ou wouldn’t ask a whisky enthusiast to rhapsodise abotrt their favourite malt when they were suffering from the mother of all hangovers. You wouldn’t coerce an over-zealous gastronome into sampling a few more profiteroles as he was reaching for the indigestion tablets.
And at this moment in the two and a quarter
year recording career of Oasis. when it is not possible to walk up your average thoroughfare without hearing some bloke with an acoustic guitar murdering ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’: when no magazine is complete without some snap of Liam Gallagher looking utterly clueless with Patsy-flipping-Kensit in tow; when Ocean Colour Scene not only exist. bllf/lourls'lt. being players of ‘real’ music on ‘real’ instruments just like their luddite buddies Oasis: when the Mancunian marvels are so ubiquitous that another rendition of ‘Wonderwall’ by anyone —— Liam. the rnilkrnan. a passing Labrador — could threaten the sanity of Oasis part-timers: with all this floating around in the public domain. it is not a good time to attempt to throw some perspective on the phenomenon that is Oasis.
In short. too much of a good thing can be unbearable.
There are no indications that things look set to abate either. In the run-up to their largest shows yet. at Loch Lomond and Knebworth. at which they will play to crowds the size of the population of your average European republic.
Oasis look unassailable. North Glasgow College recently ran a survey in which they
polled music fans in most of Britain’s cities on
their all-time favourite band. The under-25s overwhelmingly chose
Oasis. while the over-25s placed them second only to The Beatles. Bear in mind that however prolific Oasis are they are still only two albums old. while The Beatles arc . . . well. y’know. The Beatles.
‘The Beatles are the greatest band of all time.’ says Noel Gallagher (over-25). speaking before the results of the survey were collated. ’Ask someone if he knows The Beatles and he’ll answer “obviously” and start humming “Ticket To Ride”. That’s the status we want to reach. What we’d like is that in ten years’ time if you ask a brickie. a taxi driver. a student. a grocer from anywhere in the world ifthcy know Oasis that they’ll reply. “Oh yeah. the ones that sang ‘Cigarettes And Alcohol”’.’
In Britain at least you could argue that Oasis have already reached that status. As they stride out into the international arena. Gallagher is conﬁdent that his band have the tools to make a global impact where many of their peers have failed.
‘We play rock ’n roll and it’s a universal language.’ he says. ‘Everybody can understand “Cigarettes And Alcohol”. You could listen to that song in twenty years’ time and it’ll have the same meaning. Bands like Blur or Suede have never understood the importance of all this. they can’t understand that nowadays kids t’rom Milan are really similar to kids t’rom Manchester. If you sing in English most of the pop listeners ot’ the world can understand you.
so you have to take the responsibility of
‘What we’d like is that in ten years’ time it you ask a brickie, a taxi driver, a student, a grocer from
anywhere in the world it they know
Oasis that they’ll reply, “Oh yeah, the ones that sang ‘Cigarettes And Alcohol’”.’
communicating something with a meaning for everyone.
‘I don’t write songs for myself. I write for the people and it pisses me off when someone asks me about my lyrics. Once you’ve published them. the lyrics are there for everyone and everyone will sense a different meaning. I think that’s important ’cos I don’t believe my point of view is stronger than yotrrs.’
Noel Gallagher. Songwriter of the People. you are charged with taking a vanguard position in the regeneration of faith in the future of guitar music at a time when pundits were predicting the death of hop and that computer games were the new rock ’n’ roll. Guilty. You are charged with finding life in the old dog and revitalising The Song. Guilty. But you are also charged with being rather too keen to sound the death knell of dance music -— despite a forthcoming. as yet untitled. collaboration with techno gurus The Chemical Brothers. inspired by The Beatles’ "Tomorrow Never Knows’. And it gets worse. bccatrse you honestly reckon that the proliferation of reactionary Beatles rip- off merchants that have emerged in your wake is a good thing. The music weeklies have even coined the team ".\'oelrock’ and applied it in derogatory fashion to denote R 8; B stodge that wotrldn’t know the ‘)()s if it took otrt a full-page ad in Record (’o/lr't‘tor.
Gallagher is unrepentant. ‘That’s right — our basic inspirations come from an era when rock was the most popular form of music. I’m talking about the ()()S with The Beatles. Stones. Kinks and Who or the end of the 7()s with The Pistols. In those days the kids had real bands to follow. They were there onstage playing their guitars. Rock is physical: the kids buying a ticket to see their idols closer. to see something unique like
it happened to me. I was at a Smiths gig and Johnny Marr bummed
two chords. That’s fantastic because you think they’re here. they’re my idols. they’re playing my favourite songs but they’re humans like me and they burn two notes.
‘What are you going to do if your favourite band is Cappella‘.’ They don’t even play live. Techno and house music are just disposable; you don’t even know the artists’ faces. Just think of a teenager alone in his bedroom listening to a tune that goes “na-na-na-na-na- na” for five minutes and its lyrics are three words saying “feel the groove” or “throw your hands in the air” — it’s nonsense. We gotta get back to writing songs; real songs like “Live Forever”.’
It’s certainly not Gallagher’s place to define what a ‘real song’ is. Ivor Novello songwriting award or not. but if it has anything to do with words and music which enter the national consciousness. which provoke the most euphoric singalongs when performed live. despite or maybe because ofthe lyrics being not much further up the evolutionary scale than the dance chants he so despises. then Gallagher and Oasis have ‘real songs’ in abundance. Familiarity/contempt problems aside. Oasis reach the parts other bands can’t reach.
Oasis are at Bal/oclr Castle Country Park on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 August.
What’s the story?
Jonathan Trew traces the meteoric rise of Oasis.
I May ’93 Alan McGee. head of Creation Records. wanders into King Tut’s in Glasgow and catches the Gallagher brothers in full tight. cr. Ilight. lle’s so impressed that he offers them a record deal on the spot. In what way did they tickle his Iancy'.’ ‘I thought Liam Gallagher was Paul Weller meets the ‘)()s football hooligan and that they might. one day. be as big as The Stone Roses. I never imagined they would be the biggest group in the wor'ld.’ says a rather happy McGee.
I October ’93 Legal paperwork and so on ortt of the w ay. ()asis sign to (’reation and on ll April l‘)‘)-l. lixe days after they play La Belle Angele in Edinburgh. they release their first single. ‘Supersonic'. which peaks at No 3| in the charts and becomes something of a becrcd- tip anthem in clubs across the country.
I August ’94 Ilaving seen ‘Slrakermaker’ and ‘Lixc Forever" gave the top ten. the band put out their first album. Definitely Maybe. which goes gold (that’s I()().()()() copies. fact fans) within a week. It reaches the coveted No I spot in the album charts and outbreaks of ( )asis fever are reported in various sections of the media and general public.
I April ’95 ()asis get their first No l single with ‘Some Might Say’. A media-mamrfactured battle. fought otrt on the pages of the musical weeklies. heats up between the rock hard Northerners. ()asis. and the namby-pamby. college-educated Southerners. Blur.
I August ’95 Blur’s label Food records. and Creation. the home of Oasis. sirntrltaneously release each band’s single in a head to head culmination of the great Blur v ()asis war. ‘Country House’ pips ‘Roll With It' to the post. provoking cries of ‘You may have won the battle btrt we’ll win the war. softboys’. History proves the Gallaghers right.
I October ’95 (IV/rat’s The Story) Morning Glory." goes straight in to the album charts at No I. The album is platinum within a week and has now achieved ten times platinum sales — more than three million copies. ‘Wonderwall'. the first single released t’rom the album after its launch. hits the charts and is adopted by dewy- eyed adolescents everywhere. although no one is really sure what a wonderwall is. Morning Glory is still in the top ten. ten months after its release.
I April ’96 The Manc bad lads made good return home for two ecstatic nights at Maine Road stadium. One hundred thousand oftheir fellow Mancunians singalongaLiam. How long until the knighthood?
I Aug ’% Balloch and beyond . . .
The List 26 Jul-8 Aug I996 7