No one can accuse Liam Gallagher of not putting the graft in. Once (in)famous for his no-shows, the iconic frontman has now become the definition of reliability, switching between Hampstead Heath runs and jasmine teas to keep his voice in shape. Debut solo album ‘As You Were’ landed with an almighty thump in 2017, swiftly followed by 2019’s ‘Why Me? Why Not.’ and their attendant tours.
Even the pandemic couldn’t stop him. An adventurous floating gig down the Thames seized our imagination, while sessions for his third album reached fruition. Out on May 27th, ‘C’MON YOU KNOW’ isn’t even the sole Liam release that day – he’s also got a further live set coming to vinyl, too.
When Liam Gallagher started his solo career he was arguably the underdog, smarting from the critical treatment Beady Eye received while being mocked in the tabloids. Since then, he’s grabbed back his audience, proving that while brother Noel had the tunes, the heart and soul of Oasis belonged to him.
This frenetic burst of solo activity can’t solely exist in one lane, however, and while those parka-monkey pleasing riffs are in abundance on this new record, ‘C’MON YOU KNOW’ is a curious work of aesthetic evolution. If Liam once mocked the pretensions of his sibling and erstwhile band mate – the scissor-clad Jools Holland appearance, in particular – there are moments on this new album which come peculiarly close to that level of creative posturing.
It actually begins with one of Liam’s more subtle, under-the-radar moments. ‘More Power’ is a tender way of easing the listener into his world, the slow, steady grace of the arrangement carrying hints of – you guessed it – the Beatles. Swapping subtlety for brash, electrifying power, ‘Diamond In The Dark’ is a peacock strut, a blast of feedback-strewn arrogance that bleeds the raw power of rock ‘n’ roll.
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Indeed, the album’s hell-for-leather moments of gung-ho abandon rank are hard to ignore. ‘Everything’s Electric’ for example nabs a riff from the Keith Richards playbook, leaving you feeling as though you’re trapped in front of a jumbo jet while it prepares for take off.
Yet ‘C’MON YOU KNOW’ isn’t just here to roll with it. Liam Gallagher switches between chemical induced abandon and periods of reflection, and this is reflected in the broadening of his sonic palette. The pretty Baroque pop of ‘It Was Not Meant To Be’ recalls 60s heroes such as The Left Banke or The Zombies, while the infectious ‘World’s In Need’ is a fantastic camp-fire sing-along, perfect for those long festival evenings.
At times, this instinct can lead to the odd over-step, though. ‘Moscow Rules’ feels defiantly un-Liam in its intricacy, while the entertainingly bizarre ‘I’m Free’ moves from paranoid monologue – “you’re the sole prisoner taken in the info wars!” – to a roots reggae breakdown powered by Augustus Pablo melodica. If the lyric sheet itself doesn’t reach Dylan-esque levels of poetry, Liam Gallagher’s message of unity and togetherness certainly feels apt in the current climate. A record built to be heard in massive spaces, occupied by massive crowds, it eschews precision in favour of broad statements. That’s perhaps how you can go from the gentle brush of ‘Too Good For Giving Up’ and its McCartney-esque piano chords to ‘Don’t Go Halfway’ and its tale of “a girl she gave me hell / In a flat in Camberwell…” ‘
C’MON YOU KNOW’ is the broadest of Liam Gallagher’s three solo albums, and also the deepest. It’s the one in which he learns to bare his soul a little, and accept different influences. A man who knows his audience – he’s not King Parka Monkey for nothing, y’know – he also gives them a little credit. Ending with the bittersweet early 70s Badfinger meets Robert Wyatt feel of ‘Oh Sweet Children’, the centrepiece is perhaps the majesty ‘Better Days’, and its swirling morass of psychedelic sound. Owing an obvious debt to ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ – constructed by a new LSD soaked Fab Four – it’s the perfect marriage of sonic daring and fan service, its rhythmic kick nestled somewhere between stadium rock and the rush of a night at the Hacienda. Twinkling, lysergic tenderness, it points to heights that this album realises only in part – but what epic heights they remain.
Words: Robin Murray
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