BLOG: Noel Gallagher's greatest lifts
7th Oct 2008 | 13:30
Oasis's songwriting goes under the microscope
It's a daft world where Oasis get accused of stealing from Cliff Richard – seemingly on the basis of a vaguely-similar keyboard figure.
Think what you like about Gallagher, but MusicRadar does not honestly believe Noel looks to the mawkish monk of puritan pop for inspiration. But maybe such accusations occur because Noel has previous 'form'?
After all, even a quick trawl through the Oasis back catalogue reveals some telling clues on Noel's smartest 'borrowing'.
MusicRadar sat down with some classic Oasis tracks and some other songs – just to see if they are 'friends'.
Let's see what we found.
"Stop me if you've heard this one before..."
Shakermaker by Oasis (1994)
= I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing by The New Seekers (1971)
Australia's The New Seekers were hugely popular in the UK when Noel was a young boy. I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing was used on TV ads for Coca-Cola and sold almost one million copies in the UK alone. Shakermaker's initial vocal melody is essentially the same. So much so that The New Seekers sued – with Oasis reportedly having to pay $500,000 as settlement.
Cigarettes And Alcohol by Oasis (1994)
= Get It On by T-Rex (1971)
Long talked about, the opening guitar riff to Cigarettes And Alcohol is a direct decendent of Get It On. But as it's such a generic blues-rock riff, maybe we shouldn't be too harsh?
Whatever by Oasis (1994)
= How Sweet To Be An Idiot by Neil Innes (1973)
Comic British songwriter Neil Innes (a Monty Python alumni) was behind Beatles parody 'rockumentary' The Rutles. The opening vocal melodies of Whatever and …Idiot are almost identical. Even an idiot can hear that.
Half The World Away by Oasis (1994)
= This Guy's In Love With You by Herb Alpert And The Tijuana Brass (1968)
A picture of songwriter Burt Bacharach appears on the cover of Oasis's debut Definitely Maybe, and Noel is a vocal fan of BB's melodies. Which probably explains why the opening C / FMaj7 chords and meter of Half The World Away are a close relation of Herb Alpert's version of the Bacharach classic.
Lyla by Oasis (2005)
= Confrontation Camp by The Soundtrack Of Our Lives (1996)
Noel Gallagher says Lyla sounded "a bit like... The Soundtrack of Our Lives doing The Who on Skol in a psychedelic city in the sky, or something." Maybe. Or is it just a straight rip of Confrontation Camp? The two bands toured together, after all. Hmm…
"You'd have to ask the record company about that." Noel Gallagher on why Step Out 'disappeared' from the final version of (What's The Story) Morning Glory?
Headshrinker by Oasis (1995)
= Stay With Me by The Faces (1971)
The Rolling Stones might be Noel's second favourite band, but maybe Ronnie Wood is his favourite Stone? The guitar intro to bruising b-side Headshrinker is 90% the same as Wood's on The Faces' hit.
The Importance Of Being Idle by Oasis (2005) /
= Clean Prophet by The La's (1988)
The staccato intro guitar chords are almost identical. The La's are one of Noel Gallagher's favourite bands. Oasis now even boast The La's ex-drummer, Chris Sharrock.
Hello by Oasis (1995)
= Hello Hello, I'm Back Again by Gary Glitter (1973)
A fair cop for Noel, as Glitter is listed as co-writer on the opening track of (What's The Story) Morning Glory? We're not sure how Noel now feels about still-strong royalties of Morning Glory? funding Glitter's dotage.
Morning Glory by Oasis (1995)
= The One I Love by REM (1987)
Not a hugely incriminating rip-off. But let's just say there's a 'nod' in the opening guitar riff. In fact, maybe both Oasis and REM have just ripped Neil Young's Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)? Everyone's guilty here!
Step Out by Oasis (1996)
= Uptight by Stevie Wonder (1966) x Rosalie by Thin Lizzy (1978)
A genius double-whammy of 'lifting'. The chorus vocal melody is almost identical to Wonder's Uptight while the middle eight guitar riff is 'similar' to Thin Lizzy's live version of Bob Seger's song Rosalie. Step Out appeared on promo copies of Morning Glory? but it was pulled at the last minute. Why's that then?
"You'd have to ask the record company about that," says Noel.
It eventually appeared as a b-side track on the CD single of Don't Look Back In Anger, credited to writers Gallagher/Wonder/Cosby/Moy. Still one of Oasis's Noel-sung greatest tracks.
Fuckin' In The Bushes by Oasis (2000)
= I'd Like To Change The World by Ten Years After (1971) + Little Miss Lover by The Jimi Hendrix Experience + I'm A Man by The Spencer Davis Group
Noel wanted to sample Mitch Mitchell's drums from a rare live version of Little Miss Lover, but the Hendrix estate blocked its use. So Oasis's then-drummer Alan White simply 'recreated' it. The higher register guitar riff (Oasis, starting at 1:30) is a pretty straight rip from the Ten Years After riff (listen from 2:40). The organ riff apes The Spencer Davis Group's I'm A Man (from 0:24).
Add some vocal samples from the Barry Lerner's documentary film Message To Love: Isle Of Wight (1970), and Fuckin' In The Bushes is almost 100% recycled.
Good 'green' work, Noel – and another underrated Oasis track.
Talent borrows, genius steals?
There are many more examples of Gallagher's 'magpie' songwriting tendencies, I'm sure. MusicRadar is still digesting Dig Out Your Soul for clues.
Not that this is a criticism of Noel Gallagher's songwriting at all. He is a fantastic songwriter.
But maybe, Noel noted the words inscribed on the run-off grooves of The Smiths' Bigmouth Strikes Again, one of his favourite songs by one of his favourite bands. It's a quote by Oscar Wilde: "Talent borrows, genius steals."
And by that measure, Noel Gallagher remains a songwriting genius.