If like many of us in England you spent much of your young rock and roll life with your hands behind your back, a confrontational look on your face, and staring down the barrel of the mirror pretending to be Oasis’ iconic frontman Liam Gallagher, then there’s a fairly good chance you were singing their track ‘Rock and Roll Star’ as you were doing it.
Opening their now-iconic debut album Definitely Maybe with the anthemic ‘Rock and Roll Star’ was a move that not many bands would make. The 1994 album opener would go on to become synonymous with the band’s ever-impressive swagger, something best heard through the isolated vocal of Liam Gallagher.
Whether you love him or hate him, it’s hard to argue with the rock singer credentials of Liam Gallagher. Not only is he a frontman with enough bravado to bring the house down all on his own but he has the tuneful credentials to back it up. It’s on ‘Rock and Roll Star’ that he makes the statement most clearly, showing the world that he wasn’t afraid of anyone.
He was amply backed up too. Noel Gallagher’s songwriting really doesn’t get much better than this, a tune about the almighty power of the rock star and the crushing pressure it brings all set to a Britpop anthem. With such a meta-theme of content running throughout the track, it would need a serious performance from the band’s frontman to pull it off.
Liam Gallagher obliged with verve and added some extra Mancunian twang in there for good measure—it’s where the beauty of the song lies. ‘Rock and Roll Star’ offered Oasis’ fanbase, a largely working class segment at the time, the opportunity to posture and pose and sing across the dancefloor/pub/quiet road at midnight the emphatic chorus.
That’s a notion that is backed up when you strip back the other instruments in the recording and just focus on Gallagher’s isolated vocal. Not a man to shy away from a mic, he puts his all into every note, every pulsating lyric, every single notion of rock and roll he could muster but, in fact, it’s the uncontrollable Mancunian accent that sets it above the rest.
It’s true that the Manchester music scene has been contributing to the British identity for a very long time, but for the first time that many could remember, a lad from Manchester’s unmistakable accent was ringing out through your stereo. It made the band an attainable prospect. They were rock stars but they were just as likely to be drinking a pint down your local working men’s club as they were headlining Glastonbury.
Suddenly, as a fan performing for your nearest mirror, you didn’t have to pretend to be wearing stage costumes or fancy hair-dos. All you needed were your hands behind your back, a confrontational look on your face, and to have perfected one line—”I need some time in the sunshine”. Instant Liam Gallagher.
Listen below to Liam Gallagher’s iconic isolated vocal on Oasis’ anthemic ‘Rock and Roll Star’