Thursday, 11 December 2008

Oasis

I've always been a bit ambivalent about Oasis. One the one hand they bring back good memories. Memories of being in my late teens in the nineties...which entailed, as you might expect, stripey turtle-necks, being drunk, chasing girls, playing the guitar badly, Trainspotting (the film, honest), talking shite...and learning how to be a tree (I studied Drama at university). All to the musical backdrop of tracks like Wonderwall and Don't Look Back in Anger. Those songs always remind me of fun, innocent times - times when Oasis' Roll with it was up against Blur's Country House for the number one spot, there were no responsibilities to worry about, no fear about the future and no agonising about a career in music - or any other career for that matter. We were invincible and, so it seemed, were Oasis.

On the other hand, I've always been deeply unimpressed by them - for two reasons. One: the vast majority of their songs sound like a cover version of the Beatles' classic Rain (and in fact, that was Oasis' original name). Two (and a related reason this): their unrelenting obsession with the Beatles.

Now don't get me wrong: I love the Beatles. They inspired me to learn how to play the guitar and embark on an incredibly foolish musical journey. I have ripped them off mercilessly in my own music. But Oasis take their admiration to a level far beyond that of most admirers. Their haircuts, their lyrics, their guitars, their videos, their choice of recording studio...everything about them has always seemed to say less about their own identity than that of the Beatles. Although Oasis write their own material, they often seem to resemble a sort of weird Beatles tribute band.

Maybe that's highly intentional, and part of the marketing plan - after all, the Beatles are rock icons that are deeply loved. You can go a long way by trading on associations. But to believe that is to do Oasis a disservice: their love for the Fab Four has always come across as genuine, and has certainly been long-lasting.

I guess it's the 'long-lasting' aspect of this love which I find irritating. In the nineties, when the Beatles were doing their Anthology TV series, and we had the whole 'Britpop' thing going on, the Oasis-Beatles-60s revival stuff seemed novel and interesting - and in tune with the times. Thirteen years on, encountering Beatles-infused lyrics like "Love is...a magical mystery", Beatles-infused song titles like "Bag it up", or Beatles-infused videos that look like the Yellow Submarine film is not hugely inspiring. And a lot of the new material still sounds like Rain.

But I'm going to forgive Oasis all that. Because I love their new single, I'm Outta Time. I think it's a fantastic song, even if the lyrics make no sense at all and it's a complete Lennon rip-off (though I can't talk: I'm completely guilty of bad lyric writing and ripping Lennon off). I would go so far as to say, controversially, that it's the greatest track they've put out; the production is engaging (that irritating Day in the Life piano reference aside), the melody is a treat, and well, it's just a great song.

To my mind, Noel has written three or four very good songs - Don't Look Back in Anger, Wonderwall, Live Forever and Roll With It...and the rest sound like Rain. I think this new single is better than all of those songs (with the exception of Rain of course) - and it was written by Liam. I've got a sneaking feeling that Noel knows this.

Normally at this point in a blog I try to write something witty and come to some sort of conclusion. I'm afraid I can't here. Basically I sometimes like Oasis; sometimes I don't; I like their new single. Did you need to know this? Probably not.

I think all the above says something about blogging.


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