This week’s pick goes a bit back to 2019 and the second solo album from Oasis’ cantankerous former frontman. Liam Gallagher had returned in 2017 after a hiatus and was an in-fashion hero for a crowd now well engaged in Britpop nostalgia. His first album was an unexpected success, could he keep it up?
Also, as a note – I had totally forgotten that brother Noel was releasing a record last Friday when I decided to pick this Liam album for AotW. Or maybe I did it subconsciously, I don’t know. Either way, here it is.
Liam Gallagher – Why Me? Why Not.
Released September 20, 2019 via Warner Records
My Favorite Tracks – Once, Shockwave, The River
After the explosive break-up of Oasis in 2009, Noel Gallagher launched straight into a successful solo career while Liam and the rest of Oasis fell short with their Beady Eye project. Liam returned to the scene in 2017 with his solo debut As You Were, absolutely defying skeptics by picking up a UK number one and taking high spots on charts all across the world. The table was set for a knockout follow-up.
Liam has crafted his solo albums with the collaborative help of many musicians. While Liam’s own lack of songwriting has been a criticism of him from some circles, it is fairly standard business in the music industry so I don’t see the issue.
The actual writing, performing and production credits for the album are far too extensive to go over here. Two primary contributors were Greg Kurstin and Andrew Wyatt, both of whom have very impressive music resumes. Both would shape the bulk of the album’s songs as well as produce a majority of things.
As for the album’s name, this Radio X article tells the story – the name is based off two drawings done by John Lennon that Liam had come into possession of. One was a purchase, the other was a gift from Yoko Ono.
The standard release comprises 11 tracks with 39 minutes of listening. There are other versions with different bonus tracks but I have the standard vinyl so that’s what I’ll run down. 3 bonus tracks are available on Spotify’s version of the album.
The opener kicks things off with a barnburner. A little bit of a honky tonk flavor seasons this mid-tempo banger that sees Liam fully embracing his return to the limelight. It’s no secret that Liam is one of rock’s bad boys and he counters his detractors with this excellent song.
One Of Us
Another single release, this song mellows things about a bit and gets into some more melancholy territory. The song is clearly about Liam’s estranged relationship with Noel and is most likely a call to get Oasis back together. The video clip only furthers the concept, using a famous shot of the brothers from the past and updating it to today’s sadder state of affairs. The songs goes out on a bit of a gospel kick which seems a bit odd at first but I’ve gotten used to it.
This was also a single and was the song that really made me truly sit back and pay attention to what I was hearing. This is a sad ballad about the realization that you can’t recapture the magic of years gone by, you really only can do it once. The song might have roots in Liam’s brotherly relationship but the theme is universally applicable.
There are touches of what might be over-production in the song, such as the echoing “once” in the latter part of the song, but small issues don’t derail the magnificence of this track. Now with three albums to his credit, this song is easily the best of Liam’s solo career. The video for this one is also great, it features Manchester United football legend Eric Cantona delivering a magnificent performance.
Now That I’ve Found You
This one moves on to more upbeat territory, it’s a pretty simple yet very effective number. The song does have more serious underpinnings, though – it is about and dedicated to Liam’s daughter Molly, who Liam did not have a relationship with until Molly was 20.
This song is a fast one with a piano-driven focus. On first listen I wasn’t all that into it but after repeat spins this moved up to being a preferred tune. The song is simple and is dedicated to Liam’s fiancee Debbie. It’s a fair bit of fun on an album that has its share of haunting moments.
Why Me? Why Not
The title track is another bit of simple but nice pop and rock. It does see Liam exercising his vocal range a bit more, something he’s been able to start doing again after years of medical issues nearly ruined his voice. This song’s theme is pretty well spelled out in the title – why not Liam?
This one runs with a nice, kind of dirty guitar riff (I would’ve liked a bit more dirty but look at what I normally listen to). The song is a bit of a tribute to Liam’s mother Peggy, who was a guiding force in the Gallagher brothers’ somewhat shambolic early life, and remains so today. This song is another that sees Liam rise up and move on despite the obstacles in his way, a pretty standard theme for his career.
The next track has a very old school, classic song feel. It’s a bit of a departure but it’s nicely done and doesn’t veer so far off that it’s distracting. No telling what it’s about, seems to be one of those “that’s how life is” kind of songs, with the good and bad and all inbetween.
If someone wasn’t aware that Liam was a huge fan of The Beatles, this song will inform of that fact. It’s pretty standard lyric-wise, hold your head up and press through the bullshit. Feels maybe a bit abstract compared to the rest of the album but still a workable song.
This was a single and is another total banger, another hard rock track akin to Shockwave. This time Liam is advising against trusting the way things are going. It’s a very fitting track for the modern day and the dystopian atmosphere around everything. A very nice way to pick up some steam after the last few songs meandered a bit.
The album closes with an epic kind-of ballad featuring some attention-grabbing instrumentation. The song deals with the end of a relationship, no real idea exactly who Liam might be singing about here as he’s had a few end in his day. This one got released as the final single but that was just after the COVID lockdowns started happening so it kind of got lost in that shuffle.
Why Me? Why Not. was another smash success for Liam Gallagher. The album gathered another UK number one and also hit on charts in over 20 other countries, which included 5 other top 5 placements. The album was certified gold in the UK. Just as a wave of Britpop nostalgia was rising up as that group were nearing the 25th anniversaries of their milestone efforts, Liam struck gold as a solo performer.
There wouldn’t be a huge touring cycle for the album due to COVID but some songs were worked into an MTV Unplugged set and also as Liam did a performance while floating down the River Thames in 2020. Regular touring resumed in 2021 and Liam finally went out with these songs as well as working in a number of old Oasis favorites.
Liam Gallagher isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, both musically and personality-wise. But he showcased the ability to step out of his brother’s shadow in his solo career, moving albums and live tickets at a fever pace. Bringing a collection of songs of this caliber certainly didn’t hurt.