#34: Rolling Stones, ‘Tattoo You’ (1981) vs. Oasis, ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory’ (1995)

What a juicy match-up – so many points of comparison: Two British bands…Two British bands with co-leaders who like to rip out each other’s throats…Two British bands with co-leaders like to rip out each other’s throats and were caught up in mega rivalries with other bands during their heydays (The Stones were The Beatles’ Blur, and Oasis were Blur’s The Beatles).

Confused? OK, let’s talk about lyrics instead.

Is it just me or does Mick Jagger sometimes like to garble his words? I think he does it to disguise when he’s saying something too subversive for radio, or when he’s just singing about his boner. Case in point – “Start Me Up” off of Tattoo You. I’d heard that song a million times and, before the internet ended every lyrical mystery, I had no idea what he was saying between “start me up”, “never stop” and “you make a grown man cry”.

Oasis’ cocky Gallagher brothers, on the other hand, believe we should hang onto their every word. The lyrics come through crystal clear, no matter how ridiculous they may be. Even they have admitted they don’t know what a wonderwall is. And how do you walk slowly down a hall, faster than a cannonball? And really – how can you be caught beneath the landslide and in a champagne supernova in the sky at the same time?

But they sing these goofy words with conviction and they are a shitload of fun to bellow along with, especially when drunk. I think perhaps this review from Consequence of Sound about the album’s 20th anniversary says it best, noting brother Noel – “…has his moments where he says something completely stupid and awesome at the same time”. I know Oasis have their haters – which makes sense because they’re dicks – but (What’s the Story) Morning Glory is one fantastic sing-along after another, and it was the biggest thing in the world when it came out. The Gallagher brothers thought they out-Beatled The Beatles and they totally did NOT, but they imitate them beautifully and still make it entirely their own.

Nothing against Tattoo You – often called the Stone’s last great album – it’s a ragtag collection of abandoned leftovers from previous recording sessions recycled because the band needed an album for an upcoming tour; and it’s far better than that description would make you think. I like their choice to put all the rockers on side one and all the ballads on side two. It sounds like they had a blast making it and it produced two classics: opener “Start Me Up” – which is a song about Mick’s boner pretending (just barely) to be a song about a car – and the beautiful closer “Waiting on a Friend”, which has a fabulous sax solo from Sonny Rollins.

So here’s what it comes down to: When I listen to Tattoo You it makes me want to listen to other Stones’ albums, but when I listen to (What’s the Story) Morning Glory it makes me want to listen to (What’s the Story) Morning Glory again.


WINNER: Oasis, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory (2 points)


80s: 7

90s: 10

80s: 9
90s: 15

Next week’s battle – #33: Husker Du, Zen Arcade (1984) vs. Eminem, The Slim Shady LP (1999)

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