With a new Oasis-related story in the news seemingly each week and the 20th anniversary of Definitely Maybe just round the corner, in August of next year to be exact, Allan Nersessian and Elliott Homer took sides to debate whether the brothers Gallagher should bury the hatchet and reunite. Should they be lighting up the next great English summer, reminding us why we loved them in the first place or rather should they let their legacy as the last time some upstart lads with guitars truly shook the nation remain in the past. Which side are you on?
On 30th August 1994 I queued for several hours outside the Virgin Megastore at Marble Arch. I wasn’t in the habit of doing this and neither were the several hundred Becks-swilling people that huddled around me. A camera-crew from Granada TV approached me whilst I was giddily chatting to my friends, “what is it that you like about them?” the interviewer posed, “they’re just an amazing band” was my matter-of-fact fifteen year old reply (my pearls of wisdom appear at 3:28 on the YouTube video below, ignore the hair, I clearly did). Once inside I finally set eyes on a group of lads who radiated what would these days be called ‘swag’. In those days it was called ‘fucking cool’. Dark glasses, meticulously-groomed-yet-roughed-up hair and an aura far beyond their years greeted my young eyes, but it wasn’t for their look that I’d come to gawp at. It was their music. I didn’t know it at the time but I was at the launch event of a seminal album that arguably became one of the most important musical releases in British history.
As a fifteen year old boy from suburban London hearing Oasis’ Definitely Maybe was akin to waking up one morning to find a note stuck to my head-board saying ‘No school today. The world is yours. Have it’. Unfortunately I did have school but it was there that my friends and I began to dream of bigger things beyond our suburban bubble and to form bonds that would last decades. It was easy to fall in love with the album – the guitars sounded like a siren that stirred us up into a frenzy, Liam’s vocals scythed through our daily humdrum whilst the lyrics formed hymns sung with careless abandon. At the bottom of friends’ gardens and in parks, tops of beers were discarded and Rizla packets torn as our mantra of ‘you and I, we’re going to live forever’ echoed through the warm hazy nights. Each song became our version of the ‘Our Father’. Yes, it really was that important.
Some would argue that the gravitas of that record and them as a band has since passed; things have moved on, music has evolved. Balls. Without Oasis we wouldn’t have the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian and as much as it pains me to say, Coldplay. Ok, not everyone will be a fan of some/any of these acts but to ignore their success would be daft. The 90’s were a deeply transitional period for UK music, on one hand there was the battle of the bands between Oasis and Blur, whilst on the other acts such as Whigfield and D:Ream battled it out to see who could produce the most vacuous records on earth. Set fire to a Whigfield record (go on, try it) and you’d get an acrid plastic smell, burn an Oasis record and you get the heady smell of beer, cigarettes and good times. I know which one I would prefer.
So should they reunite for the 20th anniversary of their incredible debut album? Abso-iftheStoneRosescandoitsoshouldthey-lutely. Given the chance to watch a once-great band reform should be seen as an opportunity to inspire not to file away in the annals of bad decisions. It will be a stark reminder for any up and coming band that you can’t just have the swagger and haircuts, you’ve got to have the tunes…and boy did they have the tunes.
by Allan Nersessian
The impact of Oasis on British music simply cannot be overstated. Just hearing the vast multitude of people from all over the world singing along to Beady Eye perform Wonderwall at the Olympics closing ceremony last year is proof enough. While Noel Gallagher’s assessment that the performance was worthy of “Stratford’s finest Oasis tribute band” was a bit harsh, there’s more than a little truth in it.
None of the Gallaghers’ efforts since the demise of Oasis have come remotely close to capturing the effortless everyman appeal of their Rock ‘N’ Roll Star salad days. Seeing either Beady Eye or High Flying Birds live now is merely to witness faded glory. For the average punter, every If I Had a Gun…, Flick of the Finger etc. is just five minutes filler before someone eventually starts Cigarettes & Alcohol. Undoubtedly the Oasis that made those seminal records is no more. Before their break-up in 2009, the group’s career is marked by lacklustre releases that show a steady decline that ultimately can be traced back to their great folly, Be Here Now, through to the benign Dig out Your Soul. As unintended swansongs go, their 2008 record ranks alongside The Who’s It’s Hard and Led Zeppelin’s In Through the Out Door except no one died when Oasis were making theirs so they really have no excuse for its poor quality. A slight resurgence for 2005’s Don’t Believe the Truth is an anomaly in a trajectory that took them from being the people’s rock band to where they are today.
Celebrating 20years since their debut, routinely chosen among the greatest albums ever, is a better reason than many have had to get back together, however seeing jaded wealthy 40-somethings playing songs by and about wide-eyed, young Mancs living a rock star lifestyle beyond their means with dreams of immortality would take some of the shine off the occasion. Oasis in the ‘90s were the most exciting rock group of their generation, the tunes were raw and full of optimism but more crucial to the enduring celebrity of the Gallaghers is that they were the best soap opera not on TV. The brothers’ bickering never abated, eventually bringing about their split. With the media hungry even now for every soundbite, rather disappointingly, both siblings are talking more sense than ever, they’re more reflective, dare we say, mature, surely a sign of the end times. Liam’s declaration that One Direction are “my biggest competition” may be more realistic than many are willing to concede while Noel has directed interviews away from reunion talk to his favourite bands, announcing “The future of the galaxy depends on the Temples and Jagwar Ma records”. Though their fans, most rock critics and even the band themselves will deny it, they appear more aware than ever that the baton has been passed.
There was an x-factor that made Oasis great in the past, some magic which can’t be recaptured by simply reuniting songwriter and singer again and no, I’m not talking about getting Bonehead back. Moreover, the last thing a crowded summer schedule needs is yet another nostalgia trip. What was it they used to sing, Don’t Look Back in Anger? Why not, like Dylan, simply Don’t Look Back?
by Elliott Homer