Noel Gallagher is undoubtedly one of the greatest songwriters of his generation. Alongside Pulp, Blur, and Suede, his band Oasis defined the sound of that momentous and climatic decade that was the 1990s.
The style that came to be known as Britpop, of which Gallagher was a key innovator, took the sound of classic British rock ‘n’ roll and reinvigorated it with modern studio technology and no small amount of swagger. Here, we take a look at one of Gallagher’s favourite albums by The Rolling Stones, a group that undoubtedly shaped his songwriting.
In retrospect, those ‘Cool Britannia’ years were reminiscent of the British Invasion that had taken place in the ’60s when groups like The Beatles, The Who, and The Rolling Stones exploded onto the American airwaves. In hindsight, even the rivalry between Blur and Oasis seems like a piece of ’60s rebranding, with the music media attempting to rekindle the glory days of British music by pitching two of the UK’s biggest bands against one another just as they had done with The Stones and The Beatles decades before.
Then there’s the riffs themselves, stonking great rock ‘n’ roll guitar lines that could have been pulled from the hands of Keith Richards himself. Gallagher was always very open about his knack for taking songs from his favourite bands and transforming them into something new. “When you get it right,” Noel began, explaining his songwriting process, “It becomes something new almost, so for instance ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’. That riff is clearly T. Rex, but I can assure you he got it from somewhere else, it’s a standard blues thing, but it became something new for a new generation.
“When you get it right it becomes something new, when you get it wrong it can be a pastiche, and I’ve done both. ‘Live Forever’ was inspired by ‘Shine A Light’ by The Stones, and that became something new. I don’t shy away from that. I chase it if anything,” he added.
As Gallagher himself recognised, The Rolling Stones were an important influence on his this approach to songwriting, and the album that stood above all others was their 1969 record Let It Bleed. Gallagher’s intimate knowledge of the LP, which was recorded during a period of intense turmoil for The Rolling Stones, was made clear when he opened up about some of his favourite records of all time: “Delia Smith baked the cake for the front cover of this album,” he began.
“I guess I could have got Yotam Ottolenghi to make me a meringue for the front cover of The High Flying Birds or got Heston Blumenthal to make me some barbed wire ice cream for it,” Gallagher continued before going on to admit that the first Rolling Stones album he’d heard was a ‘Greatest Hits’ release. But, as he explained, Let It Bleed “was the first album I heard by them when I really thought, ‘Oh yeah… this is what it’s about… they’re not just ‘Satisfaction’ and ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’.”