Tuesday, 22 February 2011

REVIEW: Beady Eye - 'Different Gear, Still Speeding'

A lot of people are going to slag off this record. A lot of them will have already decided they don't like it before they've even heard it, because it's uncool to like Oasis now. Because they were the biggest band in the world. And it's certainly not cool to like Beady Eye, because they are basically Oasis minus the man who wrote 'Live Forever', 'Cast No Shadow' and every single other song that made Oasis the biggest band in the world in the first place. And people are going to moan about this group because they just make retro rock n roll, sing blunt lyrics, and don't experiment or push the boundaries in imaginative ways or make clever innovative, cutting edge sounds. But if I want to hear imaginative new genres I'd know not to turn to this group, because there are other bands who provide that sort of thing and I can choose to listen to them if and when I wish. But when I have an appetite for simple and direct rock n roll, a group like Beady Eye are badly needed in this day and age.

Oasis changed my life. There were other bands that I liked before, but Oasis were at the forefront of Britpop, the scene that put me on the right path. A path that connected to many other great genres that i wouldn't have discovered if there wasn't a big musical phenomenon like Britpop in the mid 90s to start me off with..... Just imagine if Britpop didn't happen, there wouldn't have been an easy way of me hearing and discovering decent bands as a 10 year old kid..... the mainstream would've just been crap like it is now, and I could've been unfortunate enough to grow up listening to pop, hip hop or (shudder to think of it) RnB!!! I was so lucky to have grown up with Oasis leading the way for British music and making us proud to be British again during a golden era. And perhaps because of my many fond memories linked to that band, i actually shed tears the night in 2009 when I heard Noel had left and there was no more Oasis.

Maybe it did happen at the right moment, they'd just released 'Dig Out Your Soul' (which by the way I think was a GREAT record) and were once again at a peak, and maybe the only way they could've gone is back downhill like they did in the early 2000s. And maybe this was an opportunity to separate Liam, Gem and Andy's songs from Noel's, so they wouldn't forever be overshadowed by Noel's 'proper Oasis songs'. 

Between them the three of them were responsible for 'Love Like A Bomb', 'Keep The Dream Alive', 'Soldier On', 'The Meaning Of Soul', 'I Believe In All' and 'Pass Down The Wine'... all great Oasis songs, as good as a lot of the things Noel could write.

So with the immediate formation of a new group in the wake of the Oasis split, this was going to be rather interesting to see how Oasis would sound like without their guitarist and songwriter. With a fresh start and a lot to prove, Beady Eye's debut album is sometimes the sound of rejuvenation, although definitely not a big change in sound.

The album gets off to the best start possible with the terrific 'Four Letter Word', the most alive and dangerous Liam has sounded in ages. Recalling the vibe and attitude of 'Morning Glory' or 'Up In The Sky' and perhaps the most interesting lyrics on the record... "you've had enough, it feels like you've blown a 50 amp fuse, it's gonna be tough, the more you have the more you can lose" maybe a reference to what happened on that night in Paris when Oasis finally came to an explosive end? But the sound and vibe of this record is one of carrying on as well as leaving the past behind and relishing the future with excitement.... "It's not what you wanted, it might be just what you need". 'Four Letter Word' sets the tone for the album perfectly, as it evokes a sense of living for the moment and being truly fearless.

And the good quality continues with the upbeat 'Millionaire', which bounces along nicely with an almost folky acoustic riff, but by the third track they hit a major bump. I first heard about 'The Roller' about ten years ago in an Oasis interview, described as "Instant Karma played by T Rex'  and obviously not considered good enough for inclusion on the last 3 Oasis albums. But here it is at last, and perhaps because I'd heard their description of it years before I knew what to expect. Don't get me wrong, 'The Roller' would be an absolutely legendary song if Lennon hadn't already written 'Instant Karma' years before, but that is not the case and the track represents a disappointingly weak pastiche. 'Beatles And Stones' is also a bit naff, despite hearing it many many times now... I don't mind the 'My Generation' aping riff, I just think singing about standing the test of time "like Beatles and Stones" is just too obvious.

But afterwards, the album picks up again with four of the album's most memorable moments... 'Wind Up Dream' is a bit like the Stones with a psychedelic swagger, and 'Bring The Light' is simply an enjoyable riot, fuelled by pumping piano and a no-nonsense urgency. 'For Anyone' is a lovely song with a warm charm to it and a sweet melody that recalls 'Help!' era Beatles. 'Kill For A Dream' follows it, and is perhaps the most anthemic track on the record, reflective, hopeful and beautiful.

But after these brilliant moments, we have to suffer one last unnecessary flaw, 'Standing On The Edge Of The Noise'. Sounding like Status Quo with an overenthusiastic keyboardist, and the sort of crappy pub rock that would've been rejected from 'Be Here Now' for being too hollow, you wonder why they even bothered putting it on the album. But after this we get the defiant swagger 'Three Ring Circus' which is one hell of a tune. Style-wise however, not much of a departure from the past.

'Wigwam' is rather unusual though, a joyous, slightly spaced-out epic that wouldn't actually sound anything like Oasis if you removed Liam's vocals. The beautiful psychedelica continues with 'The Beat Goes On', Liam singing about reaching the gates of heaven before realising he is actually still alive. And 'Different Gear, Still Speeding' comes to a close with 'The Morning Son', a nice introspective way to end the record with glistening acoustic guitars, dreamy strings and great sounding vocal reverb that builds into a beautiful landscape of sound.

So the debut album from Beady Eye isn't perfect, it's just frustrating how great it could've been if they removed the three tracks that really weren't needed. the album would've still been a healthy 10 tracks long, and would've made for a far more consistent piece of work. However, miss out these songs and you have a very strong album that gets better with every listen. Running through a few of these songs is a strong sense of belief and confidence, Gallagher telling the world he doesn't need to rely on anyone and proving that he is indestructible. You can tell he truly believes in these songs and where he's moving to musically. And no matter how bad terms the brothers are on, I think Noel would be proud of how far Liam has come as a songwriter in the last decade.

I'll give the album 6.9 out of 10, it would've got at least an 8 with the appropriate editing.
Now it's over to you Noel.

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