Oasis

The Masterplan

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For American audiences, the phenomenal worldwide success of Oasis was a little puzzling. That's because they only had part of the picture -- unless they were hardcore fans, they didn't hear nearly three albums of material released on B-sides and non-LP singles. Critics and fans alike claimed that the best of these B-sides were as strong as the best moments on the albums, and they were right. None of the albums had a song that rocked as hard as "Fade Away" (cleverly built on a stolen melody from Wham!'s "Freedom"), "Headshrinker," or "Acquiesce." There was nothing as charming as the lite psychedelic pastiche "Underneath the Sky" or the Bacharach tribute "Going Nowhere"; there was nothing as affecting as Noel Gallagher's acoustic plea "Talk Tonight" or the minor-key, McCartney-esque "Rockin' Chair," nothing as epic as "The Masterplan." Most bands wouldn't throw songs of this caliber away on B-sides, but Noel Gallagher followed the example of his heroes the Jam and the Smiths, who released singles where the B-sides rivaled the A-sides. This meant many American fans missed these songs, so to remedy this situation, Oasis released the B-sides compilation The Masterplan. Oasis unfortunately chose to opt for a single disc of highlights instead of a complete double-disc set, which means a wealth of great songs -- "Take Me Away," "Whatever," "D'Yer Wanna Be a Spaceman?," "Round Are Way," "It's Better People," "Step Out," a raging cover of "Cum on Feel the Noize" -- are missing. But The Masterplan winds up quite enjoyable anyway. Apart from the sludgy instrumental "The Swamp Song," there isn't a weak track here, and the brilliant moments are essential not only for Oasis fans, but any casual follower of Britpop or post-grunge rock & roll.

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