Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Collection Of Noel Gallagher's Favorite Oasis Songs, With Video Footage!

The Good: Two discs of solid rock and roll, Good lyrics, Nice music
The Bad: Avoids almost all Oasis' middle career in favor of the beginning and current
The Basics: Not an Oasis fan? Easily become one with this "Best Of" set that highlights 18 of Noel Gallagher's favorite Oasis tracks.

On the DVD that accompanies the Deluxe presentation of Stop The Clocks, Noel and Liam Gallagher differentiate between a "Best of" album and a "Greatest Hits" album. The difference is that the Best of, which Stop The Clocks is Noel's incarnation of for Oasis, are the tracks that most clearly define the group in question. A "Greatest Hits" is simply a collection of what sold well. With Stop The Clocks, Noel Gallagher defines the "Best of Oasis" as most everything from early on (the first two albums), almost nothing from the middle (from the three albums produced after Morning Glory, there are only two tracks), with a slight resurgence with the current incarnation of the band (there are two tracks from their last album).

Oasis has spent the past twelve years on the British charts with a total of six and a half studio albums (The Masterplan I am considering as the half, because it is a collection of songs previously released on various singles from the first three albums, though it works generally well as an album in its own right) and a double-disc live album. The Masterplan is comprised of mostly singles from the first two of three albums, so for a fan of Oasis, Stop The Clocks is disproportionately indicative of the band from Definitely Maybe and (What's The Story) Morning Glory? Out of the eighteen tracks in this two-disc set, FOURTEEN are from the songs created in that period.

That's disappointing.

Noel is essentially saying that Oasis peaked early and their current works are essentially more mature, but not indicative of who the band is. Noel missed the boat in this regard, which I realize is silly to say of the defining member of Oasis. There is not a single song on Stop The Clocks from Be Here Now, arguably Oasis' only perfect album and a brilliant piece in its own right. The only track from Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants to make the album was the opening single, "Go Let It Out." Heathen Chemistry's contribution, "Songbird" remains one of Oasis' weakest singles, despite Liam's pride over writing it. Ironically, Noel (in the extra DVD footage from the 3-disc set) reveals that he did not believe "Lyla" was much of an Oasis song, though he made a great pick with Don't Believe The Truth's "The Importance of Being Idle."

My last serious complaint about this three-disc set is the failure to use the medium well. For a "Best of" album that comprises twelve year's work, this is a sparse collection to be spread over two discs. Other groups, like R.E.M. and U2 have used the two-disc format to give fans a bonus, unreleased tracks or demos. Oasis simply spreads a touch over eighty minutes worth of music over two discs with nothing new. Even adding more tracks would have been less disappointing than underfilling two discs like this. Oasis is known for anthems and only "Champagne Supernova" of their longer works is represented here. The two live tracks on the DVD are unfulfilling as well.

So, what does one get with Stop The Clocks? This set has eighteen tracks of pure rock and roll genius that make it easy to see why Oasis became huge quickly. To American audiences, this collection features the radio hits "Wonderwall" and "Champagne Supernova" which put Oasis firmly on the map in the U.S. For the rest of the world, there are the recognizable hits "Supersonic," "Rock 'N' Roll Star," and the classic "Live Forever." There are the current darlings of Oasis, "Lyla" and "The Importance Of Being Idle."

And there's "Cigarettes & Alcohol." As a fan of Oasis, I can't imagine being a devoted fan of the band and not being sick of that song. I swear, on almost every single (including the EP version of Stop The Clocks), the band releases a demo or live version of their fourth single from Definitely Maybe. Note to Noel Gallagher: You've written great songs since! Present them!

Stop The Clocks mostly serves to harken the listener back to how and why Oasis became one of the biggest bands in history. It is evident from the opening licks of "Rock 'N' Roll Star" - the first track on this album, as well as their first album - that Oasis is a band that knows how to rock. They are masters of guitar, bass, drums and piano (though tracks with piano are sparse on this compilation).

For those who are not fans of Oasis yet, Stop The Clocks acts as a primer and in some ways allows the listener who wants to consolidate the best of Oasis' first two albums to "catch up" before exploring their more ambitious middle works. Indeed, Stop The Clocks is enough of a hook to get anyone into this group. From the arrogant swagger of "Rock N' Roll Star" to the soft musings of "Wonderwall" to the roaring anthem The Masterplan on the first disc to the crescendo of "Don't Look Back In Anger" on disc two, this is a collection that illustrates what great lyrics can do in rock and roll. It reminds us what is missing from the radio too often today.

And from Stop The Clocks, the listener could pick up Be Here Now and see just how great a single album of Oasis' could be. In all, this is a solid listening experience and it plays very well (over and over). Despite what it's lacking and outside three tracks, this IS the Best of Oasis. Noel got right what he put in here, for the most part.

For real fans of Oasis, this three-disc version (I presume the standard issue is 2 discs) has a DVD, which includes two videos, an interview with Noel and Liam that clocks in at a little over thirty minutes, a photo gallery and trailer for - apparently - a documentary on the band. It's a tough sell for the three-disc version for those who are not already fans of the group. The interview is decent and is basically Noel and Liam telling the fans why Noel chose the songs for Stop The Clocks that he did. It's not as laced with swearing as one might expect and the parental warning on this set is definitely overrated.

Odds are, fans of Oasis will find themselves listening to Stop The Clocks more than Definitely Maybe, (What's The Story) Morning Glory?, and The Masterplan as it generally takes the strongest tracks from those three albums and leaves the fat aside. The only real thing to lament is that there is nothing new here, save on the mediocre DVD bonus. The best tracks are "The Masterplan" (Disc 1) and "Don't Look Back In Anger" (Disc 2), the weak tracks are "Cigarettes & Alcohol" (Disc 1) and "Songbird" (Disc 2).

For other Oasis works, please check out my reviews of:
Definitely Maybe
(What's The Story?) Morning Glory
“Wonderwall” (single)
“Don’t Look Back In Anger” (single)
Be Here Now
The Masterplan
Familiar To Millions
Heathen Chemistry
Don't Believe The Truth
Dig Out Your Soul


For other music reviews, be sure to visit my Music Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2012, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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