Of the many alt-rock movements that occurred during the ’90s, few produced as many incredibly memorable and perfect singles as the Britpop invasion. Blur, Pulp, Suede and Oasis (and to a lesser extent Gene, Elastica and Ash) were releasing single upon wonderful single, creating a stylish counterpart to America’s more aggressive grunge acts of the day. Though many of these bands didn’t hit quite as big in the States as they did in the UK, the impact was still felt pretty strongly, particularly by the biggest act of the bunch, Oasis. Yet, while Blur, Pulp and Suede have already seen the release of their own singles compilations (which, you’ll find, are all great listens), Oasis has gone without a proper one until now. Stop the Clocks, released just in time for the holidays, collects the band’s hits throughout the band’s career, from their early Definitely Maybe gems to recent singles off of Don’t Believe The Truth, putting on display the band’s uncanny knack for cranking out a hit, or in this case, 18.
Stop the Clocks is sequenced out of chronological order, sidling newer, lesser hits next to the classics. While there’s no problem with this, per se, it does show that when songs like “Lyla” or “The Importance of Being Idle” are placed alongside “Wonderwall,” they not only pale in comparison, they’re practically transparent. This is merely because of how awesome those early singles are, of course. The Gallagher brothers clearly understood this when selecting the tracks, picking a vast majority of the songs from the era of their first two albums. Five of these 18 songs come plucked from Definitely Maybe, another five from (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, and another four are b-sides from those two albums’ singles, though “Acquiesce” was eventually re-released, rightfully, as its own a-side. That leaves four tracks to divide between four more albums, Don’t Believe The Truth represented by two tracks, leaving Heathen Chemistry and Standing on the Shoulder of Giants each with one track and Be Here Now, unfortunately, left out of the party completely.
In regards to Be Here Now‘s exclusion, it’s not necessarily a tragedy. Though it had some good singles, primarily “D’You Know What I Mean,” it still doesn’t touch those first two. That said, it’s far more interesting than most of what came afterward. In any case, we’ll have to make due with the material at hand, which is, for the most part, essential listening. For starters, there are the band’s enormous hits like “Live Forever,” “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” “Champagne Supernova” and “Wonderwall,” each of which finds the band at the top of their game and at their most universal. Then, there are the lesser hits, like “Supersonic,” “Slide Away,” “Morning Glory” and “Rock `n’ Roll Star,” which are all just as good as the bigger hits, maybe even better. Personally, I find “Supersonic” and “Slide Away” to be two of the best songs Oasis ever recorded. The b-sides, as well, such as “Talk Tonight” and particularly “Acquiesce,” wrap the package up neatly. And though not all of their later singles are quite as impressive, I can’t help but enjoy “Go Let It Out,” a single that certainly isn’t among the band’s most celebrated, but a highlight nonetheless.
Though it only makes sense for Oasis to have released a greatest hits collection at this point in time, Noel Gallagher has said in the past that one would only come out when the band called it quits. Clearly, that’s not the case here, but rather a contractual obligation record that offers something cohesive and enjoyable. No matter what the motivation, it’s certainly not a bad set of songs collected here, and a reminder of the greatness that the band was and may be capable of again.
Oasis – The Masterplan
Suede – Singles
Blur – The Best of Blur
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.