Oasis - The Band

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The Beginning

In late 1992, the five members of Oasis - who had only met a year before and had never gigged outside their native Manchester, England - hitched a ride to Glasgow, Scotland, walked into a club, and told the manager that they simply wouldn't leave without being allowed to play. He took them at their word and let them on stage. Creation Records supremo Alan McGee signed them up.

On April 11th 1994, Oasis released their debut single, 'Supersonic'. They already had an extensive fan base through live performances - their first being at the Manchester Boardwalk, on October 19, 1991 - but now they quickly rose to the highest echelons of rock and roll in Britain. Creation Records supremo Alan McGee saw them at a club gig in Glasgow

The Members

Liam Gallagher - vocals (founder-member)

Either you like his voice or you hate it. If you like it, chances are you love it; if you hate it, chances are you haven't taken the time to listen to it. Granted, when he sings badly, it is how sandpaper would sound if singing, but when he's on top form, he's incredible - few people can make a song sound as great.

Personality-wise, opinion isn't as divided. Most accept he's wild, paranoid, impulsive and often offensive, although interviewers, as well as mentioning he swears more than anyone they've met, say how amusing he is. It should also be mentioned that he can captivate and dominate an audience.

Liam has blossomed as a songwriter from his widely derided Little James* on Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants to the widely acclaimed and very popular Songbird*, amid two other Liam songs, on Heathen Chemistry two years later. Noel Gallagher has commented Liam was most keen to get back into the studio after the latter album, with many songs to record.

Noel Gallagher - guitar, vocals (joined 1991)

'The Boss'. Older brother of Liam, but Noel joined the band later on*, informing them he would only do so providing they sang his songs. That they agreed to do so was to their advantage - Noel has an excellent way with melodies, although his lyrics can be a little vague at the best of times.

Despite being a first-rate songwriter on his day, he also has quite a following as a vocalist* - listen to his work on The Masterplan, Half The World Away and Don't Look Back In Anger. He didn't sing lead vocal on their first album, but has gradually bagged more songs for himself, performing as lead vocalist on Oasis' appearance on Unplugged* and taking all the lead vocals on the songs on their Sunday Morning Call single release in July 2000.

Alan White - drums (1995-2004)

A hit with both Noel and Liam on joining - and a favourite of them since. Certainly a more creative drummer than his predecessor - listen to his work on Don't Look Back In Anger - and a great live performer.

Alan's departure in January 2004 caught many fans by surprise; he was well-rated as a drummer and band member. The official news was that the band had asked him to leave; unofficially it seemed he was struggling with tendonitis and elements within the band decided he could not contribute the necessary time. The band announced it had no intention to replace Alan on a permanent basis and was recording and performing with a variety of drummers, including Ringo Starr's son Zak Starkey.

Gem Archer - guitar (joined 2000)

Rarely mentioned by anything but the name 'Gem', he used to be in the band Heavy Stereo before joining the new Oasis line-up in time to promote Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants in 1999.

Gem contributed the song Hung In A Bad Place to the album Heathen Chemistry; a good rocker benefitting from a pretty good Liam vocal and some decent lead guitar work (apparently Gem and not Noel).

Andy Bell - bass (joined 2000)

Formerly of Ride and Hurricane #1, recruited to Oasis in late 1999 after the departure of Guigsy.

Andy has contributed two tracks to the band - Thank You For The Good Times, a B-side to Stop Crying Your Heart Out, and the short instrumental A Quick Peep on Heathen Chemistry.

Paul 'Bonehead' Arthurs - rhythm guitar (1991-1999)

Founder member of the group. His most significant contribution was perhaps the piano intro to Don't Look Back In Anger. While recording Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants in France in 1999, Bonehead refused to join the others in abstention from alcohol (in solidarity with Liam who was trying to avoid it) and ended up flying back to England, never to rejoin the group.

Paul 'Guigsy' McGuigan - bass (1991-1999)

Founding member and underrated bass-player who did decent work, especially on Morning Glory and The Masterplan. He may not have been a ground-breaking player of the Paul McCartney / Brian Wilson class, but certainly knew his way around the instrument. Guigsy left not too long after Bonehead; and Noel set about rerecording the bass-lines for the album.

Tony McCarroll - drums (1991-1995)

Founder member who survived the recording of Some Might Say on (What's The Story) Morning Glory? before being replaced with Alan White. Reports that he couldn't hold a beat are unfair; but his drum tracks weren't terribly imaginative or different.

An attempt by Tony to sue for lack of compensation received at the time of his dismissal from the band failed in late 2002 as he had left it longer than the six years required by law to bring such a case.

Oasis and The Beatles

With both Noel and Liam being huge fans of The Beatles (particularly John Lennon), a desire in the Gallagher brothers to emulate their heroes was understandable. But with the success of (What's The Story) Morning Glory?, other people began to compare the two bands. It went so far that the Oxford University Union debated the question 'Who is better: The Beatles or Oasis?'.

Oasis 'lifting' from The Beatles

Most songwriters borrow from others - consciously or otherwise - but Noel Gallagher has taken this to new heights. Witness the following.
  • Listen to the intro to Don't Look Back In Anger and then the intro to Lennon's Imagine.
  • The endings of both Who Feels Love? and (As Long As They've Got) Cigarettes In Hell are heavily indebted to The Beatles' Dear Prudence.
  • The name 'Wonderwall' originally came from an electronic soundtrack album from the 1960s, by George Harrison.
  • The middle eight from She's Electric('And I want you to know, got my mind made up now' etc.) is taken from The Beatles' While My Guitar Gently Weeps.
  • The harmonized ending of She's Electric is identical to that of With A Little Help From My Friends on Sgt. Pepper.
  • The title of Be Here Now was chosen after Noel discovered an interview in which John Lennon said it.
  • In Don't Look Back In Anger, the lyrics 'Going to start a revolution from my bed, 'cos you said the brains I had went to my head' are a John Lennon quote.

Aside from these, there are various lyrical or vocal references to The Beatles in the songs The Masterplan, Morning Glory, D'You Know What I Mean? and Shakermaker.

Oasis 'lifting' from other people

It would be unfair to Noel Gallagher to accuse him of liking only The Beatles. He's quite open to quoting the words and music of other people.
  • The melody of the verses in Shakermaker is remarkably similar to the tune of I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing.
  • The same tune is even more obviously used in She's Electric - for the lyrics 'Cos I'll be you, and you'll be me'.
  • The song Step Out was deleted from (What's the Story) Morning Glory? after it was noted by Stevie Wonder or his lawyers that it bore a remarkable similarity to Uptight. Wonder wanted 10% of the album's royalties; in the end the song was demoted to a B-side for Don't Look Back In Anger.

Critical acclaim

The success of Oasis' first album - a breath of fresh air coinciding with the guitar band revival in British popular music dubbed 'Britpop' by the Media - and its Beatles-sounding music prompted comparisons with other great British bands; notably The Beatles, The Jam, The Smiths and The Stone Roses. Liam and Noel Gallagher's arrogant 'we're going to be the biggest group of all time' attitude didn't help, but their second album did. Huge sales, the 'wall of sound'*, two outstanding singles in Wonderwall and Don't Look Back In Anger and the generally up-lifting tone of the music and lyrics made it THE album to have in your record collection.

By then Oasis were being called the best group since The Beatles; they were the favourite of buskers. Amateur guitarists bought 'Oasis made easy' books. The slightest event was front page news even for broadsheets. Then came Be Here Now; hyped to death as the greatest thing to happen to music in 1997. It wasn't. And despite the initial huge queues as people waited in the early hours to get into stores and buy a copy, sales were poor and a lot of people regretted the purchase. Oasis' fanbase moved back from their enormous post-Knebworth* following to Definitely Maybe standards. The British rock critics, always eager to knock down someone big, ripped into them. With some justification.

However, with Oasis in the 'Can Do No Right' category of the Media's writing, their 2000 album Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants was panned, despite actually having some good songs on it. Yes, the Beatles sound was still there, but other influences showed more strongly and, as Noel himself admitted, he had taken the time to improve his guitar playing. The Media admit they're a great B-sides group and live act, but nothing else. 2002's Heathen Chemistry was an improvement, but the sound was labelled 'old-fashioned' where it was once merely classed 'retro', and Oasis, Noel in particular, seem to be being turned into elder statesmen of rock.

Essentially the problem is that they will be judged by (What's The Story) Morning Glory? until they do something of equal musical and cultural impact. And since you can't force the latter, this is going to be hard.

The Albums

Definitely Maybe - 30th August 1994

The album was the fastest-selling debut in British history, entering the charts at No. 1.

  • Rock 'n' Roll Star
  • Shakermaker
  • Live Forever
  • Up In The Sky
  • Columbia
  • Supersonic
  • Bring It On Down
  • Cigarettes and Alcohol
  • Digsy's Dinner
  • Slide Away
  • Married With Children

(What's The Story) Morning Glory? - 2nd October 1995

This album, often placed in the top-ten all-time great albums, went straight in at No. 1, and became the fastest-selling album since Michael Jackson's 'Bad' in 1987. It seemed to strike a chord in the ears of the British public - the right sound at the right time. Including Wonderwall (described by Paul Weller as the best song of the 1990s) and Don't Look Back In Anger (most people's favourite Oasis song, judging by the reception it gets) it seemingly ended the media-fuelled Oasis vs Blur 'britpop' battle; Blur's single Country House had beaten Oasis' Some Might Say to the top of the charts, but this album was something else. Everything Oasis have done since has been compared to it.

  • Hello
  • Roll With It
  • Wonderwall
  • Don't Look Back In Anger
  • Hey Now
  • The Swamp Song Pt. 1*
  • Some Might Say
  • Cast No Shadow
  • She's Electric
  • Morning Glory
  • The Swamp Song Pt. 2
  • Champagne Supernova

Be Here Now - 21st August 1997

Everyone was hoping for another (What's The Story) Morning Glory? and they didn't get one. This was a rather self-indulgent album, full of very long intros and outros and overblown guitar riffs. The title was a John Lennon quote summarizing rock n' roll, but originally was an old hippy maxim.

Often neglected, this album still has the great song Stand By Me.

  • D'You Know What I Mean?
  • My Big Mouth
  • Magic Pie
  • Stand By Me
  • I Hope, I Think, I Know
  • The Girl In The Dirty Shirt
  • Fade In-Out
  • Don't Go Away
  • Be Here Now
  • All Around The World
  • It's Gettin' Better (Man!)
  • All Around The World (Reprise)

The Masterplan - 2nd November 1998

Some love Oasis, some loathe them. But you have to be pretty subjective to deny the fact that, at the very least, they release good B-sides. In fact, some of their B-sides are better than some of their album tracks - for example The Masterplan, Round Are Way [sic] and Acquiesce.

This album assembles a great many of these supporting tracks, some well chosen (Half The World Away), others perhaps not (Step Out - a flip side to Don't Look Back In Anger). But why was Round Are Way not included??

  • Acquiesce
  • Underneath the Sky
  • Talk Tonight
  • Going Nowhere
  • Fade Away
  • The Swamp Song
  • I Am The Walrus
  • Listen Up
  • Rockin' Chair
  • Half the World Away
  • (It's Good) To Be Free
  • Stay Young
  • Headshrinker
  • The Masterplan

Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants - 21st February 2000*

Mid-1999. Noel Gallagher, celebrating the end of recording, was in a London pub with a late-night lock-in and liberal quantities of Guinness. At around 4am and in a state far from sober, he noticed the new £2 coin for the first time, with the quote from British physicist Isaac Newton which circles its rim. He scrawled the words on a cigarette packet. Except he was so drunk that the next day it read "Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants" instead of shoulders.

Noel admits this is a 'transitional' album - resulting from the departure of two band members, it was completed largely by Noel*.

  • Fuckin' in the Bushes
  • Go Let It Out
  • Who Feels Love?
  • Put Yer Money Where Yer Mouth Is
  • Little James
  • Gas Panic!
  • Where Did It All Go Wrong?
  • Sunday Morning Call
  • I Can See A Liar
  • Roll It Over

Familiar To Millions - 13th November 2000

A live album taken almost exclusively from their live performance at Wembley Stadium on Friday July 21st 2000*. The Saturday show may have been more impressive (largely due to Liam warning everyone in the world and Noel) but Liam's voice was less influenced by alcohol the day before.

  • Fuckin' In The Bushes
  • Go Let It Out
  • Who Feels Love?
  • Supersonic
  • Shakermaker
  • Acquiesce
  • Step Out
  • Gas Panic!
  • Roll With It
  • Stand By Me
  • Wonderwall
  • Cigarettes and Alcohol
  • Don't Look Back In Anger
  • Live Forever
  • Hey Hey, My My
  • Champagne Supernova
  • Rock 'n' Roll Star
  • Helter Skelter

Heathen Chemistry - 1st July 2002

Despite the by now customary dismissal by the media, the new Oasis line-up produced a pretty solid album; the first single, The Hindu Times, topped the UK charts, and the album received a boost when its second single, Stop Crying Your Heart Out*, was chosen by the BBC, before the album's release to play out over images of a defeated and dejected English football team as they exited the 2002 World Cup. Liam's song Songbird was latched onto by many, and indeed his improvement as a songwriter was noted with some surprise.

  • The Hindu Times
  • Force Of Nature
  • Hung In A Bad Place
  • Stop Crying Your Heart Out
  • Song Bird
  • Little By Little
  • A Quick Peep
  • (Probably) All In The Mind*
  • She Is Love
  • Born On A Different Cloud
  • Better Man

The Singles

UK single releases

Supersonic - 11th April 1994

Plus Take Me Away, I Will Believe (live), Columbia (white label demo).
Shakermaker - 13th June 1994

Plus D'Yer Wanna Be A Spaceman?, Alive (8 track demo), Bring It On Down (live).
Live Forever - 8th August 1994

Plus Up In The Sky (acoustic), Cloudburst, Supersonic (live).
Cigarettes and Alcohol - 10th October 1994

Plus I Am The Walrus (live), Listen Up, Fade Away .
Whatever - 18th December 1994

Plus (It's Good) To Be Free, Half The World Away, Slide Away.
Some Might Say - 24th April 1995

Plus Talk Tonight, Acquiesce, Headshrinker.
Roll With It - 14th August 1995

Plus It's Better People, Rockin' Chair, Live Forever (live).
Wonderwall - 30th October 1995

Plus Round Are Way, The Swamp Song, The Masterplan .
Don't Look Back In Anger - 19th February 1996

Plus Step Out, Underneath The Sky, Cum On Feel The Noize*D'You Know What I Mean? - 7th July 1997

Plus Stay Young, Angel Child (Demo), Heroes .
Stand By Me - 22nd September 1997

Plus (I Got) The Fever, My Sister Lover, Going Nowhere.
All Around The World - 12th January 1998

Plus The Fame, Flashbax, Street Fighting Man.
Go Let It Out - 7th February 2000

Plus Let's All Make Believe, (As Long As They've Got) Cigarettes In Hell.
Who Feels Love? - 17th April 2000

Plus One Way Road, Helter Skelter.
Sunday Morning Call - 3rd July 2000

Plus Carry Us All, Full On.
The Hindu Times - 15th April 2002

Plus Just Getting Older, Idler's Dream.
Stop Crying Your Heart Out - 17th June 2002

Plus Thank You For The Good Times, Shout It Out Loud.
Little By Little / She Is Love - 23rd September 2002

Plus My Generation.
Songbird - 3rd February 2003

Plus (You've Got) The Heart Of A Star, Columbia (live version).

Other single releases

Wonderwall and Don't Look Back In Anger have been released in the United States and 13 singles have been released in Japan. These all feature similar line-ups to the UK singles, excepting the Japanese single Don't Go Away (from Be Here Now), which was released on February 19th 1998 with the accompanying tracks Cigarettes and Alcohol (live from GMEX), Sad Song* and Fade Away (Warchild version*).

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