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Record Machine: Noel Gallagher/UNKLE: “AKA… What a Life!” 12″ Single

Though talking about my vinyl collection will most often skew towards older albums, the format has regained some of its popularity. I love being able to buy unusual versions of singles released by my favorite musicians, and this Noel Gallagher/UNKLE remix is outstanding.

In fact, it is a Noel Gallagher song that inspired the title for this column – for a long time, an Oasis demo was floating about the Internet, called “(I Wanna Live a Dream in My) Record Machine.” Somewhat predictably, I loved it, but it never got a full-on recording until the solo album, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, where one can also find “AKA… What a Life!”

Noel Gallagher - UNKLE 12 inch
Purchased from Banquet Records, this Noel Gallagher/UNKLE 12″ came with a plain white label in a plain white sleeve.

“Record Machine” sounds much closer to an Oasis song (“Can’t give me a reason / I don’t need one to shine…”), whereas “What a Life!” is Noel Gallagher at his most dance-y. With this special white-label UNKLE remix of the song, he heads even further into electronic territory. The result is somewhat reminiscent of his work with The Chemical Brothers and Amorphous Androgynous in that it is not guitar-based, but UNKLE definitely make the song its own entity.

I love the rambling piano and echo-vocals; they sound like the best sort of drug trip, particularly with lines like “Keep on chasing down that rainbow” and “I’m going to take that tiger outside for a ride.”

The single is backed by “Let The Lord Shine a Light on Me,” a slow number with those wonderful soaring lyrics he does best. I’ve embedded a live performance rather than the recorded version because it includes a choir, and it’s absolutely magnificent. He’s got the red Gibson out that has featured on so many of his classics, and even though this is a lesser-known B-side, he still manages to make it a moment of Rock ‘n’ Roll Church.

Noel has said on more than one occasion that, while he’s not religious, the imagery makes for great songwriting material, and that by using it as a metaphor, it works for him. Like many of his songs, “Let The Lord Shine a Light on Me” asks for some small bit of hope to propel one through a difficult time.

When I feel like a drop in the ocean
But there’s no one else at sea
And my body’s bent and broken
Let the Lord shine a light on me

It’s a lovely sentiment, and is anything from a prayer, to a mantra, to a self-pep talk. As the A-side here tells us: “You never know what you might find.”

Onward, friends.

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Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the editor of Electric City Creative.

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