Be Here Now – Oasis

Be Here Now

Oasis

1997

Creation

As of August of this year, Noel Gallagher has officially quit Oasis.  This action has, in actual fact, resulted in the dissolvement of the English band.  Being that Oasis has been one of my favorite bands, this news came as a depressing shock.  While the two brothers were known for their infamous quarrels, I think the band’s fan base never thought it would come to this.  Our thought process was that they survived the hype of “Britpop”, a strange MTV Unplugged show, and numerous lawsuits over “borrowing” melodies and words, and so they would last together for a while longer. 

So, the review today focuses around one of those crises that Oasis somehow survived: their third album Be Here Now.  The story is that after the success of (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, Oasis had become extremely popular, and helped to usher in the Britpop movement (a strange title for a genre that just describes bands from Britain.  Really.).  With this popularity came an excessive amount of hype for their third album, which was he fastest-selling album in British history.  However, after an initial prosperous short-term, appeal for the album waned, then turned into vehement derision.  Critics hated the album, fans became disillusioned.  Even the band (or I guess I should say “former members of the band”) almost refuses to acknowledge the existence of the album.  Noel has described it as “bland” and “fucking shit” (That sounds like a Gallagher brother.)  And guess how many tracks from Be Here Now were featured on the 2006 best-of album Stop the Clocks.  That’s right, zero.

That all being said, this is one of my favorite Oasis albums.  Honestly.  I understand the criticism, most people wanted another Morning Glory and never got it.

“D’You Know What I Mean?” opens with an extremely prolonged into of clicks and backwards vocals.  When the songs actually kicks in, Oasis sounds heavier than before, due to a loud drum sound and ringing power chords.  Like most of the lyrics on this album, a fun game to play is to guess the Beatles references.  Here we have two in a row: “Fool on the hill, and I feel fine”.  When the chorus comes in, Oasis feels bigger (as I’ve said, “heavier”), with a poignant “All my people right here, right now, Do you know what I mean?”.  Everything about this song sets the mood for the album (including the almost eight minute length of the song.

“My Big Mouth” comes in with feedback, and then an onslought of sound.  The verses sound kind of mundane, more dry for Oasis.  However, the bridge and chorus appear to be done well, even with the pre-echo on Liam’s vocals.  The lyrics are kind of banal as well: “Through my big mouth, you can fly a plane”.  It’s a weak song for Oasis, but it’s decent.  And one of the shorter songs on this album, at 5:02.  Oh, and Beatles reference: “Down the long and winding road”.

The third track, “Magic Pie”, slows the tempo down.  The intro is mainly acoustic with a well-intentioned solo guitar over it.  Unfortunately, keeping with the epic-sounding music, feedback interrupts and those clicks from the first song are back (Supposedly, they’re Morse Code for “Bugger all” and/or “Strawberry Fields”).  Anyway, the opening verse is laid-back.  Then, drums and electric guitar blow the song away, a nice trick showing that Oasis has developed musically. The chorus, like many Oasis songs is relatively catchy.  Again, the song suffers from being too long.  The last four minutes or so revolve around a giant guitar solo, a rehashed chorus, and sweeping sound effects.  Sorry, but Noel’s not a good enough guitar player to hold the audiences interest with that long of a solo.  And the chorus isn’t that good.  The ending is cool as it devolves into chaos, and then late-50’s sounding radio music.

The fifth track is “Stand By Me”, the second single from the album.  It’s also one of the better songs on here too.  With a more interesting intro than just feedback and noise, the song comes in almost right away.  Despite a terrible opening line, “Made a meal and threw it up on Sunday”, the lyrics are pretty competent.  And here, clearly, is why this album sounds heavier: strings.  The induction of a small orchestra into Oasis is proof of how big they were.  At the time, numerous musicians playing strings and horns and such were not cheap.  And, the arrangement of the strings is possibly the best part of the song, answering the vocal lines after Liam sings “Nobody knows”.

“I Hope, I Think, I Know” follows the previous track’s pattern.  Another sufficient song, the lyrics seem a little abusive, even egotistical.  Which may be a good thing.  Liam and Noel have always been conceited, and therefore know how to write about it.  The chorus is really enticing, one that’s hard to get out of your head. 

“The Girl in the Dirty Shirt” enters with a cool bashing of repetition.  The harmonies on the song are extremely well-recorded, melding in with the melody perfectly.  Also, the bridge shows off Liam as you can hear him struggle to reach higher-pitched notes.  During the chorus, the slide guitar answers the vocals perfectly.  The lyrics are also affecting, as Noel writes from a different perspective with “To me it doesn’t matter if you’re hopes and dreams are shattered”.

The next song is one of the strongest songs, because of its different nature.  “Fade In-Out” begins with a feeling of an Old Western complexion.  The trebble-high guitar brings a life to the song that sounds so unlike any Oasis composition before or after.  It almost makes you forget that Liam’s singing, “You have to be bad enough to beat the brave” without any tinge of irony.  Oh, Beatles check: “Helter Skelter”.  The harmony on “I don’t see no shine […] really is a nice touch.  However, the best part of the song: wild screams as the band begins to rock, with a wailing guitar solo, that beats any of Noel’s previous work.  It’s an awesome mind-blowing song, proving this album deserves more respect than it has.

Next is probably the most famous song on Be Here Now, the ballad “Don’t Go Away”.  For some reason, this reminds me of “Live Forever”.  The lead-intro guitar possesses a kind-of disparaging quality, almost going out-of tune numerous times.  It’s an affectionate song that will get stuck in your head very easily.  The ringing guitar in the background provides a decent let-up from ringing power chords.  This is also one of the shorter songs, at less than five minutes. 

The title track is at the number ten spot, opening with an 8-bit sounding, digital riff (and of course, feedback).  A mid-tempo rocker, Oasis goes back to their formula of cynicism.  It’s one of the weaker tracks, but only because of the two songs that bookend this one. Oh, “Let it Be” is mentioned.

“All Around the World” is Oasis’ “Hey Jude”, a nine-minute extravaganza, complete with “Na na na’s”.  I’m actually surprised that this didn’t end up on Stop the Clocks, as this is one of their best songs.  To make such a long song interesting is an incredible feat.  The short verses compose barely a third of the song, but they’re some of Noel’s best lyrics: “If you’re lost at sea, well, I hope that you’ve drowned”.  He plays with this cynical vision that provides a tangent to the optimistic “Gonna make a better day.”  Musically, the key changes three to four times, the song becoming more intense each time.  Electric guitars, strings, horns, drums, basses, harmonies, acoustic guitars, and Liam’s lead vocal offer a bombastic track.  Unlike most of the other songs, this track deserves to be lengthy.

“All Around the World” segues perfectly into “It’s Gettin’ Better (Man!!)” which, maybe because of all the leftover good will from the previous number, is another awesome song.  You can see why the album closes with these two tracks.  Another optimistic piece, the lyrics focus around the title.  There’s not much to say, a normal guitar solo, huge sounds, this song sums up the album perfectly, in an interesting way. 

Tacked on is the “All Around the World (Reprise)” a short reiteration of the song, with interlocking horn melodies.  It’s cool, but so out-of-place.

Is all the opposition to the album warranted?  Definitely not.  There are many awesome songs on this album, at least five really strong compositions.  Of course, the criticisms that the album being “bloated” makes sense, most songs clock in over five minutes and Oasis was able to afford an orchestra, as well.  But that actually elongates the band’s sound in a good way.  If anything, most of the songs could’ve cut at least two minutes from their playing time, but most of this album is very solid.  Seeing as it’s been over ten years already, I doubt Be Here Now will ever shred its negative vibes (music critic John Savage points out in his book that this album was the end to Britpop).  However, hopefully, it will stop being ignored as an inflated album made by a band who was full of themselves.  That’s what Oasis is about, being full of themselves.  That’s why they’ve lasted as long as they did.  And now that they are no more, it’s time to celebrate even their most ridiculed works and see Be Here Now as a substantial work of art.

[Ed. Note: Just found out, the slide guitar on “Fade In-Out”?  Yeah, that’s Johnny Depp.  At first, I dismissed this as Wikipedia being Wikipedia, but no, go check the band’s website.  It’s actually Johnny Depp.  Maybe the album is too bloated (Kidding).]

Official Site

Last.fm Page

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2 Responses to “Be Here Now – Oasis”

  1. […] One of their more forgotten albums.  After the giant flop and subsequent huge catastrophe that was Be Here Now, Oasis suffered a withdrawal of popularity, that lasted until Don’t Believe the Truth.  Of […]

  2. […] apologized for, as it seems that they, too, got swept up in the hype machine. This would happen for Oasis’ Be Here Now 2 years later, but the album in question that I am choosing to write about is the forgotten relic […]

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