Album Retrospective: (What’s the Story) Morning Glory

Pippa Smith 1 March 2017

The ‘difficult second album’ is an issue that has plagued groups since the dawn of popular music. But never before has a second album been quite so difficult as (What’s the Story) Morning Glory. Having stormed onto the British music scene in 1994 with the seminal Definitely Maybe, Oasis were faced with the task of meeting an unprecedented level of expectation for the follow-up. In the face of media scrutiny, label pressure and the infamous inner turmoil they faced pressure that would in the end tear the band apart. The product of this melee of alcohol, drugs and stardom is, in my opinion, the greatest album of all time.

On a very basic level, this is an album of fantastic songs, containing ‘Wonderwall’ and ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’, two of the most iconic songs of the last century, as consecutive tracks. These two aside, every single song delivers something quite different, whilst retaining the iconic Oasis sound, from the soaring melancholy of ‘Cast No Shadow’ to the tumultuous hubbub of the title track. The result of this when listened to as a whole is an album that serves emotional impact and raw rock and roll in equal measure.

Oasis are often described as ‘the sound that defined a generation’, and it’s the sound of (What’s the Story) Morning Glory that makes it truly remarkable. Listening to the demos from this album (performed mainly solo by Noel Gallagher), it’s incredible to hear how different the songs sound and feel – at times it’s like you’re not listening to Oasis at all. It’s the work put in by Gallagher and Owen Morris in the studio that make these songs so iconic, and so powerful. Nowhere is this more evident than when listening to the Brendan Lynch mix of ‘Champagne Supernova’. It’s resolutely Oasis – all the components are there. But when the main band kicks in after the first chorus, it starts to feel wrong – almost empty, with the usual ‘wall of sound’ conspicuous by its absence. Song-writing and performance aside, the reason that this album (and Oasis) have stood the test of time is the people that sat behind the mixing desk.

Whatever you might think of Oasis (and even though it was essentially all downhill from this point onwards), there’s no denying that this album is something special. Morning Glory represents a rare moment in music where genius writing, unique performers and flawless production have collided, to produce an album that will stand as a landmark in British music for decades to come.