Oasis - Stop The Clocks
In retrospect, looking back on the age of Britpop and the supposed rivalries, it all seems so false. Despite the alleged, clearly defined frontiers drawn up by the inkies between Oasis fans and Blur fans, it is probable that the average music purchaser bought copies of both Country House and Roll With It on that fateful Monday morning in August 1995. The rise of Oasis though was extraordinary, an ascent the likes of which have only recently been mirrored by the Arctic Monkeys. The passing of time though does not diminish the power and sonic rush of those early tracks. The opening number on Stop the Clocks is quite rightly Rock ‘N’ Roll Star, which still has the ability to set the pulse racing – a timeless piece of rock, the sort of classic music that due to its foot in the past will never really age.
Unlike most other collections, Oasis have not gone down the normal road and compiled a singles album. There is some sense in this, especially when you consider the patchy nature of some of their more recent releases. Noel Gallagher has previously stated that a greatest hits album would only be released when the band was finished, but the end of their contract with Sony would have seen such an album released whether they liked it or not. Therefore, Gallagher took the wise decision to be personally involved in this release, making it instead a collection of singles, album tracks, and even b-sides on a couple of occasions. This has indeed resulted in a far stronger proposition, allowing the inclusion of such wonderful songs as Slide Away, Talk Tonight, and the one song even the most ardent Oasis hater would have to admit is something rather special – Acquiesce, a incendiary piece of guitar fuelled genius. Its position on the album is perfectly placed, after the passionate and heartfelt Live Forever, opening side two with arguably their best moments.
There are some notable omissions, but an album of this nature with always provoke discussion. Despite its overblown production I have a soft spot for Be Here Now, particularly Stand By Me, who I think can hold its head up against its competition. Also the track Sunday Morning Call from Heathen Chemistry is an example of Noel at his best. The focus is definitely on their earlier material, with only Don’t Believe The Truth fathering two tracks for inclusion, with Heathen Chemistry and Standing On the Shoulders of Giants offering up a song each. Be Here Now, on the other hand, is dismissed entirely.
However, it is the partnership of Liam’s vocals and his brother’s song writing that remains the shining focus of this album. Liam is able to take the most banal lyric (and some of them are laughably bad, particular the couplets on Champagne Supernova) and make it shimmer like poetry. Also of note is the absence of any new material, something that is often the undoing of this kind of collection, and therefore a good thing. In a way, this album is more of a dream set list, the ultimate Oasis concert. There is nothing here for those who own the albums, as they will already have these songs. However, for those who were too young for their glory days and wish to see what all the fuss was about, there is no better place to start.