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Friday, September 16, 2005
Oasis still conjures the magic...
....., minus the hype
A kinder, gentler Oasis? An Oasis without the tabloid sideshows? An Oasis minus the bratty interviews and cocky bombast?
Well, yes. Kind of.
No fears — the British quartet hasn’t become Up With People. But today’s Oasis is certainly a tempered version of the band that a decade ago earned a reputation both noteworthy and notorious, thanks to a double whammy of exemplary rock and offstage raucousness. Those were the whirlwind years, a swirl of hype and hits whose personal impact, says leader Noel Gallagher, is only now being properly absorbed by the band.
Now, as Oasis traverses America on a tour, the vibe is different. Where the Oasis story once played out in a very public way, band members’ lives have been steadily tucked behind the scenes. There are wives, kids, domestic comforts — and a new album that has been resuscitating the musical reputation of Gallagher and his brother Liam.
On the new "Don’t Believe the Truth," released in May, "the new songs are better than the last set of songs," says Noel Gallagher in requisitely wry fashion. "In that sense, we’ve grown."
The emphasis, in other words, is back on the music, a move that has pleased Gallagher and those fans who feared that the creative abilities of Oasis had become a mirage. While the heady days of "Definitely Maybe" and "(What’s the Story) Morning Glory" came with all sorts of amusing tabloid fodder, Gallagher says, they were also full of distractions — drugs and alcohol not the least among them — that caused subsequent work to suffer.
Noel Gallagher, Oasis’ chief songwriter and frequent voice of reason, says it wasn’t until years later that he was able to put that era into perspective.
"I’m only looking back on that period now. People are still talking about ’95 and ’96 — two years," he says. "When I look back, I think, ‘What an amazing time.’ Back then, you’re too close to it."
Gallagher concedes the dramas came with a price.
"At the time, I thought it was quite embarrassing," he says. "Now, looking back, I’m kind of relieved it didn’t overshadow the music, which is kind of cool. If I have one regret, it’s that we should have taken two years off after ‘Morning Glory’ instead of going right back into the studio and the madness."
The result was "Be Here Now," a mixed-bag album that launched an erratic creative stretch for Oasis.
Gallagher, who used to unflinchingly proclaim Oasis the universe’s best band, has adopted a stance more suited for the world of 2005. With the critical and commercial success of "Truth," which debuted at No. 12 on Billboard’s U.S. chart, it’s clear he feels grateful to have survived not only the public’s volatile tastes, but his group’s own high-profile follies.
The album is carried by some of the most accomplished songwriting of Gallagher’s career. And though it’s typically derivative it’s also refreshingly Oasis, at times evoking the soaring feel that had been missing for years.
Gallagher is proud that the record sounds relevant, recapturing the vibrance of earlier Oasis work while brimming with a sense of immediacy.
"I think that once a new generation comes along, it’s difficult for bands like us from previous generations to carry on," says Gallagher, 38.
Music’s tectonic plates have shifted considerably since Oasis stormed onto the British landscape in 1994, triumphed in America the next year, and inserted the term "Britpop" into the musical lexicon. Most significantly, rock has seen its position eroded, its cultural currency grabbed up by hiphop and dance-pop music. In the UK press, the pages once dominated by the brothers Gallagher are now occupied by Kylie Minogue and Justin Timberlake.
"That’s the challenge for us — to keep a level of interest so that the albums aren’t just advertisements for the tours," says Gallagher. "Our albums still matter. I don’t mean that in the scheme of ‘It’s gonna change music.’ I mean that when somebody buys a new Rolling Stones album, they don’t give a (damn) — they just want to see them on tour. When people buy our records, it still means something."
source: Detroit Free Press
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