By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Big mouth strikes again
Now that the hype has settled, it is easier to see how this band of loudmouthed Manchester lads almost managed to become as big as the Beatles--if only in Britain. If brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher say it enough times--who knows?--they may be able to convince others.
Oasis appeared at a time when the phrase rock and roll was anathema. At the time, the self-imposed misery of grunge, the trademark humility of indie rock, and the facelessness of electronica did not allow for any old-time rock excesses or poses. Yet Oasis opened their first album with a song called "Rock 'n' Roll Star" and took it from there. Now, with almost 20 million records sold, that title doesn't seem to be too far from the truth. The everyman in Britain--the average Joe down at the pub--can relate to their catchy melodies and simple, peppy lyrics.
Be Here Now, their third album, celebrates Oasis and all things British. The cover--with the mansion, the Rolls Royce in the pool, the Vespa--brings to mind All Mod Cons by the Jam, another great band from Old Albion that was too British to prick up the American ear. On these shores, attitude alone doesn't cut it. On the contrary, we prefer our stars to be soft and cuddly, and we'd love it if they'd kiss our asses too. Well, Oasis doesn't do that: Here they are wildly self-congratulatory, serving up a heap of glory riffs and overstatements: "I met my maker, I made him cry/And on my shoulder he asked me why" ("D'You Know What I Mean?'); "The future's mine and it's no disgrace" ("I Hope, I Think, I Know"); "Who'll put on my shoes while they're walking/Slowly down the hall of fame?" ("My Big Mouth"). Ah, the beauty of being young, talented, and arrogant.
All that would be meaningless if they didn't write these "top tunes" (Noel's words) that ring inside your head for days: "Stand By Me," which could be the new "Wonderwall," or the big and bouncy "Be Here Now," full of pure, kid-like joy. Or the mean rocker "Fade In-Out," building slowly on a slimy slide-guitar riff and Liam's gravely voice yet never reaching a climax. Or the high-octane optimism of "It's Gettin' Better (Man!!)." Exuberance is the key, with layers upon layers of guitars, lush orchestrations, big and boomy drums, and over-confident vocals.
The finale is very Beatlesque--naturally. Orchestras and horns collide in a crescendo like the ending of a big Technicolor movie, one in which the five honchos drive into the sunset in a chocolate-brown Rolls Royce. Those damn rock and roll stars.