Topping a blockbuster is never easy and a poor-selling follow-up can end a band’s carrier, just as fast as it started. Very few artists manage to dwarf a breakout international smash hit with an even bigger follow-up, but Oasis made it seem easy. (What’s the story) Morning Glory? sounds like the effort of a band that has absolutely nothing to worry about. Songs flow and fit together. Melodies are memorable and get “stuck” in your head, without becoming irritating. “Morning Glory” proves that the old School British Invasion of guitar-based Rock and Roll bands hadn't ended.
“Brit pop” is a media-invented term for the edgy style of UK guitar-driven bands that dominated the charts in the mid-’90s. Naturally, Brit pop bands have stylistic differences, but all share influence from British guitar-driven hit makers that came before. Brit Pop sounds like a patchwork of styles from original British invasion and Mod bands through post-punk, alternative, and art-house bands. Brit pop bands unapologetically embrace success, optimistic themes-something 90’s U.K Shoegaze bands and American Grunge/Alt-rock bands famously shunned. The Epicenter of Brit Pop is the Manchester area in northern England which the highly influential 80s band “The Smiths” called home. “Britpop” bands also share an outspoken rivalry with everyone.
(What’s the story) Morning Glory? represents the high-water mark of the Britpop era, musically, and commercially. The album came out in October of 95, going straight to No.1, remaining in the top 3 for an amazing 7 months. “Morning Glory” sold amazingly well internationally, reaching the top 5 in 30 countries, achieving 16x Platinum in the UK, and 4x platinum in the USA, ultimately selling over 16 million copies worldwide. Critics panned it. Fans loved it. Sales broke records.
After the massive success of the debut “Defiantly Maybe” Oasis sat at the edge of becoming the world’s biggest “Alternative Rock” band in the world. “Morning Glory” was written and recorded in only 15 days at Rockfield Studios (where Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” was created). Aside from the generally optimistic sound of “Brit-pop,” the whole album sounds energized. The combination of recording fresh material and being limbered up from spending the previous two years on tour added life to each track. Oasis was in top form, and they knew it.
(What’s the story) Morning Glory? was recorded all together, just like a live performance. There are overdubs, but the basic tracks are as close to “live” as possible. Guitar tones have a massive sonic footprint that sounds “loud” no matter what level you listen to the playback. That’s probably because Oasis recorded the guitar amps as if they were playing at a football stadium, and it shows. Cranked amps have a tone that just can’t be faked at lower volumes. Somehow, the grinding wall of guitars serves to heighten the excitement, instead of burying the catchy vocal melodies.
The modified vintage 1960 Gibson Les Paul used by Noel Gallagher had quite a pedigree: Once owned by Joe Walsh, who sold it to Pete Townshend (who smashed and modified it, then sold it to Johnny Marr). Marr used it with “The Smiths”, then gifted it to Noel Gallagher (who had it modified again after brother Liam smashed up good, for the 2nd time). Fellow Manchester guitarist Johnny Marr also provided the 1965 Strat and Black 1980s Les Paul custom that Noel used on “Morning Goly”. Marr playfully noted the 80s Les Paul custom’s extra weight will make a better weapon than the vintage 1960 example that Liam Gallagher nearly erased from history, in a fit of rage.
Most of the heavy lifting on Morning Glory was done with a variety of Epiphone Acoustic and Electric Guitars. Noel’s Epiphone EJ-200, Sheraton, and Riviera were made in Japan, not Gibson’s custom shop. 25 years after its release, guitars still want to emulate the guitar tones heard on “Moring Glory”. That should settle any lingering debate over whether or not Epiphone is a professional-level guitar.
Noel Gallagher’s live rig (seen right before and immediately after the “Moring Glory” sessions) seems like a page torn from a list of coveted 1960’s British Amps. The Rockfield Studios manifest backs up: A Vintage Vox AC-30, Orange AD-120, Marshall “Blues breaker” combo, Marshall half stack, and WEM dominator. Most of the time they are dimmed, (wide open volume on “10”) and pushed to the boiling point.
Morning Glory's sound is mostly built around strong, memorable melodies, aggressive electric guitars, natural-sounding acoustic guitars, and piano. However, some clever use of effects runs throughout the album, starting with the opening notes.
The opening track “Hello” begins with acoustic guitar strumming changes that foreshadow “Wonderwall” and is interrupted by the controlled scream of an Epiphone Sheridan spitting out tonal feedback. A classic Chrome top Vox Wah (the V847) adds color and reoccurs all over Morning Glory.
Distorted and snotty “pushed to the edge” guitar amp tones are constant throughout the album. Noel frequently engages the Ibanez Tube Screamer “TS-9” whenever he feels the need for a boost. Possibly most evident in the opening riff to “Some might say”.