At The Cinema: Oasis – Morning Glory: A Classic Album Under Review

There was a period in my life (1995-1997) when Oasis was It for me. The sun rose and set with the Gallaghers, and I was certain that “Wonderwall” was the best song I’d ever heard. Sometimes I look back on that era fondly; the tracksuits, Cool Britannia, the nastiness with Blur, the Wibbling Rivalry.

Oasis – Morning Glory: A Classic Album Under Review, gives an in-depth look at the making, and myth, behind the most famous Oasis album. It’s narrated by a panel of experts, including a pair of musician peers (Clint Boon of the Inspiral Carpets and Nigel Clark of Dodgy) and a handful of music scribes from NME, Q, Mojo, etc;. I would have loved to see input from Creation Records guru (and He Who Signed Oasis) Alan McGee, or from A-list contemporaries of the Britpop oeuvre.

The structure of the DVD follows as you might expect. First, the scene is set, with the panel members and narrator guiding us through the aftermath of debut album Definitely Maybe and setting the scene in a historical sense. The album is then dissected, track-by-track. In addition to the panel interviews, the documentary includes some pretty good live footage of the band in various concerts, playing bits of the track being discussed.

I even learned something new while opening track “Hello” was discussed, in terms of production; Morning Glory used a production technique called “brickwalling” or “soundwalling,” wherein every instrument is turned up as high as possible. The panel opines that this type of production, perfected by producer Owen Morris, was quite helpful for the Oasis sound. And while the “Roll With It” versus Blur’s “Country House” singles battle was largely a hype machine production, it’s well known that the two leaders of the respective bands (Noel Gallagher and Damon Albarn) genuinely don’t like each other.

During a discussion about “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” the talk turns to Noel’s well-known propensity towards borrowing from others, in this case John Lennon’s “Imagine.” It wasn’t the first time, and it wasn’t the last time. Some attention is given to the famous Oasis A-side B-side thing; Gallagher had a stockpile of songs that could very well have been A-sides, but he stuck them on singles as B-sides. The strongest examples of these are the beloved tracks “Acquiesce” and “The Masterplan.”

I was pleased to see the inspiration for the song “Cast No Shadow” wasn’t ignored. Noel famously dedicated that song to the Verve’s frontman Richard Ashcroft in the album’s liner notes, and had at one point dubbed Ashcroft “Captain Rock.” In my opinion, Gallagher might have had the greater success, but Ashcroft wrote the better songs. Title track “Morning Glory” evidently has a more American sound, and was thusly released as a single on these shores. There are some nifty extras on the DVD, including a segment called “Oasis Meet Blur – The Joint Interview,” and “The Hardest Interactive Oasis Quiz in the World Ever.” The interviewer is ridiculous, but overall it’s hilarious.

Sure, the documentary tends to feel a bit low-budget, especially when stock video footage of rolling studio tape or mixing boards are used, and with the lack of Big Name panel members. For the most part, however, the use of lots of period photos, snippets of radio interviews, and the live footage make up for scrimping elsewhere. It’ll take you back to the time when Oasis was top of the heap and the Gallaghers were the feudal lords or Britpop. If you were an Oasis completeist who insisted on buying those ridiculous, Benson & Hedges carton shaped singles boxes (which I'm guilty of), this one’s for you. Put on your tracksuit jacket, your slightly baggy jeans, and Lennon sunglasses, and enjoy.


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