In the tradition of The Smiths, The Small Faces, and The Beatles, Oasis often save their best songs for the B-sides of their European singles. Since 1994, completists like myself have been forced to fork over $10 a pop for each new Oasis single, sporting an album track and 3 exclusive songs. Thus, most American fans have missed out on some of the band’s best material. In an attempt to rectify the situation, The Masterplan compiles 14 Oasis B-sides, as chosen by Oasis fans across the world through the band’s web site.
Long-time concert favorites such as the stomp rock of “Acquiesce,” featuring the usual snarling Liam Gallagher lead on the verse and Noel Gallagher’s mellower voice on the chorus, and the majestic “The Masterplan” with full orchestra that recalls Elton John’s “Madman Across The Water” are high points on the “new” album. Noel’s less polished, but always sincere and affecting voice graces many of the songs herein, as in the vulnerable “Talk Tonight” and the extremely Bacharach-esque “Going Nowhere.” Also, included is their live version of “I Am The Walrus.” Trust me, Oasis is one of the few bands on the planet that can carry off this song convincingly, as Liam has Lennon’s ironic swagger down pat and the band is totally up to the psychedelic theatricality of the tune. The only song selection I really question is “The Swamp Song,” a rather mediocre instrumental. That’s a glaring inclusion when American fans are missing out on “Round Are Way,” a B-side of “Wonderwall” that is reminiscent of The Beatles’ “Got To Get You Into My Life” and “Whatever,” an A-side, but unavailable on any of the group’s albums.
Often unfairly labelled as mere Beatle copyists, Oasis have produced some of the best rock songs of the 1990s, some like “Wonderwall” and “Live Forever” are destined to be standards for years. Like their heroes (The Beatles and The Small Faces), Oasis rarely record a throw-away song, while many bands are content with populating their B-sides with dodgy live tracks and cast-offs.