Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Riverman (2015)

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Noel Gallagher’s latest solo album begins with a brutal edit into lo-fi studio ambience, and then a count-in: exactly the way “Taxman,” the first track from the Beatles’ Revolver, begins. So, in case you were wondering, Gallagher demonstrates straight away that he hasn’t moved on one centimetre in the past 20 years. This is the first track of the disastrous Chasing Yesterday Tomorrow, and “Riverman” is the name of the song. It is, of course, being a Noel “song,” not an original title/idea/thought. Nick Drake had the title originally; it’s a song from his 1969 debut album Five Leaves Left. But Drake’s “River Man” is built on unusual time signatures, subtle orchestration and a mantric, mystical, spare lyric. It is a masterpiece, whereas, with its “Wonderwall” chords and “baggy” shuffle beat (or what Steve Albini refers to quite excellently as “The Little British Drumbeat”), Noel’s “Riverman” falls mightily short of being a masterpiece. This ain’t no ballad. It’s a bollard. As if all this weren’t bad enough, Noel has felt duty-bound to “write” some lyrics over his rotten stew and duly invokes the first line of George Harrison’s “Something” to get the old Gallagher blunderbuss lyric method a-rolling. Somehow, Noel manages to come up with 11 lines of hard-won doggerel, concluding with “I waited in the rain, my feet too wet to stand in… but somewhere in the crowd she heard me jingle-jangling.” Noel Gallagher is 47, far too old to be “jingle-jangling” in the crowd. Indeed, whilst taking up the challenge to actually sit through Yesterday’s Chase for Tomorrow I am reduced to letting out audible groans, whimpers of “Jesus Christ” and “Noel, you poor sod” after something called “The Girl With X-Ray Eyes.” (Sample lyric: “Going nowhere down the hill is hard to swallow like the pill/that was twisted on your tongue by the sea that was standing still.”) [Source]

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