Release Date: Oct 6, 2017
Record label: Warner Bros.
Liam Gallagher once stated he would never record a solo LP: here it is! Gallagher obviously set out to lay down a powerful set of songs he could blast out live and has served up a “fookin” modern classic. The swaggering beasts of Wall Of Glass and Bold kick it off and Greedy Soul waves a musical truncheon in your face as producers Greg Kurstin and Dan Grech- Marguerat find the jugular on songs powered by riffs, choruses, hooks and lashings of attitude to keep up with their swaggering frontman. There is even a string quartet on For What It’s Worth.
Stop everything guys, because it’s finally here. Liam Gallagher’s album might be the most eagerly awaited solo debut of the year, but is it any good? The answer, thankfully, is a big, fat ‘hell yes’. This is in no small part down to the fact that the brother-bothering Britpop hero and wise-cracking lad about town has done the sensible thing and roped in a hit list of Los Angeles music industry heavyweights to avoid a Beady Eye situation.
Liam Gallagher’s first solo album, three years after the fizzling out of his post-Oasis band Beady Eye, is surprisingly good. It is named after the sign-off he uses for his Twitter posts, but also suggests a backward step, a return to the raunchy rock ’n’ roll basics that the retro(grade) Gallagher brothers made their name with. But in fact As You Were feels like Liam, at the grand old age of 45, maturing musically – up to a point. On the cover, he eyeballs us as truculently as ever as if snarling, ‘Are you looking at me? And if not, why not?’ Yet the songs reveal a softer, more reflective character than you’d expect, a strange brew of vulnerability mixed with swagger..
Park the specter of Oasis at the door before settling into Liam Gallagher's first solo album. As You Were finds the singer sounding as self-assured and focused as someone with a string of records under their own banner. The production by Greg Kurstin and Dan Grech-Marguerat places Gallagher in a variety of settings. Charging guitars and drums drive "I Get By," and he seems in his element here.
It may be the closest Liam Gallagher has come to apology. "In my defense all my intentions were good," the ex-Oasis singer asserts on his solo debut, in a song that shares its title with Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth." "But I am a dreamer by design," Gallagher adds, as good a description of kamikaze stardom as anything he sang in Oasis, from his brother Noel's songbook. Eight years after that band's messy breakup, Liam puts his signature voice on the line in a mostly original set of strut and reflection that sticks to Oasis' template .
It seems strange to say it about a man whose whole career has been based on an unwavering belief in his own persona as one of the last true rock stars, but 2017 sees Liam Gallagher in the rather unusual position of underdog. After Beady Eye came to an abrupt halt with a collective shrug after the release of final album BE, Liam has found himself musically cut adrift. With the chances of Oasis getting back together anytime soon, further diminishing with every new solo album from Noel, questions were beginning to be asked about whether Liam really had the appetite to strike out on his own without the ballast of a band behind him.
Liam Gallagher is one of the few rock stars who remains as outspoken and surly as he was during his younger years. Just ask admirers like Ryan Adams. Whether it be his needling of his brother and other targets on Twitter or failing to recapture the magic in his post-Oasis outfit Beady Eye, the younger Gallagher has never been risk averse. Beady Eye.
Former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher may be one of his generation’s greats, but that doesn’t mean anyone was expecting anything too impressive from As You Were, the Manchester musician’s first solo album. That’s because after Oasis’ volatile breakup, the two albums Gallagher recorded with Beady Eye shaped up to be nothing more than mediocre attempts at recapturing the grandiose appeal that made Oasis superstars. Liam doesn’t play well with others (his Twitter is basically a nonstop stream of insults), so maybe that’s why As You Were stands so strongly apart from Beady Eye’s discography.
As Oasis’s demise lurched forth at the speed of Noelrock, many a fan and former fan looked promisingly ahead to not the “if”, but the “when”, of a Noel Gallagher solo album. Blindly rooted in nostalgia and the belief that Noel had simply become diplomatic with the songwriting duties now that he was surrounded by the “serious musicians” of Oasis MKII, his latter day Oasis material and the gaping dearth of decent and original b-sides should have provided clear warning to temper expectations. Nevertheless, Noel’s solo debut proved more solid cover to cover than any post-Bonehead/post-Guigsy Oasis joint, implying that The Chief could at least make do with a smattering of solo fare chocked into a set of Oasis former glories.
Perhaps recognising that songwriting was not chief among Beady Eye’s remarkably few attributes, Liam Gallagher has sought outside help for his solo debut. Enter A-listers Greg Kurstin (Adele, Katy Perry) and Andrew Wyatt (Charli XCX, Florence + the Machine) with a set of songs that, if not remarkable, are at least an upgrade. Kurstin co-wrote I Get By and Greedy Soul, which stand out for their swagger.
Back in June, Liam Gallagher said he’d rather be playing with Oasis than going solo. It’s a sentiment echoed by literally every other fan of the Mancunian loudmouth on the planet, and yet here we are and here it is: LG’s first record under his own moniker after two-and-a-half decades in the spotlight. In his own words “you can’t just sit at home twiddling your thumbs,” so instead we have ‘As You Were’ – seemingly a glorified way of killing time until he and Noel eventually kiss and make up for the inevitable internet-breaking reunion. If that all makes the album sound a little, well, underwhelming, then Our Kid’s first is actually a far more decent listen than its context might suggest.
The relative commercial failure of Liam Gallagher’s post-Oasis band Beady Eye counts as one of the more perplexing events in recent pop history. To an impartial observer, their two albums seemed neither better nor worse than Oasis’s multi-platinum latter-day efforts. It was surprising that a fanbase who once seemed perhaps the most devoted and undiscriminating around – people who dutifully trooped out in their millions to buy albums as mediocre as Heathen Chemistry, people who sent a track as slender as Songbird to the upper reaches of the singles chart – suddenly became so capricious, so seemingly discerning in their pursuit of Beatles/Slade-influenced bloke-rock.
Liam Gallagher was made for viral stardom. His flawless insults anticipated an era where celebrity reactions became shorthand for shade, and they’ve mostly been his internet currency until recently. Gallagher started promoting his debut solo album, As You Were, in a very early interview with Britain’s Q magazine last August. It wasn’t his jabs at older brother Noel (“that cunt”) that orbited Twitter, but signs of a more meditative outlook.
Will rock’n’roll ever die? Not if Liam Gallagher has anything to do with it. He’s the self-appointed guardian of the cocksure frontman, keeper of the flame, defined by attitude as much as talent and a belief that the world should bend to your will. He’s the last of the old school hell raisers, putting the world to rights and swaggering across what’s left of a musical landscape flattened by the Britpop wars and 'cocaine panzers'.
Intentional or not, it was a little suggestive for Liam Gallagher to release his first ever solo album in the same week Oasis’ landmark album (What’s the Story) Morning Glory celebrated its 22nd birthday. Even the most dedicated fans of Britrock’s preeminent feuding brothers acknowledged long ago that they won’t again touch their all-time anthemic heights. And yet lately Liam, 45, feels more ubiquitous than ever.
One thing you could never accuse Liam Gallagher of being is boring. As Oasis’ lustre faded, he was still snarling away in the centre of the stage honking out his vocals like an irate seal forced to pass some brutal kidney stones. That band’s elongated death rattle under the name Beady Eye ensured that Gallagher could remain the iconic frontman, even if the songs were like the Shine compilation series having an extreme anxiety dream.