A SPIRITED (and spirit-influenced) DEFENCE OF OASIS

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Sitting in a pub recently with about a dozen workmates of both sexes, ages ranging from early 20s to late 50s. A good variety of music has been playing along in the background providing a nice setting for what is a celebration of one of the collective’s 50th birthday. I’m without doubt the biggest music snob in the room and there’s been a few songs which have gone down well that have set my teeth on edge but I’ve not wanted to break into a rant and spoil things. Then the song Whatever by Oasis starts up which leads to one of my colleagues, who up until now I had never heard express any opinion about music, really puts the boot into what he describes as ‘Beatles-apologists and rip-off merchants’. Next thing I know, a couple more folk are agreeing with him. I think however, I surprised everyone by taking them to task and putting up a spirited defence of the band.

All of which got me to come back and dig out this posting from the old place back in 2008.

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I don’t know about you, but I’m of the opinion that Oasis have been treated dreadfully by the media.

‘His talent and attractiveness, which had worked so well for him was becoming a burden.’
‘He was dealing more and more with the terrible scrutiny that came with superfame and the concurrent loss of privacy, the inability to make mistakes’
‘His slightest flaws were now magnified for the rest of the world….this tabloid machine was powerful, it was predatory and it had to be fed every day.’
‘Whom the tabloids first inflate, they eventually attempt to destroy, or at least try to diminish.’
‘The scrutiny of his life had become brutal and unforgiving.’

The previous five statements were lifted from a biography of basketball player Michael Jordan, but they could very easily apply to either of the Gallagher brothers when the commentators decided to kill off the movement that had been labelled Britpop.

In some ways, it is kind of difficult to comprehend just how meteoric the rise of Oasis was back in the early 90s. In May 1993, they were blagging their way onto a bill at King Tut’s in Glasgow. Within 12 months, their debut single reached #31. A succession of great releases, always without fail accompanied by at least one and usually two outstanding tracks on the CD single came at regular intervals, and it was their fifth release, Some Might Say, that hit #1 in April 1995.

Furthermore, they were a band who provided a great live experience.

The first hint of fallibility came in August 1995 when a frenzied battle played out in the full glare of the media saw Roll With It fail in the battle for supremacy with Country House by Blur. In truth, both were pretty ordinary singles, way below the standards that either band had been producing over the previous 18 months.

What happened next couldn’t have been predicted by anyone. On 30th October 1995, the single Wonderwall was released. And I can honestly say, that in my near 45 years on this planet, I can’t ever recall a single that so seemed to be loved by anyone and everyone with a genuine interest in music.

Amazingly, it peaked at #2 – kept off the top spot by Coolio and Gangster’s Paradise.

There was nearly a total travesty of justice when an easy listening version of the song by Mike Flower Pops almost hit #1 a couple of months later, but it too stalled at #2. The demand for Oasis was so large that tribute bands began to pop up all over the place, including No Way Sis who themselves had a Top 40 hit in early 1996.

The follow-up single Don’t Look Back In Anger merely kept up the momentum. It seemed that Blur were the real losers in the Britpop battle as their singles began to flop and there was a critical backlash to their LP The Great Escape – not withstanding its one true moment of brilliance in The Universal.

But while Blur bounced back with their next album and singles, Oasis lost it all almost overnight. There’s no argument that Be Here Now in 1997 was pretty awful, as was much, but not all of Standing On The Shoulders of Giants in 2000. But there was a return to a semblance of form with much to admire on Heathen Chemistry from 2002 and Don’t Believe The Truth from 2005. It will be very interesting to see how the next LP sounds.**

One thing that is often forgotten about Oasis is just how much money they brought in for Creation Records, and as a consequence, the label was able to bankroll some other great, critically-acclaimed but less commercially successful acts in the mid 90s, such as Teenage Fanclub, Super Furry Animals, Boo Radleys, My Bloody Valentine, The House of Love and Felt.

So maybe in retrospect we all owe Liam and Noel Gallagher a bit of a thank you.

I suppose like most folk, I probably got a bit sick and tired hearing Wonderwall when it was here, there and everywhere. I certainly got fed-up when it, and Don’t Look Back In Anger, became lager-fuelled anthems that were the staple of stag nights up and down the land. But it truly is a thing of beauty that is well worth listening to every now and then:-

mp3 : Oasis – Wonderwall
mp3 : Oasis – Round Are Way
mp3 : Oasis – The Swamp Song
mp3 : Oasis – The Master Plan

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** That of course was Dig Out Your Soul, released later on in 2008. It was a step backwards and it’s no real surprise that it proved to be the final LP the band would release. But I stand by my view that for a while at least, Oasis were very worthy of the critical praise heaped upon them by the media and music fans alike.

5 thoughts on “A SPIRITED (and spirit-influenced) DEFENCE OF OASIS

  1. I pretty much agree with all of that. The main problem with Be Here Now is that is is far too long. I came out on the very day TheMadster was born though, so it has a special place in our household – it was a Thursday release and still hit number one with ease come the weekend!

    But yeah, a band of their time and one that I reckon was badly needed. They certainly shook things up.

  2. 2014 seems to be the year of the Britpop Apologists. Most reviews of the now 2 yr old movement end up writing about how regretful the whole movement was or how in retrospect it was a poor attempt at responding to Grunge. Whatever…
    In reality there were some great albums, some amazing singles and a lot of dross in between. Is there any rock genre that isn’t filled with the same?
    I hold What’s The Story Morning Glory in very high esteem. I enjoy Definitely Maybe but not as much. Be Here Now’s overblown sound was inevitable in my mind.
    For me, Britpop brought The Divine Comedy, Gene, Menswear, Dodgy and Pulp into my life. Oasis burned bright for a few more minutes than most of their contemporaries, but just.

  3. The first 2 Oasis albums are beyond criticism, I think; but the 3rd one blew it for them. To me, it was the length rather than the quality of their songs that let them down. Cut D’You Know What I Mean to a lean 4 minutes and it’d be brilliant! Ditto for All Around The World.
    I loved Blur, still do, but I am with Echorich regarding Pulp and especially The Divine Comedy being two of the best bands to come out of ‘britpop’.

  4. The thing is I cannot stand Liam G – such a cock, and that tarnishes any view I have on their music – their first two albums were good, but preferred Supergrass !!! – Walt J

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