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Published on October 10th, 2017 | by voxx

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Liam Gallagher – As You Were

Rock’n’roll’s most charismatic singer returns to active service…

It’s coming up to a quarter of a century since 21-year-old Liam Gallagher breathed new life into rock’n’roll on Oasis’s debut single ‘Supersonic’, declaring: “I need to be myself/I can’t be no one else.”  It’s been a long, strange journey since, from Burnage guttersnipe to rock superstar to unlikely elder statesman, but his musical compass has never wavered. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash and Lennon gear – that’s my thing,” he told Q Magazine in 2013, and these core values make him, at 44, rock’s equivalent of a conviction politician, a veteran campaigner who generates respect among faithful followers and new converts alike.

His performance at Glastonbury this year sparked rabid scenes and his solo return has created the sort of buzz you can’t manufacture. The three tracks previewed prior to the release of As You Were have been streamed 22 million times. One question remains, however. In Autotuned, Ed Sheeran-dominated 2017, can rock’s analogue anti-hero still cut it where it counts – in the studio?

Recorded between Los Angeles and London, his solo debut comes with a heavy weight of expectation. A crack team of co-writers have been employed to prevent any recurrence of Beady Eye-tis, among them hitmaker extraordinaire Greg Kurstin, responsible for Adele’s ‘Hello’. However, As You Were feels more like a reclamation of old territory than a chart land-grab.

Gallagher’s howitzer of a voice is placed front and centre, backed by a succession of punchy Britpop melodies designed to evoke everything from Oasis’s mega-ballad tunefulness (‘For What It’s Worth’) to their zeitgeist-straddling spirit (‘Come Back To Me’). So far, so predictable you might think. But having spent the last few years fighting legal battles against both ex-wife Nicole Appleton and Rolling Stone journalist Liza Ghorbani (the latter over child maintenance), it comes with a visceral edge so sharp it could draw blood.

Opener ‘Wall Of Glass’ sets the tone. A viciously funky takedown of an unnamed third party packed with squalling harmonica and gospel backing vocals, it could be an out-take from John Lennon’s Lost Weekend solo album, 1974’s Walls And Bridges. ‘Greedy Soul’ is even nastier. Over a sledgehammer backbeat and razorwire guitars, he delivers a full-on character assassination, snarling: “You got your kiss and tell/I hope you go to hell,” before a drawled, “Don’t give a f**k, alright?”

Gallagher has always used anger as an energy, but this score-settling menace gives As You Were a thrilling sense of purpose. His biggest achievement, however, is in reconnecting with his old audience. Oasis’s Everyman appeal was built on their ability to tap into their followers’ hive-mind, and on As You Were it feels like Liam is addressing them directly. When he sings, “Slow down/ All things must pass/ Take your time/ Know the score” in La’s-style closer ‘I’ve All I Need’, it feels like sage advice to a fanbase tiring of the drug comedowns and brutal hangovers.

If it all sounds like the sort of music that would bring the Oasisphobic out in hives, though that’s probably the point. Liam Gallagher was born to divide opinion, and for an army of fans As You Were stands as proof that rock’s most charismatic general is back on active service and spoiling for trouble. Oh, how we’ve missed him.

- By Jake White


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