Monday, 7 November 2011

The Last Noel...

Growing old gracefully in music is something a lot of artists are destined to do whether they like it or not. The years of abuses and fast living either take their toll and cost the person their lives or they clean up and steadily make their way towards the middle of the road, where they decide to churn out nice comfy music for their fans (and themselves) but without any of the initial spark that made them exciting in the first place.

That’s the first option.

The second is that of the artist that doesn’t change physically, to whom maybe drink and drugs never played a big part in their psyche and instead it has just been their way of life and outlook that has changed. From being the rough and ready working class heroes with a gut full of fire and opinion now regulated to a public ‘face’ who’s main obligations and worries go no further than deciding which Savile Row suit goes with which pair of Gucci shoes and how much alimony they have to fork out each month to various ungrateful ex’s. It’s not to disregard this change of statue or lifestyle as being wrong of course, but your head on perspective has to change if the hunger that pushed you from the council flat has now assumed its place at the head table of music dignitaries. Basically your membership to the Eric Clapton, Elton John, Phil Collins and Paul McCartney party is in the post and feel free to leave your balls at the door.

Of course there are exceptions to the rules and from my viewpoint it seems that the only way to keep out of the comfort zone is to seek out new things no matter the consequences. David Bowie for example isn’t chained to a particular generation or ‘sound’ and is someone that still has that artistic drive and curiosity to try something new and damn the consequences, from his glam rock 70’s initial albums to his synth based pop in the early 80’s to even his jungle and industrial Reznor-esque tracks in the 90’s he has always morphed and reinvented himself along the way. He moved on along down the road where a lot of his contemporaries decided to dig themselves a hole and stay put as they were either un-able or are unwilling to add another aspect to their work in case it didn’t work out and the whole thing came crashing down around them.

There is a third view also and that is the band/artist that never fit on the scene in the first place. The outsider artist that was never in fashion, sold moderately and attracted the more cult like fans. Although even these so called rebels and mavericks aren’t willing to change the formula too much in case they go too far and actually get a hit! Suddenly they have gone up a notch, their pale young awkward fans desert them and they are now in the world of meetings concerning the budget for their next promotional video and plans for a world tour. It’s a tightrope of coolness.

Where are you going with this I hear you ponder? Well you’ve committed your time this far I guess so the least I can do is offer you the payoff. I have finally sat down and listed to the first solo album from Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds. It’s OK. That is really all I can say about it. I have listened to both the singles and the ‘padding’ filler tracks equally and although there are nice moments that don’t entirely rely on his tried and tested bag of tricks (the excellent ‘If I Had a Gun’ for example is a great addition to his cannon) there is nothing that makes me want to play it again once it’s finished. Whether its series 8 of Friends, Back to the Future part 3 or that 2nd time you tried mind altering substances nothing is going to grab your attention like the first time. Once the elastic has gone in your socks…it’s gone. For Oasis fans like myself (and I think for a lot of us if we are honest) when Noel used to pull his acoustic out and Liam took a break at LIVE gigs that was the perfect opportunity to get a loo break and queue up at the bar until the gig started again. Noel isn’t Neil Young or Bob Dylan and he can’t captivate an audience one on one with just his voice and guitar. Yes the songs are of a quality and professional to the last but there is no danger involved in the sense that the same songs performed at a gig tonight will be the same ones from last night and the same tomorrow. Neil Young for example might decide to pull one out of the bag from 1972 that he never released where Dylan might play his biggest hit in a different key as a waltz this time, Noel doesn’t seem ready to take that chance and will always play what is expected of him from the audience.

We are told that there is a real departure follow up album being released next year with his collaboration with Amorphous Androgynous and that it’s going to be more psychedelic and trippy and blah, blah, blah but lets cut the crap it’ll be as trippy as ‘Who Feels Love’ and at a push the craziest the whole thing would ever get would be comparable to his tracks with The Chemical Brothers in the 90’s, so ‘Revolver’ for dummies.

In my humble opinion...OK in my loudest of ‘know it all’ proclamations I think that Noel needs a band, he needs to be in Oasis. I think that Gem, Andy and to an extent Liam need to concentrate back on the singing and playing and leave the song writing to Noel, I mean you’d need some balls going up to the guy that wrote ‘Live Forever’ and handing him a track as weak as ‘A Quick Peep’. Everyone has a place in the band and towards to the end it was lost and out of balance. Check your egos at the door and do an album that stands up on its own merit rather than trying to blag it to the top of the charts under the power of hot air and obnoxious quotes about other bands, we’ve seen the strings and know how it all works now. Be HERE now… or in about 2 year’s time.

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