I have never been much of an Oasis fan. In fact, I actively hated them during my teens. That said, I did have the pleasure of seeing them live when I was around sixteen years old, on the last tour they did before disbanding. I was never meant to go. By chance, my dad had accidentally ordered two tickets instead of one, and he intended to flog the second online to get rid of it. I hectored him into letting me tag along though, for no other reason than I wanted to spite my Oasis-loving friend who was seeing them the day after. As I low-key hated him, I thought there would be some wonderful schadenfreude in me – someone who regularly berated him for liking Oasis – seeing his beloved band live before he did. In other words, I was a terrible human being.
By the time their last tour rolled around, Oasis had grown stale and predictable, their tracks becoming exercises in Britpop-by-numbers. But since the band’s disintegration, both brothers appear to have found a new vitality away from the toxic influence of the other. Liam Gallagher took longer to flourish than his brother, who quickly found success with Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, while he initially floundered with Beady Eye before finding his feet as a solo musician. His debut single ‘Wall Of Glass‘ was an impressive chunk of swanky Americana-tinged rock, while follow-up single ‘Chinatown‘ was a wistful ballad reminiscent of Oasis classics. New track ‘For What It’s Worth’ is another guitar ballad that sees Gallagher in an unusually reflective mood.
After all these years, it’s clear that Gallagher’s primary influence is still The Beatles, Liam taking on John Lennon’s nostalgic vocal inflection, albeit through the prism of his signature Mancunian drawl. ‘For What It’s Worth’ is a melodic guitar ballad in which Gallagher offers an uncharacteristic apology to those he’s hurt over the years. “For what it’s worth I’m sorry for the hurt / I’ll be the first to say, ‘I made my own mistakes'”, he sings, the edges of his voice softened to make for an almost dreamy sound.
It doesn’t take a genius to realise Noel may be one of the people Liam is apologising to, the track littered with references that seem to point to his older brother. “I’ll build a bridge between us and I’ll swallow my pride,” he declares, though any public evidence of this pride-swallowing still remains unseen. There’s a bit of self-pity thrown in here for good measure too, as Gallagher complains “I’ve been crucified for just being alive” in typically self-unaware fashion.
Still, ‘For What It’s Worth’ is not just good for a Liam Gallagher single, it’s good full stop. Astoundingly, it’s the third decent track Gallagher has put out under his own name, putting paid to any notions that it was his brother who was the propeller to Oasis’s success. ‘For What It’s Worth’ may stick rigidly to Oasis’s Beatles-light formula, but it does so in an almost charming way. Sure it’s derivative, but Gallagher isn’t trying to be anything other than his Lennon-loving, no-frills self. For a third single from an album that few had much faith in, ‘For What It’s Worth’ exceeds all expectations.