John Harris

Journalist & Author

Liam Gallagher’s Beady Eye: the perfect soundtrack in a grim, uncertain nation? | John Harris

No sniggering; the ex-Oasis singer’s new band feels very 2010

In a week marked by economic disaster, protests across the country, and the onward grind of the cuts agenda, it apparently falls to me to deliver some good news.

No sniggering at the back, please: it involves that great cultural talisman Liam Gallagher, and his new group – or, rather, his old group minus his brother, and with a new, slightly crap name. If you haven’t already heard, the quartet in question are called Beady Eye, and their first two songs are now in the public domain: a free-download A-side titled Bring The Light, and a supporting feature called Sons of the Stage, officially only available on a limited-edition 7-inch single, but now put up on YouTube, so everybody can have a listen. Despite myself, I like them both: whether accidentally or not, they seem to me to chime nicely with the abiding spirit of late 2010, but we’ll come to that in a minute.

As far as the first song is concerned, the revelation hit me last Friday, when I was on my way to the first day of filming for our new Guardian series Anywhere but Westminster. No matter that the Guardian had already previewed Bring the Light to a withering response: a freshly acquired copy of Bring the Light went on the car stereo, and had me and a colleague in fits of delirious laughter. Yes, it had distinct hints of the kind of rudimentary rock’n'roll one associates with, say, Status Quo. Of course, the lyrics were somewhat less than poetic (”I see no point, what you’re thinkin’/I’m goin’ out, I’m takin’ you drinkin’”). But what the hell: with distinct echoes of the Rolling Stones’ Let’s Spend the Night Together, the refreshing absence of Oasis’s old wall-of-sound guitars, and Liam’s standard devil-may-care vocals, we were hooked.

And that B-side! A quick history lesson, if you need it: Sons of the Stage was arguably the best song by a far-flung Mancunian band called World Of Twist, who brimmed with talent, but were crushed by the wheels of the record industry (their singer, Tony Ogden, died suddenly in 2006). The Beady Eye version is largely faithful to the original, but altogether nastier. It has one couplet in particular – “Nothing you can do, cos there is no solution/Got to get down to the noise and confusion” – perfectly suited to the younger Gallagher’s belligerent mewl; and, just maybe, the current condition of the country.

I mean that, I think. In times like these, it strikes me that the ideal role for rock music should be to both embody its time, and simultaneously offer some kind of respite from it. Looking to a 38-year-old multimillionaire with his own clothes range to do that may seem utterly absurd, but what if he – and Beady Eye – can deliver? These two songs hint at the Oasis aesthetic minus the tendency to sentimentality, and with their old menace back in the foreground, which could chime with such a grim, uncertain period; at the same time, the promise is of by-the-book abandon and dumb thrills, which might make people feel that bit better. Simple!

So hats off, I say. One is reminded of a quote from Liam’s estranged brother, with accidental echoes of those scenes in London yesterday: “All the people the kids look up to now are bland, faceless trainee police officers … Liam should be given a knighthood.” He shouldn’t, but I hope you take the point.

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This entry was posted on Friday, November 26th, 2010 at 3:28 am and is filed under Guardian RSS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. « Alan Johnson: enforcer – or mutineer? | John Harris | Frome: Will neoliberalism eat my town? | John Harris and John Domokos »
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