It doesn't take much to set Noel Gallagher off. We are sat in a backstage portacabin at London's peculiarly ragbag Clapham Calling festival, and I've just mentioned to the former Oasis songwriter that "Chasing Yesterday," the second solo album under his High Flying Birds banner, is the U.K.'s fastest selling of the year.

"Is that impressive? I'm not impressed by it! I'd rather be the biggest selling," he says. "The fastest selling, what does it mean? It means that if you put my CD on a table with Muse's and Florence's, it would win in a race to the end of the table. I don't know what it means. Let me tell you — I'd rather be the biggest selling."

You'd expect nothing less from Gallagher, Manchester's great motormouth and a man whose ambition, stretching back to Oasis' fledgling days, was always to obliterate the competition, musically and verbally, into irrelevance. He told everyone who would listen — and especially those who wouldn't — that Oasis, fronted by brother Liam, would be the biggest band in the world and he was right: In the hedonistic Britpop era, Oasis didn't as much catch the zeitgeist as set fire to it, first with its fantastic 1994 debut "Definitely Maybe" and then with the 22 million-selling follow up "(What's the Story) Morning Glory." With his anthemic rock 'n' roll tunes, Gallagher mastered the trick of writing songs that ostensibly said nothing but meant everything, and his resolutely working-class Mancunian outlook of hope and camaraderie found a universal audience.