Graded on a Curve: Oasis, Knebworth 1996 & Amy Winehouse, Live At Glastonbury, At The BBC

The following, is part six of our live concert releases series.Ed.

The UK music scene has morphed from one trend to another. In the 1960s it was the British Invasion and its aftermath that dominated. In the 1970s it was glam, punk, and eventually new wave, which only grew bigger in the 1980s. Synth-pop was also big in the ’80s. The ’90s was dominated by Brit Pop. It was also the decade that saw the arrival of Radiohead.

Proving the health of the UK pop music scene, the beginning of the century once again saw the emergence of a slew of artists that exhibited all the best traits of British pop music, including Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Keane, Amy Winehouse, Adele, and Sam Smith, to name just six. Only artists from the latest wave remain, with two that are most missed from the ’90s and from the early part of the century being Oasis and Amy Winehouse, respectively. Thankfully, several new live archival releases will delight the ardent fans of these British legends from iconic performances.

First up is one of the most famous concerts in British pop history: the performances of Oasis at Knebworth in 1996 on August 10th and 11th. We will review the 3-LP set and the film, Knebworth 1996, directed by Jake Scott. The film is as much a movie about the British fans of Oasis as it is a concert documentary. The core lineup for Oasis at this time was Liam Gallagher, Noel Gallagher, Paul Arthurs, Paul McGuigan, and Alan White. Thirteen other support and guest musicians also appear on these releases, including John Squire, formerly of the Stone Roses, who plays guitar on “Champagne Supernova” and “I Am the Walrus.”

Few filmed concerts so perfectly capture the love affair between a British group and its fans with 250,000 in attendance. Aside from the bracing performances of the group—at the top of its game—there are also interviews with its fans who were there to witness British pop music history. Other interviews include members of the band and those who put on the show.

There is a companion, tri-fold, 3-LP, 180-gram vinyl set that can be added to the list of greatest live rock albums of all time. All the group’s biggest songs are here, including “Supersonic,” “Some Might Say,” “Roll With It,” “Morning Glory,” “Wonderwall,” “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” “Champagne Supernova” and a cover of “I Am The Walrus,” from the members’ favorite group the Beatles. This is music that is made to be listened to on vinyl to bring out the earthy, visceral, and ragged elements that made Oasis in its prime so special.

It is also available as a 2CD/DVD set, featuring a 20-song setlist taken from Saturday and Sunday and a documentary; a Blu-ray that includes the entire Saturday and Sunday shows and a documentary; and a 2CD set of the 20-song setlist from Saturday and Sunday.

From Amy Winehouse come two live releases. First is a live concert from that other key UK music destination along with Knebworth, Glastonbury, entitled Live at Glastonbury 2007. This is a two-LP set on 180-gram vinyl, pressed in Germany, and it includes her entire Pyramid Stage set from June 22. This archival release captures the mercurial singer at her peak, and on that historic day she also performed on the Jazz World Stage. The 16 songs are spread out over two vinyl albums, with four songs per side, maximizing the fidelity.

Even more expansive is Amy Winehouse At The BBC. This is a 3-LP, 180-gram vinyl set. The first two LPs are comprised of performances from such BBC shows as Later With Jools Holland, Pete Mitchell, Jo Whiley Live Lounge, Hootenanny, The Stables, Big Band Special, T in the Park, Leicester Summer Sundae and the Mercury Prize competition, from 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2009.

The third LP is taken from the London concert venue Porchester Hall from 2007. The set features some notable guest stars. There are three performances featuring Jools Holland and two with Holland and Paul Weller, including the historic live cover of “I’ve Heard It Through the Grapevine.” There are several songs repeated, but it’s fun hearing some of these classics evolving live over several years. This new release is also available as a 3-CD set and was originally available as a 3DVD/CD set and a CD/DVD set.

Some might say it’s doubtful that fans of British pop from the past twenty-five years can find live performances more historic and emblematic of two key eras in the country’s musical history than the music included on these archival releases.

GRADED ON A CURVE:
Oasis, Knebworth 1996
A

Amy Winehouse, Live At Glastonbury
B+

Amy Winehouse, At The BBC
A

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