Entry #12 – B-Side Myself II: The Masterplan (a.k.a Lovelovelovelovelovelove)

Can I get some Masterplan love in here today? A great album of "B-Sides".  One of my all time favorite songs, 'Listen Up' is featured on this album.  What's your favorite song

I’m cashing it in. This is one of the albums I have wanted to talk about ever since I started up this blog and I am not putting it off a moment longer.

The Masterplan is my favourite Oasis album.

Not Definitely Maybe, not Morning Glory, not even Be Here Now, none of that jazz. The Masterplan. Their b-side album, their compilation of songs that didn’t make it onto those three albums, the rejects, these are my favourite collection of tracks from Oasis. I picked this album up when I was just getting into Oasis, I’d heard bits and bobs from albums one and two and was interested in hearing more. Then I saw a few people online talking about The Masterplan, how it’s a great compilation of b-sides and I decided to get it. No real expectations going into it, I mean surely if they couldn’t make it onto the final album then maybe they were just good but not good enough.

But no. Some are better.

Allow me to tell you all about it.

Track #1: Acquiesce

B-Side to: Some Might Say

Some Might Say is one of my favourite songs from Oasis. Quintessential noisy rock, and we actually had this as part of the playlist for a while in the shop where I work. Why they took it out I’ll never know. But the argument could be made that Acquiesce is quintessential Oasis aswell, not least because it has a killer guitar riff and some of the best lyrics they can offer, but also because it has that added bonus of Liam and Noel both sharing lead vocals. Story goes that Liam was struggling with the chorus so Noel stepped up. End result? Excellence. With the benefit of hindsight ever since that night in the summer of 2009, it’s become that little bit more poignant. But looking past that, this is an excellent song and an excellent opener for The Masterplan. But which would I take out of the two to put on Morning Glory? I’d put both on. Just get rid of the Swamp Song excerpts and put it after Hello. Job done.

Track #2: Underneath the Sky

B-Side to: Don’t Look Back in Anger

Underrated. I really wish that they had played this live at some point. While the distorted guitar seems a little out of place this is still a brilliant track and contains one of Liam’s finest vocal performances. I’m also really fond of the piano notes peppered in during the middle eight, adding to the dreamy mystique of the ‘storyteller sleeping alone’. Should it have gone on the album though? I hate to say it but probably not. There’s not really that much room for it and while I say it’s underrated that doesn’t mean it should go in place of Don’t Look Back in Anger. But like I say, wish there was a live version of this, and not the occasional acoustic version you can find from Noel.

Track #3: Talk Tonight

B-Side to: Some Might Say

Speaking of Noel, here’s his first appearance on this album with one of the fanbase’s favourite b-sides, Talk Tonight. I like it but, and I might get flak for this, out of this and the other two songs it’s part of on the single, it’s probably my least favourite. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic song and it’s got some beautiful lyrics stemming from when Noel left Oasis for the first time during that shambolic tour in the US in 1994. But because it’s an acoustic number sung by Noel it doesn’t have that same oomph. Again, absolutely wonderful song, I don’t hate it at all and it’s the right choice to come after the fast paced sonic rock of Acquiesce and Underneath the Sky, but there are other songs that I prefer.

Track #4: Going Nowhere

B-Side to: Stand By Me

Like this for example. Although this may be down to the fact that this is one of only two b-sides here from the Be Here Now era (Trying say that when you’re drunk). While it’s also an acoustic song of Noel’s, because it comes from the BHN sessions it has a little bit of extra peppering with delicate brass, strings and Liam’s tambourine. I guess while lyrically it’s weaker compared to Talk Tonight, it has two things going for it in that department; 1) I find it relatable as a recent uni grad trying to sort his life out. 2) It’s got the rhyme ‘I’m going to get me a motor car/Maybe a Jaguar’. This should have been on the main playlist for Be Here Now in place of Magic Pie. Oh, I’ll get to Magic Pie one day…

Track #5: Fade Away

B-Side to: Cigarettes & Alcohol

To the Definitely Maybe era now, and talk about being full of bittersweet adrenaline. Judging by that chorus (‘While we’re living/The dreams we have as children fade away’), I think this song made way for another good b-side from this era, D’Yer Wanna Be A Spaceman?, which shares similar themes of childhood dreams not being realised. But because of that, and maybe the fact that it wouldn’t be a good idea to have three of Noel’s acoustics in a row, we get Fade Away instead to get your blood pumping again. If I had one gripe with it though, and this is going to be a really tiny nit to pick, it’s that I think this song would have benefitted being re-recorded by the time of Be Here Now. When it was getting started I expected to hear the guttural vocals of a more experienced Liam before remembering this came from the DM sessions. His performance is brilliant here, no doubt about that, it’s just that it is kind of jarring to hear young, fresh Liam against such fast, borderline punk music.

Track #6: The Swamp Song

B-Side to: Wonderwall

Signalling the end of act one of this album is the full song teased by those excerpts on (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, and the song that the band would take the stage to pre-SOTSOG. And good God above that harmonica on top of the guitar riff is very much the icing on the cake. No lyrics necessary, just pure jamming for a few minutes.

Track #7: I Am The Walrus (Live at Glasgow Cathouse June ’94)

B-Side to: Cigarettes & Alcohol

A live track? Curious. But I don’t think I should be entirely surprised that the Gallaghers, being the fanatics that they are, would sneak in their take of one of the Beatles songs. It’s alright, nothing special and it being live means we get to hear a little bit of squabbling over the guitar (‘Doesn’t matter if it’s out of tune!’) before the song begins so there’s that. Probably the weakest track on The Masterplan.

Here’s a fun fact for you though: This was the last song Oasis ever performed before they split up, at the V Festival on August 22nd 2009. Finishing as they started. Loving the Beatles.

Track #8: Listen Up

B-Side to: Cigarettes & Alcohol

Cigarettes & Alcohol was a popular single apparently; this is the third b-side from it here on this album. Just an honest aside though, if I close my eyes and hear that opening drumbeat from Tony, I have to think and work out if I’m listening to Listen Up, Supersonic or Live Forever. Anyway, the song itself. Once again, phenomenal, superb and passionate performance from Liam, great guitar riffs from Noel and Bonehead (particularly that middle eight) and you can just about hear Guigsy on bass. What’s not to love?

Track #9: Rockin Chair

B-Side to: Morning Glory

Favourite Oasis b-side bar none. Definitely in my top three of their entire catalogue. This song ages like a fine wine and I am both pleased and surprised that Liam still occasionally sings Rockin Chair to this day. This is him singing at his most heartfelt and most powerful, with a song that I’ve seen very accurately described as one long chorus, to the point we fade into the music in media res. Like Acquiesce, this song has become more and more poignant as time has gone on, as the brothers grow older and further apart. Just listen to Liam sing the line ‘It’s all too much for me to take when you’re not there’ and try to tell me it doesn’t tug on your heartstrings.

Track #10: Half the World Away

B-Side to: Whatever

A.k.a the theme tune to the sitcom The Royle Family, Noel steps up to the mic again to make what is actually his favourite b-side. It’s one of my favourites of his too, it’s just so gentle and bittersweet with the narrator insisting he’s not down as he’s faced with the same old monotonous life in the same old town. Again, relatable. Bonehead’s keyboards are a nice touch too.

Track #11: (It’s Good) to Be Free

B-Side to: Whatever

Carrying a similar tone to its a-side, this song very much feels like the sister to Whatever, with a more rock and roll edge to contrast against the merry strings of what was almost the 1994 Christmas number one. A serviceable effort but I don’t whether or not to like the last 40 seconds, where we go from standard Oasis, to Morse code-esque beeping noises, and finally a French accordion. Bit random, innit?

Track #12: Stay Young

B-Side to: D’You Know What I Mean?

Back to the Be Here Now era and I’m always especially interested to hear b-sides from this time period seeing as how people love to make their own versions of the album. Would this one end up on mine? Well yes, of course it would. Of course to fit in with the rest of the playlist, it would need another couple of layers of guitar to give it more of a sonic noise, but even then I would substitute it for I Hope, I Think, I Know.

Track #13: Headshrinker

B-Side to: Some Might Say

I thought Fade Away was about two or three steps away from punk rock. Here, we’re right there. Borderline spat out lyrics, raw guitars and F1-level tempos guided by Tony and his drumming, in what would be one of his last acts before his unceremonious sacking. His more erratic style suits this song to a tee so it’s good that he got to do this before Alan White. The question occurs though: What is a Headshrinker? Well I’ve seen one guy online theorise it’s about blowjobs. Let’s leave it at that.

Track #14: The Masterplan

B-Side to: Wonderwall

And so we come to the title track. I said that Half the World Away was one of my favourite b-sides from Noel. This is my absolute favourite, not just of his b-sides but overall from the elder Gallagher, second only to The Importance of Being Idle. It’s the perfect way to end this album, name dropping Acquiesce from all the way back at the beginning, singing the chorus about how we don’t know what’s going to happen next, but we’ll just let it be; ‘We’re all part of a Masterplan’. And with hindsight, it was the best way to close the golden era for Oasis, before the departure of Bonehead and Guigsy, and the death of Creation Records. Obviously I’d want it on Morning Glory. But where would it go? Well, I’m going to be controversial. I know everyone loves Don’t Look Back in Anger, but if it were up to me, I’d substitute it for this and make it the b-side to Wonderwall. And no, I’m not drunk.

Oh and while we’re at it. Best Oasis music vid.

Conclusion:

So yeah, like I said, out of everything the band produced this is my favourite Oasis album. To me it’s as consistent as any early Oasis album in terms of quality and track choice. It serves as a great last hurrah for the hardcore fans who strictly love their 90s sound before they transitioned into more psychedelic territory. Obviously there are other b-sides worthy of being part of the playlist like Cloudburst and D’Yer Wanna be a Spaceman?, but you can’t have them all sadly as you’d end up with an album longer than Be Here Now (Although saying that, why not do what Suede did with Sci-Fi Lullabies and make a double album?). Plus it’s difficult to choose which tracks from the band go where. Hell, if they didn’t have that problem we wouldn’t have had this compilation in the first place! Anyway, sooner or later I’ll cover another set of b-sides from Oasis, some from the 90s and others from the 2000s. Until then, who knows? It’s Christmas season. Anything can happen.

Published by midgbrit

Short bloke writing about music on A-Side Glance

2 thoughts on “Entry #12 – B-Side Myself II: The Masterplan (a.k.a Lovelovelovelovelovelove)

  1. Oasis is one of my favorite bands, bar none. The b-sides of the Gallagher brothers are always either gloriously epic or beautifully melodic, and not to be missed out on. As a staunch Britpop fan, I’ve listened to “The Masterplan” many a time.

    Liked by 1 person

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