In a move that was probably more mildly surprising than totally shocking, songwriter-guitarist Noel Gallagher, 42, announced over the weekend that he was quitting Oasis, the world-beating Britpop band he formed with his younger brother, lead singer, and recurring nemesis Liam, 36, in Manchester in 1991.
In a statement posted on the band's website, the elder Gallagher, declared that, "I simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer." Given the two's long history of confrontation, it's hard to know how seriously we should take Noel--he's the boy who cried "brother."
But it'll be a sad day if Noel's words stay true. As musically derivative and publicly obnoxious as the band could be, Oasis was a major force in music in the '90s, reviving British guitar rock and recording songs that, at their best, approached the pop-rock genius of the Gallaghers' beloved Beatles. So assuming no more new music is forthcoming, below are my picks for the ten greatest Oasis songs. Share your choices in the comments section.
10. "The Masterplan": Oasis made their name with snarling rockers and arena-rattling balladry, but this 1995 B-Side shows Noel's gift for a different kind of catchy bombast, as swirling strings, a gorgeous descending chord pattern, and a stately melody (sung by Noel) come together in regal, surprisingly touching, fashion.
9. "Lyla": A single from 2005's Don't Believe The Truth--which revived the band's artistic cred after a lackluster start to the new decade--this stomper features the band doing what it did better than just about any band of the last 20 years: melding a so-simple-it's-brilliant guitar part with an insanely addictive melody. Liam's vocal is one of his petulantly charismatic best.
8. "Slide Away": Coming at the tail end of 1994's Definitely Maybe, the band's brash, swaggering debut, this sprawling, spiraling sustained explosion showed the band was capable of finding a brilliant space between rocking out and baring its soul.
7. "Acquiesce": A blistering mass guitars get things moving, but this supersonic jet of a song truly takes flight when Noel steps in for baby bro on the chorus and sings, "Because we need each other / We believe in one another." We now have the opportunity to find out if the first part of that lyric is true.
6. "Champagne Supernova": The closing song on 1995's (What's The Story) Morning Glory?, "Supernova" is lush, druggy ballad full of charmingly nonsensical lyrics ("Slowly walking down the hall / Faster than a cannonball") and anchored by an addictive recurring acid-rock guitar lick. It's also one of the few songs that successfully ends on a long guitar jam, proving the boys could get far out too.
5. "Roll With It": Straightforward infectious British rock done with a confidence and verve unheard since the glory days of Slade and T. Rex.
4. "Morning Glory": The title track from the band's 1995 sophomore effort served notice that the Manchester quintet was more than a one-year head-butt to rock'n'roll's face. The formula--loud glammy guitars married to Beatlesque melody--was by now apparent, but damn if it wasn't effective.
3. "Don't Look Back In Anger": Talent borrows, genius steals. Noel knew that, and stole from the best, pinching Pachelbel's Canon for this song's chord progression. If you've ever been in an arena full of Oasis fans singing along to this one, you know what heaven sounds like to people with bowl haircuts and heads full of beer.
2. "Live Forever": Liam sings as if he's just realized the title is impossible, his brother matches his emotion with a teardrop solo, and a nation of louts had a song that confessed what they were probably too proud to admit: I want more.
1. "Wonderwall": The band's biggest U.S. hit--it reached No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1995--is also its most beautiful song, as Liam lends some rare vulnerability to the hymnlike melody and mournful cello and acoustic guitar backing.
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