The Rise and fall of Me recording Oasis
I’ve done quite a few long, in depth interviews about the Oasis recording sessions. It’s difficult finding anything new to say about them.
So I’m going to copy one of the last interviews I did and see how that sits.
I had the best time re-mastering Definitely Maybe, Morning Glory and Be Here Now with Ian Cooper. He is a gentleman and his stories are extremely funny. It was a good experience digging out the original masters and listening to Ian do his minimal thing. The best thing was hearing the master tapes of Be Here Now: Ian’s been listening to the original cd, and he reckons it was messed up somehow in the mastering……I’d spent years convinced that my mixes weren’t very good……but listening to my 1/2″ masters, with Ian’s very minimal mastering……damn…..my mixes were ok all along.
Also, I listened to the Mustique demos for the first time in seventeen years last week and that got me writing something new about that session…and about the b-side sessions. So have a read of my ramblings if you dare….
I have to ask: does anyone find this stuff vaguely interesting? Let me know, ‘cos I’m more than happy to shut up about these sessions that happened over a brief period many long years ago.
Click below to open up etc….
So I thought I had nothing really to say about the Oasis recording sessions that I hadn’t said over and over before.
Then I went down to London and Metropolis and spent a very civilized and enjoyable couple of days with the old fart that is Ian Cooper, trying to re-master Definitely Maybe and Morning Glory. And Ian dug me out the Mustique demos that I’d recorded with Noel for Be Here Now…..I hadn’t heard them since 1996. And I’ve had a listen….and thankfully, I’m not insane: they do sound amazing…..far better that the actual album. Infact my little drum machine even sounded alright…..my drum patterns and basic programming was so much better than Alan Whites plod. And Noels percussion playing helped a great deal. So…..Be Here Now. I have to say that I cocked up….and I think Noel did too…..in not using and referencing the demos more on the actual album sessions. It was always a massive real regret to me that with the Mustique demos, I had to make a bounce of the drum machine and Noels basic backing track, all together….in order to free up tracks to keep overdubbing(we were using a Tascam 8trk digital machine). Be Here Now would have been a far better record had we been able to use Noels guitars and bass and percussion from the Mustique demos……we could’ve just overdubbed the drums and Liams singing, and Boneheads guitar and that would have been a great album. So I very sadly admit that I mucked up royally there. I think that the Mustique demos were the last good recordings I did with Noel (I’ll probably listen to Be Here Now proper this week and change my mind again…..). He and I were getting on well and we were just enjoying making music…..it all changed post Knebworth and all the shit that followed. It was a mistake on everyones part…..management very much included, that we didn’t record Be Here Now in the Summer of 1996…..it would have been a much different album: happy probably.
Anyway…..I was going to try and remember some of the b-side sessions.
I definitely had some majorly good b-side recording sessions with Oasis. Probably better sessions than the good album sessions. Of course, inevitably, by Be Here Now, for some reason that for the life of me I still can’t understand, we were attempting cover versions of thing like “Heros” and “Street fighting man”…..which originally were obviously some of the greatest recordings ever….only complete idiots would be so completely and absolutely arrogant as to believe that they were capable of bettering those recordings….ha!….Oasis could toss those tunes off in a day. Yes, I think Noel Gallagher, had quite understandably let his well deserved huge success go right to his head.
But we did record some great b-sides earlier on….and had a really good time doing so.
I think my first b-sides were recorded on the “Whatever” session….which took place at Maison Rouge in around June/July 1994. They bashed out an ok-ish version of Fade Away, which because I was excited about the way Oasis played it live at that time, I suggested to Noel that they play the track live in the studio….just the five piece, in one take, no overdubs. It was an idea…..but didn’t sound that great…..we didn’t record like that again. And then Noel got the band to run through a version of Some Might Say…..this demo was much slower than the master recording….it was kinda cool and more groovy…..again, in our usual inept way, me and Noel forgot what was good about the demo and carried on regardless. Actually, I really like the finished version of Some Might Say that’s on Morning Glory. Yes, it’s almost a disaster of a recording….and the single sounded terrible. But I like my eq’d version on the album….and the song is one of my favourites. I think it’s a good thing.
So…..and then we stared on Listen Up, which to this day is still one of my favourite tunes of Noels. And the recording is completely flawed: it’s way too long. It’s got awful out of time percussion all over it. The mix has always been way too over compressed (Ian Cooper told me the other day that the SSL desk that I mixed Listen Up on at Matrix Studios was well known in the industry for being the worst sounding desk in London….it was a duffer…..oh well….)……but the song is still magnificent.
The day before we started on Listen up, after finishing all the recording on Whatever we went back to our hotel, which sadly was The Columbia. Noel was already living in London at the time, so he went off to his flat. Mark Coyle was there…..and I think Phil Smith….definitely Jason Rhodes…..Liam, Guigs and Tony…….and a friend of theirs who I know only as Sid. They were still in “on tour” mode….and the drinks started flowing. The upshot was that at sometime in the morning, someone decided to empty (very gently and slowly) all the chairs, tables, pot plants….whatever wasn’t nailed down basically….from the bar/longue area, out through the front windows of the hotel. It was the ground floor so it seemed very harmless: a little bit of drunken fun before heading to bed. Anyway….some empty beer bottles were thrown out and by a stroke of real bad luck, hit the manager of the hotels Mercedes and smashed the front windscreen (bloody windows!).
Everyone left decided to leave the scene and get to bed……it appeared that the hotel had called the police.
I went to bed and fell happily asleep….only to be woken by two police officers a couple of hours later. They were trying to find the persons who had vandalized the Mercedes and hotel bar….and also it appeared that most of the rooms had been robbed too. I pleaded genuine ignorance: I’d had an early night officers….I’m the producer of the band…..they left me in peace and I quickly packed my bag and left the hotel.
Everyone met up at Ignitions office, which was just round the corner. Marcus and Alec didn’t bat an eyelid. They seemed totally unfazed by the nights events and booked us into The Hilton which was next door to The Columbia for the next two nights so we could get on and finish off the recording session. Everyone was happy and we’d ended up in a far better hotel. And Oasis and their crew were extremely happy because The Columbia banned them all for life.
Oh, and we recorded Listen up over the next two days.
I liked working with Oasis. This session was fun, grown up…..proper good company…..and the music was fantastic too.
Then in September, while I had some time before going into the studio with The Verve, Ignition flew me out to Austin Texas where Oasis had two days off scheduled on their American tour….and Marcus thought that was a perfect opportunity to put them in the studio with me for two days to record a new set of b-sides that were needed for the upcoming Christmas release of Whatever and the next single after that….which was expected to be Some Might Say.
I landed at the airport… and coming out of immigration I bumped into Noel and Tim Abbot. I thought they were there to greet me. As it turned out they had just flown in…from Las Vegas. In the taxi on the way back to the bands hotel, the story unfolded of how Noel had left Oasis about a week earlier following a what according to him had been a fucking embarrassingly awful gig: he’d had enough of the rest of the band being off their heads and disappeared. Now, this threw everyone into complete panic. The band didn’t know where he’d gone. Ignition had no idea. Neither did Creation. Or Sony in America. And if his family knew, they weren’t saying.
Finally Tim Abbott, Creations M.D and marketing guru, tracked down a number of a girl he’d heard about…..and he found Noel in San Francisco (I think….who knows?…). Tim and Marcus got Noel to agree to turn up for the b-side sessions. Before which Tim flew over and took Noel to Las Vegas for a blow out.
We turned up in a little 24trk studio…..it had a weird voodoo vibe….very swampy and bones and body parts hanging by string…..creepy.
Noel played them It’s good to be free…..which obviously had very pointed lyrics about what had been going on with the band. They played it quick and hard. And Liam sang it in two goes. And then Noel put down his lead guitar line in one take. Bonehead had found an accordian and was entertaining everyone else while Noel and I finished the recording. They’d started relaxing and I recorded everyone laughing while Bonehead was playing and stuck it at the end of the tune. It seemed appropriate. I put a quick monitor mix down. And we used that mix as the release master.
The next day it was just Noel and me in the studio, and he very quickly out down Half the world away, and then Talk tonight. So basically, while he “disappeared” for a week…which shit the band right up and got their heads back in gear…..he wrote three new brilliant songs, which were all inspired in one way or another by the surrounding events.
Talk tonight is pretty much my favourite Oasis recording that I was involved in. I do have lots of favourites, but that particular recording is just exactly right. It was probably as good as me and Noel got when working together. He played and sang really quickly. His method was that he’d put down an acoustic guitar….strumming the chords…the entire arrangement. And then he’d overdub in one take another acoustic guitar…doing picking and the like. And then he sang the lead vocal. We might’ve dropped in a couple of lines, but that was it. And then he quickly overdubbed a backing vocal while clapping along. It was very easy to record. I had the idea for the two note Wurlitzer part….though Noel insisted on playing it (was PPL raising it’s ugly head in those days?). And that was that.
Half the world away I mixed back at Loco while the Verve were having a weekend off onetime….I overdubbed a bass on it….to give it credibility I told Noel that Si from The Verve played it…
Those were the really good b-side sessions.
Ok, there was also Acquiese….at Loco on the Some Might say session. Noel turned up having been stuck in the tunnel under the River Severn on the train for an hour. He claimed that he wrote Acquiese then because he was bored. That took less than a day to record…..and it’s a far better recording, playing wise and sound wise than Some Might Say. And I mixed it in a couple of hours by myself a few weeks later….I added a big phaser and Eventide harmonizer thing to keep my self amused.
And, Ok, there is The Masterplan. That was recorded the week after morning Glory was released. Noel and I had been up all night, getting drunk and talking about how great we both were…..he couldn’t decide if The Masterplan needed a string section or a brass section. I said it should have both a string section and a brass section. So we did and it has. That was one of my last really good recordings with the whole band. Noel was playing exceptionally well. Bonehead played great piano. Noel put the bass guitar down…..it was only a day or so later that Guigs left the band: I think no one was taking notice of him having a bit of a break down…..certainly we didn’t consider his feelings in the studio, which I regret. Saying that, on Be Here Now, I’d get Nick Brine to record Guigs, and then I’d comp it. So again I didn’t give him proper attention in the studio. Years later Bonehead let slip to me that Guigs fucking hated me. I thought we’d got on fine, but looking back I can see how he’d’ve disliked being the least respected musician in the studio……as his producer, I let him down. Though he could’ve said something at the time….
Anyway…..the b-sides I did with Oasis were really good. And the album, The Masterplan is almost my favourite. The very last thing I ever did with Oasis was the song Going Nowhere. It’s one of my wifes favourites. Looking back at that particular session, I can definitely see that I’d lost my enthusiasm and wasn’t really that on the ball. But amazingly it sounded really good. Still does.
He’s a clever one that Noel Gallagher.
I think that last good set of recordings I did with him were the demos we did in Mustique……that would’ve been around June/July time 1996…..before the big concerts like Knebworth.
I’ve just listened to those Mustique demos again for the first time since then: I’ve been down in London, supervising the re-mastering of the first three albums, and Ian Cooper had copied the Mustique demos for possible inclusion on a special “with extras” release of Be Here Now. They sound amazing. To me, anyway.
Mustique was genuine good fun. I flew in….Noel was there with Meg. And Johnny Depp and Kate Moss were holidaying there too. I think a couple of Megs friends were there too. But I just hung out with Noel. I had my own little house thing, that I set up a studio in. And we drank rum punch, smoked a bit of weed and happily recorded all those demos over the course of a week or so. Johnny Depp would turn up for a listen and a cheeky drink and smoke. And he played slide on Fade In/Out.
Actually that reminds me: I’d recorded Johnny Depp previously with Noel/Oasis. We did a Noel singing, slower version of Fade Away for a charity thing, back when we were recording The Masterplan (or one of those sessions at Maison Rouge).
He was a nice chap. Very unassuming. And he could play guitar: he did both those guitar parts….the clean electric picking on Fade Away, and the acoustic slide guitar solo on Fade In/Out in pretty much one take. The man is a born natural improviser. He made me promise to drop in and see him anytime I was in Los Angeles. There was one time he was making a film which was being shot about a mile from where I lived in South Wales. So I went along to the set…..to say hello to Johnny, and I was told to piss off by the films security and production staff.
And he was visiting MY country……
This is all from an interview I did a few years ago.
I had previously been managed as a recording engineer/producer by Marcus Russell. He was managing Johnny Marr. In 1993 I was recording Johnny and Bernard Sumner’s second Electronic album. Marcus met Noel through Johnny’s brother Ian Marr, who knew Noel and introduced Noel to Johnny. I’d become frustrated working only with Johnny and changed my management (stupidly sacked Marcus…which I still regret). This meant I missed out on the probable opportunity of being the first choice (possibly with Johnny Marr) to record Oasis’s debut album. Anyway, we heard that the Dave Batchelor sessions were aborted (though they kept the recording of Slide Away, which I later mixed), and then that they had gone in again to record with Noel’s best friend, Mark Coyle co-producing the sessions with Noel.
Essentially, after several attempts at mixing these recordings, I thought that the sound of the finished mixes was very unfocused and quite lame. To me it sounded like there wasn’t an experienced studio person/producer overseeing everything. This wasn’t Mark’s or Noel’s fault: as first time producers they hadn’t experience of the techniques one learns in the studio over time. And by this time I think they were running out of money and patience, so Marcus, thankfully, asked me to try mixing/finishing two tracks for them. These were Columbia and Rock ‘n’ Roll Star. Rock ‘n’ Roll Star also needed the vocals recording, as they were having problems nailing the lead vocals…so I guess this was my trial, to see if I could both work with Liam and arrange and mix the recordings to Noel’s satisfaction.
We turned up at Loco studios, Caerleon South Wales. Me, Marcus, and Noel and Liam. A Saturday and Sunday. On the first afternoon we recorded the lead vocals and then Noel’s backing vocals on Rock ‘n’ Roll Star. It was easy. Noel left me and Liam to it. Ian Marr had told me stories he’d heard about this kid Liam Gallagher, who apparently thought he sounded like John Lennon and John Lydon. And Liam sang really well. He did four takes straight off, which I then compiled into the finished complete vocal. He was funny. And I said he sounded a bit like John Lennon…which he obviously liked. And I think I told him I was trying to rip off Phil Spector on these mixes (which I was, along with some Tony Visconti tricks I was currently into).
Then I told him to fuck off and leave me alone to work, because he wouldn’t shut up. Ten minutes later Noel came and checked with me that I’d actually told his brother to fuck off so that I could get on with working on the music. I told him I had…he very much approved of my behaviour. So I’d made both Noel and Liam happy even before any mix of the music. The mixes of Rock ‘n’ Roll Star and Columbia are two of the best things I ever did with Oasis. Columbia’s my favourite mix I’ve ever done. On both the songs, on the multitracks were Noel’s endless guitar tracks: he had so many melodic ideas but they weren’t arranged in any order most of the time. But this allowed me to construct the musical dynamics of the songs so easily: there was always a new part from Noel at any point in the song that would help me mix/produce the tracks. It was a lot of fun.
Noel I’d met with Johnny Marr once before working with Oasis. I thought he was some guy just on the make. I didn’t take him at all seriously. But on the mixing session he was funny and self-deprecating and very enthusiastic about what I was doing. He was easy to work with. Liam was a live wire. Talked non-stop shite. But when he sang he was extraordinary…instantly on it, exceptionally talented. So he could justify his front.
I got to know the other three later. Bonehead I got on with straight away. He’s one of the kindest and funniest people I’ve ever met. A huge heart. Guigs was always funny and chilled. A proper nice guy. Tony was quiet and always polite to me, but seemed out of his depth…so I think Tony did well to survive as long as he did in Oasis.
Noel is a natural musician. Good timing and knowledge of what he’s doing. And nothing fancy or unnecessary. Easy to record. Bonehead’s rhythm guitar playing I always loved. Bonehead, with Tony’s drumming was a big part of the Oasis sound to me. And I loved Tony’s drumming. It was simple, certainly, but his timing was immaculate and he hit the shit out of them. Tony’s simple patterns allowed the space for Bonehead’s strumming rhythm guitar playing to really work. On record, Noel mostly played the bass, but on what Guigs did play – particularly live – he was solid and right. I loved the sound of Oasis with Tony drumming. There was magic in the dumbness of the rhythm tracks. The band never sounded the same after Tony left.
After the success of the first Loco session with my mixes approved only by Noel and management we did a day in a studio in North Wales to record a bunch of Liam’s lead vocals (in all my time with Oasis I was never aware of record company involvement…we were visited in the studio twice by Alan McGee at the end of Morning Glory and Be Here Now…so he could have the first listen I guess, but Marcus Russell and Noel A&R;’d the records themselves and made all the decisions).
That day we recorded Cigs and Alcohol, Live Forever, Up in the Sky and Bring it on Down. Again, Liam did only four takes on each track and I compiled them. Noel checked that Liam sang everything correctly on the first take then left us to it.
Oasis toured after that and I was left to mix the album with Marcus Russell always with me for company and to check I didn’t miss anything important on the tracks. He knew the songs better than I did. Having said this, I did mix Digsy’s Dinner and a version of Live Forever at Loco Studios without Marcus. This was the version of Live Forever that the band had demoed at some stage before going to Sawmills, and this is the version that I muted Noel’s guitar solo at the half way point: I wasn’t totally taking the mix seriously, as I knew it was a demo and they’d re-recorded it, but it was all they had at that stage with a lead vocal before I recorded Liam’s final vocals. So Marcus asked me to have a look at it. It was essentially the same solo that’s on the finished version and that Noel always plays live, but when it went high on the second half all I could think of was Slash in leather keks with a wind machine on the Grand Canyon, so I muted it and thought I was making it cooler. I had a message from Marcus that Noel was bemused that I cut his solo in half and not to cut it in half again on the final mix.
Next I went to Matrix studios in Fulham for five days where I mixed Up in the Sky, Bring it on Down, Live Forever, Shakermaker, Slide Away…and, on the last night, a slightly drunken and overexcited version of Cigs and Alcohol. This was a great week for me. Marcus was there the whole time. I was put up in an expensive hotel. The band were on a roll and everyone was excited. I’d been given as much control as I could have hoped for. I’d decided by this time to stop working for Johnny Marr, so for me this opportunity and these mixes were my one chance to do exactly what and how I wanted to work and make music sound. After years of compromise to make other producers and record companies happy, now I had nothing to lose by being uncompromisingly honest with the mixes. I liked rough edges, I liked a big sound, I liked not being posh and polite. Thankfully what I was doing suited Oasis.
And then I got to master the album by myself, without some bored, by the book mastering engineer who didn’t get it. I mastered the album at Johnny Marr’s studio. And I remember that Johnny was appalled by how “in your face” the whole thing was. He thought I was an idiot for what he perceived were mistakes…like the noise at the front of Cigs and Alcohol: The Smiths would never have been so crude.
Here’s the nerdy detail about the mixing techniques I used for all of my mixes on Definitely Maybe. A week or two before the weekend mixing Rock ‘n’ Roll Star and Columbia I’d been reading an article on Phil Spector’s production of Instant Karma. One of the things that interested me was his use of an intime tape delay on the drums. Also I’d been reading about Toni Visconti’s discovery of the Eventide Harmoniser on the David Bowie Berlin sessions: Low etc., and specifically how Visconti would use a regenerating pitch change on the drums to cause a falling/deepening effect.
Now, given that I knew instantly that Tony was extremely basic in what he did after listening to his drumming on Rock ‘n’ Roll Star, but that his timing and tempo were almost autistically perfect, I set up a big regenerating tape delay doing eight time notes on Tony’s drums, which subliminally added groove and offbeats. Then I also added the Visconti Harmoniser trick to the snare to add subliminal depth and rhythm.
After these two very basic tricks, which I subsequently used as something to tell people that I was ripping off Spector and Visconti, I just did what I wanted. I heavily compressed the overall drum sound. Squeezing it so every hit was the same. I’d also program a tambourine to play along with the snare drum when I felt it helped. Anything to make the rhythm track exciting and grooving. The most obvious use of the tape delay trick can be heard on Columbia, where the actual recording of the drums and bass is just doing four beats in a bar, I doubled up the bass drum, snare and bass guitar to create the eight beats in a bar, faster, pumping rhythm.
Then I used a bunch of techniques I learned from working with Bernard Sumner when recording the first Electronic album: I put the bass guitar through a Mini Moog synthesiser and used the filter section to take all the top end off and just created a pure low sound… this was necessary and successful because it took away the hits of the notes and therefore hid the imprecise playing. Then on the guitars I used four different types of outboard special processing that I’d learned from Bernard’s treatment of his keyboard sounds: a specific phase program, a specific stereo spread, a specific modulation program, and a weird presence program. These gave me enough spaces to construct the picture of the many guitar parts. I’d also use a small reverb and a large hall type reverb. Then I’d compress the overall mix very heavily…more than would normally be considered “professional”. I would also varispeed the tape (usually speeding the track up slightly) to a place I felt was exciting.
I’d use combinations of all the above effects on Liam’s vocals. There’s other stuff I’d use to get Liam’s vocal sound but it’s secret. Because I’d always be running my computer sequencer alongside, I’d also add subsonic low sine waves and occasional guitar type tones to subliminally add to the weight of the sound.
That’s the boring technical detail about every mix I did. Maybe that stuff is really boring.
I loved the album. I listened to it constantly. I had no idea it would become recognised by other people as something very special. It was an amazing buzz reading the NME review and then it going to number one. Because my work on it had been so honest and uncompromising, and it felt like the band and the people around them like their sleeve designer Brian Cannon were also doing the same, for a while it felt like the good guys were winning. Brilliant, beautiful times.
Aye….I sound like a bit of a knob head on that interview. I must’ve been in a particularly happy mood that day….sun shining and everything……
Again, I’m copying from an interview I gave a few years back. I do come across as disturbingly enthusiastic. Very odd.
Here’s my story about Some Might Say. So we went to Loco Studios to record the master version of Some Might Say sometime at the start of 1995. I was already ensconced there having spent four months recording The Verve’s album A Northern Soul (which I’d gotten because, after finishing Definitely Maybe, Noel had recommended me to his friend Richard Ashcroft).
Here’s the thing. We’d demoed Some Might Say in Maison Rouge six months or so ago: the version from there was slow and heavy and dark…really quite cool in a Rolling Stones way. Then we turn up in Loco, the band set up, we spend the day doing lots of really good, slightly faster than the demo versions of the track. I edit the best bits together: we are happy. Backing track done! Then the rest of the band go to bed, but me and Noel stay up, have a few drinks (oh, inevitably, Brian Cannon was there entertaining us). At some stage in the early hours we listen to the demo and decide that the new version we’d spent the whole day on is too fast. Noel wakes the band up, insists they get out of bed and come and rerecord Some Might Say, but everyone better be fucking careful not to play it too fast.
We do ONE take and decide we’re all fucking geniuses and that we’ve definitely nailed the backing track. Next day, I wake up, hungover and hazy. Liam wants to sing. So Liam sings his lead vocal on Some Might Say in two takes. Fucking on fire singing. Liam goes to pub with Bonehead. Marcus turns up. Listens to it…Marcus goes fucking hell, that singing is incredible, well done boys.
Thing is, the backing track was faster than we’d ever intended, which Noel and I hadn’t noticed when drunk the night before. This backing track had massive problems like a really bad speed up during the first three bars of the first chorus. But we had to fucking use it because Liam’s singing was undeniably brilliant. Basically, a totally incompetent job by me and Noel regarding the backing track as supposedly professional producers. The mix was then a nightmare…I mixed it on three separate occasions, finally putting on all the delays and chaos in an attempt to hide the mistakes.
I still love Some Might Say. It’s one of my favourite Noel songs, and I like the sheer chaos of the recording. The song overcame everything. And it went to number one. The single version was mastered at Abbey Road and sounded appalling. My mastered version of the song for the Morning Glory album is good.
Liam and Noel always liked my mixes. They never had any issues or disagreements about the work I did with them.
Alan was very obviously different from Tony. He was intelligent and articulate and a real musician for a start. I was never a big fan of Alan’s drumming really, even though he played on the most successful recordings I’ve made so far. Alan’s essentially a jazz drummer. He is NOT a rock band drummer. He was always shuffling away on his snare (which actually became the signature rhythm of Wonderwall), and never hitting the basic back beats in a dumb rock and roll way. Also, because Alan’s brother Steve was in Paul Weller’s band, and Paul Weller’s producer employed a “proper engineer”, Alan always thought I wasn’t capturing his true sound (man!). But I always thought Alan never actually hit his drums hard enough or actually understood the basic Oasis sound.
But recording him on Morning Glory was a complete pleasure. He was a professional and Noel enjoyed sitting in the studio with him while Alan did his drum takes and being able to talk musically/part wise to a drummer who could quickly understand and then actually play what Noel was imagining. So, ultimately, certainly for the recording of the Morning Gloryalbum, Alan was the right man at the right time.
You see, my memory of this night is that we’d done the first five days recording. We’d recorded Roll With It on day one. Hello on day two. Wonderwall on day three. Don’t Look Back in Anger on day four. Champagne Supernova on day five. Day five was the Friday and that’s the night that Noel, me and Brian Cannon stayed in the control room at Rockfield and had a few drinks for my birthday, and listened back to the week’s work, while Liam and the rest of the band went into Monmouth for a drink.
I locked up the studio at about one in the morning. The studio was locked up! I went to the accommodation and there were about twenty people I didn’t know there having a party. I went straight to my room and went to bed. I was fucking exhausted.
I slept through the supposed mayhem. I can’t believe and saw no evidence that anyone got into the studio and trashed any of Noel’s guitars. Like I said, the studio was locked up! So I think Noel has exaggerated the story that the people Liam brought back trashed his guitars. In fact, and I might be wrong here, but my feeling is that Noel made up that more dramatic story about “damaged guitars” to gloss over the fact he overreacted and hurt his brother’s feelings.
My take on it was that Noel, probably unkindly, was mean and spiteful to his brother and made a scene of humiliating Liam in front of strangers. Liam had just met a nice girl, Danielle from Monmouth. The story told the next morning was that Noel had said something to Danielle and Liam that upset them. I don’t know if this is true. Then apparently Noel kicks all the people from Monmouth that Liam had invited back. Then apparently Noel and Liam have a stupid drunken fight, and Noel tells Alan to drive him to London as an escape from Liam.
When Noel fucked off, Marcus said we should all have a cooling down period. Take two weeks off. After a while I came back in and tried some mixes of what we’d recorded so far, added some keyboard strings and mucked aimlessly around. Two weeks later Noel decides the session’s back on and everyone turns up on a Monday morning, Liam and Noel have a big hug and nothing more is said.
Then we get on with the same song per day recording pace as before. We do Morning Glory, She’s Electric, Cast No Shadow, Step Out (which didn’t make it to the album) and finally Hey Now! and, for the fun of it, Bonehead’s Bank Holiday. The Swamp Song backing track was from Glasonbury that year – Noel and Paul Weller finished it off when we were mixing in Orinoco.
All of the recording on Morning Glory was easy and fun. Everyone there wanted to be there. Noel would sing a new song to Liam once, and Liam would just instantly go in and do four precisely perfect takes: quite a freaky ability Liam possessed then. Liam was almost scarily in tune with his brother’s songs and words and melodies and phrasing. And the band quickly did their parts and then left Noel and me to do all the overdubs.
The session was the best, easiest, least fraught, most happily creative time I’ve ever had in a recording studio. I honestly believe that the lack of any badness and only good intent and love from everyone involved is a very important part of why Morning Glory is liked by so many people. I believe people can feel and hear when music is dishonest and motivated by the wrong reasons. Morning Glory, for all its imperfection and flaws, is dripping with love and happiness.
Noel knew exactly where he was with his songs. Big choruses that everyone wanted to sing along to. That was fundamentally it.
Paul Weller did an afternoon’s overdubbing in about the third week of mixing at Orinoco studios in Elephant and Castle. I remember being asleep on the sofa, I had Champagne Supernova set up for him to do some guitar solos on. Noel and Paul Weller turned up mid afternoon and Noel had a good laugh at my hangover because he’d heard I’d been up all night being stupid with Brian Cannon. Brian Cannon was Oasis’s and The Verve’s “Sleeve designer/art director/maniac friend”, who on Morning Glory spent more days in the recording studio than anyone else apart from me and Noel. Doing his “research”. Brian is fucking brilliant by the way, and I think his sleeves for Oasis and the Verve are as good as any band artwork ever: very sharp, very funny.
Weller had a white Gibson SG and a Vox AC30 which he just plugged into and had his sound. And he just played half a dozen solos. Then he improvised the whistle on the outro of Champagne Supernova, and improvised the “ooh” backing vocals. Then he played lead guitar on The Swamp Song. Then he did the insane harmonica playing on The Swamp Song. All in about three hours. Him and Noel fucked off by six in the evening. He was a total gentleman and almost disgustingly good at his music. Very very impressive. And his playing was full of soul and humour and total commitment. Noel was like a pig in shit that day.
We all did love Morning Glory and thought we’d done our best and had the best time possible. But Definitely Maybe loomed large. I was worried that it didn’t have the harder guitar sound that everyone loved about Definitely Maybe. All we were truly hoping for was that it would at least sell as many as Definitely Maybe had done at the time (which in the summer of 1995 was 400,000 copies). Marcus was happy and confident though. But no one involved expected the album to capture the people’s imagination like it did.
There was never any drama at any mixing stage. Noel and Liam liked my work and trusted me to choose the best mixes. Marcus and Noel would always have a listen to each mix as it was finished just to check and approve, and I’d always make sure Liam was happy too.
I’m proud of many recordings I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with, but Morning Glory was probably a lucky once in a lifetime experience where every element, everyone and everything came together just right. Fucking brilliant. I love Oasis.
Did I really say that sentimental guff? I’m not sure that I did. Anyway, I’m usually much more cynical than the person writing above. The person above sounds insane. Or stoned on something…..but I haven’t smoked the weed in a good fifteen years. Oh well. Not to worry. Onwards and downwards…..
I’ve been “advised” to remove the following very short piece by anonymous “friends” (how mysterious of them!). But I honestly don’t think what I’m saying is bad or out of order. I’m sort of replying to something that Alan McGee has said about me with regard to Be Here Now. I personally think that Alan McGee is a big man and has the ability to take a response to something he’s said: he certainly hasn’t held back in his own opinions. And he has a sense of humour…..
I did an interview in Q magazine about recording Be Here Now……..I basically said all the worst things…… Alan McGee had slagged me off enough times……so I thought I’d better get all the digs in at my expense by myself. Cos nobody can slag me off better than I can manage myself, thank you very much.
You know what?
Alan McGee has said in interviews how “out of control” I apparently was on the Be Here Now sessions. Well, I have to ask? Alan McGee was the head of the record company. Why didn’t he do something about the “out of control” record producer”? Obviously, the one not in control was the head of the record company.
If Alan McGee had any idea of what had been going on behind the scenes with the band on the day and night before the one time he could be bothered to actually visited the studio (and what was happening was very personal, but meant a few of us had been up all night trying to take care of events)……well….he wasn’t there…..how could he possibly have any idea whatsoever about those recording sessions? Or any of my Oasis sessions for that matter.
I was there. I worked every single day on that record: which absolutely no-one else did.
Marcus Russell once said to me that everyone can fuck off about Be Here Now: it’s sold 9 million copies.
See? That wasn’t so bad was it? (It’s just Rock ‘n Roll)