Friday, 21 October 2016

The Darkest Part Of The Night

My daughter Zoe seems to have inherited my love of a good pop song with a memorable chorus that you can sing on first listen.  We have 3 CD's of mixes for the car featuring artists as diverse as Little Mix, Taylor Swift, Carly Rae Jepsen, Kim Wilde, Kylie, Madonna, the dreaded All About The Bass by Meaghan Trainer (Zoe's first pop song), Whitney Houston..... great fun pop songs that we enjoy listening to, dancing to (not in the car!) and singing a-long with.

I have to admit to trying to get her into a few of my favourite bands and this hasn't really worked. Zoe definitely has her own taste! Although last year The Charlatans Come Home Baby with its huge and uplifting chorus quickly became 'our song'.

Whitney Houston's 80's classic I Wanna Dance With Somebody came on Radio 2 on the way to Zoe's nursery earlier on this year. She immediately picked up on it and asked me to turn it up and I was thrilled to oblige - it is pure pop gold. The song led to Zoe becoming aware of other Whitney classics like How Will I Know? 

We had Taylor Swift's 1989 album on heavy rotation in our car for ages. It was the first album that Zoe ever bought and for that it will always remain an album dear to our hearts. Memories of driving along singing to Shake It Off and Style will always bring a smile to my face. And Carly Rae Jepsen has two bona fide pop classics in Call Me Maybe and I Really Like You.

And then, earlier this month I burned the new Teenage Fanclub album on to a CD so I could listen to it in the car - we have an old car!

On the 4th song in Zoe asked me to turn it up. She then called from the back to say she had heard the song before - the album was only just out - she hadn't.

In the same way that Zoe instantly fell for the chorus of Call Me Maybe or pop genius of Little Mix's Black Magic, she fell for the flow and hooks of Teenage Fanclub's The Darkest Part Of The Night! The song felt familiar.

I never got to finish the album on that car journey; as soon as the song was finished I had to play it again....and again.

A month after the release of the album and it remains a firm favourite in our car and house. Yesterday Zoe's friend Orla came round to play and they were dancing to Little Mix and then Zoe asked if I could put on Darkest Part Of The Night! I duly obliged, although I'm not sure what Orla made of it! Little Mix had to go back on afterwards.

And then today we drove into Glasgow to pick up a present for my brothers birthday on Sunday and  Zoe asked for Teenage Fanclub. We must have listened to The Darkest Part Of The Night a dozen times, both singing a-long and playing air guitar. A memory I will cherish. On around the tenth listen Zoe was even singing a-long to Raymond's guitar solo - a great moment!

Thankfully I'm In Love and Thin Air are also getting some play. The rest of the album and back catalogue will come!

The Darkest Part Of The Night is quite a deep song for a 5-year old to get into and be singing a-long to in full voice. Yet the simplicity with which it is delivered - melody, flow and the lift of the chorus - make it brilliant guitar pop. Something the Fanclub have a real knack for.

Fingers crossed for a Fanclub festival appearance in 2017 that I can take Zoe to. She has already seen Edwin Collins live and her first ever gig was Duglas T Stewart singing with Stevie Jackson's Disco Sharks! Oh and she loves her Aunt Carla's songs with TeenCanteen and Ette and has designed the 7-inch of TC's You're Still Mine, featured in their video for How We Met (Cherry Pie) and has an engineer credit on the album! And is also the cover star of the Ette album!

Zoe, Carla and Duglas - 3 people I love who love pop music

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Citz Sessions

The Citizens Theatre is a beautiful venue in the Southside of Glasgow, just a short walk from the centre. The magnificent Victorian Theatre is looking to start putting on live music (and also to raise funds for the Theatre Redevelopment Fund), so decided to ask a few people to curate some special nights under the banner of The Citz Sessions.

The first night was curated by Ann McDonald from The Shop Assistants, although Ian Smith, my friend and co-founder of Last Night From Glasgow, was also involved. This delivered a brilliantly eclectic line-up.

As Ian had a front row seat I thought I would ask him to write a blog on Friday night at the Citizens.

Citz Sessions - curated by Ann McDonald of The Shop Assistant

Guest blog by Ian Smith

So on Friday Night I attended the first of 3 Citz Sessions concerts, specially curated events run to raise funds for the Citzens Theatre Redevelopment Fund. 

The evening began with 4 songs from Annie Booth, Annie spends some of her time as a member of the fabulous Edinburgh band Mt. Doubt. Those who know me, will know Ive been raving about their debut album all year. I'm also a big fan of Annie, her songwriting talents belie her years, part Sandy Denny part Christine McVie - both fragile and commanding at once. She walks that dreadfully tricky line where contemporary folk meets traditional, her voice demands complete silence and the audience duly oblige - its a stunning start to what will prove to be a genuinely wonderful evening of music.

Next up is Fennela (Mairi Fennela Whittle to be exact). Mairi is the daughter of a good friend of mine and is a classically trained musician, who truly understands the voice as a musical instrument. She begins with a frankly staggering rendition of My Funny Valentine, her effortless jazz stylings bring comparisons with Billie Holiday and  Cleo Laine, it is however - in my opinion - when she drags us into the darker world of her songwriting that she truly shines, her closing track I Will Not Win much more Martha Wainwright or Sharon Van Etten than anything that came before - its a change of style from much of her set but as the chap behind me in the audience said "that was worth the entrance fee alone"

Third up - our very own - Emme Woods, Emme brought a full entourage - Barry James O'Neil (Kassiday) on Keyboards and Vocals, Neil McKenzie on Trumpet and TTV's very own Jamie Logie on Guitar. The band looked dashing suited and booted to compliment the sophisticated surroundings. Emme (Morgan) was on fine form, the change in this artist over the 10 months that I have known her is staggering. She is now a commanding front woman with a voice to die for. In Barry she has found a perfect foil both as a songwriter and as a performer, they wrap around each other beautifully and the added colour provided by Neil and Jamie turned the Citizens into a David Lynchesque Desert soundscape for 20 minutes. Their cover of God Only Knows was a particular highlight and brought some shade to what was otherwise the heaviest set of the evening.

View from the front for Emme Woods

A small break for the bar was next before we were treated to the occasionally bewildering but always delightful world of Frances McKee. Referencing a song from Sex with an Ex and the presence of Eugene Kelly in the audience, she quashed our curiosity "Never - only ever professional" "I shagged everyone else in the band though" she said before "Only Joking".
No performance from Frances would be complete without the odd forgetten lyric or misplaced note but that has always added to the charm for me. She remains one of the City's if not Country's most important song writers full stop.

Now came what I personally had been waiting for. When asked to get involved with this event I pitched an idea that would see all the acts performing with only a grand piano, clearly this was not to everyone's liking but to my absolute delight TeenCanteen grabbed the opportunity and took the stage adorned in black. It was a nice, if cruel touch to put Debs (so used to hiding behind the drums) front and centre. We were treated to reworking of several TeenCanteen classics (yes you can say classics after only a few months) and a Shop Assistants Cover Version. The opening - Sirens - has been one of my favourite songs for over 2 years now but on Friday night, it took on a whole new life as Carla's lead vocals wove in and out of the frankly heartbreaking accompaniment provided by Sita, Debs and Chloe. Kung Fu Heartbeats - just four vocals, handclaps and finger snaps was another highlight from a cracking night in a wonderful venue.

TeenCanteen - harmonies and a Grand Piano

Another very short break before the final act, I have to say I was both excited and fearful of what Clare Grogan and Altered Images might turn out to be. The new band, a three piece all girl combo were tight and funky as hell and Clare's vocals were heard long before she was seen, it took a loud Wegie "I'm behind you" for the audience to turn around and see our local Diva atop a chair and reclining in a Marlene Dietrich stylie. She reached the stage and delighted us with a stripped back, lively and note perfect journey through early 80's pop. I Could Be Happy and Happy Birthday were unbridled joy but it was Don't Talk To Me About Love that reminded the audience of what a talent she was and on this performance still is.

Claire Grogan captured in full flight

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Never Ending Mixtape

Never Ending Mixtape - the first instalment 

OK, I always said I wouldn't....but I finally got Spotify. Hey, it is 2016, almost 2017!

Spotify is handy, I'll always treasure vinyl and my CD's are unlikely never to be thrown out, only taken from boxes in the loft if I go to play something on iTunes and realise I haven't exported it. Although with Spotify I don't even have to do that anymore. In fact, I haven't used iTunes since getting Spotify.

I'm enjoying making mixes. Or playlists as the kids call it in 2016.

So I thought I would start a mixtape and add to it every month, becoming a regular blog. So here is the first instalment on what may well become - The Never Ending Mixtape..... CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

Watch The Sunrise - Big Star
Starting the never ending mixtape with a song I discovered via a mixtape by The Chemical Brothers a long, long time ago in the 90's. This is beautiful.

Rock and Roll - The Velvet Underground
The Velvets are always a good and cool band to feature on any mixtape ad I am pretty sure they will feature again.

Feel so Sad (Glides and Chimes) - Spiritualized
A band that can really take you on a journey. See previous blog.

Makes Me Wanna Die - Tricky
Safe From Harm - Massive Attack
Killing Smile - Death In Vegas
Hey Lisa - David Holmes
Little Fluffy Clouds - The Orb
Tricky, Massive Attack, Death In Vegas, David Holmes and The Orb are all bands I discovered through my best mate Reddy. We had so many incredible nights in and out in our late teens discovering, listening to and talking about music. Reddy had such a cool and eclectic taste. He still does. One night we listened to Screamadelica non-stop until dawn. Reddy really feel for the Bristol scene led by Massive Attack and Tricky and The Orb's Little Fluffy Clouds is a song I can't listen to without thinking of times together. Good times.

Kathleen Sat On The Arm Of Her Favourite Chair - Hooton Tennis Club
Indie guitar bands are still alive and kicking - thank God. Two guitars, bass and drums, a sense of humour, some hooks...sublime

Feed The Tree - Belly
OK i had an indie crush on Tanya Donnelly....and still do. This is brilliant.

Shaky Ground - The Lemonheads
Nic Dalton and Tom Morgan played a HUGE part in The Lemonheads by writing some incredible songs for Evan Dando that fitted him like a glove. This is songwriting at its best for me.

Fade Into You - Mazzy Star
Just sublime, Hope Sandoval is also on the Death In Vegas track.

Reel Around The Fountain - The Smiths
Stolen Car - Beth Orion
Here's Where The Story Ends - The Sundays
The Only Living Boy In New York - Simon and Garfunkel
Bitterblue - Cat Stevens
Burned - Buffalo Springfield
Ultimate Painting - Ultimate Painting
L.S.D - The Pretty Things
Opus 40 - Mercury Rev
He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's The Pilot - Grandaddy

Girls Keith - Scoundrels, Dirty Gentlemen
Stones-y rock n roll Superb! Don't know much else about it - Spotify discovery!

Monday, 10 October 2016

Feel So Sad by Spiritualized

Spiritualized are a band/artist that I have loved since I fell for their Ladies And Gentleman We Are Floating In Space album in 1997. Jason Pierce (J Spaceman) was (and is) a visionary; a true artist.

I checked for previous albums and remember buying Lazer Guided Melodies and Pure Phase out of FOPP on Union Street. I always looked forward to new releases and shows. There were never that many shows, but there was one particularly memorable Barrowland Ballroom show with Pierce playing side stage, hiding in the shadows and just letting his music, band and lights take control.

J Spaceman and Kate Radley

What I didn't do - was delve deep into the back catalogue of Spiritualized. That would have highlighted a number of pre Laser Guided Melodies releases.

Two months ago I did something I said I would never do. I signed up to Spotify! I wrestled with my conscious for a while, but quickly forgot about it when I discovered entire back catalogues were at my fingertips. I'll continue to buy records and cd's and support artists. They can't survive without the help of their fans.

When you search for an artist on Spotify you are presented with their 5 most popular tracks. I was amazed I hadn't heard of Feel So Sad (Glides and Chimes) which was far and away the most popular Spiritualized song with over 6 million plays. So I checked it out.

Feel So Sad was originally released in June 1991. Discogs lists it as Space Rock/Psychedelic Rock. The 12-inch single had the A:side as Feel So Sad (Rhapsodies), lasting an epic 13 minutes and 18 seconds, with the B:side Feel So Sad (Glides and Chimes) lasting 6 minutes and 30 seconds.

This is a prime example of me buying something if I like it on Spotify. That 12-inch is mine.

Feel So Sad (Rhapsodies)

This is soulful, hymnal, lysergic, uplifting, soothing, beautiful....timeless. The feeling and production is sublime. J Spaceman's voice sounds wasted. As in many of the Spiritualized songs that were to follow - he's in a reflective mood and talking to God.

Sweet Lord is this my fate
To live my life in this state

Sweet Lord it's a sin
To live this life sufferin'
I feel so sad

It is what happens when Pierce stops singing that is truly mind blowing. It is majestic. The arrangements, melodies, riffs and feel that is conjured up over the course of the song is mind blowing. It floats, it soars, it comes back to almost nothing, just soothing ambience.

Pierce comes back in at around 7-minutes. His fractured, wasted, delicate vocals sound dreamy and like they are floating. Things then build, pulse and combine so that by 10 minutes and 40 seconds there are 4 or 5 gorgeous melodies entwined and sounding like heaven.

Feel So Sad (Rhapsodies) is special, it is incredible! Just listen to it, it is a work of art. 13 minutes and 18 seconds of beautiful sounds. Feel So Sad (Glides and Chimes) is a shorter instrumental version, although still clocking in at 6 minutes and 30 seconds. The beautiful layers are there for all to hear - just stunning.

J Spaceman with Kate Radley; 
a girl who inspired Ladies and Gentleman We Are Floating In Space
and The Verve's - Urban Hymns

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Be Here Now

Oasis are re-releasing 1997's Be Here Now album, remastered, b-sides and unreleased demos from Noel Gallagher's Mustique Holiday.

I've written about Oasis a number of times and it is safe to say I fell head over heels in love with the band when they arrived on the scene in April 1994, 3-months after I turned 18. They had sky scraping anthems like Live Forever and Slide Away , they turned out b-sides like Acquiesce and The Masterplan; Some Might Say soared and Wonderwall wooed a nation.

I have to say that the Be Here Now era of Oasis was a disappointment for me. Don't get me started on Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants! I fell out of love and that heady rush of love I had with the band from 1994 all the way through to Knebworth in 1996 was never recaptured. It was only with Heathen Chemistry that I really got back into them, but it was never the same.

Why was Be Here Now a disappointment?

The simple answer for me was that I just didn't get the feeling from the songs that I got from those released before. I'd been spoiled with two cracking albums and loads of b-sides. I wanted more of the same. I didn't get it.

Looking back, the Mustique demos situation offers a clue. Noel wrote the first two albums and all the incredible b-sides while he was dreaming of escape, when he was falling in and out of love. Now he was on holiday with the Stones, Kate Moss and Johnny Depp. Not quite the same vibe regardless of how much cocaine he could get up his nose.

If you were Meg Mathews then you'd be thrilled to have Wonderwall written about you, but I bet she doesn't mention The Girl In The Dirty Shirt when she is reminiscing about the heady days of Britpop.

Reflecting more, Oasis went from wanting to be the best to being the biggest band. It was all 'size matters' when we all know it's what you do with it that counts.....isn't it :-)

Wonderwall and Don't Look Back In Anger sent Oasis stratospheric. Knebworth was insane. It was brilliant, what a ride.

From that point on there was a period of time when you couldn't criticise Oasis. You were shot down in flames if you did. I remember when D'You Know What I Mean came out and I was at a party where it was being played on repeat. I asked for Stay Young (one of the b-sides) to be played and said that it should have been the single as it was a total summer anthem. It was like I had walked into the party from the moon!

Stay Young - live in Manchester

The NME and music publications knew Oasis features and interviews would massively boost sales, so they couldn't criticise. They needed Noel and Liam.

Some people had walked into the Oasis party a little late, they wanted Be Here Now to be as good as the songs and albums it was following. It wasn't anywhere close to it, but they didn't care, they believed the hype, or wanted to believe it. Or, many truly did fall for it; people who had been too young or too out of tune to miss the glory years from Supersonic through to Knebworth wanted a slice of the action, they wanted to be part of the band for a generation....and Oasis were.

In that sense, and I know from speaking to fellow Oasis fans, Be Here Now is an incredibly important album. It would have been the first album that many teenagers bought, the first band they fell in love with and the first shows they went to; in the same way Definitely Maybe had been so important to me - right band, right time.

The hype around the 'comeback' single and the album was outrageous. Radio 1 played the single back to back, occasionally 3 times in a row! The country went daft, everyone was out to buy the album. No-one said a bad word about it.

There was a BBC documentary Right Here, Right Now that showcased the Gallagher's attitude, belief and humour alongside songs from the album; ranging from a studio romp through It's Getting' Better Man, to a poolside Don't Go Away.

The hype worked; 424,000 copies were sold on the first day! 
By 1999 it was the album that was most sold to second hand shops in the UK.

I have rarely listened to the album as a complete work of art. Selective songs - yes, but I have had absolutely no desire to listen to Magic Pie over the last 19-years!

Ahead of a deluxe boxset re-release, I thought I would listen to Be Here Now again, 19-years down the line.


D'You Know What I Mean was a strong comeback single. I just preferred (and still do) the b-side summer sing-along of positivity Stay Young. However I totally understand why they went with the 7-minute and 42 second epic instead.

They looked great; on the sleeve, promo shots and the crazy promo video that must have costs hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Noel's guitars sounded great, Liam (of course) sounded amazing, there were backwards vocals, psychedelic sounds, it was like the band were moving forwards in terms of trying some new sounds. D'You Know What I Mean? was a line/question that Noel often used during his 100 mph interviews.

The first of many Beatles song titles/references comes early and features 2 in one line!

The fool on the hill and I feel fine

In the heady days of July 1997, this was all over the radio and all over the country. Oasis were continuing to soundtrack the nation but the chorus was lazy and uninspiring, completely at opposites from the verses and bridge that hinted that the band might just be moving forwards.

Liam Gallagher, D'You Know What I Mean video shoot

My Big Mouth was one of two Be Here Now songs to be played at Knebworth. It's got a ferocious feel to it, the multi(multi) tracked guitars are played with pace and aggression and Liam matches that with a fantastic vocal delivery.

I enjoyed listening back to this initially, but delving into it, it feels like Noel was getting somewhere with some lyrics and then he filled in the blanks with whatever came to mind. Could have been better if some more time was spent on it...and not in terms of song length!

Beatles reference - The Long And Winding Road in the 1st verse.

Magic Pie.....must I listen to it again? OK here goes.......

It is a struggle to get through this song. It takes an age to get to the chorus and then Noel sings about having a magic pie. Somehow this song is dragged out to 7 minutes and 19 seconds. I would be lying if I said I made it to the end. Congratulations if you can. Where was the quality control? Did anyone dare criticise Noel in 1997? Why this was on the album ahead of b-sides Stay Young or the Noel sung Going Nowhere remains a mystery to me.

Stand By Me is like music to your ears after the torture of Magic Pie. There is a brilliant positive flowing upsurge for the bridge to the chorus;

The cold and wind and rain don't know
They only seem to come and go away

Stand by me, nobody knows the way it's gonna be

Stand By Me catches your attention, Liam's voice is great, still only 25 at the time of release, Liam was the coolest front man around with a sensational voice. The melody is strong, one of the best moments on the album, if not an Oasis classic. Like all of Be Here Now, the song is stretched out a little long though.

Liam live circa 1997

Stand By Me live at Wembley 2000

I remember liking I Hope, I Think, I Know when it came out.  Great song title, powerful, pacey and Liam sounding in good voice, spitting out the bridge to the chorus. It flows well and teases by almost going into the chorus of Wonderwall.

The aforementioned The Girl In The Dirty Shirt is a plodder. No wonder Noel and Meg split up if this was the best he could come up with for her after Wonderwall!

Fade In-Out sounded great in 1997 and it sounds great in 2016. I haven't listened to Be Here Now for a long, long time. Probably not in this century! There is a menacing feel to the intro and guitars and Liam's voice strains with the energy and soul he is pouring into it. There is a great bit when Liam and Noel's voices join together to sing;

Today is just a daydream
Tomorrow we'll be cast away

This time the length of the song has a purpose with Liam screaming Cold Turkey Lennon style before  everything goes mental, leading us back into the chorus.

Don't Go Away is a song that I have listened to this side of 2000! Liam's yearning vocal and the fact he hits the bridge and chorus so quickly give the song much more feeling to it. It sounds like Noel has actually given it some tender, loving, care.

The bridge flows into the chorus and it's uplifting and soulful. It's hug your mate, punch the sky and sing your heart out like the best Oasis songs.

In the time of my life
'cause I need more time
Yes I need more time
Just to make things right
So don't go away

Noel also comes up with a beautiful and tender acoustic outro. It's one of only 2-songs (not counting the All Around The World reprise) under 5-minutes long.

The title track is..... well the lyrics don't really mean anything but at least they are fun and the song has a bit of a groove to it. But it is lazy, Liam turns it into Columbia off of Definitely Maybe at the end . If you were choosing an epic Oasis comeback setlist then this would be nowhere near it. And to be honest I don't much (if anything) of Be Here Now would be.

Beatles reference - Let It Be

And then we arrive at the 9-minute and 20 second All Around The World. In early interviews Noel talked of this song and said he was saving it for his third album and that he wanted to enter it in Eurovision. I remember reading a review where it was described as something like Hey Jude made by kids from a council estate in Burgage. The recent Supersonic documentary had incredible footage of a pre-signed Oasis rehearsing this song in Manchester.

I like it. It has that sense of dreaming and escapism that Noel's best songs tend to have.

Take me away
Cause I just don't want to stay

These are crazy days but they make me sssshhhiiiiiinnnneeee

Pretty simple, pretty effective. And then it goes on......and on.......and on.....and on.

Guitars are layered upon guitars, there is a hell of a lot of na na na na na's and then the chorus is rammed down your throat enough times to make you vomit. Seriously, there is another 5-minutes of it. It gets pretty sickly. There is no valid reason for this song to be over 9-minutes long. Blame cocaine.

I made it to 7 minutes 48 seconds and then skipped forwards.

It's Getting' Better Man was my personal favourite from the album back in 1997. Loud and squalling guitars, a flowing bridge and chorus and a sense of Pistols punk energy. They played it at Knebworth and I had it on bootleg before it appeared on Be Here Now.

Maybe the songs that we sing are wrong
Maybe the dreams that we dream are gone

It's stretched out but at least the band sound like they are enjoying it, rather than some of the other tracks that sound like they are being dragged out. The production doesn't help, this is a song that should have soared like those on Definitely Maybe.

Oh FFS I forgot about the All Around The World reprise!!! And do you know what, in 2016 this is one of my favourite songs on the album. Horns, strings, great beats, crashing symbols.....I enjoyed listening to it.

Be Here Now hasn't aged well for me. In fact it dated incredibly quickly.

In 1997 Radiohead brought out the incredible OK Computer, The Verve had Urban Hymns, Primal Scream gave us the glorious melting pot Vanishing Point, Spiritualized released the sensational Ladies And Gentleman We Are Floating In Space and earlier in the year Blur had released a brilliantly eclectic eponymous album. Oasis sounded bloated and uninspired in comparison to their competitors, but also against the skyscraping anthems they produced with ease between 1994-1996.

Noel had set the bar high, he has talked of being Champions League winners from 1994-1996 and then struggling to get top 4 in 1997. Not a bad assessment. Continuing that theme; Standing On The Shoulder... was relegation form!

The Masterplan, a b-sides album (featuring only 2 from the Be Here Now era) was released in 1998, the year after Be Here Now and it is head and shoulders above. That golden period from 1994-1996 for Oasis produced so many good songs.

Oasis then had the cheek to release something even worse than Be Here Now - Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants featuring the likes of Little James and the god awful I Can See A Liar, I'm not looking forward to listening to that again for the 20th anniversary! In fact, I won't!

I think the band only recaptured some of their magic in 2002 with the release of Heathen Chemistry when Andy Bell and Gem Archer had joined the band and been involved in writing and recording. But they could never recapture the magic of 1994-1996.

I'll always have time for Noel and Liam as they meant so much to me during an important time of my life. They soundtracked nights out, I made lifelong friends through a shared love of the band....but Be Here Now kind of felt like the band were cheating on me - they were better than that.

Listening back has been interesting. There are some good songs, but for me Be Here Now doesn't light a spark and for me that is what Noel and Liam are all about - making your spine tingle, causing you to punch the air and sing from the bottom of your heart. Too many of the songs are 'alright', almost all are too long and I just don't hear any soul in the vast majority of the album.

Thursday, 6 October 2016


Cover version of the month #

Ryan Adams covers Wonderwall

I think Ryan Adams is the only person to have ever got that song right
Noel Gallagher

Wonderwall was the song that truly sent Oasis stratospheric. There had already been lots of talk of The Beatles and comparisons through songs like Live Forever and Slide Away, but much of the earlier Oasis material tipped more of a nod to the ferocity of The Pistols with a dab of T-Rex, rather than the Fab Four.

Wonderwall changed everything. Oasis had released a number of acoustic b-sides, but this was the first acoustic single. In the Autumn of 1995 it felt like the whole world was singing it. Somehow it was kept off the number 1 slot by Robson and Jerome!

Oasis crossed over with Wonderwall. They had already won hearts and fans across the world, but all of a sudden they had a song that kids and their Gran's could sing. Noel Gallagher once said he wanted to hear his songs being whistled by the milkman. The butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker were all whistling them, humming them, singing them.....everyone was.

The original Oasis version of Wonderwall

Many songwriters (and bands) tire of playing their most famous hits at times. Liam sang it, then Noel took over, then the crowd practically sang it for the band or for Noel as a solo artist. Liam's voice sounded soulful, Noel's made it more tender, stadiums singing in unison made it an anthem.

Noel tired of Wonderwall, but hearing it being covered by Ryan Adams changed things......and it changed how Noel would go on to perform the song.

I went to see Ryan Adams in he's playing away and he just does Wonderwall right in the middle of the set. The f**king place went silent. It was so beautiful. I was just like 'F**king Jesus Christ what a f**king song!' Afterwards I told him, 'You can have that song, man, because we could never quite get it right.       Noel Gallagher

Post hearing Ryan Adams

And here is a wonderful heart wrenching version by Ryan, silencing a huge Glastonbury crowd. Pretty astonishing! To have the balls and talent to perform like this to such a huge crowd is incredible. Adams slows things down, Wonderwall suddenly sounds like a song written many moons ago by a seasoned country singer with a broken heart. His delivery is beautiful, enhancing the soul the song always had and also increasing its beauty.

I know who I'm singing it to....unfortunately I don't think she does.
Ryan Adams

Ryan is a serial coverer of songs....and albums. He's covered Is This It? by The Strokes and 1989 by Taylor Swift in full. What else? Pretty much anything by anyone - from Elvis to his near namesake Bryan Adams!

So expect to see Ryan Adams featured again on a future cover of the month blog.

Previous covers of the month

Friday, 30 September 2016

Oasis 1994-1996

In April 1994, at the age of 18 years old (and 3-months) I saw Oasis for the first time. It was in the Tramway in Glasgow, supporting The Boo Radleys as part of Glasgow Sound City. It was the start of a love affair.

Like any love affair, there were highs, lows, wild nights, disappointments.... but from April 1994 through to Knebworth in August 1996, I went on the most incredible journey with a band that I have ever been on. It was a joyous romp with a band that just kept on giving, the only way was up - from the Tramway in Glasgow, in April 1994, to Knebworth in August 1996, it was like a dream.

Oasis were prolific, they just didn't let up, releasing 2 albums and 9 singles with b-sides that should have been on the albums. They played relentlessly, partied harder than anyone and generally lived it up. The press loved them - Liam's looks and attitude, Noel's talent, ambition and humour mixed with the rock n roll lifestyle, brotherly love and hate, meant that they were a media dream come true.

Everything culminated with two extraordinary nights at Knebworth in August 1996. Two huge nights, where Oasis blasted through their (already) formidable catalogue of songs.

A full list of singles, albums and key shows is listed at the end of this feature length blog. Lets have a look at the years 1994, 1995 and 1996 and my memories of them;


The band released an incredible 5 singles - Supersonic, Shaker Maker, Live Forever, Cigarettes and Alcohol and Whatever. The b-sides got better as the band went on - Fade Away, Listen Up, It's Good To Be Free, Half the World Away....

And there was the glorious debut album Definitely Maybe that shot for the stars and smashed straight through them on course for the sun and beyond.

I was fortunate to see them on 5 occasions in 1994 - at the Tramway in April, at the Cathouse in June, in a packed tent at T in the Park in July and then twice at the Barrowland Ballroom in December. They were electrifying, Liam was charged, looking incredible, sounding even better and Noel knew everything was building, teasing the crowd by saying things like 'do you think we're any good?'

They were backed by a super tight band, Bonehead on rhythm guitar, Guigsy on bass and Tony McCarroll on drums. There were no lookers but in Bonehead and Guigsy they had complete loyalty and belief. Bonehead was told to only play barre chords, Guigsy may as well have only had 2 strings on his bass and McCarroll was the most basic of drummers, but this helped with the ferocious intensity that the band delivered when they arrived on the scene in 1994, creating a Burnage Wall of Sound.

That Wall of Sound was helped by finding the right producer at the right time. Oasis had been doing the rounds of producers but couldn't capture their ferocious live sound on tape. Owen Morris was the man to rectify that.

At the Tramway in Glasgow I could see Liam mucking about in the background before they took to the stage for a short set that was broadcast live on Radio 1. Live Forever already sounded like an anthem, Cigarettes and Alcohol was the Pistols meets T-Rex and Supersonic was like the Pistols meets the Mondays. I was hooked and bought a t-shirt and poster from the merch stall.

Two months later I queued up at the old Cathouse in Glasgow to see them again. I could hear them soundchecking as I waited outside. Some of us sang along, not only to the lyrics, but Noel's guitar lines as well. It felt like something special was happening.

Then I witnessed one of my all-time favourite gigs; Oasis playing a tent at T in the Park. It was absolutely rammed, they played football on stage, they were totally on the cusp. They were winning hearts and fans everywhere. This was just a week prior to the release of third single Live Forever. They were unstoppable.

Things were going crazy, all over the world. Noel left the band, rejoined and the band blitzed it.Oasis played over 100 gigs in 1994. They were everywhere. They wanted to break all over and they had the songs and attitude to do it.

I remember turning on the Evening Session on Radio 1 to hear them playing Sad Song and I was just blown away at it's dreamy beauty.

Where we're living in this town
The sun is coming up and it's going down
But we're all just the same at the end of the day

I bought all the singles on 7-inch and CD. For some reason I bought Definitely Maybe at Woolworths in Lanark and I remember chatting up the girl on the counter who was impressed I was buying it. I made mix-tapes of Noel's demos that came out on NME and Melody Maker cassettes along with live shows taped off the Evening Session.

It was exciting. I had been too young for the Roses. Now I had my band. This was their time, it was my time, it was our time.

Oasis returned to Glasgow in December to play the Barrowland Ballroom. Things didn't quite go to plan as Liam stormed off stage a few songs in after losing his voice. Noel played acoustic before the and joined him at the end.

I remember walking down the stairs to the cloakroom at the end and everyone was talking about how brilliant Noel was. His acoustic version of Slide Away was mesmerising. There was no doubt that Oasis was his band.

Noel urged everyone to keep their ticket stubs and they would be back. He was true to his word and shortly after Christmas Oasis returned with Liam in fine voice and full flow to play again. My brother had got a new pair of Adidas trainers and one came off when we were bouncing down the front. It was thrown on stage and Noel picked it up and said 'It had to be Adidas didn't it?'

What a year! In 8-months the band had released 5 singles that were effectively EP's due to the quantity and quality of music on them, culminating with the non-album stunner Whatever. Definitely Maybe flew off the shelves; Liam and Noel were icons. A nation was mad for it.

Memories of that year - finding my band, making new friends, attending 5 outstanding shows, singing anthems from the bottom of my heart and generally having an amazing time.

This is a link to a previous blog on Definitely Maybe. 


Picture by Jill Furmanovsky

The Oasis juggernaut continued, picking up pace. 1995 began with a length tour of the USA before returning to the UK to play the Cliffs Pavillion in Southend, recorded for prosperity in the Live By The Sea film. A trip across the water to Paris effectively sealed drummer Tony McCarroll's departure from the band, although he stayed on to play the bands biggest show to date.

Sheffield Arena (see previous blog) was a strange choice for the first Oasis arena show. However it hit the mark, selling out and allowing them to make a huge statement in the same month (April 1995) that they gained their first (overdue) number one single with the euphoric Some Might Say.

April also saw the band play the first of two performances on the long gone and sadly missed White Room show. Music was everywhere on TV back in the mid-90's. Nowadays all we have is Later With Jools.

Noel singing Talk Tonight with his hero Paul Weller was a touching moment. The passing of the flame? Noel was certainly making good on his promise to release a single every few months like The Jam.

Check all Oasis' White Room performances on YouTube - sensational

Onwards, to Glastonbury, where Noel proceeded to make a duffel coat the must have fashion item that year. The band blitzed it, check this sensational version of Slide Away. Liam Gallagher's vocals were soulful, powerful and rock n roll. The band partied hard; Evan Dando and Robbie Williams tried to hang on, but no-one could keep up with the Gallagher brothers - on stage or off.

Summer continued with two shows in a tent at Irvine Beach in Scotland. I was in Magaluf on holiday at the time - sadly! Those that went speak of sweat dripping off the roof and the band threatening to blow the roof off.

Oasis in 1995 were an incredible live outfit, bolstered by the arrival of Alan White on drums, but battle hardened after over 100 shows in 1994 and straight into it again in 1995. Liam Gallagher's voice (see Slide Away above) at this stage was quite exceptional. Pure rock n roll, some said he was the missing link between Lennon and Lydon. Liam only turned 24 in September of 1995, he was the best rock singer in the world

Shows in Japan were reminiscent of Beatlemania and all roads led to Earls Court for two nights around the release of (What's The Story) Morning Glory? 

Prior to this though, we had the Britpop battle between Oasis and Blur surrounding the release of Roll With It and Parklike in August. It was nuts, 1995 was a great time to be a teenager. Music was everywhere. Blur won the battle but Oasis won the war. Nothing could stop them.

October 1995 was the month were Oasis truly went Supersonic. They delivered the follow up to Definitely Maybe in the shape of Morning Glory, played 2 sensational shows at Earls Court and also released Wonderwall.

Wonderwall went crazy. Yet somehow it never made it to number one! Kept off the top spot by Robson and Jerome - housewives favourites. It didn't matter, this was number one in so many peoples hearts.

I have a fond memory around this time of driving from Carluke to Lanark with my friend Dave to drop something off at one of his work mates houses. His mate didn't exactly stay in the best part of Lanark. It was rough to say the least. The sun was shining, it must have been an Indian Summer, windows and doors were open all down the street. And What's The Story Morning Glory? seemed to be coming out of all of them.

We pulled up at Dave's mates and She's Electric was blasting out of his house. It was incredible, driving through this estate and listening to Oasis coming at us from all angles.

Oasis were leaving everyone else in their dust. They had The Masterplan, Acquiesce, Round Are Way, Rockin' Chair and Talk Tonight as b-sides!

Memories of 1995 - Sheffield Arena doesn't seem like 21-years ago! Watching a band go stratospheric and strapping in for the ride with them was an incredible buzz. The songs, releases, clothes, haircuts, shows, TV appearances, radio and magazine interviews, the laughs, the craziness, nights out and in being soundtracked by Oasis....the band truly did come along at the right moment in my life.


Where could it go from there? The answer, was even higher, further and faster....for a time.

Wonderwall was still everywhere, helped by a cover version by Mike Flowers Pops. Remember that? There was brilliant pre-internet rumour that his version was in fact the original and Noel had covered it. It doesn't deserve to be posted, but here is a link just in case you fancy it.

Building on a phenomenal 1995, Oasis released the emotional epic Don't Look Back In Anger in February. This Noel sung heartstring puller won them even more fans. The melodic Wonderwall was rooted in Noel's love for The Beatles and Don't Look Back In Anger took it one step further by cheekily starting with the chords of Lennon's Imagine. The Brian Cannon and Microdot cover was also a nod to the story of The Beatles decking out Ringo's kit in flowers after he walked out on the band at one point.

Noel had reportedly given Liam the choice between singing Wonderwall or Don't Look Back In Anger and Noel's voice really suits the sky scraping chorus of the latter. He also ended up singing Wonderwall live on many occasions, sadly I have never heard a version of Don't Look Back In Anger with Liam on lead vocals.

So by early 1996 (from April 1994) Oasis had released 2 albums, 9 singles/EP's and played well over 200 shows; not to mention the countless media interviews, TV shows and acoustic sessions. The media loved them, the Gallagher brothers sold copies of the NME, Melody Maker, Select, Vox, Q, Record Collector, Loaded, FHM...... by the bucketload.

There was no let up; in early 1996 I travelled through to Edinburgh to see Oasis play Ingleston Exhibition Centre. There seemed to be a different mood about the night than previous shows I had attended. Talk of Hibs, West Ham and Aberdeen casuals meeting for a fight filtered the air. There seemed to be a sense that it was all going to kick off in the crowd. Thankfully it didn't and the Oasis rocket kept soaring.

There were shows in Germany and America but everything was now gearing towards 2 nights at Maine Road, home of the brothers beloved Manchester City.

Noel walked on stage with his arms aloft to huge applause before strapping on his Union Jack guitar and I can't have been the only person that went out and bought a Penfield jacket immediately after reading reviews and checking pictures in the NME.

Liam looked positively scruffy by comparison, wearing jogging bottoms and an umbro training top pulled over a shirt on the second night. Somehow we was still cool as f**k, especially heading him scream 'Manchester, are you mad for it?' when it came out on DVD.

It was pure celebration, they had the best songs, they had the best songwriter, the best front man and now they wanted to be the biggest. What could they do next?

The answer was to do something that even a year previously would have seemed quite unthinkable - 2 huge shows at Balloch Country Park near Loch Lomond in Scotland and 2 monumental shows (125,000 capacity) at Knebworth in England - scene to previous historical concerts by the likes of Queen and Zeppelin.

But then an 'indie' band (Noel always dismissed this term - they were rock n roll) playing two stadium shows would have seemed unthinkable. Oasis has crossed over and now they were going to prove it.

You can read all about my Knebworth experience in this 20th anniversary blog

Knebworth remains one of the best musical experience of my time. The whole excitement surrounding getting tickets, travelling down, the size of the place, the blag to get into the front pit and witnessing an astonishing and historic performance close up.

How could they follow Knebworth?

Many could reasonably argue that they never did and maybe they should have split. Leave a perfect legacy.

Certainly they couldn't keep up the pace. Something had to give. Cracks appeared when Liam turned up for MTV Unplugged at the Royal Festival Hall drunk and incapable of singing, leaving Noel to turn in a remarkable unrehearsed performance while his brother heckled him from the box,

Liam then pulled out of the Oasis American tour with the very un rock n roll excuse that he had to find a house to live in with wife Patsy Kensit.

From 1994, and even before - really from their King Tut's show where Alan McGee saw them and signed them on the spot (read eye witness account by Boyfriend drummer HERE) things had been going crazy; it was all up, up, up; all high, high, high. The resulting crash was probably predictable and crash they did. No-one could keep up that pace forever, they needed time out.

So Liam was probably right to take time to go and find a house and to stop the bandwagon rolling. In my opinion it took until the Heathen Chemistry album in 2002 to get back to full form and back on track.

Regardless - Oasis in 1994-1996 were truly Supersonic. I'm so glad to have been there while they were getting high, to have been 18-20, to have been to the shows, to have bought the records, to have experienced something that Liam has described in the trailer to the Supersonic documentary as 'f**king Biblical man'.

It was.


Definitely Maybe
Rock n Roll Star, Shaker Maker, Live Forever, Up In The Sky, Columbia, Supersonic, Bring It On Down, Cigarettes and Alcohol, Digsy's Dinner, Slide Away, Married With Children

Sad Song (bonus track on the vinyl release)

(What's the story) Morning Glory?
Hello, Roll With It, Wonderwall, Don't Look Back In Anger, Hey Now, (untitled), Some Might Say, Cast No Shadow, She's Electric, Morning Glory, Untitled, Champagne Supernova

Bonehead's Bank Holiday (bonus track on the vinyl release)


b/w Take Me Away, I Believe (live), Columbia (White Label demo)

Shaker Maker
b/w D'Yer Wanna Be A Spaceman?, Alive (8-track demo), Bring It On Down (live)

Live Forever
b/w Up In The Sky (acoustic), Cloudburst, Supersonic (live)

Cigarettes and Alcohol
b/w I Am The Walrus (live), Listen Up, Fade Away

b/w (It's Good) To Be Free, Half The World Away, Slide Away

Some Might Say
b/w Talk Tonight, Acquiesce, Headshrinker

Roll With It
b/w It's Better People, Rockin' Chair, Live Forever (live from Glastonbury 95)

b/w Round Are Way, The Swamp Song, The Masterplan

Don't Look Back In Anger
b/w Step Out, Underneath The Sky, Cum On Feel The Noize

Key gigs

24/03 100 Club London - Oasis stamp their mark on London
07/04 Tramway, Glasgow - Going out live on Radio 1, the band also give a famous interview to the NME that is later released as the Wibbling Rivalry 7-inch single
26/06 Glastonbury - Oasis take to the mid-afternoon slot like superstars, with Liam and Noel in shades
31/07 T in the Park, Hamilton - One of my all time favourite gigs, Liam and Noel pack out the tent and play football on stage
09/08 Riverside, Newcastle - Noel is attacked on stage as Oasis 'mania' takes hold.
05/09 Hacienda, Manchester - The band return to Manchester
Sept - Japanese tour - Oasis mania really does take hold
Liam on tour in Japan 1994

29/09 The Whiskey A Go Go, Los Angelese - Liam destroys a gig after being up all night doing crystal meth. Noel promptly leaves the band.
15/10 Metro, Chicago - Many close to Oasis cite this as their favourite show or live recording of the band
07/12 Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow - Liam storms off stage after losing his voice leaving Noel to finish the show on his own and then with the band. Noel promises they will return.
27/12 Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow - The band are true to their word and if you kept your ticket stub you got back in to witness a sensational performance.

17/07 Cliffs Pavillion, Southend - recorded for the Live By The Sea video
20/04 Bataclan, Paris -
22/04 Sheffield Arena, Sheffield - Oasis first UK arena show, Noel plays Don’t Look Back In Anger
23/06 Glastonbury -
14 and 15/07 Irvine Beach - 2 shows in a tent on Irvine Beach
5 and 5/11 Earls Court, London - incredible shows with The Bootleg Beatles supporting

22 and 23/03 The Point Depot, Dublin - The Sun nearly cause a riot by trying to 'reunite' Noel and Liam with their Dad
27 and 28/03 Maine Road, Manchester - Liam takes to the stage in trackies and an umbro top!
03 and 04/08 Loch Lomond - the warm ups to Knebworth and a Scottish celebration
10 and 11/08 Knebworth - biblical!
23/08 Royal Festival Hall, London (Noel Unplugged)