Beady Eye is, of course, four-fifths of the final Oasis lineup – never mind that the missing fifth happens to be principal songwriter Noel Gallagher! While it is true that after the first few Oasis albums Noel allowed (probably somewhat reluctantly) for token songwriting contributions from his lead vocalist brother Liam, as well as guitarist Gem Archer (formerly of Heavy Stereo) and bass player Andy Bell (ex-Ride), Oasis was clearly always Noel’s gig. That said, Liam really stepped up in the songwriting department on Oasis’ final album, 2008′s Dig Out Your Soul (Big Brother/Reprise), writing two of the best songs on that record: the lush, Lennon-esque ballad “I’m Outta Time” and the explosive “Ain’t Got Nothin’,” which bordered on balls out punk rock. Perhaps Liam’s emergence as a songwriter was the final nail in the Oasis coffin?
As an album, Different Gear, Still Speeding isn’t anywhere close to being in the same league as the legendary first two Oasis albums, 1994′s Definitely Maybe (Creation/Epic) and 1995′s (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? (Creation/Epic). Nevertheless, the best material here holds its own with the rest of that group’s back catalog. The opener “Four Letter Word” is a defiant diatribe (probably directed at Noel, as the brothers Gallagher are no longer on speaking terms), highlighted by a brief yet-enticing opening interlude that sounds straight outta’ “Live And Let Die.” The song is a high octane guitar attack, similar in feel to punkier Oasis numbers like “Bring It On Down,” “Fade Away,” and “(It’s Good) To Be Free), and it sports primetime Liam vocals, in which he virtually spits out the lyric “nothing lasts forever” in disgust. “The Roller” is an amazing epic, part The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” and part John Lennon’s “Instant Karma,” with Liam’s vocals soaring over the band’s stunning orchestrated sound – definitely one of Liam Gallagher’s career highlights. “Three Ring Circus” is nearly as great, recalling Lennon’s angrier solo records. If The Beatles references laced throughout the songs weren’t enough, one of the better tracks on Different Gear is actually called “Beatles and Stones,” though it blatantly steals the riff from The Who’s “My Generation”! As on “Four Letter Word,” Liam is full of bravado here, proclaiming he’s “going to stand the test of time like Beatles and Stones.”
While Beady Eye falls short on a few tracks, especially the bordering on-painful “Hey Jude” pastiche “Wigwam” and the corny Little Richard/Chuck Berry-like 1950s-style rocker “Bring the Light,” Different Gear, Still Speeding is, for the most part, a winner and something that any Oasis or John Lennon fan will want in their collection.