel's first solo album. It has a fairly melancholic fell to its but after the faster paced ending to the album it's a more relaxed and thought provoking end to the album.
I think it would be fair to suggest that if you were considering buying this album then you would already have been an Oasis fan. It is 10 tracks of Noel doing what he did best within the band. As a solo album it is perhaps the album Noel would have released at the height of Oasis popularity and it would appear his zest for music has returned. The vocals are strong throughout and both lyrically and musically it is exactly what you would expect from Noel. He may no longer have his brother or the rest of Oasis beside him but he is back to turning out quality music and it should be interesting to see what he does next.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Everybody's On The Run
2 Dream On
3 If I Had A Gun...
4 The Death Of You And Me
5 (I Wanna Live In A Dream In My) Record Machine
6 AKA... What A Life!
7 Soldier Boys And Jesus Freaks
8 AKA... Broken Arrow
9 (Stranded On) The Wrong Beach
10 Stop The Clocks