Liam Gallagher - As You Were Album Review
Liam Gallagher launched his long-awaited debut solo album 'As You Were' in October 2017 and from his previous incarnations with Beady Eye and of course Oasis, expectations were high. His time with Oasis initially had been explosive with 'Definitely Maybe' and '(What's The Story?) Morning Glory' in 1994 and 1995 respectively. Things dropped off a tad with Be Here Now in 1997 with claims that it's overproduced from some. However, it's still great nonetheless and features the longest song to ever get to Number One in the UK Singles Chart with 'All Around The World'.
Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants followed at the turn of the millennium after the departures of Paul 'Bonehead' Arthurs and Paul 'Guigsy' McGuigan in 1999. The respective replacements, Gem Archer and Andy Bell, were a perfect fit and it remains a personal favourite with live staples of 'Go Let It Out' and 'Gas Panic!' staying in Oasis gigs during the following years. The next two, 'Heathen Chemistry' and 'Don't Believe The Truth', released in 2002 and 2005 showed a different, more reserved side to the band. Their last effort, 'Dig Out Your Soul', had some highlights in 'The Shock Of The Lightning' and 'I'm Outta Time, but otherwise never did much for me as a listener.
Liam's time with Beady Eye, a short-lived Oasis II without his brother, produced two albums: 'Different Gear, Still Speeding' and 'BE'. Both had some good tracks on them such as 'The Roller', 'Beatles & Stones', 'Millionaire', 'Iz Rite' and 'Soul Love'. People had ambivalent feelings about his time with Beady Eye, so hopefully his solo effort would prevail and be a little better. Let's get into it!
The Album Itself
Having heard Liam's early performances of tracks from 'As You Were' right back in June 2017 at Glastonbury, I had massively high hopes and with the staggered releases of singles such as 'Wall Of Glass' and 'For What It's Worth', Liam had me hooked for the time being and I couldn't wait for the album's release. Release day came around and I played it to death that week and loved every track.
However, having another few listens, it reveals a few issues. Let's go through track by track:
Wall Of Glass - The first single released back at the start of June 2017. It's a proper punchy rock 'n' roll track that works both acoustically and electrically. Whilst it is rather commercialised now, it still remains a superb track whenever I listen to it. Rating: 8/10
Bold - Written by Liam and a staple of his live performances, it's a more acoustic-orientated track and the more you listen to Bold, the more your feelings change. Cleverly, it makes a couple of references to Noel's solo efforts with his High Flying Birds ("There's no love worth chasing yesterday"). As a song, it's okay but it lacks a certain something both in the studio and live. Rating: 6/10.
Greedy Soul - A slightly more 'Liam' orientated track this time, this is the epitome of what his music is all about. Despite its acoustic arrangement, he still attacks every single lyric as if it were live and it's one that just vents rage with every passing bar. Liam's vocal is what makes the song what it is and the inclusion of a couple of expletives here and there allow him to vent his anger. Genius. Rating: 9/10.
Paper Crown - Paper Crown is beautiful. It shows the versatility of Liam's voice, both in the studio and live. He kept this song secret for a long time and doesn't really perform it that much. His vocal delicacy shines through as he hits the higher notes perfectly and the production by Greg Kurstin is outstanding. Despite the track not being written by him, Liam tailors it to himself. It really is an absolute masterpiece. Rating: 10/10.
For What It's Worth – According to Liam, the song is meant as an apology to anyone he’s annoyed in the past. His vocal here is still soft, soulful and meaningful on multiple levels. The lyrics are poetic but with a prevalent aura of that apologetic notion he successfully conveyed. Overall, this is a fan favourite and it’s a great track. Rating: 9/10
When I'm In Need - A track kept insanely quiet in the run up to the release of As You Were. A wonderful acoustic composition that details the struggles of being in love with and longing to be with someone. His vocal is soft but punchy on the bridge of the track and contains lyrical references to artists gone by (She's so purple haze - the allusion to Jimi Hendrix). Overall, a fantastic song we are yet to hear live. Rating: 9/10
You Better Run - This clearly shows Liam's innate ability to belt out a rock track regardless of its arrangement. As soon as he played this at Glastonbury, I fell in love with the powerful vocal that just eked out this bottled rage and fury. Whilst he may not be up to his brother's capabilities in the songwriting department, he really does make up for it in the vocals, especially on this self-penned track and portrays that signature Mancunian 'twang'. References to The Rolling Stones (Angels give me shelter because I'm about to fall) and the Beatles (Stone cold, helter skelter) clearly show their inspiration on this song. Absolute class. Rating: 8/10.
I Get By - Another Liam composition, I Get By does exactly what it says on the tin. A rage-infused vocal and simplistic structure really allow him to get his point across, whatever that may be. The only versions of this I've heard are guitar-filled symphonies of anger and force. As such, the placement of this track (usually after You Better Run) allows Liam to continue this theme of anger and hatred. It's a brilliant track with a brilliant vocal. Rating: 9/10.
Chinatown - A relatively elusive one these days as it hasn't really featured in Liam's live sets very much, which makes us all the more appreciative of its brilliance. The song features yet more allusions to the Beatles (Happiness is still a warm gun) and even one to the Kinks (God told me: "Live a life of luxury."- A little reference to the ever-brilliant Sunny Afternoon). Lyrics are a little strange in places (Telephonic doses/Eliminate neurosis/And some say it's the cause of it all) and elude me even now but otherwise, it's a wonderful conflation of a mid-range vocal and producing prowess. Rating: 8/10
Come Back To Me - Probably my favourite track barring Paper Crown. A slightly harder rock track here, it shows an even more raw side to Liam's vocals, even by his standards. A proper rock ‘n’ roll track and is this time, produced and written by Greg Kurstin, who really manages to bring the song to life. Rating: 9/10.
Universal Gleam - A regular show closer for Liam nowadays, which once again highlights the softer side to the younger Gallagher. It shows the up and coming prowess of his ability to write songs. The vocal is calm and brings out the best in his voice and an ability to hit the higher notes perfectly and smoothly, whilst still maintaining that Mancunian tinge, especially when he goes into the final verse. An air of vulnerability and delicacy seeps through his vocal and really brings the song to life. Like Paper Crown, it's a soft vocal that conveys a deep meaning. It's a lovely song. Rating: 9/10.
I've All I Need - A slightly secretive song, not played live much until recently, it can really resonate with the listener. Like Universal Gleam, it's written by Liam and his vocal is even more delicate than the former and arguably as soft as the vocal on Paper Crown. His vocal just ekes that prevailing feeling of vulnerability. Overall, an exquisite song about his undying love for someone who holds the key to his heart and shows a heart-warming feeling of love within his vocal. References are made to the Beatles and their solo efforts (Tomorrow Never Knows for one and the combined reference of 'Slow Down, All Things Must Pass' alludes to both a Larry Williams song The Beatles covered and a George Harrison solo track off from 1970). Practically perfect. Rating: 10/10.
Bonus Tracks - Deluxe Edition
Doesn't Have To Be That Way - A slightly heavier track compared to the rest (similar to Come Back To Me) and appeals perhaps to the more modern rock fans due to the second-to-none mixing by Greg Kurstin. Liam's vocal appears overpowered by the instruments, but despite this, it is still a very good song. Rating 7/10.
All My People/All Mankind - A much more serious track written by Gallagher that is acoustic. His vocal is straight to the point and overpowering, yet perfectly complementary to the acoustic guitar in the background. It's forceful both generally and more so phonetically with the emphasis on certain words. It's a song that would sound just as good live if this studio recording is anything to go by. A vocal masterpiece in all honesty. Rating: 10/10
I Never Wanna Be Like You - A much lighter track this time round compared to the latter and a fine closing effort. As an acoustic track, it truly shows Liam's vocal prowess and the softer side to his voice, which allows him to express himself that little bit more. As lyrics go, it's simple but effective but he still manages to do it as well as usual, hitting all the right notes in all the right places. Overall, it's a good song. Rating: 7/10.
Overall, As You Were has a brilliant variation of tracks from proper rock ‘n’ roll to soulful ballads and everything in between. It is a debut masterpiece and really could be compared to some of his work with Oasis. He just needs a little help with the songwriting and then he's practically sorted. We might just have to hold off that Oasis reunion for a little while longer if he's in this kind of form.
AS YOU WERE