The fact that Oasis has stayed together long enough to celebrate the release of a “best-of” album is a testament to the sheer egomania and obliviousness of the Gallagher brothers. No matter which way the trends of popular music shift, Liam and Noel churn out bombastic records that are blindly unaware of their own irrelevance nearly 10 years after the peak of Oasis’s popularity. Surviving public rows, onstage outbursts, band-member departures and constant paparazzi, the aging band continues to hop onto their tour bus and slip on the leather pants for its seemingly endless world tour.
It’s this thick-headedness and utter disregard for the current musical scene that makes the Gallaghers such an endearing pair of 40-something rockers. Their narcissistic, balls-to-the-wall mentality hasn’t wavered, and it continues to save the band from slipping into an ironic netherworld of rockstar wash-ups.
Stop the Clocks draws heavily from the glory days of Noel’s songwriting (1993-1995), with only four of its 18 tacks coming from the post-Morning Glory era. Fittingly, “Rock ‘N’ Roll Star” kicks off the album, just as it did on the band’s 1994 debut, Definitely Maybe. The Gallaghers’ intentions were clear from the beginning – to leave their dull Manchester life for a world of over-the-top stardom and excess. The guitars bleed into one another while Tony McCarrol beats wildly on his drums, building a sound more commonly found in shoegaze than punk rock. The music and Liam’s vocals are defiant, but what makes “Rock ‘N’ Roll Star” resonate all these years later are Noel’s introspective lyrical refrains. “I live my life for the stars that shine / people say it’s just a waste of time / I’ll take my car and drive real far / You’re not concerned about the way we are / In my mind my dreams are real / Now you’re concerned about the way I feel / Tonight I’m a rock’n’roll star.” The song’s narrative captures the seemingly endless possibilities of youth and the self-consciousness that comes with having a dream that most deem impossible.
All of the band’s anthemic songs are on display in Stop the Clocks: “Slide Away,” “Live Forever,” “Champagne Supernova” and the inescapable middle school classic “Wonderwall.” The album also culls a couple of stunners from the b-side compilation The Masterplan, showing just how good Noel’s songs were during the band’s formative years.
Stop the Clocks ends with Noel’s finest moment, the piano and string-laced “Don’t Look Back in Anger.” If one were to make a case for the elder Gallagher as one of the ’90s’ great songwriters, he would need look no further than Morning Glory’s centerpiece as evidence. Every melody and guitar lick is memorable. The strings and drums weave behind the steadily pulsing piano while Noel belts out his perfect hook: “And so Sally can wait / She knows its too late as we’re walking on by / My soul slides away / But don’t look back in anger / I heard you say.” Mainstream rock radio doesn’t have songs like this anymore.
Stop the Clocks
Rating:3 and 1/2 out of 5 stars