June 10, 2015

From the Vaults: High Flying Birds

The WOAS West Coast Bureau recently sent me a copy of a CD by Noel Gallagher and his current band High Flying Birds.  Our WCB music guru Todd has been making me compilations of Oasis songs for quite some time.  I was only a casual fan when they first arrived on the world stage, but I have begun to appreciate them more in light of the terrific music produced by the Gallagher brothers (guitarist Noel and his lead singing brother Liam) in spite of their sometimes volatile relationship.  I asked Todd to pause in the WCB’s preparations to move north to Eugene, Oregon and put the Gallagher brothers into perspective for me in light of Noel’s newest CD.   This is his take on the brothers Gallagher:

“He’s like a man with a fork, in a world of soup.”- Noel Gallagher, on brother Liam.

Noel Gallagher and brother Liam of the seminal British rock outfit Oasis have always had a love-hate relationship. Their Irish heritage forged an unbreakable bond, but their polar opposite personalities always created friction in their band. Though Oasis is no more, the legacy of the music they created lives on.  And while elder brother Noel has carried on a successful and satisfying solo career since 2011, still the calls for a reformation continue, six years after Oasis’ final show.

The Davies brothers of the Kinks, the Robinson brothers of the Black Crowes, and the Gallagher brothers make up probably the best known sets of warring, squabbling siblings in rock bands. Out of these rocky relationships have come fantastic music, as rock ’n roll thrives on adversity – the push and pull – of divergent personalities. Even bands without fraternal connections have built success on this dynamic. Think John and Paul, Mick and Keith, Robert and Jimmy. But the Gallagher brothers brought this to a whole new level. Cricket bat battles, swearing matches, mid-tour abandonments, drunken benders, cocaine-fueled rants, nights in the lock-up, banishment from airlines, and more fame, wealth, and notoriety than a person can imagine. These are the Gallagher brothers, embodying probably the last of the old time idea of rock star excess. After growing up dirt-poor in a northern England council estate in Burnage, outside of Manchester, there was literally nothing more to lose for this pair. Riding the genius songwriting of Noel with the swagger and voice of Liam, Oasis became, for a short period of time, the biggest band in the world. From 1994-1997, no one could touch them. They produced hit single after hit single, and Noel was writing b-sides that other bands would kill to release as singles. Liam’s voice embodied the feeling and frustration of the nothingness of Thatcher-era Britain.  Even an unauthorized release of a recording of a music press interview gone awry (and titled “The Wibbling Rivalry”) charted. They sold out stadiums in seconds and played to the largest gathering in England ever at the time over an August 1996 weekend at Knebworth Park, north of Hertfordshire.

But as a new direction of Oasis began with two new members in 2000, the songwriting duties were shared and album quality suffered. Though they always managed a hit single or two, the hungry feeling of the first two albums was simply no longer there. Noel’s songwriting was no longer flowing like a faucet, and Liam’s resentment of Noel’s manipulation of the media and control of the band continued to eat away at him. Though they soldiered on for nine more years, the end was only a matter of time.

Though both Noel and Liam had walked off of tours or missed showing up for tours (most notably Noel in ’94 and ’00 and Liam in ’95), nothing like spring ’09 had ever happened before. Before a gig in Paris, Noel and Liam clashed over the advertising of Liam’s fashion line, Pretty Green, in the tour program, and Noel destroyed one of Liam’s guitars. Liam followed suit, adding in the chucking of a plum or two from catering table, and Noel stalked off, effectively ending the band.  Now, the breaking up of the band divided many in the Oasis fan community, many, like this writer, believed that Oasis had run its course and looked forward to the return of a full album worth of Noel-penned songs. Others bemoaned the breakup and have searched for clues of rapprochement  ever since. Liam and the rest of the band became Beady Eye, which released two albums and called it a day in 2014. Noel also released two albums, the latest (and best) in March of this year.

While Liam struggles with a divorce and a paternity suit, brother Noel is midway through a tour, supporting his recent release, “Chasing Yesterday.” While time will tell what the future will hold for the band (if anything), it’s safe to say that the only thing that will bring them together is money. Noel has mentioned in more than one interview, cheekily, that it would take half a million pounds to reunite the band. Adding that he would even take U.S. dollars, but it would have to be a half-million of something.  And that, it appears, is the cost of brotherly love. (Todd Gauthier, WOAS, WCB)

Thanks to our WCB of  Elizabeth, Todd, Don Juan and Emma for a ten year run of musical fun from Los Angeles.  We look forward to the first posting from the WCB once it has relocated to Eugene, OR.