By James Holcombe
As You Were – Is Liam finally out of Noel’s shadow?
When Liam Gallagher released his solo album last month, not even he could have expected how fast it would sell. By the end of the week it was number one in the UK and had outsold the rest of the top ten. For me, one of the reasons this album is such a triumph for Liam is that for the first time since the breakup of Oasis, he seems to be out of his brother’s shadow.
Beady Eye and the High Flying Birds
The era of Oasis came to an end in August 2009 when Noel announced he was leaving the band after an alleged incident where Liam smashed his guitar. This began a new era for the brothers. Liam formed Beady Eye with the remaining Oasis members, while Noel left to form Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.
Beady Eye’s debut album came first, with Different Gear, Still Speeding released in February 2011. The group kept the sound of Oasis, although the album lacked a big hit song. During the days of Oasis, almost all of the hit songs were written by Noel and Beady Eye missed his song writing badly. The album still reached number three in the UK charts, going gold and winning praise from former Oasis fans.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds released their debut album, sharing their name, later that year. Unlike Liam, Noel had changed his music style, seeing this new album as a chance to experiment musically. The songs on Noel’s album were much more exciting to listen to than anything on Beady Eye’s. The album went number one and double platinum. Round one, it seemed, had gone to Noel.
Beady Eye’s second album BE was released in 2013 and musically was a step forward. For me, this album is where we begin to see the distinctive style Liam would later use for his solo album. This album’s songs were more lively and memorable than its predecessor’s. Despite this, the album only went silver, and Beady Eye again failed to reach number one. The group’s decision to start playing Oasis songs the year before emphasises the gap Noel had left. Beady Eye disbanded a year later.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’ second album, Chasing Yesterday, was released in 2015 and demonstrated how far Noel’s music had come from Oasis. His new style was again evident, the key songs were great and you wanted to listen to them again and again. Just like their debut album, Chasing Yesterday went to number one and went platinum. Noel had two platinum albums and Liam was without a group.
As You Were
After endless speculation on his next move, Liam announced a 2017 solo album. Perhaps unhelpfully for Liam, Noel announced a third High Flying Birds album with a similar release date. By this stage, Noel has strayed even further from the Oasis style, in a recent interview Liam compared Noel’s music to U2.
As you Were was released last month and was a smash hit, achieving the highest single-week vinyl sales in twenty years. It was also one of the best overall albums I have heard in a long time and easily the best Gallagher album since Oasis. Liam has kept his personal style whilst still giving his great songs the feel of Oasis. Here Liam shows he has finally managed to write songs which will be remembered in years to come. Not only this but he now seems to be outshining Noel, with Noel’s new single seeming to almost slip under the radar. It seems for the first time in years, people are talking about Liam and not Noel.
What’s the Future?
Noel’s album is to be released later this month and Noel’s pedigree means we can have high expectations. I though cannot see it competing with As you Were, or even Noel’s last album. What Liam’s album means for me is the end of hopes for an Oasis reunion. In recent years it always seemed to be Liam pushing for an Oasis reunion. Noel was enjoying a different style and music, with great success. Whereas Liam was struggling to move on from Oasis, shown both by Beady Eye’s style reliance on performing Oasis songs. Liam has now shown that he can produce great music without his brother. So I cannot see there ever being another Oasis album. I just hope this is not the last Liam Gallagher album.