‘Setting Sun’: The Chemical Brothers Shine On Psych-Dance Classic
With a little help from Noel Gallagher, the single topped the charts, and remains a psych-tinged classic.
With Oasis riding high as kings of Britpop after the October 2, 1995 release of (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?, trailed by the No. 1 single, “Some Might Say,” chief songwriter Noel Gallagher once again found himself at the top of the UK singles chart – but this time courtesy of fellow Mancunians The Chemical Brothers, who enlisted him to lay a vocal on top of “Setting Sun,” the first taste from their second album, Dig Your Own Hole.
These titans of the dance and indie worlds were adding to their hometown’s rich dance-rock past and the Madchester scene of the late 80s and early 90s, as spearheaded by the likes of New Order and Happy Mondays, who fused guitars and beats to create club-friendly rock anthems. With its clear debt to The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows,” hot-wired for the big-beat generation, “Setting Sun” once again saw indie kids and clubbers unite on the dancefloor.
After hearing the instrumental track, Gallagher was so enthused that he wrote lyrics for it overnight, before recording and mixing the final results in a single day with The Chemical Brothers. According to Chemical Brother Tom Rowlands, when the single was released “it had the lowest number of radio plays ever for a No. 1 hit.” Regardless, “Setting Sun” sold 100,000 copies in its first week, entering the UK singles chart at No. 1, on October 12, 1996, where it stayed for two weeks before enjoying a further nine weeks in the charts.
It was the perfect primer for Dig Your Own Hole, which, as the first of six consecutive UK chart-topping Chemical Brothers’ albums, cemented the duo’s reputation as super-charged beat merchants. The song didn’t do badly for Gallagher, either, who has continued to perform “Setting Sun” live – and sort of revisited it for his second solo album. Claiming to have used part of an unfinished Oasis song for his contribution to “Setting Sun,” Gallagher finally finished the original off for inclusion on his 2015 album, Chasing Yesterday.