Few British bands can lay claim to such widespread popularity in the same way that Oasis can. From humble beginnings in Manchester, the laddish outfit spearheaded the Britpop movement of the ‘90s, inevitably taking them into superstar status. Their first two albums still stand as some of the best music of the decade, garnering critical adulation as well as monumental commercial success in the UK.
But all good things, as they say, must come to an end. Oasis were no different. Their much publicized split in 2009 heralded a new beginning for brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher, as the two went their separate ways. The warring brothers have partaken in projects since, but 2017 has a special feel to it for the sparring siblings. Both are set to release albums later this year, in what will no doubt be fiercely debated among Oasis fans as to who won the battle of the brothers.
But who’s likely to come out on top when all is said and done? Well, join us as we dig deep into what makes each brother so unique to their fans, with our head-to-head breakdown of their most valuable assets. You’ll be mad fer it!
As the overall songwriter for Oasis, Noel’s ability speaks for itself. His knack for creating anthemic hits is second to none, reinvigorating British rock music in the ‘90s with his big, bold compositions. The older Gallagher created two landmark records in Definitely Maybe and (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? which back to front, are still two of the best rock albums in modern times. Whether it’s a spine-tingling ballad like “Cast No Shadow,” or an arena rocker like “My Big Mouth” – Noel can adapt his approach so effortlessly that it’s hard not to be impressed. Unfortunately, their following material was patchy for the most part, but his legacy was already cemented by the time the third LP Be Here Now was even released. And with a successful solo career currently on the go, Noel’s not finished just yet.
Meanwhile, Liam was never really a key player in the songwriting process. Sure, he penned songs such as “I’m Outta Time,” “The Meaning of Soul,” and “Born on a Different Cloud,” but they aren’t on the same level as say a “Supersonic” or a “Wonderwall.” Perhaps his crowning songwriting achievement sits with the stunning Heathen Chemistry single “Songbird” – a truly delicate, Lennon-inspired floater that ascends into the heavens, and stays there for the whole of the song’s snappy duration. However, it doesn’t come so natural to him, which could explain the decision to use a collaborator to pen his upcoming material. Winner: Noel Gallagher
While Noel can certainly provide the goods on vocal duties – such as he does on “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” Little By Little,” and “Talk Tonight” – his voice doesn’t have the same power as his younger brother’s. His vocal tone is quite one-dimensional and not as malleable as Liam’s, and it shows when the two are singing together. However, by the same token, it does have a softer quality than Liam’s, perfectly fitting Oasis’ gentler tracks. And with his solo work, he can write specifically with his voice in mind, instead of writing tracks for someone else to sing. As he continues to progress forward on his own, his voice is only likely to get better and more distinguished.
Most would concur that Liam’s voice was one of the key components in the Oasis sound. What started off as a clean, unbroken voice, turned into a cracked, gravelly one on later releases. But the outspoken frontman makes it work either way, which is a credit to his expressive vocal chops. He sings with uninhibited confidence on earlier Oasis songs like “Shakermaker,” “Live Forever,” and the rousing anthem “Columbia.” However, with time (and probably many cigarettes) his voice mutated into one that snarls with attitude on tracks like “Go Let It Out,” “The Hindu Times,” and the brain-melting corker “The Meaning of Soul.” Liam has a way of delivering the lines in such a believable fashion, that it improves any track he’s on tenfold. Winner: Liam Gallagher
Thanks to Noel’s intimate knowledge of his songs, the singer/songwriter can change and adapt his own compositions on the fly. This useful ability becomes even more evident when in a live setting, because he can alter the arrangements to create some special and unpredictable moments. For example, his stripped down live renditions of “Don’t Look Back in Anger” and “Wonderwall” are extremely effective. This, along with his stunning guitar mastery, makes Noel a powerful live performer. He may not be the flashiest musician, but with tracks like “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” and “Champagne Supernova” in his back pocket, he doesn’t need to be.
Not many lead singers can command the crowd’s attention by simply being on stage, but Liam is one of them. His stage presence alone is enough to send fans into a frenzy, but he can also back it up vocally too. He practically brawls with the microphone, walking up to it like he’s gearing up for a fight, before bombarding it with heavy vocal bombs. He bounces up and down, struts around, calls out audience members – basically, he’s the epitome of rock ‘n’ roll when in a live setting. Even though his voice isn’t what it once was, Liam’s confidence almost makes you second guess yourself. However, it remains to be seen whether he can carry a show on his own in the same way that Noel can. Winner: Noel Gallagher
Noel is in some ways the stereotypical songwriter. He has all of the musical gifts in the world, but he doesn’t have that magnetic rock star aura that his younger brother so effortlessly exudes. His understated appearance, mixed with his unassuming stage presence, makes the older Gallagher somewhat of a rarity in music – a performer who doesn’t focus on their image, but rather lets the music speak for itself. However, when compared to his brash, appearance-conscious brother, Noel sticks out like a sore thumb. Sorry Noel – even the sunglasses can’t save you on this one.
Liam, on the other hand, oozes rock star bravado. His swagger, his look, and his unfiltered personality were all legitimate factors in the band’s success. Noel himself even admits that Liam is a far superior frontman, and indeed, most would tend to agree. His confrontational attitude also helped set Oasis apart from some of the more vanilla bands of the time – a fearlessness that is still lacking in a lot of rock music today. Make no mistake about it – Liam is one of the most charismatic British singers to ever hit the stage. Winner: Liam Gallagher
Noel was always expected to be the prolific Gallagher after Oasis split, and for the most part that was certainly the case. His first solo outing as Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds bore the fruits of his self-titled debut album in 2011. Clearly still in Oasis mode, the record is a solid one even if it doesn’t reinvent the wheel. His follow-up, however, was much more reflective of where the singer/songwriter was going. Entitled Chasing Yesterday, Noel delves into psychedelic pop tropes, merged with a modern dance music production. It’s indeed a much more ambitious attempt, and finally proved that he can adapt with the ever-changing times.
After Oasis disintegrated, Liam rounded up the ex-band members to form the 60’s-throwback group Beady Eye. Diving headfirst into a classic rock ‘n’ roll sound, Liam got to show his Beatles and Rolling Stones influence far more than previously. Their first output was the highly underrated Different Gear, Still Speeding – an album which features some top notch stuff like the Led Zeppelin-esque barnstormer “Four Letter Word,” the no-nonsense battering ram “Beatles and Stones,” and the short but very sweet “For Anyone.” However, the group’s second and final album BE, was the sound of a weathered and unfocused troupe. Even Dave Sitek’s lush production couldn’t polish this one up to the standard set by Different Gear, Still Speeding. One year later, the group had disbanded. Winner: Noel Gallagher
New Material Anticipation
No new material has surfaced from the Noel camp yet, but we do know some details regarding its release. It’s slated to drop on November 9, and has been written and recorded entirely in studio, marking a departure from Noel’s usual approach to songwriting. Speaking to Gigwise, producer of the currently untitled LP David Holmes said: “People are going to be surprised. I think people love Noel and they’re desperate for him to make a really big, bold, uptempo beast of a record – a lot of Noel’s music is quite mid-tempo. This one is quite fun.” Fingers crossed!
Meanwhile, Liam’s first solo single was dropped at the tail-end of last month, and you know what – it’s an absolute cracker. Entitled “Wall of Glass,” the track is a bluesy banger from start to finish, with Liam sounding better than he has for quite some time. Throw in a wailing distorted harmonica, infectious backing vocals, a pounding drumbeat, and some reverb-drenched guitar lines, and you’ve got a huge summer hit on the cards. Let’s hope the rest of his debut album As You Were follows in the same vein, because if it does, Liam may very well edge out his brother in 2017. Winner: Liam Gallagher
So there you have it – it’s a tie at 3-3. This one’s way too close to call all things considered, which is why most Oasis fans are split down the middle too. Both Gallagher brothers possess different qualities, and it really comes down to personal preference in the end. It demonstrates just what a powerful force Liam and Noel were together in Oasis, and why they were so popular to begin with.
Almost 25 years after their debut album, the Gallagher brothers are still as entrenched in their music as ever. Who knows if Oasis will ever reform, and if the two can ever put their differences aside. Only time will tell how their storied relationship will play out, but for now, this is one sibling rivalry that shows no signs of slowing down.