Be Here Now (1997)

Oasis: Beyond Wonderwall

Oh boy, Be Here Now, talk about a decisive album. I’ll cut to the chase and say that I am a lover of Be Here Now and considering it to be one of my favourite albums of all time. The album cover symbolises the bombastic nature of the record, and it even narcissistically has the date of its release is on the cover. The title, on the other hand, represents the arrogant nature of Oasis at the time whether or not that was intentional; it’s like Oasis are instructing that you are going to be here now! If the first two albums were about trying to achieve your dreams, then Be Here Now was about living those dreams. The sound of a band high on coke and on top of the world, a real powerhouse of an album with everything turned up to 11.

Be Here Now is not Morning Glory. I don’t want Be Here Now to sound like Morning Glory, we had Morning Glory and now this is something different. Unlike the first two albums, the songs on Be Here Now don’t have as many hooks and are not instantly catchy; Be Here Now is a dirtier, meaner record. When I first listened to the album I didn’t instantly latch onto it and took me a few listens to grow on me, unlike the first two albums which were love on first listen.

The opening track D’You What I Mean? Is 7 minutes and 42 seconds long. Before the vocals even begin we get a minute comprised of helicopter and Morse code sound effects with the final minute of the song just being guitar feedback; that’s the levels of bombastic indulgence we’re talking about here. This song is not radio friendly yet it was the album’s lead single and went to number 1 on the UK charts; only Oasis had the clout to get a song like this to be a single Yet they still even outdone D’You What I Mean?  with All Around the World, an epic all-devouring song which lasts for a whopping 9 and a half minutes, and it too was a UK number 1; the longest song in length to ever do so. It’s such a monstrous, epic song; a real celebration of everything Oasis had achieved up until that point.

I disagree with the notion that the B-sides from the Be Here Now era should have been included on the album. They’re great songs but they’re more reminiscent of Morning Glory and don’t match the over the top nature of Be Here Now. But aside from the over the top arena rockers of celebration (God knows just how many guitar tracks are on My Big Mouth and It’s Gettin’ Better Man!!), we do get two more downbeat, emotional songs in the form of Stand By Me and Don’t Go Away; the latter of which being one of Oasis’ biggest tearjerkers.

No band could make Be Here Now today, no one would have the clout to do so. But not Oasis back then; I can imagine a record label executive asking the band does All Around the World have to be 9 and a half minutes long, and them replying “Yes if f**king does!”. When was the last time a band made an album that had the same “we’re on top of the world” spirit as that of Be Here Now? I’ve never been a fan of the post-millennium music scene, and for me personally, 1997 is the last year in which there was a number of high profile album releases which I loved. The final sound effect on the album of a door shutting on the All Around the World Reprise signals the end of the Brit-pop era and the end of Oasis’ golden age.

Critics praised Be Here Now on its initial release, only later to detract their praises. The complete opposite to what happened to Morning Glory, which received mixed reviews on initial release and later went on to receive acclaim. Are people just conformist drones who listened to Oasis because it was the “cool” thing to do and backlashed against the band when Be Here Now turned out not to be another Morning Glory; or perhaps I’m just in a minority opinion who think this album is amazing? Who knows? Regardless, for me Definitely Maybe, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? and Be Here Now will always be the holy trinity of Oasis albums. Be Here Now, I salute you!

 

Be Here Now Era B-Sides and Rarities

As I stated before, the b-sides for the Be Here Now were more reminiscent of the Morning Glory era. There are not as many b-sides during the Be Here Now era, but all of them were good. Throughout their entire 90’s output, there are only two Oasis songs I don’t like (Hey Now! and Be Here Now); the band almost literally had no filler. I wonder if the backlash Be Here Now received prevented the album’s fourth single Don’t Go Away (which ended up only getting released in Japan) from having any new songs. (I Got) The Fever is one of my absolute favourite Oasis songs; what a choon! While it’s not the most lyrically significant Oasis song, but it’s one seriously uplifting jam. The band’s cover of David Bowie’s Heros is also superb; you can’t top the original but this is a dam fine cover. Now when will the deluxe edition of Be Here Now be here now?

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Definitely Maybe (1994)

D’Yer Wanna Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star?

Oasis, a name which invokes power and grandeur. Some might say Oasis sucks, they’re a Beatles rip off, they haven’t done anything good since 1996, the brothers are pricks and just fight all the time, insert British band here is so much better. I’ll probably spend the rest of my life debunking such criticisms just like how I’ll be spending the rest of my life listening to Oasis. Unpretentious songs about liking, nay, loving yourself, being true to yourself, simply trusting what you believe and speaking your mind. Ultimately this brand of non-conformity comes at a price, and perhaps Oasis paid this price; could this be one of the reasons they get the stick they do? I’m an optimist at heart, thus one of the reasons Oasis appeals to me. Few other artists can strike up such an emotional connection with the listener and worth getting passionate about to such a high degree.

In the tradition of the movie High Fidelity’s top 5 lists; top 5 side 1, track 1’s, Oasis – Rock n’ Roll Star of Definitely Maybe. When I listen to this song I have to repeat the final 90 seconds over and over again and absorb every moment of its guitar riffing, drum bashing perfection. Oasis are an arrogant band and this song sums this up perfectly. The band’s combination of Noel’s catchy hooks and Liam’s enunciating on words (Gonnnnnaaaaa Liiiiiivvvvveeee Forevvvvvvvvverrrrrrrrr) is what makes Oasis the drug that it is; always coming back for more. Songs like Shakermaker and Columbia are hypnotic; I remember listening to Shakermaker well over a dozen times in a row shortly after hearing it for the first time. The opening lyrics to Supersonic, on the other hand, the song which they first released sums up my life’s philosophy. Like many Oasis songs, it has an obvious message, but I believe at the end of the day we need to reminded of obvious messages in our lives as we seem to forget them all the time.

Choosing a favourite song from Oasis ain’t easy but does there exist a song more emotionally shattering than Live Forever? In 4 minutes and 30 seconds, Liam’s powerful yet at times fragile voice waves a wide gauntlet of human emotion, the desire to be immortal, to never be forgotten. Noel Gallagher was motivated to write the song after hearing a song from Nirvana titled “I Hate Myself and I Want to Die”. Let’s face it, it’s easy to be pessimistic and look cool because of it, it takes courage to express optimism.

I have a poster of the Definitely Maybe on my bedroom wall, and will regularly take a look at it to admire its beauty and always noticing something within it which I never saw before. As with the band’s album and single covers throughout the 90’s, the genius comes from their simplicity.

Oasis hit their peak early on; I remember hearing comments from Noel Gallagher stating he could never write songs like that again or else you would get laughed out of town; you can only write like that when you’re uninhibited and nobody is listening to your music. Definitely Maybe is the punkier, dirtier companion to the cleaner, more commercial sounding Morning Glory; not that makes Morning Glory any less album. The way I see it, Definitely Maybe is like The Terminator, whereas Morning Glory is like Terminator 2. Sometimes I wish I could erase my mind of songs so I can listen to them again as if hearing for the first time, that couldn’t be truer here. Definitely, Maybe the best debut album of all time? Not maybe, definitely!

 

Definitely Maybe Era B-Sides and Rarities

What band has better B-sides than Oasis? Their B-sides are better than most bands biggest hits. It’s the greatest collection of unknown songs ever. Their singles where all like mini albums, each with a cover which was a work of art itself. For a time I was content with just listening to Oasis’ albums, but when I really started to delve into the band’s B-sides it was like falling in love with Oasis all over again.

The 1998 compilation album The Masterplan contained most the band’s B-sides up until that point but not all of them; a shame too as there are some absolute gems which didn’t. The deluxe edition of Definitely Maybe brings all the B-sides from the Definitely Maybe era together as well as various other rarities, all apart from a live version of Bring It On Down from the Shakermaker single. Not a major loss as there is nothing particular stands out about it, but it would be nice for it to be there for completist sake. Now if we can just get a deluxe edition of Be Here Now then all will be well with the world.

Take Me Away is such a simple yet powerful song, with Noel’s vocals being so fragile; you can hear the desperation in his voice. Another downbeat song with Noel on vocals D’Yer Wanna Be a Spaceman? is so beautiful it hurts; plus it also gets the vote for my favourite Oasis song title. The story goes that Liam didn’t want to sing these downbeat songs as he considered himself a “rock ‘n’ roller” and didn’t want to play that wimpy shit; says the guy who later wrote songbird. You haven’t heard Oasis’ cover of I Am the Walrus until you’ve heard the full-length version from the Cigarettes & Alcohol single; The Masterplan version was shortened by two minutes. The Beatles created it, Oasis stole it. Then there’s Half the World Away, a song which sums up a period of my life (and many other people’s lives), being stuck in a dead-end town where you can’t express yourself creatively.

Cloudburst is the only slightly weaker Definitely Maybe b-side; it has energy to it but lacks a coherent structure. Everything else are absolute gems, like a secret collection of songs just for Oasis diehards. It makes me wonder what Oasis have never seen the light of day, perhaps those are the greatest Oasis songs of all.