Half the Album Away
Albums can be a funny thing, as in there exist albums I’d give an average rating yet I would listen to again and again. Heathen Chemistry is one such record, an album of two halves, half excellent and half mediocre. Do I look at the album in anger that half of it is a chore to listen to but at the same time five of the album’s songs on their own have given me many hours of music listening bliss.
On the good side; Stop Crying Your Heart Out captures the same unashamedly weepiness of the likes of Wonderwall and Don’t Go Away, while the beauty that is Songbird shows of Oasis’ more tender side. I always remember a comment Liam made back in the 90’s in relation to some of the band’s downbeat b-sides that he was a “rock ‘n’ roller” and didn’t want to play that “wimpy shit”, yet the only two singles he ever penned are two of Oasis’ most tender songs. Little by Little is one of the band’s cheesiest songs, although the lyrics of both this and Stop Crying Your Heart Out indicate Oasis where aware of their falling popularity (“fading like the stars we wish to be”, “’Cause all of the stars are fading away”).
As for the filler half of the album, there is no Oasis song I find obnoxious or unpleasant to listen to; their weak songs are just really dull. I’ll admit I haven’t even listened to the six-minute track Born On A Different Cloud in its entirety. A Quick Peep feels like the most pointless Oasis song, a short, overly simple musical interlude which contributes nothing. I also don’t like the album cover; I dislike that sickly green effect. Still, that’s half a great album which I listen to death. Curse you Oasis! I’m a slave to anything with your name on it.
Heathen Chemistry Era B-Sides and Rarities
Well, I’m shocked; these are some ace B-sides! Naturally, when listening to them for the first time my instant reaction is: why where these not the album!? Well, I’ve come up with three possible reasons as to why:
-The artist is often wrong about their own work and isn’t aware of the quality of these songs.
-The band is fully aware these songs are better than much of the tracks on the album and make them B-sides in order to keep the B-side tradition alive and possibly as a way of rewarding loyal fans.
-Or I’m just alone on this one and only I think these songs are good/great.
For me, the undeniable centerpiece of these B-sides is (You’ve Got) the Heart of a Star. This song holds the distinction of being the last Oasis song I discovered which blew me away. This is also one of the cheesiest songs Oasis ever made but cheesy in the best possible way, it’s such a swoon inducingly beautiful song; my favourite post-90’s Oasis song, as well as one of favourite Oasis songs in general. I just have to say it again, “why was this song not on the album?!” instead of a snooze fest like Born On A Different Cloud. The next big stand out is Thank For You Good Times. If you can ignore the somewhat ironic title as Oasis have caused some disparaging times during this, their lackluster period, it’s still a terrific mood lifter, just what you need when you listen to Ider’s Dream and Just Getting Older (sort of like the anti Stay Young).
Even if these songs where on Heathen Chemistry in place of that album’s filler tracks, it still wouldn’t be up to the standard of the first three albums (then again few albums are) but would make it an excellent record. Perhaps genius never really left Oasis, maybe just the ability to choose a good album track listing.