Saturday, 22 September 2012

Noel Gallagher, and the decline of the b-side

for the first time in a very very long time, I bought a CD single.

in fact I bought five of them.

all housed within a rather splendid little case, as part of the Noel Gallagher and his Flying Birds boxset.

Having laid my hands on practically everything Oasis have graced the world with since those glorious brit-pop years, I am keen to hear the b-sides that Gallagher senior has delivered with each of his releases to date.

I listen to The Death of You and Me and The Good Rebel, and then take the CD out, and then listen to AKA What a Life and Let The Lord Shine a Light on Me, and then take the CD out... and the process is repeated again and again.

With just the a-side and one sole b-side to each CD single, it is a far cry from the glory days when Oasis singles carried 3 additional tracks, usually of startlingly good quality, making every release an event in itself when such bounteous goods were handed down to us mere fans that were eagerly awaiting a new fix.

even when the media hyperbole died down after the critically derided Be Here Now, Oasis were still churning out tracks on the flipside that would give most band's singles a run for their money.

but as time marched ever forward, this tradition slowly sank into decline, as singles from 2000's Standing on the Shoulder of Giants had its accompanying tracks whittled down to 2 per single, and the unthinkable happened when tracks released from 2008's Dig Out Your Soul were packaged with remixes, an act that was unheard of in the band's long and rich history, save for a small number of hard to find rarities.

and there it is, the sad truth that as the digital age has fully flourished, less value is being placed on the now disposable pop single, and crafting extra material for releases or culling the best of the left-over album sessions is being left far behind us, consigned to the past along with the memory of physical singles stocked in actual record shops and being sought after by collectors and completists.

Even Noel doesn't escape unscathed from the remix syndrome, with two of the five b-sides in fact taking the form of psychedelic reinterpretations by the Gallagher approved Amorphous Androgynous.

Those that have followed Noel's post Oasis career will remember talk of an album made in collaboration with Amorphous Androgynous, an album that now seems destined for the scrap heap after Noel admitted that his touring schedule had kept him too busy to complete the reportedly 'far out' long player that was originally announced in July 2011 and was due to follow his own solo release.

and a pity it is too, since the reworkings of If I Had A Gun and AKA What a Life, following on from the 22 minute remix of Oasis's Falling Down, show a side of The Chief that is far removed from the usual Dad-rock misgivings that he has earned over the past decade and a half.

Yet, despite the pitfalls of these modern times derided earlier, the presence of iTunes playlists in most of our lives means we can neatly collate the three Amorphous Androgynous reproductions into 46 minutes worth of aural bliss that can be played without keep changing CDs, as we wonder just what might have been.

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