Noel Gallagher: 10 of his best as a solo artist
As the chief creative force behind Oasis and one of the undisputed heavyweights of the Britpop era, Noel Gallagher had already built a substantial legacy for himself as one of the most successful songwriters of his generation, but in the years since the long-running tensions with his brother, Liam finally spelt the end for his former band he has continued to churn out a series of great albums, as well as some often surprising collaborations.
This year marks a full decade since the release of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, the eponymous debut of a solo project that has so far produced three albums and several EPs, and to mark the occasion a new Best Of collection is heading into stores this week.
Back The Way We Came: Vol 1 (2011 - 2021) arrives in stores on July 10 and features a selection of his finest songs from the last 10 years, as well as two brand new tracks in the recently unveiled ‘We’re On Our Way Now’ and ‘Flying On the Ground’.
To celebrate its arrival, and in appreciation of the man himself, we took a tour through his solo career and pulled out 10 of his best moments outside of his career with Oasis, from his work with High Flying Birds to some of his best collaborations…
‘Setting Sun’ (Chemical Brothers feat. Noel Gallagher)
Largely the result of Noel approaching Chemical Brothers duo Tom Rowland and Ed Simons after spotting them at Glastonbury, ‘Setting Sun’ was one of Noel’s first outside collaborations and his first time at the top of the charts without Oasis, weaving a melody over the duo’s grinding drums and screaming synths to help create one of the dance duo’s biggest hits.
‘The Death of You and Me’ (Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds)
The first single to be released under the High Flying Birds banner, ‘The Death of You and Me’ still retains some of the Oasis-like melodic qualities that have gradually morphed and faded away from his music over the last decade, but it’s still a great song and his first real step on a long-overdue journey into a full-on solo career.
‘Temper Temper’ (Goldie feat. Noel Gallagher)
It’s 1998, your band is one of the biggest on the planet and you’re very famous, but do you still make time for your mate Goldie when he asks you to shred like a maniac out by the bins while he messes around with a chainsaw? Of course, you do. You’ll even bring your Union Jack guitar...
‘She Taught Me How To Fly’ (Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds)
Set aside, for a moment, the fact that ‘She Taught Me How To Fly’ is one Noel’s best tunes in the post-Oasis years and just soak up this live performance of the song on Later…with Jools Holland, in which one of Noel’s backing band proudly plays the scissors. Marvellous.
'We Got The Power' (Gorillaz feat. Noel Gallagher)
2017 was the year that Hell officially froze over and the most unlikely of collaborations produced this absolute belter from Gorillaz. For anyone who lived through the Britpop Wars of the 1990s, there’s something genuinely heartwarming about seeing Noel and his one-time nemesis Damon Albarn duet together over this soaring track. Burying the hatchet never sounded so good.
'Riverman' (Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds)
Not a cover of the Nick Drake song of the same name, but instead a slice of dreamy, bluesy psychedelia from Noel’s second High Flying Birds album Chasing Yesterday that really deserved to be a bigger hit than it was. An underappreciated gem, we think.
‘AKA … What A Life!’ (The Amorphous Androgynous Remix)
Although an album of “far out” material created in collaboration with experimental electronic duo The Amorphous Androgynous ended up being scrapped – at one stage Noel claimed to have destroyed the master tapes – one track that did thankfully see the light of day is this gloriously off-the-rails, 16-minute version of ‘AKA … What A Life!’. Noel is at his most experimental here and it’s thrilling stuff.
'Holy Mountain' (Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds)
Based around a simple riff from a novelty French pop song – at the suggestion of producer David Holmes – this cut from his third High Flying Birds album Who Built the Moon? is not only indicative of a renewed to drive to push himself out of his comfort zone, but it’s also a joyful and weirdly infectious listen. Noel is enjoying himself here and it shows.
'Not Over Yet' (CamelPhat Feat. Noel Gallagher)
The latest in what by now has become a tradition of collaborating with dance artists to impressive effect, this collaboration between Noel and Liverpool duo CamelPhat arrived late last year and has gone a little bit under the radar, but it’s another example of his knack for bringing a great melody into a pounding dancefloor-filler and taking it somewhere else entirely.
'Ballad Of The Mighty I' (Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds)
Last but by no means least on our list is this cracker from Chasing Yesterday, serving as a closing salvo to the album with its driving bass riff and soaring melody. Still, one of his best tracks in the solo years by our reckoning, and always a joy to play loud.