Posted in Listed

Favourite Distant (Re)Discoveries 2021

5. Ela Minus – they told us it was hard, but they were wrong (Song): Originally I had this all teed up to be in my top 10 songs of the year then discovered it came out in 2020. This has all the good things we appreciate in a dance track – dark, moody, mysterious, atmospheric, incessant beat, buried vocals, etc. The Brooklyn based Colombian, knocked us out with one of our favourite tracks that we heard in 2021.

4. The Tragically Hip – Saskadelphia (EP):  Growing up as a teenager in Canada in the early 90s it was practically a prerequisite to like The Tragically Hip. They are not a band I normally put on the stereo as their music is ubiquitous around these parts but when they released this EP of music recorded around the time of the Road Apples album, I was all in. I didn’t realize how much I wanted to hear them until I did. Another great entry into their legacy and hopefully not the last.

3. Limp Bizkit – Break Stuff (Live at Lollapalooza 2021) (Song) :  I was never a Limp Bizkit fan, not even as a guilty pleasure. This video appeared soon after the heavy handed Woodstock 99 documentary that cast the band as having ruined the hippie esthetic. Looking like your dad (if he was one of the Beastie Boys), singer Fred Durst was in fine form by making fun of the documentary before tearing up the crowd. The music seems better with humour and nostalgia than it did in the late 90s as a lifestyle.

2. Oasis – Knebworth 1996 (2CD + Documentary):  25 years on from the legendary Knebworth weekend; the band released a documentary, concert films of both nights, and an album. Mainly featuring tracks from the first two albums + B-sides, the performance catches the band at their peak. The documentary starts off a bit slow but continues to build with each song with one highlight being John Squire joining the lads for a guitar solo on “Champagne Supernova”. Acting in stark contrast to the Woodstock 99 doc, this was all peace and love with plenty of cigarettes and alcohol.

1. The Beatles – Let It Be/Get Back (2CD edition + Documentary) – One of the most anticipated releases of the year was Peter Jackson’s extraordinary Get Back documentary on The Beatles making of the Let It Be album and sessions leading up to the famous rooftop concert. Remarkable to see classic songs written in just a few weeks with the highlight being Paul McCartney creating “Get Back” on the spot. While the Let It Be album is the lesser of the last few releases by the band, the second disc of alternative takes were helluva lot of fun to listen to and explore. Much more to be heard for those willing to spend the extra cash on the super deluxe edition.

Posted in Album Reviews

Oasis – Knebworth 1996 (2CD + DVD Edition) (2021)

Oasis - Knebworth 1996 [Blu-ray]

Music documentaries was a crowded marketplace in 2021.  The most anticipated being Peter Jackson’s magnificent reworking of The Beatles Let It Be documentary, Get Back.  The Velvet Underground and Sparks both had well received screen time.  Bill Simmons introduced his Music Box series with Woodstock ’99 that detailed the lack of peace and love that thousands of Nu Metal fans inflicted on the festival.

In November, an antidote to all the critics bemoaning the state of youth culture in the Woodstock doc came out as nostalgia hit the mid-90s with the 25 year anniversary of Oasis’ famous Knebworth gigs. In 1996, 250,000 fans gathered in a field to celebrate one of the peak happenings of the Britpop era. The first two discs on this edition captures the setlist in order, mixing in recordings on both nights. It’s an astonishing run through the hits, album tracks, and B-sides taken mostly from the first two Oasis albums.

Opener “Columbia” catches the band in full rock and roll psychedelia before a guitar scrawl announces the arrival of could have been single, “Acquiesce”. Noel Gallagher implores the crowd to jump as the band launches into the previous year’s number two single, “Roll With It”. An impassioned version of Definitely Maybe’s classic album track “Slide Away” sees Liam Gallagher add vulnerability while mixing a punk snarl with a rock n roll stance.

Having been released as singles within the year, “Wonderwall” and a harder rock version of “Don’t Look Back in Anger” are treated as pop songs vs the reverential treatment they would receive in later years. Sandwiched between the two tracks, is classic B-side “The Masterplan” with harmonica accompaniment that nearly eclipses its more famous ballad song mates. In a quirk of timing, the band debuts two new songs towards the end of the concert from the Be Here Now album that would be released a year later. John Squire adds a massive guitar solo to “Champagne Supernova” before the band closes with their cover of The Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus”. 

The Knebworth shows catch the band at their apex of the Mach II line-up with Guigsy on bass, Bonehead on guitar and Alan White on drums. As Noel later describes, Liam is at the peak of his powers in both voice and fashion. What the band delivers over and over again across the two discs is the sound of youth culture – being on the dole, drinking, listening to music, living your life, and living forever.  This line-up would carry on for one more album but it was never quite the same after Knebworth for both the band and its fans.

The DVD documentary of the weekend mixes in fans speaking of their experiences along with the concert performances.  The stories are interesting but may not hold up to repeated listening.  For many fans that were not there, it will be easy to see their own stories told on the screen.  One particular highlight being the lad that asks Liam for his tambourine half way through the show, then Liam finding him at the end to give it to him. 

While in the voiceovers, Noel is in full curmudgeon mode, that moment is a reminder of what the band meant to its fans and the love that poured back and forth. The young faces in the crowd singing every word back to the band with many dancing with abandon, looking more like a rave than a rock concert.  It’s a wonderful document that cements Knebworth 1996 back to a time that no longer exists.