Oasis’s The Masterplan

At Williams, I’ve had to keep a musical secret. No, I don’t own Vanilla Ice’s debut album. No, Motley Crue’s Dr. Feelgood has never played in my stereo. I don’t even own anything by Jewel, Alanis Morisette or Heather Nova. I am guilty of another crime: I like Oasis.

Yes, the same Oasis which mocks Blur and Radiohead. Oasis, who has compared themselves favorably with the Beatles.

In theory, I’m not supposed to like Oasis. Liking Oasis has become, in some circles, the musical equivalent of watching pro wrestling or Springer. It’s fun to enjoy them, but deep down you can’t say that they’re any good for anything other than laughing at. In the same way, “Wonderwall” was cute pop jingle, watching the shenanigans of the dueling brothers Gallagher is fun and can’t we all laugh with Noel Gallagher when he says what a “bloody brilliant” songwriter he is?

Sort of. The boys from Manchester have released a compliation of B-sides in the form of their latest album The Masterplan. Those who saw them perform on MTV’s unplugged and didn’t know where to get songs like “Talk Tonight,” “Rockin Chair” and “Masterplan,” can find all these and more on the new disc.

The Masterplan somewhat annoyingly begins with outtakes from the almost infamous “Wonderwall” and then segues into “Aquiesce,” a somewhat rocking, if not utltimately familiar song in which both Liam and Noel sing. “Underneath the Sky,” the second track, is uninspired.

I think the disc’s real gem comes in the form of the third track “Talk Tonight,” a ballad which works off of simple guitar and harmonizing vocals and manages to actually be sincere. It elaborates on songwriting tradition, and accomplishes what it sets out to do.

“Fade Away,” which first appeared on the “Cigarettes & Alcohol” single, is reminiscent of the more sonicall full sound of the band’s debut Definately Maybe.

“Swamp Song” and a live version of “I Am the Walrus” are definitely (not maybe) two tracks which should have been left off the disc. “Swamp Song” is an odd attempt at a blues jam complete with harmonica(!), while “I Am the Walrus” should never have left the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour. These two songs make one wonder if this disc itself is some type of mystery tour.

Fortunately, the album does not continue this downward trajectory. “One Fine Day” is a cute pop song you can tap your feet to. “Rocking Chair” deserved to be on (What’s the Story) Morning Glory, the best of the four Oasis LPs. The last four tracks on the album — “(It’s Good) To Be Free,” “Stay Young,” “Headshrinker” and “Masterplan” — are fine pop songs.

The Masterplan is a good album for what it is. The problem with a collection of B-sides is that I feel like I’m reading the footnotes to a book without having read the main text. There are some interesting points, I can kinda sorta follow along, but I’m at a loss for coherence. These songs were written in places as far removed as South Austin, Texas, South Wales and London. It’s mildly ironic that an album called The Masterplan lacks an actual plan.

There are some excellent singles on this album and for that reason it’s worth getting, but it might be better to just buy the original singles which contained the songs you liked. I’m waiting for the next album of new material to show people that Oasis is a good, quality pop band. I will eventually buy The Masterplan. But don’t tell anybody; I have to keep it secret.

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