FEATURE: 20 years old today, Oasis' 'Be Here Now' wasn't THAT bad? Was it?
Oasis - Kicking up a storm, from the day that they were born.
Funnily enough, if you type the words 'Be Here Now' into google this minute, your current location appears. A lot has changed in two decades.
21 August 1997 saw the release of Oasis' third album making it, at the time, the fastest-selling album in British history.
Oasis foresaw their future and claimed that one day they would become the best and biggest band in the world and their self-proclaimed prophecy was finally coming true.
'What's The Story? (Morning Glory)' skyrocketed the band into super stardom and once Wonderwall was released, it looked as though Oasis would follow in the Beatles' footsteps and take over the US.
No matter what the third album had held in store, it was going to get a good review regardless. It was almost as if the album's rating had been decided before it had even left the recording studio.
They were the big British band that had sold out Knebworth, twice, and if they said they were the best band in the world, the press was going to believe them, especially after their rollercoaster ride between 1994-'96.
It was five stars all around [the world].
However, music fans soon started to realise that this was absolutely nothing like WTSMG, in fact, two years after its release 'Be Here Now' was the album that was sold most to second-hand record stores.
Such was the bad smell surrounding their big third album that even the man behind the songs thought it was shite.
"It's the sound of ... a bunch of guys, on coke, in the studio, not giving a fuck. There's no bass to it at all; I don't know what happened to that ... And all the songs are really long and all the lyrics are shit and for every millisecond Liam is not saying a word, there's a fuckin' guitar riff in there in a Wayne's World stylie".
Liam, of course, disagreed with his older brother's statement and said that "if [Noel] didn't like the record that much, he shouldn't have put the fucking record out in the first place ... I don't know what's up with him but it's a top record, man, and I'm proud of it—it's just a little bit long."
However, if Noel had said it was the best album the band ever made, Liam would have probably called him a potato and claimed the opposite.
It would be the last album that Noel would write all by himself and it would also be the last album that would feature two of the founding members, Guigsy and Bonehead.
So, 20 years on, is Be Here Now as bad as Noel thought it was or do you agree with Liam's statement that it was a top record but just a tad too long?
The Album Cover
Before you even pressed play, it was obvious that this was going to be an album full of excessive and unnecessary noise. Hello, there is a white Rolls Royce floating in the swimming pool for crying out loud.
D'You Know What I Mean?
What an opener for the album. One of the vocals at the start is played backwards and it sounds as though they're saying 'fuck me' and that's exactly how you feel when this blares through the speakers on track one. When they ask "all my people right here, right now, d'you know what I mean?" you just do. You know what they mean even though they haven't actually said anything.
The only bad thing about this track is it's nearly eight minutes which is about two minutes too long. It's almost the same length as Champagne Supernova and you have to ask the question why it is acceptable for one and not the other?
I suppose Champagne Supernova is a song that builds and builds which eventually just explodes before quietly finishing with the drumming of Alan White. For the whole seven-odd-minutes, it has something to give to you, something that keeps you hooked, while D'you Know What I Mean? really loses its presence around the five-minute mark. After all, how many times does one have to say those five words before it really becomes too much?
My Big Mouth
"Into my big mouth, you could fly a plane" if a line ever described the antics of the two brothers more, it was this. Their mouths constantly got them in trouble and a perfect example of this is when Noel hit the front pages of the papers after suggesting that everyone did drugs and compared it to drinking tea.
That's some fairly strong tea.
An opening line of this song really defines the whole 'Be Here Now' album, "it's a sound so very loud, that no-one can hear."
You'd be quite disappointed with this as track number two, considering you had just blown your mind and your pants after listening to the song previous.
Yes, you'd be very frustrated indeed, until you hit next...
"An extraordinary guy can never have an ordinary day." The brothers had left the ordinary days behind following the success of WTSMG. They couldn't leave the house without being met by loads of paparazzi and even a change of haircut would see them land on the front page.
They had indeed "got their magic pie," but man is this a shite song. For starters, the intro and outro is far too long. We'd have gladly cut three minutes off this and added it to D'You Know What I Mean? if it meant that this song finished quicker.
On the previous album, Noel had made sure that he was on lead vocals for Don't Look Back in Anger but why he jumped at the chance to sing this instead of Don't Go Away or Stand By Me is beyond us. Speaking of which...
Stand By Me
Penned after he made the big move from Manchester to London, Noel describes in this song how he gave himself food poisoning after cooking his first big meal all by himself in the capital.
The second song to be released as a single from the album, it's something that in hindsight, would have been better in an acoustic format.
Despite this, it's still a great song and although it is nearly six-minutes in total, it keeps you hanging on until the last "nobody knows, the way it's going to be."
The songwriter admitted in an interview that "it's a bit like 'Live Forever', I suppose, with a touch of 'All the Young Dudes' in the background—though I made sure I changed the chords.
Smart move Noel, we still think you should have done it acoustically though, sorry.
Clip via PeiBoLedZepp
We hope you enjoyed Stand By Me because it's a long way to the next good tune on the track.
I hope, I think, I know
A really pointless song that somehow made its way onto the album. Its opening riff is the same as Oasis B-side 'The Fame' and whether Noel realised it at the time or not, it's a shame he didn't slot that in at number five instead of this.
"Cause baby after all, you'll never forget my name." that's fair enough but one thing is for sure, we will definitely forget about this song after this article is done.
The Girl in The Dirty Shirt
Again, how this didn't end up on the studio room floor is beyond us. How bizarre is this song? There is a kazoo in the chorus, a fucking kazoo.
"Get your shit together girl," replace the word girl with Gallagher[s] here and it would have made a lot more sense.
Did I mention there's a kazoo in it?
Normal business resumes after those two woeful songs. Fade In-Out's beginning would fit perfectly at the start of a Cowboy/Western movie. That guitar riff at the start is simple but is so intriguing that it holds you until the chords kick in.
Now it feels like you're back into an Oasis album, it could have even opened Be Here Now but after the abysmal middle section, it's just what 'Be Here Now' needs when you're getting ready to eject the CD.
You've got the kick-ass opening line, "Get on the rollercoaster the fair's in town today," you've got the Beatles reference "Helter Skelter" and you have a classic phrase in "the devil's refugee," - it spells Oasis.
It's too long and that goes without saying but it nearly gets away with it because of the big 'yeah' shout near the end.
Don't Go Away
Is it up there with the likes of Sad Song, Talk Tonight, Slide Away and The Masterplan in terms of touching Oasis songs with the uplifting chorus?
It was the last record released as a single off the album but it was only released in Japan. There could be a similar shout to that of Stand By Me where it could have been produced as acoustic or semi-acoustic but it's probably more powerful as it is.
We put it in the same light as the aforementioned songs because the majority of them (minus Talk Tonight) follow the same chord structure.
The sad A minor in the verse, the uplifting G major in the pre-chorus and then the switch to C in the chorus which is followed closely by G major and A minor again.
One of the reasons it wasn't released on this side of the world might have been that the album was over six months old and by this stage, it seemed like the band was flogging a dead horse.
In saying that, there was probably enough there for it to be number one.
Be Here Now
It has the potential to fall in line with I hope and Dirty Shirt because of its over the top lyrics in the verse. Its mention of Digsy in the second verse transports us back to Definitely Maybe and we are left wishing that we were listening to a song about his dinner rather than another mediocre long-winded number.
Then the rip-roaring chorus hits in, "kicking up a storm, from the day that I was born." There's another Beatles reference thrown in for good measure too and with that, the terrible verse[s] resumes.
There is probably just enough in the chorus that allows you to listen to the song in its entirety without cringing but it's borderline, very borderline.
Maybe they should have called D'you Know What I Mean, Be Here Now and called this Kicking Up a Storm because the title track deserves better than this.
All Around The World
A piece of music that Noel and co should be extremely proud of. It's long and it deserves every minute it gets (and the extra two at the end courtesy of the reprise track).
It was the third and final release from the album on this side of the world and it hit the number one spot and rightly so, Oasis had been holding on to this one for years, five to be precise...
Clip via Guy Kremer
The legend goes that when Noel played this to his other four band members in rehearsal, all their eyes lit up as they had found their debut single.
Gallagher had other plans and was going saving the song until the band could afford it.
Speaking to Wibbling Rivalry in 1994, Noel said:
"The reason we haven't recorded that song is because there isn't enough money in Creation Records' bank balance to pay for the production of that record. When we do that record... Orchestras, man? It's not got to be one, it's got to be two"
It has two-chord changes, a beautiful catastrophe of guitar solos and a 'la-la-la' at the end to remind us that it's not that far off being the band's Hey Jude.
It's excessive, it's wonderful and Oasis were right to put it on what was supposed to be their triumphant third album. It's just a shame that the rest of the songs didn't do their job and it's a shame that the album didn't close with this.
It's Getting Better (Man!!)
First of all, the two exclamation marks at the end of man are two too many. On second thoughts, this song really did explain Be Here Now and the situation that Oasis had now found themselves in...
"Maybe the songs that we sing are wrong
Maybe the dreams that we dream are gone."
The songs were wrong and any dream of dominating the US was definitely gone also. Clocking in at seven-minutes also doesn't suit the song. Especially after the nine-minute symphony that came before it.
The saddest thing about Be Here Now isn't the few bad songs that are included but rather the fantastic songs that were excluded.
The B-sides of the four released singles come in the form of Stay Young and Going Nowhere which feature on their 1998 b-side album, The Masterplan and two other gems called The Fame and Flashbax.
Substitute out, It's Getting Better, I hope, Dirty Shirt and Magic Pie for these four gems and it's a different album altogether.
In fact, they probably wished they had just saved all of their b-sides and used them for their third album.
However, that was then and once more, just for today, we ask you to Be Here Now.