Sunday, March 10, 2013

Uninspired Oasis - One Single Even Fans Can Do Without: “Cigarettes And Alcohol”

The Good: Two great songs, one good - though overplayed - cover
The Bad: Title track is lame
The Basics: In a disappointing musical outing, Oasis presents one of its mediocre songs as a single with other songs that can be found elsewhere.

It does not take much to realize that I am a bit of a fan of Oasis. Sure, they haven't charted a single in the United States anywhere near as high as "Wonderwall" SINCE their second album, but their third, fourth and fifth albums remain in high rotation in my collection (that would be Be Here Now, The Masterplan, and Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants) and deserved a lot more credit than they received (I think at the time, they were buried under the attention to such enduring greats as the Spice Girls, Lou Bega, and Savage Garden). Still, even when they were on the rise in the UK and the US, Oasis made some moves that were poor choices. The best example I have is the release of the single "Cigarettes And Alcohol," the fourth single released off their debut Definitely Maybe.

With four tracks, clocking in just over twenty-one minutes, "Cigarettes And Alcohol" is a failure in the big picture of Oasis's career because it offers the listener nothing unique. First off, "Cigarettes and Alcohol," Oasis's rock and roll anthem to laziness was never one of their better singles on "Definitely Maybe." The song cries out for slacking and on this single, it is followed up by the live cover of "I Am The Walrus" (by the Beatles) and the two genuinely great tracks "Listen Up" and "Fade Away." The reason this disc is essentially worthless is that it offers nothing unique for the fans of Oasis or even the casual listeners. "Cigarettes and Alcohol" is on "Definitely Maybe," the other three tracks are on the vastly superior "The Masterplan."

"Cigarettes And Alcohol" seems to be one of Noel and Liam Gallagher's (the two constants of Oasis) favorite songs, as it appears on the single, Definitely Maybe, live on Familiar To Millions, a demo version on another single, a live version on the single of "Don't Go Away," and in its standard form again on the compilation Stop The Clocks. It's gotten around. In case you've not heard it, "Cigarettes And Alcohol" is a heavy guitar and drum track that loudly declares, "Is it worth the aggravation / To find yourself a job / When there's nothing worth working for?" It has one of the most typical Liam Gallagher vocals, which is loud and annoyingly whiny on this track. It was an unfortunate choice for a single ("Slide Away" would have been far better).

The title track of the single is followed up by "I Am The Walrus (Live)" which is possibly the only more tired track than "Cigarettes and Alcohol" on this disc. In addition to this disc, it shows up on "The Masterplan" and several other c.d. singles. "I Am The Walrus" is a song by The Beatles which, as it turns out, they never performed live, possibly because of how complex the guitarwork and drums actually were, especially combined with the speed of the vocals getting out rather complex lyrics. Liam Gallagher gets his mouth around the hazy drug poem of John Lennon and it is an impressive track. But we've heard it over and over and over and over again. It's not like the different times it pops up on Oasis albums it's a different live version. No, it's always the same track (though sometimes it includes the full guitar solo, sometimes it does not). The group gets through it, but it's available on The Masterplan with a slew of other songs.

This disc seems to be one of the more coherent arguments for The Masterplan as it follows up with "Listen Up." Listen Up is a flat out rock and roll track that demands the listener "Listen up / What's the time said today / I'm gonna speak my mind / Take me up to the top of the world / I wanna see my crime." As well, it contains some of Noel's most intriguing and menacing lines when he has Liam sing, "Day by day / There's a man in a suit / Who's gonna make you pay / For the thoughts that you think and the words / They won't let you say." It's a powerfully political song (one of the few Oasis presents before Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants). As well, Liam sings it particularly well, making an anthem that is intriguing and backed by decent guitars and surprisingly competent drumming.

"Fade Away" caps the single with another anthem that puts Liam Gallagher in the higher range of his vocal abilities. This track does not force his vocals to be presented as whiny, indeed, here he gives a forceful vocal presentation for the refrain. Ironically, this ends up being the softest track on this single, especially lyrically, with the guitars and vocals being more subdued and articulate than on some of the other tracks. Noel's song is about the loss of dreams and it is a captivating concept, especially for a rock and roll track. There aren't many rock songs that would try to sell itself on lines like "Lived in a bubble / Days were never ending / Was not concerned / About what life was sending / Fantasy was real / Now I know much about the way I feel / . . . We only get what we will settle for / While we're living / The dreams we have as children / Fade away."

Ultimately, this is not a failure of (most) of the tracks on this album, but rather a failure of arrangement and a tragedy of lack of value. This is an impossible single to sell to anyone but a ridiculous collector; there's nothing here worth buying that cannot be found on a longer, more complete work.

The best track is "Fade Away," the worst is "Cigarettes and Alcohol."

For other Oasis works, please check out my reviews of:
Definitely Maybe
"Whatever" (Single)
(What's The Story?) Morning Glory
“Wonderwall” (single)
“Don’t Look Back In Anger” (single)
"Some Might Say" (single)
Be Here Now
"D'You Know What I Mean?" (single)
"Stand By Me" (single)
"Don't Go Away" (Single)
The Masterplan
"Go Let It Out" (single)
"Sunday Morning Call" (Single)
Familiar To Millions
Heathen Chemistry
Don't Believe The Truth
Stop The Clocks
Dig Out Your Soul


For other music reviews, please visit my Music Review Index Page where the reviews are organized from best to worst!

© 2013, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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