Picking the greatest album of all time is a challenge that every muso has spent countless hours debating without ever reaching a clear conclusion. For Noel Gallagher, it’s not just about how an album sounds; more importantly, it’s the seismic effect on culture as a whole that guided his decision process.
If there is an artist well equipped to discuss music altering popular culture, it’s Noel Gallagher. After all, he was the chief of Oasis, penning the songs which would soundtrack an entire generation’s youth. His material changed personalities up and down the country, with his brother Liam single-handedly responsible for most kagoule sales in Britain throughout the 1990s.
Before stepping foot into the limelight, Gallagher already had a taste of things to come after working as a roadie for Inspiral Carpets, an experience that gave him a thirst for the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. After returning to Manchester, he joined his brother’s band, taking over the songwriting duties and turning them into a British institution. The road to success would be a meteoric one, a journey that culminated in two-and-a-half million people applying for tickets to witness them live at Knebworth in 1996.
For Noel though, Oasis are not the most influential band of all time, nor are they responsible for the greatest album as those honours go to the Sex Pistols. Speaking to Q Magazine in 2019, Gallagher said, “The most influential record of all time is Never Mind The Bollocks. People who are still working now in the music business did their shit because of that record,” he said. “It’s the absolute left turn. There is no argument. It cannot be bettered. It’s scientifically factual,” he added.
“I was ten when it came out, so I was just a little bit too young,” he remembered BBC Radio 2’s Johnnie Walker. “But one of the older kids on our estate had a copy of it, and it was known that somebody had an album with swearing on it. I remember hearing ‘Bodies’ with a heroic amount of bad language in that song and thinking, ‘Wow!'”.
Gallagher continued: “For that band to have only been going for two and a half years and to change music. Not many bands get to change the way that people dress, talk, and feel in a culture. If push comes to shove, it’s probably the greatest album of all time. If it wasn’t for that, you wouldn’t have Definitely Maybe. No way.”
When you think about great artists, names like Bob Dylan or The Beatles spring to mind, they both had similar seismic effects on the way people act. However, that cultural transaction that occurred over an elongated period rather than one album that making this alchemy take place.
With The Sex Pistols, they only released Never Mind The Bollocks, yet, their presence can still be felt today, whether from a musical standpoint or their impact on fashion. While from a technical perspective, it’s clearly not the greatest album of all time, like Gallagher says, their legacy is undeniable.