Be Here Now: Chasing the Sun Edition
Oct 18, 2016 Web Exclusive
There has perhaps never been a starker illustration of the dichotomy between an interesting record and a good one than this. Regardless of whether you think Oasis' first two albums were any good or not, there is no denying they were huge; they captured the mood of a Euro '96 football-obsessed England, dissatisfied with the dying embers of Tory rule.
As such, 1997's third album Be Here Now was always going to be huge. A swathe of 16-year-olds missed their GCSE results to buy the album. On BBC radio, Steve Lamacq was berated by record company men (and everything about this record screams "men") for not talking over the first airing of "D'You Know What I Mean?" enough in order to deter home tapers. It became the fastest selling British album in history and held the record until Adele came along. The reviews were universally positive although, in retrospect, many critics admitted that they simply became hype promoters, not wanting to be the first to break cover and say: "Hold on, this is a bit shit, isn't it?"
Because Be Here Now is more than a bit shit. It is nothing new to say that it is an overblown mess: over-produced, with too much of everything, coked up and excessive in every regard. Its nadir, the unlistenable faux-Beatlesesque shitstorm "All Around the World" is nine minutes long and given a two-minute reprise. After that, only one song is under five minutes long. Even if Definitely Maybe and (What's the Story) Morning Story? were loutish ladrock, they never suffered from these issues of excess. Perhaps what is most incredible is that Oasis' output would get dramatically worse after this.
Looking back—and listening to the remixes, demos, and live tracks of which the extra material on this re-release comprise—the impression is that Oasis were a far more fragile band than the swagger and ludicrous posturing of their frontmen implied at the time. "As the day was dawning my plane flew away with all the things caught in my mind," sings Liam Gallagher on "Don't Go Away," easily the album's best song.
It feels as though the idiot savant Gallaghers—Liam 25, Noel 30 in 1997—had no idea what to do with their phenomenal success and the hype around their third release. It sounds like a band who buried themselves away for two years and threw everything they had—including Johnny fucking Depp and Eagles-level amount of cocaine—into the record and created a thick soup with a foul stench. Excess and drugs can work: Hotel California, Led Zeppelin II, and Rumours still sound great. But fucking hell were Oasis not talented enough to mould it.
Why re-release it now, though? Remastering the songs doesn't take away the superfluous guitar tracks. "All Around the World" is still nine minutes and 20 seconds long. "My Big Mouth" still sounds like it belongs on a Beady Eye album. Given how quickly the album's reputation diminished—it ended up selling eight million copies; good, but well short of the 20 million predicted by Creation Records' founder Alan McGee—no one was crying out to hear the remixes and off-cuts. It is an album worth reflecting on 20 years later but surely not in a way anyone in the Oasis camp wants. Sometimes you really should never go back. (www.oasisinet.com)
Author rating: 2/10
Average reader rating: 6/10
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