Photo Credit: Greg Williams
Liam Gallagher’s solo work, – c’mon, you know the guy who was once voted “The Greatest Frontman of All Time” in a reader poll by Q Magazine only weeks before host Peter Kay called him a “knobhead” during the 2010 Brit Awards after throwing away his award for “best album of the past 30 years” to the crowd – actually keeps getting better. On C’mon You Know, his third solo album (fifth if you include his work with Beady Eye), the ex-Oasis singer hires Foo Fighter’s Dave Grohl and Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koening for songwriting assistance to help him touch on numerous styles while approaching them in his own arrogant way.
There is some of the good old familiar Beatles-influenced stuff – you really don’t have to think for long until you realize where the drum beats on “Better Days” comes from – but more interestingly, Liam is more preoccupied with “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”-like gospel choirs (“More Power”, “C’mon You Know”), dirty proto-punk turned reggae (“I’m Free”), chamber folk (“Moscow Rules”, co-written by Ezra) and even Americana (“World’s In Need”).
The genre-bending explorations are interesting but often flawed, as his John Lennon-meets-Johnny Rotten way of singing fails to carry for example the larger-than-life visions of “More Power” and “Oh Sweet Children”, or the emotional “Too Good for Giving Up.” His snarling delivery still sounds great aged 49, though, and the stuff that sounds as if it could have been on Definitely Maybe keeps the record above the surface. The previously mentioned “Tomorrow Never Knows”-beat of “Better Days” is strong enough to create magic even 55 years later.
The Dave Grohl co-written track “Everything’s Electric” with its catchy, hard-rocking chorus featuring likable acoustic elements deservingly boosted C’mon You Know to the top of the UK album charts. In fact, the song ranks up there with some of the best Oasis stuff. There are a few more future festival favorites here, such as the blood-rushing, gospel-tinged title track (“I’m sick of acting like I’m tough // C’mon baby, giz a hug”) and “I’m Free”, which opens almost like a mid-’60s Sonics or Pretty Things tune.
In previous solo work by the infamous troublemaking Gallagher brothers, it often sounded as if Liam and Noel competed against each other about who could pull off the strongest Oasis tribute. C’mon You Know marks a curious step towards the unknown for Liam, and though it doesn’t always hit the mark, it makes for one of the most exciting ex-Oasis creations from any of the two. Unfortunately, it is Liam’s constantly pissed-off delivery – which consolidates even the most tender moments – rather than the songwriting itself that prevents this album from being a bona fide success, and I wonder if such an inveterate singer will ever be able to change that. Now imagine how good things could turn out if the Gallaghers finally buried their battle-axes, put their collective legendary minds together, and release an album together again.