In 1994, Oasis shook a generation with the release of their debut album Definitely Maybe. The record launched the group into stardom and offered financial repair for Alan McGee’s Creation Records after the debts ensued in the wake of the expensive and meticulous recording of My Bloody Valentine’s less commercially successful masterpiece, Loveless, released on the label three years before.
From day one, the Gallagher brothers had struck a chord not only with their beloved Manchester scene but the whole of the UK, thanks to their fresh and accessible take on the early nineties return to guitar-driven rock music. As they began work on their second album, they set their sights higher with ambitions of conquering the global arena.
With the release of (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? in 1995 Oasis followed this plan to a tee. Noel Gallagher refined his songwriting to produce an album of rock ballads focussing on “huge” choruses, as he described them, that made for anthemic sing-along tracks. I still can’t help getting transported back to my childhood when hearing ‘Morning Glory’. On long car journeys in my youth, my father would always turn up the volume toward the end of ‘She’s Electric’ ready for the much-welcomed onslaught in the following track.
The success of the album speaks for itself as it has become one of the most recognisable landmark albums in British indie music. Less widely known, however, is the story of the album cover photography that shows two men passing in the street. Many assume that the blurred figures are the Gallagher brothers, a reasonable assumption given the hair colour and oversized shirts typical of the indie fashion trends of the mid-1990s.
Alas, the blurred figures in the photograph are actually Brian Cannon (on the right), the album cover design artist, and Sean Rowley (on the left), known mostly for his work as a DJ for the BBC in London. In the background down the street to the left of the cover, a third man can just about be seen – if you don’t own the 12” LP you might have to strain your eyes – this figure is Owen Morris, the album’s producer, holding the master press of the record out in front of his face.
The location chosen for the photograph was Berwick Street in Soho, London – much to the dismay of the die-hard Manchester following of the group. This particular street was chosen because it was a record shop hot-spot in the 1990s, some of which are still open today. The location is only a five-minute walk from Oxford Street, so if you find yourself in the area over the festive period, it’s well worth a visit to try to find the photo location and take some parody photographs (but please don’t get run over), and maybe have a root around in the record shops for a last-minute stocking filler.
See the artwork, below.