Of all the many lead singers that the Britpop era gave us, perhaps Liam Gallagher was the most gifted at swearing. And coat-wearing.
Opinion may remain split as to Liam’s many other achievements, with critics pointing out for every “Rock ‘n Roll Star” or “Wonderwall” there’s an entire Beady Eye album. But credit where credit is due. Thanks in part to Oasis, we no longer have to listen to grunge.
Twenty-five years on from Britpop and buoyed by the success of his second solo album, Gallagher’s record company has made a bold move to improve the mood of a fed-up Lockdown Britain.
And, in an extraordinary turn up for the books, they have failed miserably.
Gallagher’s “Why Me? Why Not”, released in 2019, reached the number one position in the U.K. album charts, and is widely heralded as his best post-Oasis work. It has thus rightly been rewarded with the modern day equivalent of, what in Roman times would have been a laurel wreath. No, not a Grammy, don’t be ridiculous. Not while *checks notes* Cage The Elephant continue their ceaseless domination of the rock world. Instead, the album receives a more commercial prospect: a Super Deluxe Edition.
Although the new edition does not come with many bonus extras – it doesn’t even restore the missing question mark from the title – it does present the LP in a new way. One which highlights and celebrates the best qualities of the vinyl format. Namely, its high price and inconvenience of use.
The new £140 version of Gallagher’s album (yes, that’s one hundred and forty English pounds for one album of songs) is split into fourteen one-sided white vinyl singles each containing a single track from the album. As such, lucky listeners will have to get up from their bean bag thirteen times in order to listen all the way through. Some critics, although not this one of course, would suggest this is not a record you would want too much inconvenience to get in between the songs and the listener. There’s only so much discouragement people can deal with.
However, it appears that being played is not the main purpose of this edition, rather it is a side-effect – an optional extra. Because instead of an interesting out-take or new song or remix as is traditionally seen on b-sides of records, especially in expensive and lavish super deluxe editions, the team at Warner have bravely cast aside the old fashioned tradition of using both sides of a record to have music on. Instead of such dated ideas, which after all fell into disuse with the launch of the CD, and which would presumably take additional effort, every b-side on each 7” record simply contains a screen print of Liam Gallagher’s lovely face.
The whole package is pretty if you like that sort of thing, but awkward to handle in practice and only really fulfilling half of its potential. In many ways, the box set is the perfect representation of the singer.
The technique required to produce the screen printing is new and in that respect no doubt the merchandising team at Warner are giving themselves lots of virtual pats on the back on their morning Zoom video conference meetings.
But none of this will diminish the nagging feeling this edition is the Franklin Mint Liam Gallagher Commemorative Plate Series of Record Collecting. It’s 2020’s version of decorative collectible nick-nacks to be hung on a wall, and sold through QVC, presented by Anthea Turner.
It is arguably a new low in the production of nonsense, destined for the house clearance market when the owner eventually dies, alone, surrounded only by their plates and china ornaments and perhaps a dog, chewing on their toes.
It’s certainly not the sort of thing you would expect from a Rock n Roll Star, until you remember fairground prizes in the seventies would always include an Elvis commemorative mirror.
The oil price is currently low, but is this the best use we have for scarce, compressed dinosaur remains? What would diplodocus have thought, as it drew it’s last breath in the swamp, had it been told some 80 million years later its remains would be compressed into black gold, only to be pumped out of the ground and made into a commemorative screen printed Lady Di plate-like souvenir.
With Liam Gallagher’s face on it.
Not even Diana’s.
Why Me? sings Liam. Why Not? he answers, sans question mark.
Why not indeed? Why not have your album made into a Franklin Mint Commemorative Plate style set of records? Well, you can probably think of plenty of reasons.
It blocks up scarce pressing plant capacity which has resulted in physical copies of albums being routinely released months after the actual release (see Laura Marling, Fleet Foxes etc).
It’s needless and wasteful and certainly won’t enhance Warner’s ESG (environmental, social, governance) credentials.
But the biggest reason, for what it’s worth, is that Liam is neither Princess Diana nor a cute woodland creature that old ladies like to see on their walls. He’s better than a small woodland creature. Or even a medium sized one. He’s a rock n roll star. And rock n roll stars don’t belong on records that resemble Franklin Mint plates. Instead they should be smashing them up, in hotel rooms, alongside the TV set. Do you know what I mean?