Is listening to Beady Eye’s debut album akin to copping a worried seashell ear to Paul McCartney’s self-tilted debut solo album back in 1970? Is it like trying to make sense of Lennon’s inchoate doodlings with The Plastic Ono Band, George’s karmic musings on All Things Must Pass, or even Ringo’s comfy covers album Sentimental Journey?
Well naturally it is none of the above: the slow death of Oasis was inevitable, unimportant and rather tawdry. The demise of the Beatles was equally inevitable and tawdry but boy was it important. In fact some people have never got over it and chief among them is Liam Gallagher. Different Gear, Still Speeding (a title that will guarantee Liam an invite from Clarkson to talk Torque and turbine hum) is an evocation of the era when things were Fab in much the same way that everything Oasis did was an evocation of an era when things were fab.
It’s a simple, uncomplicated world where sunlight streams in through the bay windows of decadent rock `star mansions, girls have pretty names, and The Beatles are the soundtrack to every waking hour. Therein was Oasis’ brute charm but Beady Eye do usher in restraint and subtlety on this quietly impressive debut.
Just don’t expect originality: there is a song called For Anyone which is most likely a reference to Macca’s baleful 1966 ballad For No One and there is a song called Beatles and Stones which is not a reference to nineties band The House of Love but a homage to the actual Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
If grumpy old cynic Noel was the brains of Oasis, Liam was always the heart and soul and here the man who now boasts not just a great rock `n’ roll voice but a nice line in designer bloke clothes, lets sensitivity become his calling card. Kill For a Dream hankers after a restful mind and on Wigwam, a vaguely psychedelic epic with glissandos of harps and Revolver style drumming, he sings about the “bottle taking another man’s life” whereas ten years ago he was celebrating the joys of Bolivian marching powder and all night benders.
In fact when opener Four Letter Word bursts into life with a brass section and the words “sleepwalk away your life if that turns you on” it's fair to guess that all that jogging, fatherhood and yoga has given Gallagher something else to live for than ciggies and alcohol.
He still knows how to have fun though: Millionaire pivots on a nagging sitar motif and a throwaway lyric that affirms that yeah, yeah, yeah, money can buy you love; Bring The Light features nice trouncing barrelhouse piano a la The Faces, while The Roller kicks in with Instant Karma echoing vocals and a similarly sparse and spare riff to The Beatles’ Getting Better.
Elsewhere, Wind up Dream hits a decent groove, For Anyone is a nice little acoustic ditty, all La’s jangle and handclaps, and Three Ring Circus is a nifty little guitar pop song. The production is by the ever reliable and workmanlike Steve Lilywhite and even if the three singles already released from Different Gear . . . were all chart stiffs, Beady Eye deserve to be heard.
It won’t change your life, your underwear or your haircut but there a faux charm and reassuring quality about Liam Gallagher’s steadfast and insouciant self belief.
Beady Eye? The band Oasis could have been. Over to you Noel.
Tracklisting: Four Letter Word, Millionaire, The Roller, Beatles and Stones, Wind Up Dream, Bring the Light, For Anyone, Kill for a Dream, Standing on the Edge of the Noise, Wigwam, Three Ring Circus, The Beat Goes On, The Morning Son