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Definitely Maybe

from: Select August '94
author: Andrew Perry

Whatever the Stone Roses are doing out in Wales, they might as well pack up and go home. Was their first album really that good? Does anyone really need a second? What was great was their buzz, their fuck-off arrogance in high places, the way that, at the time, only they mattered. Only someone with their head up their arse-end of Madchester wants the same again. Now is Oasis.

All year, Creation have promised us it would happen. Classic pop band. A real buzz live. Loads of attitude. They said these things about Adorable, too.

The auto-twatting Gallagher brothers and their Frankie-style three-other-lads have come from nowhere and in -- what? -- six mad months, fulfilled all those promises. They've brought back that excitement where hardly a week goes by without them putting out another cracking single, being brilliant on The Pops, or just roaming at large and going insane, bullying audiences, journos, hotel staff, hotel guests, everyone -- even each other -- into joining the sick, glittering circus of thuggishness around them.

And now they've gone the whole hog before you can even draw a breath to diss them. 'Definitely Maybe' is arguably the most fantastic, bottle swinging, swaggering racket you'll hear in '94, and probably for some while after. Of course, it nicks ideas left, right and center, but if you're going to do it, you might as well do it with some two-fingered gusto and take said influence to the cleaners. Like 'Shakermaker''s theft of 'I'd Like to Tech The World To Sing'. If they're still alive, The New Seekers surely don't approve.

There are echoes of The Beatles all over the shop, desecrated and mashed up. The intro to 'Bring It On Down' is the intro to The Only Ones' 'Another Girl Planet' with John Bonham on drums, bad and being loud. And the most depraved T-Rex riff charges 'Cigarettes and Alcohol' -- but more about that in a sec.

Judging from 'Supersonic', Oasis' lyrics, which guitarist Noel writes and brother Liam sings, seemed to owe no small debt to Shaun Ryder -- all that weird stuff about Elsa being into Alka-Seltzer, doing it with a doctor on a helicopter. Here, the full Gallagher couldn't-give-a-flying-one world-view hits you smack between the eyes. Life isn't necessarily sweet, but it is simple, if twisted with a sardonic scally surrealism that even goes back beyond the Mondays to John Lennon. The logic (like the music) is so direct like and primordial, you wonder when the last time was you heard a bunch of songs that actually spoke to you without having to sit down and work them out with the lyric sheet.

They're shot through with the take-it-or-leave-it deadpan sneer that's fixed on Liam's face onstage. Look, pal, whatever turns you on, you know, but we're up here, and you're not. If you really want to try it on, you know where this tambourine's going...

'Married With Children', the acoustic ditty which closes the album, is a hilarious stream of verbal addressed to the skeptics they've left back home on Manchester's dreary estates: "I hate the way you're so sarcastic/ And you're not very bright/ You think that everything you've done's fantastic/ Your music's shite, it keeps me up all night, up all night." Take that and party...

For all basic instincts, mind, there's a sense of possibility, a very real dream of empowerment. "Tonight, I'm a rock n roll star" goes the chorus for the opener, 'Rock N Roll Star'. Look at us! Believe, and it can be yours!

Everything is about Manchester dreaming -- 'Slide Away''s vision on escape, love, and happiness, 'Up In The Sky' and 'Live Forever''s glorious E'd up rushed of shared invincibility. The whole album's a riotous celebration of the cheep thrills that pop culture affords, and it's littered with great pop moments. Barely a duff track ('Columbia' is probably the furthest from three-minute perfection) and, lest we forget, there's 'Cigarettes and Alcohol'. "Is it my imagin-ay-sheee-urn", Liam drawls with a stupidly funky inflection, "or I finally found something worth living for/ I was looking for some act-sheee-urn but all I found were cigarettes and alcohol." Drink beer. Smoke Tabs. It's all you need, he's saying, except maybe a good shag every now and then. "You've gotta make it happen", goes the anthemic, effortlessly '94 refrain. Don't get a job, just get your rocks off. Whatever squeezes your lemon, whatever cranks your wang. Do it. That's the message.

In a couple of weeks, 'Live Forever' will put Oasis back in the Top 20. Then, the day after the Bank Holiday, you can get your hands on 'Definitely Maybe'. The next LP may well be more accomplished, and contain some of the best stuff about being a pop star since Ian Hunter, but with this debut, Oasis have practically made pop's here and now their own. The best band of '94, anyone? Definitely. No maybes.

Rating: 5 of 5

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(What's The Story) Morning Glory?

from: Wall of Sound

rating: 84

The new Battle of Britain has nothing to do with zeppelins, Churchill, or the Luftwaffe. This time it's two bands--Oasis, from Manchester in the north, and Blur, from the southern town of Colchester--conducting a musical civil war. They may duke it out on the charts, at awards shows, and in the press (where neither group is shy about slagging off the other), but, in truth, Oasis and Blur are two markedly different entities. Oasis is a rock band, all crunchy guitars and cocky attitude. Blur favors the pop side of the fence, exploring lush arrangements and crafty melodies.

Oasis's (What's the Story) Morning Glory? follows the quintet's debut, Definitely Maybe, which was a homeland sensation and thanks to the hits--"Supersonic" and "Live Forever"--one of the first British albums in a while to cause a stir in the United States. Morning Glory is even better: harder hitting, more assured, and less self-conscious about flaunting Oasis's obvious influences. The Beatles are one such touchstone, evident in the chamber-style arrangement of "Wonderwall," the McCartneyesque bop of "Cast No Shadow" and "She's Electric," and the "Imagine"-ative piano that propels "Don't Look Back in Anger," which features the Lennonesque observation, "So I start a revolution from my bed/ 'coz you said the brains I had went to my head." Oasis isn't limited to the Fab Four, though. Traffic's "Dear Mr. Fantasy" is the root of the epic, seven-and-a-half-minute album closer, "Champagne Supernova," while the title track draws its rhythmic structure from R.E.M.'s "The One I Love."

Not to dismiss Oasis as mere riff thieves. Songwriter and guitarist Noel Gallagher makes those influences the base of Oasis's sound, using them to give some melodic shape to the band's dense, almost grungey guitar attack. When the group is tearing through "Morning Glory" or pounding through the sing-along choruses of "Roll With It," it merits considerably closer attention than a simple game of Name That Influence. p> Blur is no slouch in the respectful-pilfering department, either. It too can rock--"Globe Alone" speeds along at a clip that would make the Ramones proud--but front-man Damon Albarn and his cohorts are equally interested in sonic architecture. To that end, The Great Escape is fashioned from sources as traditional as Bacharach and Mott the Hoople, along with such artsy pop icons as Squeeze, Madness, Supertramp, David Bowie, and X.T.C.

Lyrically, Albarn is a bona fide Ray Davies disciple, with an idealistic cynicism that turns The Great Escape into an indictment of consumerism and mass media. "But it's not his fault/ Dan watches TV," Albarn sings in "Dan Abnormal." It's a tuneful diatribe, filled with horns, strings, and the occasional tasteful guitar solo by Graham Coxon. The songs cut a wide swath, from the roiling pomp of "Country House" to the somber waltz of "The Universal," and from the psychedelic "He Thought of Cars" to the stiff, partially narrated "Ernold Same." And on the album's closer, "Yuko & Hiro," you can't help but wonder if Albarn isn't talking about his girlfriend, Elastica's Justine Frischmann, as he sings: "I never see you/ We are never together/ I'll love you forever." It's too bad Oasis and Blur are at war, because they've both come up with winning new albums that, in tandem, offer a survey of British pop music during the last thirty years. — Gary Graff

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D'You Know What I Mean?


In the chorus of Oasis' new single, lead singer Liam Gallagher asks, "All my people right here, right now/D'you know what I mean, yeah, yeah."

The answer is no, although the catchy musical question will probably be stuck in listeners' minds for long time.

The verses feature more of the same Beatles-inspired rhymed couplets that are typical of Oasis. What Oasis lacks in lyrical complexity and originality is made up by its rock-and-roll grandeur.

The opening of the single features a tempest of distortion and electronic screeches, as an acoustic guitar makes its subdued rhythmic entrance.

The ending features another self-indulgent feedback-fest by Oasis' guitarist and principal songwriter, Noel Gallagher.

Clocking in at over six minutes, D'you Know What I Mean? is more like the Brit-rock excesses of Champagne Supernova from Oasis' last album than the quick and catchy radio-friendly statements of Wonderwall and Live Forever.

Even with its musical experimentation and extended track length, D'you Know What I Mean? still possesses Oasis' pop aesthetic, chart-topping potential and radio sing-along lyrics.

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Be Here Now

from: Wall of Sound

rating: 68

About the middle of Oasis's third album, Liam Gallagher sings, "Today is just a daydream/ Tomorrow we'll be cast away." But don't think for a minute that he or his brother Noel, who wrote the lyric, really believe that. Since Oasis's last album, 1995's (What's the Story) Morning Glory? took off into the sales stratosphere, the Gallaghers (and, presumably, their three silent bandmates) have reveled unapologetically in their mega-important-band status and all the tabloid hype that comes with it. But Noel offers another sage observation on Be Here Now: "An extra ordinary guy/ can never have an ordinary day." No kidding. He and Liam have--willingly, mind you--positioned Oasis in a realm of constant surveillance and never-ending expectations. If (What's the Story) Morning Glory? came out as the modestly anticipated sophomore effort by a band that had a pretty fair debut, Be Here Now is the most hungered-for album of the year. And for every person who's waiting with an eagerly whetted appetite, there's another bearing a sharp knife and fork, ready to carve it up and give those brash, irreverent Gallagher boys their comeuppance.

Be Here Now gives neither camp exactly what it wants. It's far too good to slice up: Noel Gallagher remains an effortlessly instinctive craftsman with a perfect formula for nineties pop, matching Mersey Beat-derived melodies with a dense, orchestrated instrumental attack. On the other hand--and it's a big one--Be Here Now isn't as instantly arresting as either Morning Glory or its predecessor, Definitely Maybe. For all his skill as a songsmith, the elder Gallagher lets his greater ambitions get the best of him here and loses the tight, punchy focus and cheeky charm that made "Supersonic" and "Wonderwall" sound so great on the radio.

Blame it on "Champagne Supernova," the trippy post-"Wonderwall" smash off Morning Glory. With its seven-minute running time, it gave Noel confidence that radio and audiences would embrace his lengthy songs. "Wonderwall" gave him the license to stretch out almost everything on Be Here Now, which has an average song length of nearly six minutes and only two songs under five--hardly a course John and Paul would ever have pursued. To his credit, Gallagher has a touch for making lengthy songs sound not quite so long, deploying repeated choruses and bridges. But every one of Be Here Now's epics--"D'You Know What I Mean?" "Magic Pie," "It's Getting' Better (Man!!!)," and the nine-minute, twenty-second whopper "All Around the World"--sounds like a terrific pop song stretched beyond its natural limits, without enough dynamic range or guitar-solo variations to justify the excess. One simply tires of them beyond a certain point, which is the cardinal sin of songwriting. That said, the album's best song, "Fade In-Out," weighs in at nearly seven minutes, but it sustains itself well. Starting with a mix of acoustic and electric guitars bucking Liam's big vocal delivery, the song's restraint generates the kind of tension Be Here Now's other songs lack. And when it fills out after the second chorus, the effect is explosively cathartic.

Ironically, Noel spends more time than ever paying lyrical homage to the Beatles, even as he abandons their instrumental aesthetic that influenced him so much. The title track includes the line "Sing a song for me/ one from Let It Be." "D'You Know What I Mean?" makes reference to "the fool on the hill." The stomping rocker "It's Gettin' Better (Man!!!)" asks "What was that you said to me?/ Just say the word and I'd be free?" And the orchestral reprise of "All Around the World" that closes the album is a trademark George Martin touch circa Yellow Submarine.

It's important to reiterate that Be Here Now is hardly a pratfall. There's still plenty to get you off amidst Oasis's guitar-drenched bombast. But Noel Gallagher has abandoned some of the virtues that made him Britain's most celebrated songwriter of the mid-nineties, and if he doesn't reclaim them, that castaway prediction from "Fade In-Out" may prove more prophetic than he intends. — Gary Graff

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The Masterplan

from: Wall of Sound

rating: 90

They feud. They fight. They flip people off. They don't give a toss about how they're represented in the press; in fact, the nastier the better. In a way, Oasis is the perfect band, one that fits all of our stereotypes—positive and negative—of the controversial and satisfying rock 'n' roll lifestyle. A major factor contributing to the band's potency is that they write better songs than just about any band working today. In fact, they write such great songs, this collection of B-sides, songs they've appended to various singles since 1994, is at least as good and very often better than most bands' A-sides.

Don't believe it? Listen to the hard rock riffs and utterly chilling chord changes in "Fade Away," a B-side to the "Cigarettes and Alcohol" single of 1994. Or check out Liam's gorgeous vocal melody on "Rockin' Chair," the companion to "Roll With It" released in 1995. The guitar-based melody on "Stay Young," the flip side to "D'You Know What I Mean," bounces and bangs at the same time, as does the searing power-rocker "Headshrinker," found on the back of "Some Might Say."

For some reason, Noel Gallagher ends up singing more than half of these songs—perhaps a clue that Liam makes himself scarce when his job's not on the line—and he doesn't carry the same, sneering Lennon-esque potency that Liam does, but when you're talking about songs this good, turning it up and letting it rip should dissolve any indifferences you might have toward Oasis, their dodgy attitude, and suspicious image. As some sage once said, judge the music, not the men. — Bob Gulla

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