When Noel Gallagher announced his new album ‘Chasing Yesterday’ a couple of weeks ago, among the most exciting prospects was that his old mate Johnny Marr was going to make an appearance.
To record his part on ‘The Ballad Of Mighty I’, the track they’ve worked on together, Marr went to a studio in west London armed with his guitar and little else, choosing not to find out or hearing anything about the track beforehand.
The resulting track, Marr assures NME, is much like the rest of Gallagher’s forthcoming album in that’s “pretty rocking”.
We can’t wait to hear it, but it has got us thinking the pair should go the whole hog and make a full album together.
Very slowly they’re moving toward such a thing anyway. Despite being friends for 20 years, ‘The Ballad Of Mighty I’ is the first time they’ve worked on record together since Marr appeared on a few tracks on Oasis’ 2002 album ‘Heathen Chemistry’.
They made another appearance together on Thursday at Marr’s Brixton Academy show, the former Oasis man joining in on the encore for a run through Iggy Pop’s ‘Lust For Life’ and The Smiths’ ‘How Soon Is Now?’, with pretty spectacular results.
We think it’s high time the two Mancunian guitarists – just as soon as their second solo albums have been promoted and, in Noel’s case, released – pile into a studio and make music. And here’s why we think it would work:
THEY’RE BOTH BRILLIANT MUSICIANS
It probably goes without saying Johnny Marr is a pretty good guitar player. He’s a supernaturally gifted player, as if the instrument is an extension of his being. “You cannot not be influenced by Johnny Marr,” says Noel. “Because he is unique, because you can’t play what he plays, even he can’t play what he plays.”
Gallagher, with the utmost respect, isn’t in that league, but he’s a far better player than he lets on. “He makes what he does look a lot easier than it actually is,” says Marr of his old mate. “He makes it look easy, right? It fucking isn’t.”
THEY’RE BOTH FROM MANCHESTER
Shared ground is important when it comes to being in a band, and Marr and Gallagher’s backgrounds are especially similar – they’re both from Manchester with Irish heritage, they both grew up in Catholic council houses with strong women around them, became obsessed with the same bands – T. Rex, in particular – and elements of pop culture. Despite ending up in era-defining bands, they’ve only got four years between them. As common ground goes, that’s not bad.
THEY KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE IN MASSIVE ROCK BANDS
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It’s almost impossible to imagine what it was like being in The Smiths. Only four people really know, the rest of us just have to use our imaginations and read unreliable biographies written by people who weren’t there. One person, however, might have a better idea than most, and that’s Noel, who was also in a pretty successful band, and probably knows a thing or two about difficult bandmates, the pressures of fame and adulation and all the rest of it himself.
THEY BRING DIFFERENT THINGS TO THE TABLE
There’s no denying Noel’s ear for a melody. His songs seem instantly familiar, and have unifying, hymn-like qualities that make crowds at his gigs, when bellowing his choruses back at him, seem more like a congregation in a church than an audience at a concert. Marr could do with a bit of that, while Gallagher would perhaps benefit from his mate’s wider sphere of influence and more experimental nature.
THEY’RE BOTH MANCHESTER CITY FANS
OK, this might not be essential to making a great record together – Liam and Noel are both City fans and we know how that worked out – but it at least means they’re not going to fall out when there’s a local derby.