The sad thing to realize is that now, 17 years after its release, The Masterplan is redundant. What originally served as a convenient way to get acquainted with Oasis’ single B-sides that never made it into their proper studio albums is now overshadowed by the 2014 re-issues of those very albums that come with a full bonus disc of rarities. And that’s the way it should be – it makes more sense to hear 1994’s Definitely Maybe followed by a disc filled with 1994 B-sides, demos and live performances; then 1995’s (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? followed by a disc filled with 1995 B-sides, demos and live performances…and so on (such will be the rule for future releases, I’m guessing). The Masterplan’s main fault is that it took all these songs from different time periods and cobbled them together without much sense of coherence.
But the interesting thing about the album is that, despite its messy character, it still contains what are among the band’s greatest songs. Not only that, but there’s a fairly low level of filler as well, which is a rare thing for such odds-and-ends compilations. This is a testament of just how consistent Oasis were in their glory years – I mean, you know a band reaches its peak when they have so many quality songs that they’re forced to place something like Acquiesce as a mere B-side. An equally emotional and rocking duet that became a crowd favorite in no time after its release, never getting its chance to properly shine as a lead single or as an album track.
Or take the fast Headshrinker, you know, the one that gets your adrenaline going as soon as that guitar riff opens it and then never, not even for a second, slows down. Seriously people, this is as exciting as Oasis ever got. And interesting as well – Rockin’ Chair, much like The Band’s song with the same name, offers a tired, nostalgic view upon the world. It is unclear whether the protagonist really is old or just feels so because he misses his loved one, but what’s clear is that no other early Oasis song even approaches this theme.
A rather big portion (for Oasis standards) of The Masterplan is made of acoustic-driven Noel-sung pieces, and I for one have always had mixed feelings about this face of the band – it’s enjoyable when they add touches to make the songs stand out like those very pretty guitar fills in the chorus of Talk Tonight, or the orchestra in the title track putting the whole message on a larger scale. But then songs like Half the World Away and Going Nowhere seem to just…go nowhere, lacking in memorable melody or vocal performance.
I’ve always felt that Listen Up is one of those songs that is just meant to close an album but because it never got the chance to do that, I’ll do it a little justice by writing about it at the end of the review. This is yet another unique number for the band, because rarely would Liam sing in such a vulnerable way – at first it may seem off-putting that he’s struggling to reach those notes, but repeated listens only accentuate the emotional character that the song gets because of that. It is something that every Oasis fan should hear, along with the aforementioned songs as well as some I’ve omitted. Whether you get them from The Masterplan or from the re-issues of their original albums is up to you.
Categories: Album Reviews