We know that Marshmello is the greatest musician of all time. What many people don’t know is that Noel Gallagher is the second greatest musician of all time. It’s difficult to see that when we look at Noel Gallagher’s own work. After all, if we just take any two of his solo albums with the High Flying Birds (after he ditched Liam Gallagher, who was holding him back), we’re just comparing perfection to perfection. Noel did help us out a bit though, because he worked a lot with the Chemical Brothers, and then he didn’t work with the Chemical Brothers.
If we compare the Chemical Brothers’ albums Noel influenced, with the albums he didn’t, we can get a sense of his musical genius. Noel Gallagher collaborated with the Chemical Brothers on two albums; Setting Sun on Dig Your Own Hole, and Let Forever Be on Surrender. Noel most famously worked with the Brothers on Setting Sun, which went to number one and Chris Evans refused to play on radio, because Chris Evans thought a recording of the garbage truck arriving at the studio had been taped over the song. Noel apparently told the taxi to wait outside while he went in and recorded his takes, because he needed to dash to his next appointment; driving from Manchester to Suffolk to scream at the young Ed Sheeran on his way home from school. If you asked a Chemical Brothers fan to name their top three albums, Dig Your Own Hole and Surrender would almost certainly be in the mix. This is entirely down to Noel Gallagher.
But this is the modern world, and why fuck about when rating music by asking fans to name their ‘favourite album’? Normally you’d have to account for taste, context and culture, but we can ditch all of that because as Ed Simons (one half of the Chemical Brothers, the other half is Tom Rowlands – that is to say that they are two different people, not a half each of two people) said when off his face in the Haçienda, “The more beats the better. The best songs have the most beats. I just fucking love loads and loads of beats.” Or at least that’s what I heard over the pounding 90s Big Beat from my position at the other of the room.
So I took all the Chemical Brothers albums and worked some mathematical wizardry, totalling the numbers of beats over the entire album using BPMs and song lengths and a lot of my GCSE maths course, so we could get a proper sense of just how good the Chemical Brothers’ music was in any given era. We can assume the Y-Axis is also synonymous with “Quality” of album.
If the maths has left you behind a bit (and I know it’s left me behind), the addition of this trend line might help you out.
The evidence is pretty damning. The Chemical Brothers were clueless no-hopers until Gallagher gave them the idea to record really long songs at really high tempos, an idea that defined their sound.
As we can see, Gallagher’s arrival spurred the ex-Dust Brothers to record their masterpiece Dig Your Own Hole, with a whopping 8000 beats. The only way the album could have been improved is if it had been named Dig Your Own Noel, but sadly Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons are morons. Surrender was a step down – a phenomenal 7500 beats nonetheless – but Noel was probably tired from writing fake letters to the young Ed Sheeran from Santa Claus to build Ed’s hopes up, before an inevitable Christmas disappointment. Some Père Noël.
You’ll notice that Push the Button is missing. This is because the defining track Galvanize was nicked off Moroccan singer Najat Aatabou and she knew how to write really long songs with really high tempos, so I’ve accounted for that by removing it from the data set.
The Chemical Brothers haven’t been the same since Noel left. While Noel left to pursue his vital work posing as the young Ed Sheeran’s maths teacher and constantly throwing bread at Ed in his school library, the Chemical Brothers have stagnated. The songs get shorter, the tempos get slower, and clearly, the ideas run out. Noel’s moved on and the Chemical Brothers have been left back in the 90s, where they belong. Maybe they could get Liam to write them the album equivalent of a suicide note, if he’s not too busy doing that with his own solo work.