Happy Birthday ‘The Masterplan’! Noel Gallagher’s comments track by track

On November 3rd 1998 Oasis released ‘The Masterplan’, comprising B-sides which were not included on the first 3 albums.
Here there are Noel Gallagher’s comments on the album, track by track.


Oasis_-_The_Masterplan

Acquiesce
‘I was on the train travelling up to meet the rest of the band (at Loco Studios in Wales), ‘cos I was the only one living in Lodon at the time. And the train stopped, I think it might have been in the Severn Tunnel, leaf on the track or something. I had my guitar with me, and I just picked it up and started strumming away on the train. These are the days before we were travelling first class, of course! I remember it being pretty late at night, and I was sat in the smoking section. Maybe about another five people on the train. I got to the chorus and I was progressively getting louder and by the time we’d been sitting in this tunnel for about 40 minutes people were starting to go: ‘Tut! Do you mind?! We’re getting bored here, can you stop playing?’”
“But by the time I’d got there I’d worked out the arrangement. We went to the studio and I made the lyrics up on the spot, really. We went back to America, and I got a call from McGee, seven in the morning, and he’s going (adopts not wholly authentic Glaswegian accent), ‘Och Noel, I’ve just heard Acquiesce, it’s got to be a single’. And I’m going, ‘Fucking not now mate, I’ve got a really bad head, not now’. He went into this big rant about it and sang it down the phone, really badly. And I’m thinking, ‘Fucking hell – it sounds shit!’ So we had this argument. I’m going, ‘Well, I think Some Might Say is a better song’, and he’s going, ‘Well, I think Acquiesce is’. But I suppose I was just being a stubborn cunt, ‘cos he’s from the record company and I’m from the band and if he wanted it then I was gonna do the opposite.”
‘Liam couldn’t sing the chorus for some reason. I think he was drunk or something, but he couldn’t get the high notes. So I decided to sing it. When the record came out everyone was going, ‘It’s a song about Liam’, and that I was saying that we need each other, we believe in one another – which was total fucking bullshit. It wasn’t about that, but ‘cos he was singing the verses and I was singing the choruses people were like: ‘Oh God man, the two brothers are, like, sharing their love for each other, even though they hate each other. It’s just like, wow, they’re bonding on record’. Haha! So we went along with that for ages!”
‘I think it’s one of the better songs. If I had my way again I’d rerecord it ‘cos it sounds really thin to me and I’d don’t like the guitar sounds. And of course, the drumming’s not much cop. Allegedly. Your honour. But, yeah, a good way to open the album.” (Gallagher, quoted in NME)

Underneath the Sky
‘When you go in those bookshops at airports they have these little books, like “The Tiny Book Of Wisdom”, and there was a book of travellers’ quotes, and most of the lines [in Underneath the Sky] are adapted, that’s adapted, from one of them. Not stolen! Poems by travellers, by people who travelled the world. And as we were travelling around the world at the time…” (Gallagher, quoted in NME)
‘I can remember sitting with a tape recorder with Owen in a little flat that was rented in Camden town. And it was the night before we were going into the studio and we needed one more track. It’s a little like Dead End Street by The Kinks in the middle. It’s not identical but I always liked that bit. So I think I got that bit first and wrote the verses around that. The piano bit is Bonehead playing the high bits and me playing the low bits. Being left handed I have always wanted to build a left handed piano, to me it would be more natural, which is why I never play piano. On this one I just play only two notes like that and he plays the rhythm bit. The piano solo reminds me of something off Strangeways Here We Come or something like that. And the guitar bit at the beginning, it sounds like a keyboard or something but it’s actually one of the guitars [playing through a Leslie cabinet – Ed]. But it didn’t take that long to do that one. It was only about an afternoon or something before we started doing Cum On Feel The Noize that night. I like the backing vocals on it, we layered and layered and layered them. So it sounds like a different instrument and Liam’s singing is really good on it. I like the way he ends it, he says ‘Againnnnna’. That’s one of my favourites and we never play it live.” (Gallagher, quoted in Melody Maker)

Talk Tonight
“I probably started writing it in Las Vegas and finished off writing it in Texas where we were due to record B-sides for Whatever but we recorded that and then we pushed that one forward to go on Some Might Say. I met this sort of Oasis fan from San Fransisco while on our travels… it was strawberry lemonade and she was addicted to that so that’s why that’s in there and she took us around playgrounds where she use to play as a kid. It’s all about that really. It’s quite melancholy but quite uplifting in the same way.” (Gallagher, quoted in Melody Maker)

Going Nowhere
“That was written before we had a record deal. It’s about what we were going to do when we got all the money. But we didn’t record it until 1997. I don’t know why we never done that one. I like it, I like the fact that we just finished the album and there were million guitar tracks on the album. There was only me and Whitey present at the time because everybody was just having a hard day or just had enough really. So I just went in there with Whitey and done it on an afternoon. The song’s really old, probably from 1990. That one was pretty spontaneous, we just got everyone down there and sort of done it.” (Gallagher, quoted in Melody Maker)

Fade Away
It was going to be on the first album. Cos that one was the main song on the set. That probably got taken off the album for Slide Away. I probably wrote it in Manchester. If you listen to the lyrics, I mean they say more about the song that I can tell you write now. ‘The dreams we have as children fade away.’ I suppose it’s a song about growing up but at the same time not growing old. If that makes any sense. It sounds to good to be one of mine though. I think at the time we were a bit worried cos there was a chance we were going to get sued cos it sounds a bit like a Wham! song. Freedom. But it wasn’t intentional. And then we done a version of it for the Warchild thing. Which I wanted to do slower. That ended up wrong as well. I mean I like the other version but I like to do it on just a piano as well. A really slow one. Sort of an Imagine part.” (Gallagher, quoted in Melody Maker)

Swamp Song
“When we were doing Morning Glory this is one of the first songs we ever jammed with Alan. It sounds very much like On The Road Again.” (Gallagher, quoted in Melody Maker)
“At the beginning you can hear a crowd noise, and Swamp Song was the first track we played at Glastonbury. So we took the drums from the Glastonbury performance, ‘cos it was the right pace, and then we just overdubbed all the guitars. I think I played bass. And the guitar on it is by Paul Weller. He’d come down to play the solo on Champagne Supernova. So we thought, ‘Might as well get our money’s worth out of him’. And he plays the mouth organ as wello. It’s one of my favouries, actually, but everyone was dead against putting it on this album. Its’s just a jam, really. It was called, for ages, The Jam. Totally inspired title. So then when Paul played on it, we thought, ‘We’d better change that’. So when we changed it he said, ‘How come you’ve changed the title?’ I said, ‘I thought it would sound a bit corny’. And he went, ‘No, I really liked that title!’ For the life of me, I don’t know why we called it The Swamp Song… (Gallagher, quoted in NME).

I am the Walrus
“Well now. I’ll tell you what happened with this, and nobody knows this story. We went up to do the Gleaneagles Hotel Sony Seminar. It’s one of them shit things where all the twats in suits get together and they roll on the new signings. So we were doing the soundcheck, and we did I Am The Walrus. There was no-one there, it was empty. So that song was actually recorded at a soundcheck in Gleneagles, right? And I’m going to get in trouble for saying this, but the crowd noise was taken from a Faces bootleg album! Because it would look shit if you put ‘Live at Sony Seminar in Gleneagles’! We had a version of it from the Cathouse in Glasgow, which sounded quite similar but it was fucking rubbish. So we thought, ‘Fuck it, no-one’ll fucking know’. But I always meant to set the record straight one day. Sorry to anyone who bought it on the premise of being at that gig.”
“It was an absolutely empty hall. At the beginning Our Kid’s going, ‘Doesn’t matter if it’s out of tune, because you’re cool’. I was pissed as an arse. It was ten in the morning when we got there and I had to do these interviews with all these Sony people from around the world going, ‘So how does it feel being signed to Sony?’ And we were going, ‘But we’re not, we’re signed to Creation, aren’t we?’ And then, of course, it dawned on us that somebody hadn’t bothered to tell us, ‘Well, no, actually you’re signed to Sony but you’re licensed to Creation’. We were going, ‘But you fucking told us we were signed to Creation!’ And McGee’s going, ‘But it’s the same thing!’ And we’re going, ‘It’s not. Does it we get more money?’ ‘Probably’ ‘Oh well, that’s fine then.’”
“But it used to be great playing it, because Liam would walk off first, then I’d put my guitar down and leave all the effects on, saying to the rest of the band, ‘Keep it going for as long as possible’. Just so me and Our Kid could drink the two bottles of champagne we used to get on our rider! By the time the band would get back me and him would be sat there fucking pissed as arseholes. They’d say, ‘Where’s the champagne, mate?’, and we’re hiccuping! ‘We’ve fucking drunk it, haven’t we!’ Bonehead would be well pissed off. So what used to happen at subsequent gigs was it’d be arace to see who could finish first. I’d put my guitar down, then Bonehead would play a chord and put his guitar down, so it would leave the drummer and the bass player. And because the drummer and bass player were a fucking useless pair of cunts at that time they could never nod when to finish it properly. So it used to go on for fucking ages! The we started getting three bottles of champagne on the rider and Bonehead would have one. The three of us sitting there, slaughtered, going, ‘Come on now lads, keep it going for another two minutes and maybe the drugs’ll have turned up and they’ll be gone as well’. Hahaha!”
“I think there’s a 19-minute version somewhere. We done a festival in Belgium. We’d all been out the night before, and we were on before Simple Minds. Simple Minds. Yes. There was a catwalk for Jim Kerr to walk up and down on, as he does. And it was just a really shit vibe, so we done four songs and a 19-minute version of I Am The Walrus and got off, ‘cos we all had shit hangovers. We just said to them, ‘Whatever you do don’t finish until the 40-minute time limit’. I think Paul Weller might have come into the dressing room and siad, ‘Your band’s onstage, playing’. And I goes, ‘Too fucking right they are mate! D’you wanna drink?! Have some champagne!’” (Gallagher, quoted in NME)

Listen Up
“That’s one of my favourites. I remember writing the lyrics in the kitchen at Maison Rouge  [recording studio in Fulham]. I was living in Chiswick at the time, while the rest of them were at the Columbia Hotel. So I went home early, about 8pm to write some lyrics. So everyone said, ‘Right, midday tomorrow’. I got there at 11.30am, started messing around with these lyrics. An hour goes past, then another, and another, and another. They trun up at 8pm looking like they’ve still been up. It was the night they got barred from the Columbia for fucking decimating the gaff. So I spent eight hours in the kitchen at Maison Rouge writing lyrics, and I’ve never forgiven them for that. Although I suppose it worked out well in a way ‘cos the ones I had at 11.45am were fucking dreadful. But I like the line, “I don’t believe in magic ‘cos life is automatic”. I think it means something but I’m not quite sure what.”
“I remember Liam going, ‘That fucking guitar break’s too long, ‘cos nothing happens and it’s the same riff going round and round and round.’ And ‘cos I’m a stubborn cunt I was going, ‘No, it’s right.’ And then when I was mastering it the other day, four years after the fact, I decided he was right in the first place, so I edited four bars out! He was round our house the other day so I played it to him and he went, ‘D’you know, that sounds better than the original.’ I went, ‘(Cough). Yeah I edited it…’ He went, ‘You fucking what?’ ‘I edited four bars out’. He went, ‘WHAT? AFTER ALL THESE FUCKING YEARS NOW YOU’RE ADMITTING YOU WERE WRONG??!!’ I said, ‘I never said I was wrong. I’m just saying I wasn’t right at that particular time.’ Heheh! So, he thinks I’m a cunt now.”
“It was one of the ones people voted for a lot. When I was listening to it, before I edited the bit out that makes it a good 40 seconds to a minute shorter, I can see now that was the start of the prog rock phase where I was gonna just chuck guitar solos over everything, because I’d a brand new guitar that day, and by golly I’m gonna use it. So that’s the start of my axe-wielding days, I think.” (Gallagher, quoted in NME)

Rockin’ Chair
“I think that was an early one as well. Like a lot of the early ones it’s about wanting to leave home. “This town holds no more for me…” I must have wrote it in Manchester. The song’s about wanting to be somewhere else. Again, it mentions the telephone as a lot of my early songs do. And the rain. The rain and telephones. I think we played that one live once, the first date of the British tour when Guigs couldn’t be bothered getting out of bed ‘cos he had his nervous exhaustion, and we had Scott in the group, briefly. I think we played it on the first night and then sacked it after that ‘cos the chorus was too high for Liam.”

“It was gonna be on the album, and then I wrote something else. I think it was Wonderwall. So it was Rockin’ Chair or Wonderwall. Imagine if Wonderwall had been a B-side! We wouldn’t be sat here now, I tell you that. We’d be in the fucking Falcon in Camden, going, ‘have you got any money for a beer, Keith, and then I’ll tell about my new record?’ I think I made the right choice. Rod Stewart’s done a cover of “Rockin’ Chair”. I’d like to hear it.” (Gallagher, quoted in NME)

Half the World Away
“I played This Guy’s in Love With You. That’s where I pinched all the chords from. Sort of moved a few around, put that one there and put that one there. And there you go, you got another song. Paul Weller’s favorite ever Oasis song. I like the lyrics as well. Again it’s about leaving cities. I’m not sure anyone else likes it. I played the drums on that one as well actually. Because our ex-drummer wasn’t the most of talented people in the world. Probably the easiest song to play…” (Gallagher, quoted in Melody Maker)

(It’s Good) To Be Free
I started writing it in a swimming pool. And when I was in Las Vegas I finished it off. It sounds like we are having a really good time in the studio because we were all laughing. But it wasn’t funny at all.” (Gallagher, quoted in Melody Maker)

Stay Young
“I don’t like it. I wrote it by mistake for the last album. Why it didn’t go on the album is because when I got back to England I wrote Magic Pie. Sounds like the Kinks as well I think. I don’t like the guitar solo on it. I don’t like the sound of it either. That’s one of the first ones we recorded for Be Here Now and I think we done that in Abbey Road cos when you start doing an album you usualy start with the ones you like the least just so you can get into it really.” (Gallagher, quoted in Melody Maker)

Headshrinker
“A really, really old one. Written before we had a manager or anything like that. That one is really fast, really loud. Probably the best drumming track that the ex-drummer ever done. It’s written about a girl that our Liam was going out with at the time that was a pain in the ass. She followed the band everywhere. She’s a bit of a weirdo as well. I don’t know what headshrinker actually is. Just thought it was a psychiatrist or something I suppose. It sounds like the Faces on speed, doesn’t it? We used to have a lot of fast songs like that years and years ago in 92, 93. We were more like a punk band then really.’ (Gallagher, quoted in Melody Maker)
“It was a mad time at Loco [recording studio in South Wales countryside], that. There were lots of people there. When we used to go to a recording studio, no matter where in the country it was, everyone would find a way there after about two days. I hadn’t heard [Headshrinker] for ages until we were recording [Be Here Now] at Ridge Farm, and Owen was playing loads of old stuff. He put it on through the big speakers and it sounded fucking ace. It still sounds good to this day, I love that track. And, it’s really short. I think that was the choice of the band as opposed to the people.’ (Gallagher, quoted in NME)

The Masterplan
“That’s my favourite song I have ever written I think. I wrote that one in an hotel room in Japan and again it was that we needed some more songs for B-sides. (Gallagher, quoted in Melody Maker)
I was really fucking proud of it and I still am. It’s everybody’s favourite B-side. I think it’s the best song I’ve ever written. But I was gutted because Our Kid – who loves it, it’s one of his favourites – but he was just walking around going, ‘You fucking knobhead! Why did you write that now? Why couldn’t you have waited for a year so it could go on the next album? Or why didn’t you write it for the last album, you fucking dick!’ And he works himself up into a frenzy where he hates me for writing this great song at that particular point. And I’m going, ‘So basically what you’re saying is you love me and it’s a great song?’ ‘Yeah! You fucking knobhead!’” (Gallagher, quoted in NME)
I remember just sitting down with the guitar when it wasn’t really much happening. Sort of a quiet night, maybe really early in the morning. I swear the things just came out. I like the sound of it. I like everybody’s playing on it. I like the singing as well. I don’t know why Liam didn’t sing that one. I love all the lyrics on that one. I think it’s the most complete sing I ever done in the studio. I don’t like playing the guitar solos on tour anymore; I used to like it at first but I don’t like it anymore cos I used to play the same thing sort of over and over on a different melody. It sounds different but it is the same. Owen suggested that we turn the tapes over and play it backwards and play just some series of random notes and then we’ll see if we could get some sort of solo out of it. We thought it was going to take hours. When we turned the tapes back over, that was it. And I think we maybe had to take a couple of notes out.”
“And then we spent a couple of days on the strings and the brass and then just got the intro and you know put them on the side of it and that was it. That is everybody’s favourite song I think. All the fans that used to surround the band was always going ‘You got to save that for the next album.’ But the next album was like two years away at that point. I don’t mind thinking of it as being a B-side. I guess the masterplan was to be the biggest band in the world and we probably were for a good year period… And then it sort of levelled off since then. Which is climax and taking a bit of the heat off really. The first line, ‘Take the time to make some sense of what you want to say’, that’s probably me sitting down thinking about what I want to say I think, but that’s a good line and then, ‘Cast your words upon the waves’, means the air waves. I suppose it’s about people’s fear of growing old… Well you know, all we know is that we don’t know. You know if you wanna dance, dance. If you don’t, don’t. I suppose it’s saying that there is no masterplan.” (Gallagher, quoted in Melody Maker)

Source: Oasis Recording Info