October 1995. The nation awaits Oasis’ second album. They’ve already heard ‘Some Might Say’, which shot to number one earlier in the year, ‘Roll With It’, the defeated party in the Battle of Britpop, and ‘Wonderwall’, kept off the top spot, somewhat abhorrently, by Robson and Jerome’s migraine-inducing slaughter of ‘Unchained Melody’. With a trio of singles such as this to whet the appetite, the music buying population has reason to be excited.
What happened next, though, the Gallagher brothers couldn’t have predicted even through their most rose-tinted, cocaine-encrusted glasses. Sales of the album rocketed through the proverbial roof; Morning Glory sold 4.4 million copies on its way to becoming the second-biggest selling studio album in British music history. Oasis’ follow up to 1994’s ‘Definitely Maybe’ outstripped records of the likes of Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ and Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’. The statistics are undeniably staggering.
You’re probably thinking “So what? You don’t even need to be any good in this day and age to sell a fuckton of albums”. And you’d be right. Just look at Westlife. But it’s not just the sales that Morning Glory should be remembered for; it’s for the impact its release still has on music today.
Take a step back and look at the sheer amount of artists that all cite Oasis as key influences. The Killers, Kasabian, The Courteeners; the list goes on. Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner claims his band “used to pretend to be Oasis”.
It’s not just the sales that Morning Glory should be remembered for; it’s for the impact its release still has on music today.
Another superfan is The Libertines’ Pete Doherty. A quick scan of YouTube reveals he was once caught on camera by MTV in the 1990’s as an eerily fresh-faced teen (oh, what became of you Pete!) queuing up with hundreds of others outside a HMV to buy the latest Oasis album.
There is a point to this – I’m not calling on a load of successful musicians blowing sunshine up Noel Gallagher’s arse for no reason. The fact is, these musicians are highly prominent and integral to music today; The Libs have just headlined Reading and Leeds this year, and the Arctics have scored five number one albums in the past ten years, not to mention the small matter of them having headlined Glastonbury twice. Without Oasis and Morning Glory, musicians such as these may never have bothered to pick up a guitar and start a band.
Oasis often polarise opinion, and it would be unfair to not also highlight some of the negative impacts Morning Glory has had on music. For a start, it was the album that propelled Oasis to the status of stadium-rock band. This is a status that seems to have been afforded to every successful rock band since, and it means fans lose out on the intimate experiences they would get from seeing their favourite artists perform in a proper small music venue, because they’re playing the umpteenth night of their residency at Wembley Arena instead.
Not every band can be a success, and we can’t blame the Gallagher brothers for every shit band that ever released a shit album.
Although, it might be argued that even this is not a bad thing. Surely if there are enough people interested enough in music for bands to sell out stadiums and arenas, then this supports the continuance and growth of the music industry. Good or bad, stadium-rock culture is in no small part thanks to Morning Glory paving the way for indie rock bands playing mega shows to tens of thousands of spectators.
You might also regard the scores of mediocre copycat-bands formed in the wake of Oasis’ second album. It may well have acted as a catalyst for a plethora of moribund output from pleather imitation collectives that had as much songwriting talent as a tangerine (here’s looking at you, Travis). But again, these acts were at least tempted into giving it a go. Not every band can be a success, and we can’t blame the Gallagher brothers for every shit band that ever released a shit album.
The most integral factor in determining the album’s impact on music today surely comes in the music itself. I can jazz Morning Glory up in a million ways – citing the artists influenced by it, or the amount of copies it sold, but the most important thing is this; it’s a bloody great album.
Noel Gallagher, on talking of the album back in 1995, claimed that because of the quality of the songs and the ease with which they were written, Oasis “knew it was gonna be the best selling album of this decade”. Look at the tracks it has on it, and judge for yourself as to whether it deserves that title: ‘Champagne Supernova’, ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’, ‘Roll With It’, ‘Wonderwall’. The latter still gets played everywhere (as anyone who’s been to Fibbers during freshers week can attest).
The songs have become somewhat engrained in the musical psyche of the nation; at the 2010 Brit Awards, the album was voted the best British release since 1980. And thus we see how the album’s impact continues to this day. And something in this tells me that (What’s the Story) Morning Glory will be listened to for a long time yet.