The twenty best songs by Oasis.
Seven studio albums.
Twenty-five top twenty singles.
More quality tucked away on the b-sides of those singles than you can imagine or dream of.
Myriad album tracks that were good enough to be hit records in their own right.
It is mission impossible to refine so much work and so much quality work down to just twenty songs…but that is the mission I have taken on.
Cue the Mission: Impossible theme tune.
This was inspired by the bundle of good bloke that is Mr James from the Oasis Podcast. His twenty looks like this;
20. All Around the World
19. Cigarettes and Alcohol
18. Rock ‘n’ Roll Star
16. My Big Mouth
15. Live Forever
14. Cum On Feel the Noize
13. D’You Know What I Mean?
12. Rockin’ Chair
10. Gas Panic
9. Champagne Supernova
8. Don’t Look Back in Anger
7. Slide Away
6. The Masterplan
5. Let’s All Make Believe
4. Don’t go Away
3. Morning Glory
2. Round Are Way
1. Stay Young
It’s difficult, if not impossible, to argue with any of that…James knows, as well as anyone and better than most, the music of Oasis and he has spent a long time thinking about the why and wherefore for each of his choices. You can hear him discussing them here…
I decided that it wouldn’t do for me to just select the same songs…or any of the same songs, so I have committed to selecting twenty different songs; or at least I had until I realised that he had included “Let’s All Make Believe” and that rule went out the window! Just to make things a little more interesting I have also decided not to use any songs that were released as singles. No cover versions. And there has to be at least one track from each studio album too.
Always with the rules.
What can I tell you?
I’m an orderly person…or obsessive compulsive.
Many of the songs that Oasis Podcast selected would have been in my own Top Twenty but it just isn’t interesting to hear people saying the same things about the same songs. I wanted to be forced to listen to other songs and select things that maybe wouldn’t normally make the cut.
The fact that I have been able to find another twenty songs to make a list like this tells you everything you need to know about the quality of the Oasis back catalogue.
Not quite all killer no filler…but pretty close.
Here then are my top twenty Oasis songs…not ranked but my personal favourites.
Bring it on Down, 1994 (Definitely Maybe)
“You’re the outcast, you’re the underclass, but you don’t care, because you’re living fast”
Do we need another reason to include this?
It is a boiling, blistering, bluster of rock ‘n’ roll beef.
I have no idea what that means either.
This is the sound of youth, of disenchantment and the disenfranchised.
Everyday was a blur for me until Britpop arrived.
I was here, there and everywhere on my own.
Looking for someone to blame.
I was the outcast.
I was the underclass.
An uninvited guest.
Convinced “they” were talking about me.
I had problems.
Oasis helped to change all of that.
Bring it on down indeed.
D’Yer Wanna Be A Spaceman, 1994 (Shakermaker, B-Side)
I didn’t buy “Supersonic” and I certainly didn’t have a white label demo of “Columbia”.
The first record I bought by Oasis was “Shakermaker” and this little bit of shimmering, shining, hope and light was the track that convinced me that this was a band I could put a bit of faith in.
“We could just forget about life in this town”
That was exactly what I was trying to do.
Something about the truth at the heart of this song…that as we grow we lose sight of our dreams, that reality crushes hope made me shed real tears. Tears of sadness as I thought of all the things I had wanted to do and that, at the start of my twenties, I already knew I never would.
A punch to the gut.
But then the realisation that there was hope too…that if Noel had found his chance long after most people would have told him it had passed him by, then maybe it wasn’t too late for me either.
Half the World Away, 1994 (Whatever, B-Side)
The theme song for one of my favourite television shows, “The Royle Family”.
Sitting in front of the telly with your mum and dad and siblings watching Saturday night light entertainment is a near universal experience for people of my age and from my background.
“The Royle Family” captured all the nuance, awfulness, joy, love, laughter and sadness of working class family life…in the same way that Oasis captured the hopes and dreams of the kids from those sorts of homes; kids with bigger dreams than their parents.
“I could feel the warning signs, running around my mind”
I’ve been feeling those warning signs for a while now…
Not a lot helps to quiet them…but listening to this does.
Cast No Shadow, 1995 (What’s the Story Morning Glory)
I think a theme is developing here.
This may be to do with my current emotional “condition”.
I’ve been feeling a little…
There was a time in my life when I thought that listening to The Smiths was the solution to that. I thought I could find solace in the songs that had saved my life. Now I think they didn’t save my life…they didn’t offer hope or escape, they simply reflected what I was feeling back at me. I’m not sure that really helped.
I wish I had been able to choose the hope offered by Oasis.
Even at their most poignant, like here, they are never anything less than life affirming.
“Bound with all the weight of all the words he tried to say.”
Step Out, 1996 (Don’t Look Back in Anger, B-Side)
Talent borrows…genius steals.
Noel Gallagher knows music.
Because he knows music he knew that “Uptight” by Stevie Wonder is one of the greatest songs in the history of popular music…
Or he had heard “Love 45” by Orange Deluxe and thought that it sounded ace…
Doesn’t matter which…they are both fab.
So is this.
Guaranteed to make me feel better, bigger, stronger, happier.
A hand clappin’, foot stompin’, classic that Geno Washington would have been proud to claim as his own.
Be Here Now, 1997 (Be Here Now)
Much, and oft, derided in the years since it’s release the third album from Oasis is, in truth, a stone cold classic.
“D’You Know What I Mean?”, “My Big Mouth”, “Don’t Go Away”, “Stand By Me”, “Fade In-Out”, “All Around the World”…and this, the title track, all show a band high on success, dizzy with their own brilliance and fuelled by industrial quantities of cocaine. That makes for quite the marvellous medicine.
This chugs, churns, soars, swoops and boils along with a pounding beat and nursery rhyme rhythm that makes it impossible not to love.
Going Nowhere, 1997 (Stand By Me, B-Side)
A dreamy, plaintiff, yearning, mournful and yet, again, hopeful song with soaring strings, gently weeping guitars, subtle brass and a beautiful vocal from Noel.
It has something in common with “To Be Someone” by The Jam in it’s lyrical content…dreams of being a millionaire, driving a fast car, being someone. Which is interesting because Noel covered that song for the “Fire and Skill” tribute album.
A song that I reckon a lot of people would have let slip past them but one of my absolute favourite Oasis tracks.
Which is why it’s here.
Let’s All Make Believe, 2000 (Go Let it Out, B-Side)
The first fruits of the new decade from Oasis included this B-Side to “Go Let it Out” which…
Oh this is going to make me sound mad.
To Hell with it.
I’m just going to say it.
I reckon this would have made a fantastic Bond theme.
It’s dramatic and orchestral.
I can see those shadowy figures moving and grooving across the screen as this plays.
I knew it would be.
Put Yer Money Where Yer Mouth Is, 2000 (Standing on the Shoulder of Giants)
Scuzzy, fuzzy, buzzin’, rock ‘n’ roll filth.
With a bit of fury.
This is the sound of a band who know they still matter, that they can still deliver. A great vocal from Liam, sounding like a man who realises that their are people who are questioning him, questioning his band…he’s got answers.
The lyrics are…’phoned in from Noel but it really doesn’t matter when everything else is as good as this.
This is what the Rolling Stones would sound like if they were as good as people think they are.
Where Did it All go Wrong, 2000 (Standing on the Shoulder of Giants)
My favourite track from “Standing on the Shoulder of Giants”.
When Noel sings “But I hope you know, that it won’t let go” a little bit of my heart breaks.
It’s not what he’s singing but the way he’s singing it.
Like it’s the most important thing in the world.
Maybe it is…or was…to him.
“I hope the tears don’t stain the world that waits outside”
I envy people who haven’t ever asked themselves “Where did it all go wrong?” at some point in their lives…I envy them the peace, the safety, the strength, the charm that has graced their life.
I don’t trust them though.
I like people who have suffered.
I like people who have been damaged.
I like people who have been down…and got back up.
That’s what this song makes me think about.
To be continued…