As You Were is Liam Gallagher’s first solo album, comprised of 12 tracks, 15 tracks if you’ve opted for the Deluxe Edition. It has a mixture of co-write credits and different producers across the tracks, but this doesn’t make for an incoherent collection of tunes.
A nice surprise for me, is finding Michael Tighe, formally guitarist of Jeff Buckley’s band among the album credits as a co-write. Production duties are split mostly between Greg Kurstin and Dan Grech-Marguerat, both of whom have a highly impressive history behind the mixing board. For the record, the production sounds great.
The album opens with the debut single Wall Of Glass, a thumping declaration that it’s back to business for Liam G. The track has some great production going on, driven by a huge compressed kick drum at the forefront of the mix and some clean guitar chords signalling the verses in. Second verse in he claims, “the Resurrection’s on”, it’s a great call to arms and a pleasing start to the LP.
The next song, Bold, starts with a nice acoustic guitar strum, hitting some great minor chords in a melancholy haze which then builds into a full band piece. It’s big, it’s confident, the vocals have a lush treatment on the chorus and a repetitive keyboard part adds extra tension to mix.
Greedy Soul has a swanky guitar riff, similar in vein to a speeded up Personal Jesus by Depeche Mode, again the kick drum is right at the front of the mix, pounding away. The vocal has a distorted Iggy- Raw Power quality, dishing out some great little rhymes such as, ”she’s got a six, six, six, I’ve got my crucifix” It’s kinda punk/Stones pastiche.
Paper Crown brings it all back down again, acoustically driven, it displays some tender notes in Gallagher’s vocal range. The repetitive lyric, “ I never wanna be like you”, who could this possibly be aimed at?
Track 5, For What It’s Worth is as Oasis as it gets, with a great personal lyric on Liam’s Love/Hate relationship with the media. An open letter of apology, ageing maturity, acceptance and defiance of who he is. It’s an album highlight for me and is treated the respect it deserves. Lennonesque in delivery, his vocal again reaches some great moments.
When I’m In Need opens with sprinklings of Weezer’s Say It Aint So. When the vocal arrives, it’s a distant lullaby effect. The song starts, the vocal clears up and the influence is clear to see, The Beatles, with harmonies to match, think Because and you’re somewhere there.
The next track You Better Run is similar in vibe to the earlier Greedy Soul and turns into a boisterous romp. A little name checking of The Beatles Helter Skelter in the lyrics, it’s a bit of an album filler for me.
I Get By has a swagger about it that I think will really favour live performance more than it does on here. But its got a great driving bass line and a lot of attitude.
Chinatown, the second single taken off the album, starts off pleasant enough, with great treatment on the drums and a picking guitar line. But it’s his insistence to name check Beatles songs that starts to get at me. Here he references Happiness Is A Warm Gun. Lyric laziness, or just tipping the hat to your biggest influence? I think we all know by now who he wears on his sleeve. But look, with that aside, it’s a great tune with a hooky chorus and a few lyrics to laugh at along the way.
Come Back To Me has a squashed treatment on the vocals, it kicks the album back into gear, sounding a little bit Oasis, a little bit Beatles, sound familiar? Lyric wise, it’s a familiar subject for the former Hell Raiser from Burnage to tackle, “Everyone out there says you’ve been going a bit too hard” evokes images of 90’s excess at London’s Groucho Club, etc.
Universal Gleam brings us Gallagher’s best Lennon impression, think Dear Prudence/Across the Universe with a wide production and a low key beat. Bit of a filler.
The last track I’ve All I Need has a tender start, emerging into a cinematic number, but again, here he name checks the Fab Four with Tomorrow Never Knows and then George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass in the lyrics. It’s a good enough tune, with a great guitar line. In another nod to the Beatles, an attempt at Tomorrow Never Knows seminal cut up technique sound can be heard buried in the mix around 2:50 mins in.
For those fans begging for an Oasis reunion to happen some day soon, this will certainly keep them happy for a while. For me, if he could just lose a little of that obvious homage in his craft, create his own artistic stamp, he may just prove that he doesn’t need Big Brother, Beady Eye or even in time, Oasis. This album showcases both tenderness and aggression in his vocal delivery and exposes that there’s not just one songwriter in the family. A promising starter, lets see where it takes him.