Thursday, November 02, 2006

Turning The Clocks Back

Another brief rant: There has been some really bizarre journalism regarding the imminent release of an Oasis 'greatest hits' compilation. Some of it has been simple revisionism, ignoring the fact that 'Be Here Now' received the most universal acclaim of all the Oasis albums on release, and became the fastest selling British album of all time. However, some of the conjectures in these reviews are simply false. In Uncut magazine, John Robinson claims that 'during the 18 months they burned brightest - this band effortlessly outshone everything and everyone around them'. Now, I'll confess that I still have a mildly irrational fondness for 'Definitely Maybe' and the better parts of '(What's The Story) Morning Glory?', and when the band released 'Be Here Now' on my GCSE results day I fell for the marketing trick hook, line and sinker, but this statement is surely only true in retrospect. Some of us can remember, at the very least, the intensity of the PR-aided battle with Blur, or the fact that a number of other British bands (e.g. Pulp, The Boo Radleys, Supergrass, Teenage Fanclub) made superior records that, whilst selling less, gathered similar critical plaudits and have perhaps even endured just as well. In 1995, for better or for worse, many were equally interested in the ill-feted Stone Roses comeback.

Even more absurd is Pat Gilbert's argument in Mojo that Noel Gallagher is an underrated lyricist, blessed with an ability to capture simple emotion, and a gift with spiritual, perhaps even Biblical imagery. Excuse me while I choke on my chicken - but if Oasis' songs have any lyrical appeal at all, it's largely due to the nonsense rhyme schemes. Just because Noel captured a zeitgeist with phrases like 'make me shiiiiiiine', doesn't mean he knows anything about light and darkness. Indeed, a light can shine - but a person cannot.

The 'Stop The Clocks' compilation understandably favours the earlier material, but also opts for B sides and album tracks over singles. The gravity of the group's decline is conveniently glossed over - and in ignoring 'Be Here Now' completely, they miss out two of their best songs, 'D'You Know What I Mean?' (perhaps their only single to really pay attention to sonic detail) and 'Stand By Me' (to my mind a superior anthemic ballad to any of the Morning Glory staples).

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