If Oasis didn't exist, it is hard to believe anyone would have the gall to invent them. Great bands out of Manchester there has been, even ones that harked back to previous great Manchester bands, but nothing like this. First impressions dictate that here we have an inch perfect amalgam of late-'80s Mancadelic cool: Tim Burgess fronting The Stone Roses with lyrics by Shaun Ryder. To suggest these lads ooze self-confidence is akin to saying Ryan Giggs looks a bit useful on the ball; statements rarely come so under.
Yet these are only the crudest of reference points, and anyhow, Oasis are rightly setting mouths a-gape by being so astoundingly accomplished from the outset. Even their illustrious forefathers allowed themselves a few initial fumbles before hitting that swaggering stride, but 'Supersonic' is a paragon of pop virtue in a debut single: three or so minutes of laid-back urgency, generously appointed with at least four melodies, and fizzing with enough attitude to silt up the orifice of your choice. Milkmen will whistle it, impressionable youths will play air guitar to its swooping, stalking riffs, while fading twentysomethings who remeber with fondness something called 'baggy' will find themselves lapsing into The Dance Of The Tired And Emotional Baboon. Obviously, in the wrong hands this record is a potent weapon.
And those lyrics! "I'm feeling supersonic/Give me gin and tonic," offers Liam Gallagher in Verse One, before totally outdoing himself in Verse Two: "I know a girl called Elsa/She's into Alka Seltzer/ She sniffs it through a cane on a supersonic train/And she makes me laugh/I got her autograph/She done it with a doctor/On a helicopter..." Suffice to say the next line rhymes "tissue" with "The Big Issue".
That Oasis have the nerve to foist such doggerel on a nation of still vaguely intellegent folk is sufficient proof of the intruitive genius at work here. That the B-side is a beautiful aching ballad called 'Take Me Away' demonstrates that they're not just along for the ride 'til the Roses finally sort themselves out. Thrilling? Absolulutely. Stars? Inevitably. And? Simply a great rock 'n' roll group.
where did it all go wrong for NME? compare this review with the one they wrote for TIOBI it shows that only dumbass vaginas write for them these days... they're not even capable of giving a personal opinion about something as subjective and personal as music
Predictable, maybe, but even in a fantastic week for singles, inevitable. Which goes to show that, as starts go, Oasis' has been pure Ben Johnson at the 1988 Olympics: devastating, effortless, triumphant. And, of course, 'assisted'.
Fortunately, there are no urine tests in pop, so this almighty second single will undoubtedly grant the brothers Gallagher access to the world of 'Top Of The Pops' and mass adoration.
They deserve it, too: for in much the same way that my entire life has been a tawdry dress rehearsal for "doing" the NME singles, one suspects Oasis' entire existance has been leading up to this moment.
By rights, 'Shakermaker' should lack the colossal impact of 'Supersonic', but from the second they unapologetically strike up a crunching, gob-smacking 12-bar boogie you know this is going to be one unspeakably cool record. And, by the time Liam's vocals loll out of the speaker in the ultraconfident fashion of the natural star, half-inching the 'I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing' melody along the way, you know you're dealing with greatness.
The three other tracks are more formulaic (especially the hey-let's-write-a-B-side dippiness of D'Yer Wanna Be A Spaceman?), but sod it, it's A-sides that matter. Even minus 'that' line, this is still a Coca-Cola classic of a record.
THE STORY, part one: so there's this geezer, right, and he walks into a cab office in Finsbury Park. At 4am, it's a strange enough place to be, anyway, a near-silent Jim Jarmusch film set replete with flickering TV screen, shadowy (fat) controller and requisite empty, darkened streets outside. The geezer isn't about to make it any saner. Because this geezer is a) a not entirely sex-tastic wobble bottom, b) very much a late 30-something and c) extremely wankered. And he has just staggered over to the kiosk and asked the controller for a cab down to Olympia so he can "buy one of them there Oasis tickets, like". The story, part two: a seething yellow fanzine crash-lands in the NME office, rocketing straight outta Hampshire. In a mini-rant subtitled 'Music Con Of The Year', the authors acknowledge that Oasis gigged with U2 in America. Then they describe them by screeching, "Commercial pop for those of us who don't think, but just do as they're told by the music press and garbage tabloids. Conservative, safe, dribbly plastic pop for mummies (sic) boys who don't like getting their hands dirty. Boring unoriginal poo stick." Nice! Somewhere in between this brace of profound tales, obviously, is where you can find the huddled critics. Can't wait for the gigs, but itching to give 'Be Here Now' a kicking; to smear their byline in blood beneath a (5) or (oh, if dreams could only come true if we wanted them to!) a (2), if only to somehow redress the amazing - and therefore entirely unjust - imbalance between Oasis' record sales and those of anyone else who can play guitar; if only to eradicate that jaw-jutting Liam pose from our minds forever; if only to undermine the utterly ridiculous concept of having to sign a legal document before being 'privileged' to recieve an advance cassette; if only to be fucking different. Yeah, we are a sadder breed than you could ever imagine.
It is to his eternal credit that Noel Gallagher has helped our cause tremendously. Because 'Be Here Now', the third Oasis album, is one of the daftest records ever made. Like, on a scale of one to comical, this really is Terry Fuckwit climbing into the cage to stroke the furry tigers. It is tacky. It is grotesquely over-the-top. It features the same old guitar runs, the same old drawled lyrical doodlings, the same pub-tastic, pint-mungous rhythms... In fact, if there is a single plangent note in these 11 tracks that has never been heard before in the past 30 years of rock, I will eat my grandma's cat. And I haven't even got a grandma.
Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! This is The Great Rock'n'Roll Dwindle! Noel may have mixed it up with The Chemical Brothers not so long ago, but he's stubbornly neglected to bring any new electronica vibes along to 'Be Here Now'. This remains strictly whiter-than-white boy guitar territory, a funk-free zone, a codpsychedelic festival of old-school sensibilities with another heaving sack of numbingly blatant Beatles references. It's trad, dad - about as subtle as a Frenchie with Mike Tyson, and so utterly reliant on the same-old-same-old cheeky chirpy chappy Oasis formula you can scarcely believe they've even dared to release this record in the same decade as Radiohead, Prodigy, Spiritualized, et al, let alone the same sodding year. "Boring, unoriginal poo stick" indeed.
And then? And then, halfway through the epic ablutions of 'All Around The World', you realise that every single hair on your arms and neck is standing erect. And you think, defiantly, but very, very quietly, "Bugger".
Rewind, then. Reconsider, then. Rebel rebel, your face is a mess, then... After the somewhat crummy statements of 'Champagne Supernova' (see the super-snooty declaration, "Where were you when we were getting high?") 'Be Here Now' is our open invitation to the Oasis party, a gilt-edged card saying, "Hey, you may have seen us having a laugh with Tony Blair on the front of your newspaper, and you might have glanced at the crafty paparazzi photos of us hiding away in Mustique, but really we're just like you. Give or take the odd multi-million smackeroonie-filled bank account, obviously."
Certainly, there is something about the Oasis work ethos which doesn't correlate in any way with their vast wealth. Consider the manner in which Manc mates The Stone Roses stumbled to a creative halt once they became millionaires, then cherish the fact that this is Oasis' third album release in four years. Consider the way in which 'Be Here Now' barrels along with scarcely a pause for breath and it's hard to believe that these are the very same people who've had so many family farragos, nay, public disasters since '(What's The Story) Morning Glory?' (cf, cancelled US tours, secret marriage ceremonies, band 'splits', the ubiquitous dribbling wibbling rivalries). Can you imagine that other tabloid staple, Gazza, recovering to score a hat-trick in the World Cup final in Paris next year? Exactly! Fundamentally, 'Be Here Now' is colossal fun. Just as Blur have faded into a left-field Americana-derived haze, so Oasis have blithely carried on doing what they always have done. The only difference now is that their songs are louder, longer and a darned sight more expensive.
'D'You Know What I Mean?' is the starting point, with even more fiddly decorations added to the overall Embrace-style (Yes! Indeedy!) communal hoedown, but 'My Big Mouth' is the real rocking entrance, a bionic scuzz-rock skate-along and a half-shrugged apology (of sorts) for the guitarist's lager-fuelled series of public faux pas.
Thereafter, Noel takes over vocal duties for the lush rifferama of 'Magic Pie' (so soon after McCartney's 'Flaming Pie'? Shame on you, ya little Beatle-obsessed packed-lunch monkey!), which segues - via some jazz-club noodlings and a Python-esque studio shout of "Shut up!!" - straight into the swaggeringly lovely epic, 'Stand By Me', wherein Liam leers, "What's the matter with you?/Sing me something new". In fact, the Monty Python references are rather neat when you consider the whole cosmically bizarre Beatles/Rutles/Oasis love triangle.
And so it goes, ripping off history here, careering down some lyrical cul-de-sac over there and directing all of their creative attentions toward the simpler, saucier things in life (see fast drugs, fast cars, extremely fast rock'n'roll) everywhere else. Each time Noel comes up with a naff line - 'Be Here Now' is riddled with references to his lyrical frustrations, notably, "Damn my education/I can't find the words to say" - Liam's louche delivery tranforms it from the mundane into the meaningful, if not the downright sodding mad. Every time Noel flips out one of those twiddly guitar riffs with the casually important air of the Queen's regal public handwave you think, 'Doh! Status QUO!!' until another ridiculous planet-cuddling chorus comes surfing around the corner. Lord this album is fucking barmy...
You want more choooons, like? 'The Girl In The Dirty Shirt' is a faintly hysterical skyburst of boogaloo piano and slide guitar, with the cute kiss-off line: "You can call me anytime you're seeing double/Now you know you're not on your own"; 'Fade In-Out' pretends to start like the Roses but in fact parodies the sound and psuedo-gritty spirit of 'New Jersey'-era Bon Jovi. It also features Johnny Depp on axe duties, not to mention one of the all-time great primal rock screams from Noel. 'Don't Go Away' is one of Noels most explicit personal songs yet, mellower than its surroundings and an absolute rock classic in the sense that it sounds exactly like the sort of song a lonely, slightly weepy pop star would write on a plane halfway across the Atlantic; at the start of the title track, you can detect the full-on authentic fuzz of amps and some clanking beat before there's a surge of 'Cigarettes & Alcohol'-style chord ruffage and some top-level Noel cobblerspeak (see, "Please sit down, you're making me giddy!!"); and 'It's Getting Better (Man)' is pretty much... well, the same, really - Oasis by rockin' numbers. Admittedly, they're pretty fucking large numbers, but there you go, bongo.
Which leaves only the nine-minute freakout that is 'All Around The World' to contend with: to all intents and purposes, 'Hey Jude' on extremely lethal loved-up drugs, this is as overloaded with trash as a mantelpiece sagging beneath the weight of various lava lamps, straw donkeys and leaping dolphin matchstick holders, ie, a complete tack attack. It also features the most precious moment on the whole record, as Liam's brilliantly sneered, "Nyaaah, nyaaah, nyaaah!!" hollerings are succeeded by a sudden explosion of guitars. Then there's a whiplash of orchestration, a key change, and the entire roof-raising chorus again.
Come the close of 'Be Here Now', 'All Around The World' is reprised with the aid of trumpets in their most showbiz-blasting, Last Night Of The Proms-type statement yet. And you think, caramba! if this makes your hairs stand on end through a Walkman's headphones, what the bally hell is it going to sound like at the climax of the show at Earls Court?!!
Mammoth. Probably. But without the large hairy bollocks. Which is the whole point. For all the big backdrops, the big entourage, the big spendig, and the very big mouths, Oasis are still looking after the smaller things in life - pressing the right musical buttons, playing the right chords, manufacturing the right middle eights. Individually, each song already resonates with the vast, communal spirit that has propelled them thus far; the sense that - put in its purest form - here are yet another 11 songs the slightly sozzled world will be bursting to sing.