Oasis: Looking Back in Fondness
So like I was working in a chicken fast food restaurant late one year in the mid 90s when I heard a song about ‘Rolling With It’ and thought it sounded pretty sweet. And that was that. Didn’t hear it again till weeks later. Then I heard Wonderwall. I NEEDED that song. I recall my mother drove me to K Mart (those were the days!) and I got what had turned out to be the biggest selling album in recent times. Oasis mania had arrived in Jimmy Jangles' house and I began to.. er.. roll with it.
I played that album non stop for two weeks. Then a friend of my lil bro turned up. This guy was like Mr Music Man and was like: "Oh Oasis?, here’s a copy of their first album."
And I'm like "Their first album? Oh, they did that Live Forever song I saw a video of once where they buried the drummer? Sweet."
Now we had two albums for the soundtrack of our summer which came down to playing Oasis in the garage while playing pool, drinking Steinlager homebrew clones. Bless. There may have been some of The Stone Roses songs played too, but that's another story.
And thus I became an Oasis diehard. U2 who? Summer finished and I went to university and started getting my hands on everything Oasis I could. I bought all the singles I could find. There was no ‘real’ internet in 1996/97/98 – it was just this magical thing I could get at the University labs so there was no real web surfing, it was all newspaper headlines. Yes, I had a folder full of Oasis articles where they stated “We’re bigger than God” and “We hope Blur die of Aids”. I signed letters home to my family as Noel Gallagher. That's how cool I was, even back then...
I decided to learn the guitar as I had to be able to play Wonderwall. Playing Oasis b-Sides became a speciality.
This fandom culminated in a crazy Oasis concert in Wellington where Liam stormed off, Noel did an acoustic set featuring Setting Sun with the band in full force for the last song of Champagne Supernova. Rough as, but Mega.
Anyways I thought I’d reminisce about each Oasis album.
Who wants to be a rock n roll star? If you believe the lyrics, Liam was one before the album made him one. It was the seemingly self referencing that was so clever. It was the same for GNR's Welcome to the Jungle – they were singing about the excess and trappings of Rock Stardom before they had it. It was like both bands were in on the joke about rock and roll joke before both bands became a rock and roll joke in many people’s eyes. I call those people Oasis Haters. Supersonic Live Forever, Slide Away. Songs that will stick around as markers in rock history for all those who follow (as they followed The Stones, The Who, David Bowie and of course, The Beatles.
What’s the Story? (Morning Glory!)
Did you need a little time to wake up after being run down by Definitely Maybe? The title reference to cocaine would pick you up no end with songs Wonderwall, Roll With It, Don’t Look Back in Anger and a song so good the Beatles should have written it, Champagne Supernova. Those songs define Oasis and the Britpop mania wave they rode (and created). They will be living off the royalties from those songs till the day they die. Morning Glory is probably the soundtrack to a generation of British folks.
Be Here Now
Supposedly the Great Rock and Roll Swindle. The punters were eager for a fight and they easily stepped into the ring when they realised that Be Here Now was not another Morning Glory. A few weak songs (despite the A grade D’yer Know What I Mean and All Around the World) and over blown production left many fans turned off and Oasis labelled as has beens. On reflection, Be Here Now is chock full of great songs – the song structures in many are perfect – witness Don’t Go Away acoustically and any objective listener will note its beauty, shame its album version solo was basically a rip off of Slide Away crossed with Live Forever.
An album full of great songs but, like Be Here Now, the sum of its parts was not greater than the songs on it. On their own songs like, Songbird, Stop Crying Your Heart and Born on a Different Cloud were majestic. As an album the punters when eh, Oasis diehards loved it – the singles were quite popular.
Don’t Believe the Truth
This was the unexpected comeback. Taken as a whole, this was an Oasis album you could listen to as one piece of music and totally enjoy. Lyla was a fun, poppy single, The Importance of Being Idle was a surprisingly quirky hit. The album owed a small debt to the Velvet Underground and a more considered song writing effort from Noel (the album did however have many songs from other band members). Let There Be Love was a beautiful album closer and could be seen as the antithesis of the sibling rivalry that dominated the headlines as Liam and Noel had regularly argued their troubles out in public over the years. Sadly the sentiment of the album closer was lost following the break up of Oasis after the release of the next album.
Dig Out Your Soul
If you had to label an Oasis album as psychedelic, Dig Out Your Soul was an Eed up Oasis plugging in George Harrison’s sitar and turning it to 10 and a half. Falling Down and I'm Out of Time were Oasis best singles since anything from Morning Glory. Waiting for the Rapture was a wall of Oasis that had live favourite all over it. Lyrically it was sharp and it had an awesome example of drumming expertise from Zak Starkey on The Shock of the Lightning. If Don’t Believe the Truth was the album Oasis should have released after Morning Glory in preference to Be Here Now, this album should have been the immediate follow up (like Zooropa was soon released after to U2's Achtung Baby).
Lucky for those still listening to Oasis, this album did follow DBTT and so it got plenty of listens and some good reviews.
In hindsight, that the single Falling Down was first Oasis song in over a decade to not go top 10 in the UK was the signal that perhaps Oasis’ time was coming to an end. In the tour that followed, Noel finally got fed up, smashed Liam’s guitar and quit the band.
Conclusion: You know what's coming right?
For an Oasis diehard it's very easy to look back on Oasis' music with fondness. The music has been the soundtrack to my life so it's kind of hard to think of Oasis in any other way. As a chorus to one of their b-sides went, thank you for the good times.