Oasis Reviews Archive

Reviews from as many Oasis albums, singles and concerts as I can fine. Hopefully in the future incorporating pictures, audio and video.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Don't Believe The Truth

1. Turn Up The Sun
2. Mucky Fingers
3. Lyla
4. Love Like A Bomb
5. The Importance Of Being Idle
6. The Meaning Of Soul
7. Guess God Thinks I'm Abel
8. Part Of The Queue
9. Keep The Dream Alive
10. A Bell Will Ring
11. Let There Be Love

Aversion (3/5)
Matt Schild

Recently, Blur’s Damon Albarn bemoaned the sorry state of his band – essentially on hiatus until guitarist Graham Coxon returns to the fold – saying that in his act’s rivalry with Oasis, the Gallagher brothers won, simply because they haven’t splintered yet.

With Don’t Believe the Truth, Albarn may want to reconsider that line of thinking. While Oasis returns with its best album since the ’90s, that’s hardly a feather in its cap: The Britpop royalty wanders aimlessly on another lackluster attempt to find the chemistry of 1994’s Definitely Maybe (Epic). All the parts are still there, as the act’s Beatles and power-pop foundation remains, but if this is the best Oasis can muster in nearly a decade, it’s time Noel and Liam consider letting their petty squabbles break up the band.

More confident and direct than the band’s hideous past three albums, Don’t Believe the Truth still finds the act attempting to recapture the spark that made its early work so compelling. Backing away from the electronic extras and overproduced studio gloss that jacked up its recent records, Oasis sounds more like a real rock’n’roll band than it has in years. That alone invigorates the band and helps it pad a handful of fair-to-good tracks with mediocre filler and come out ahead simply because of its raw power. The days when Noel cranked out better B-sides than nearly all of his peers’ lead singles, however, seems destined to be forever left in the mid-’90s.

Instead we get second-class singles that play up the band’s Britpop and Beatles obsessions (“Lyla”), stomping rock numbers that sound as if the act self-consciously turned up the heat and rocked out to keep up with the young ones (“Turn on the Sun”) and takes at soft mod overtones that reveal the band’s Small Faces influences (“The Importance of Being Idle”). Singer Liam's voice never sounded more booze-and-cigarette burned, and even on the band’s best tracks (“Guess God Thinks I’m Abel” and “Let There Be Love”), Noel and the crew can’t seem to give him the juice.

It’s a step forward for Oasis, which was previously writhing in misery, though not enough to make anyone outside of the Gallagher brothers swallow all their tripe about being the world’s greatest rock act. Blur’s Albarn doesn’t have too much to worry about: Longevity is about the only thing Oasis has on his crumbling band.

David Cheal

Time for another Oasis album, and guess what? It's not very good. Let's face it: they haven't made a great one since (What's the Story) Morning Glory? in 1995.

Since then, there have been sporadic outbursts of Noel Gallagher's once shining gift for melody, some fantastic gigs that have traded largely on the legacy of their early years, and a lot of sludge. And so it is with Don't Believe the Truth: a few gems glisten, but overwhelmingly this is uninspiring stuff - lumpy, clumpy, derivative.

The gems? Mucky Fingers - notwithstanding its enormous debt of gratitude to the Velvets' Waiting for the Man - is deep, dark and thrilling, The Meaning of Soul (written by Liam) is 103 seconds of pulverising shock rock, and A Bell Will Ring is a hammer-and-tongs wall-of-guitars Oasis classic.

Oh, and the current number one, Lyla, has a nice chorus. But when Oasis do their big outdoor tour thing this summer, it's hard to imagine many of these songs joining their canon of bouncy, singalong crowd-pleasers. They' re just not good enough.

Village Voice
Mike Delano

Were Oasis ever cool? Even in their mid-'90s heyday, when their skill at bashing out killer rock songs was actually rewarded by a worldwide fan base eager to receive them, it's hard to remember any wide-eyed American critics frantically waving the Union Jack in support of Manchester's finest. Pundits here were always more comfortable lauding the considerable but decidedly less immediate pleasures of the safely hip, moderately popular crews of the Blur and Pulp stripe.

For that reason, it's kind of hard to stomach the glee with which some critics have twisted the knife into Don't Believe the Truth, Oasis's sixth record of new material. It's rightly described as a continuation of the rapidly deteriorating creativity the band has exhibited since 2000's Standing on the Shoulders of Giants, but where was the peak they were supposedly sliding away from? For all we've been told, this is their sixth bummer in a row rather than the culmination of some grand artistic collapse.

Truth be told, Oasis were making some of the best no-frills rock music around all the way through the B sides of 1997's bloated but unfairly maligned Be Here Now. Their dedication to two-sided singles, harking back to the Smiths in spirit if not sound, meant there were all sorts of would-be hits floating around, from the enormity of "My Sister Lover" to the lazy charm of "Alive," that didn't make it to the albums—which, therefore, even in the beginning, weren't the end-all distillations of Oasis's talent.

What was then a bounty of shiny, instantly accessible songs turned to crumbs with Giants, and the drought continued through 2002's dismal Heathen Chemistry. The only bright spots were the Noel Gallagher–penned-and-performed stompers "Where Did It All Go Wrong?" and "Force of Nature." On the former, Noel bared his fangs at all the plastic people around him while trying his best to fashion the question in the song's title as an accusatory lash rather than a paranoid lament. On the latter, he reads the riot act to the would-be pillagers of his cocaine and money with all of the "stop feeding off me!" disgust of Cool Hand Luke.

So wouldn't you know that the best moments on Don't Believe the Truth, wherein Noel's iron grasp on songwriting is loosened to include not just Liam Gallagher but faceless bassist Andy Bell and rhythm guitarist Gem Archer, are his alone. "Mucky Fingers" rides the "I'm Waiting for the Man" guitar riff for all its worth as Noel berates no one in particular, and the harmonica freak-out toward the end brings the whole ordeal just one jug-blower short of a proper hoedown. "Part of the Queue" is a dark, dusty dark number that builds more tension with an acoustic guitar and a piano than any Oasis song ever has, while "The Importance of Being Idle" is a flashback to the focused bombast of the band's 1998 B sides.

Elsewhere on the album, things are only marginally brighter for the Liam-sung material than they have been for the past five years. "Love Like a Bomb" and "Turn Up the Sun" are the half-assed filler we've become accustomed to, weighted down by clumsy rhymes ("You turn me on/Love's like a bomb/Blowing my mind") and an utter lack of momentum. "Lyla" is the same sort of flailing attempt at an anthem as "The Hindu Times" from Heathen Chemistry, and only gets props for a winning, but wasted, vocal from Liam.

In the end, it's Oasis's attempts to capture former pinnacles, from trying to re-create the simple sunny-side-up pleasures of "Live Forever" to trying for another album-ending mountain like "Champagne Supernova," that keep their latter-day output so entirely forgettable. Those were singular glories, and five years of mostly lifeless retreads does a number on an audience's tolerance as the band continue its slooow ride to the end of the tunnel.

Jay Ditzer

What does it say about Oasis that the best songs on their albums are now being written by the new guys? It says a whole lot, actually.

It wasn't that long ago that band mastermind Noel Gallagher was cranking out the Beatle pastiches at such a furious rate that Oasis was able to release a whole CD of B-sides (1998's The Masterplan), and even then, they had to leave a few stellar cuts off of that compilation. But things have kind of gone to hell for Gallagher and crew since their mid-90s heyday.

Case in point: Don't Believe the Truth, Oasis's sixth album. It opens strong with bass player Andy Bell's "Turn Up the Sun" before Noel's plodding "Mucky Fingers" (pounding rhythm pilfered from the Velvet Underground's "Waiting for the Man") steps in, killing the momentum and serving as a harbinger of what's in store for the listener. First single "Lyla" isn't much better -- this time, Noel swipes from the Stones's "Street Fighting Man" -- and it's all downhill from there.

Putting it differently, when guitarist Gem Archer's "A Bell Will Ring" is a high point, well, you're not in the presence of musical greatness.

Given the notorious sibling rivalry between Noel and singer Liam Gallagher, hope is unintentionally presented by Liam's "Guess God Thinks I'm Abel." You'd think that maybe Liam had written a tune about his relationship with his brother incorporating a clever Biblical reference, but no: Liam merely can't spell, and nobody bothered to correct the typo. Which just about sums it all up, doesn't it?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

London, England (Astoria)


Liam Gallagher
Noel Gallagher
Gem Archer
Andy Bell
Zak Starkey

Drowned In Sound - 9/10
Dom Gourlay

So the biggest circus/soap opera in music is back in town. In three weeks' time they'll be unleashing their sixth studio album upon the world, and despite the fact that 2005 has seen the rise of indie (The Rakes, The Kaiser Chiefs, The Futureheads and Bloc Party - more of whom later) as a viable mainstream commodity, Oasis are still as vitally rabid as they were in '94 when the final traces of Cobain-inspired chequered shirts were finally put out of their misery.

One thing about Oasis' live shows though: they always seem to make strange choices when it comes to selecting support bands, as their last full UK tour with the likes of The Bandits and The Stands proved, and tonight's openers Yeti are no exception to the rule. Being the band that features the one from the Libertines that a) doesn't have an expensive crack habit; and b) isn't the other one that sings and writes the songs tends to make them pretty inconsequential, and despite the efforts of John Hassall and Harmony Williams at livening up proceedings their pub-rock musings seem better suited to... a pub, I guess. Still, it could have been worse - Jet or Kasabian could have been invited, and if that had been the case then I would have been more than tempted to accept the £90 offered to me by the tout with the Liverpudlian accent or the 150 notes waved in my face by the Japanese girl with the placard stating "Real fans paying realistic ticket prices" in the queue outside prior to the doors opening.

When Oasis finally take the stage to the familiar roar of 'Fucking In The Bushes', a sudden surge sweeps me off my feet, and the turbo-charged conveyor belt of excitement around me doesn't let up, particularly when Jude Law (No! It can't be? Can it?) is spotted nodding his head towards the back of the room. Liam Gallagher looks leaner than he has in recent months, sporting a white hooded top and shades (which cover his eyes for the entire show), circling the mic' stand and bouncing to-and-fro like a middleweight waiting for the bell to signal the opening round. Brother Noel stands to his left, resplendent in customary leather jacket, while the less-feted trio of Gem Archer, Andy Bell and Zak Starkey form an orderly queue to the characteristically unruly sibling's right.

Although this is, technically speaking, the first of five warm-up dates preceeding this summer's stadium tour, Oasis still manage to astound and delight with some sublime choices from their back catalogue. Gone for good it appears are the atrocities of 'Be Here Now' and 'Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants', instead replaced by the Lydon-esque snarl of 'Bring It On Down' and the lip-curling tirade of animosity that is 'Headshrinker', while 'Live Forever' and 'Champagne Supernova' still sound as majestic as ever, bringing back the days when music ruled over girls, football, education, learning to drive, EVERYTHING.

With the arrival of forthcoming album Don't Believe The Truth imminent, Oasis chose to play six new songs this evening, and (cue drum roll and prepare to faint...), there wasn't a single duff moment among any of them.

'Lyla', which seems so dull and unadventurous as a single, sounds rapturous and lifts the roof off the Astoria tonight, while opener 'Turn Up The Sun', with its key line "The boy in the bubble, he wants to be free" still resounding around Tottenham Court Road tube station long after the show, is the teenage regressive kindred spirit of Morning Glory's 'Hello', a mellow beginning giving way to a full on gargantuan stomp. 'The Meaning Of Soul' and 'A Bell Will Ring', both debuted at last year's pre-Glastonbury warm-up, sound more confident here, the former a two-minute punk throwback and the latter possibly the only reference point to the B*a*l*s of the new stuff, with its 'Ticket To Ride' backbeat prevalent throughout. Pick of the newbies though has to be 'The Importance Of Being Idle' and 'Mucky Fingers', both sung by Noel veering between Parachutes-era Coldplay and the Velvet Underground's 'Waiting For The Man'.

Ever the diplomat, Liam dedicates 'Rock'n'Roll Star' to "That dickhead out of Bloc Party - fucking student!", casting a knowing glance up to the balcony (Was that Stuart Pearce - I mean GOD - sat up there?), before blowing away the last 12 years in a maelstrom of hail and fury as if none of it never happened.

During the encore they play the inexcusable pile of piffle that is 'Songbird' but redeem themselves in spectacular fashion with iconic renditions of 'Wonderwall' and 'Don't Look Back In Anger'. They thank the crowd, they leave. We don't, we want more. This is a truly majestic return for the brothers Gallagher. Don't Believe The Truth? Not if it states that Oasis are finished, as tonight is reaffirming evidence that they're far from being a spent force just yet.


Still the best night out in rock'n'roll, then

What's the most enduring vision at the first Oasis gig since the Glastonbury disaster? It's not Liam's shorts. It's not the sea of City shirts down the front. It's not even the sight of the nearest useable musician with the closest genetic make-up to that of a Beatle sitting behind the drum stool. No, the most enduring vision is the sight of Jonathan Ross and Ricky Gervais, right at the front of the protruding VIP balcony, smugly sitting in the best seats in the house, like twats. And that's because once you've finished jeering, you realise that of all the nation's celebrity scum, Jonathan Ross and Ricky Gervais are the good ones! You see, all life is here to see on Planet Oasis.

It's funny, really, that people get so worked up about a new Oasis album; you don't see the token gestures which allow The Rolling Stones or Neil Young to carry on touring subjected to the same kind of scrutiny. The problem Oasis have is that what they now are - a glorious pantomime of noise and nostalgia - is somehow considered a failure or a compromise. It doesn't matter that seeing Oasis play their hits in a small club is probably the best night out it's actually possible for the human body to have.

They've become a far better band, of course, since they manned themselves with people who could actually play (alongside Andy and Gem, Son Of Ringo Zak Starkey is the best drummer they've had, as it turns out). And with them, a new sense of humour seems to have seeped into the music. 'Mucky Fingers', their Velvets pastiche, is chuffin' hilarious but unlike, say, Liam's tragic nursery-rhyme 'Little James', they're clearly laughing as much as we are. And in turn, this loosening up makes the songs seem better. Pointedly, they open with two newies, 'Turn Up The Sun' blooms, the biggest surprise being that it's as arresting as any opener you could pick from their catalogue; the boorish 'Lyla' is already a mass chant-along and further evidence that Oasis are prepared to have fun with themselves. And maybe it's just the drama of the moment but 'A Bell Will Ring' and 'The Meaning Of Soul' sound sturdier than they did at Glastonbury.

But whatever, we've all turned up to hear 'Live Forever' and 'Cigarettes And Alcohol', which is where the drama offsets the comedy to create something truly sublime. You can see in the crowd's eyes that these songs have carried them through the same love affairs, fights, divorces and dental procedures that Liam and Noel have played out in the papers. These songs belong to everyone.

It isn't fair to compare Oasis to The Cribs or The Futureheads but compare them to their actual peers for a moment... Coldplay are younger and prettier but they look like they're trying too hard for it to make you properly jealous. U2 are a better band, but they still don't quite have the power to make your heart sing like Liam and Noel. Oasis didn't have it for long, but their true genius - it turns out - is their ability to convincingly relive those days, both in talk and walk. And you get the impression they'll have that forever.

Julian Marszalek

It’s time for Oasis to consolidate and regroup. Following two – count ‘em – 10 year anniversary campaigns, a disastrous Glastonbury appearance and the sudden termination of their sessions with Death In Vegas, it looked as if the Gallaghers had finally given up the ghost and were ready to consider cashing in that pension plan.

Yet, despite it all, recent activity suggested otherwise. Liam was back on hilarious form, lashing out in his typically idiot-savant style at today’s crop of talent while the re-emergence of the old Oasis logo - albeit in scuzzed-up type - hinted at a mighty return to form from a band about to serve up the best thing since ‘Definitely Maybe’. So will tonight’s opener for their ‘Don’t Believe The Truth’ campaign be their Agincourt or their Waterloo? Once more unto the breach, dear friends…

Certainly, there’s plenty to get excited about. In such an intimate setting and with a partisan crowd well and truly behind them, the wall-of-sound guitars of ‘Bring It On Down’ and ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’ are irresistibly exciting while the breakneck run through ‘Headshrinker’ is enough to make even the most churlish of nay-sayers admit defeat. In Gem Archer, Noel Gallagher has found the perfect guitar foil and as they trade licks during an incendiary ‘Morning Glory’ it’s apparent how much more fluid Oasis sound. So far so good, but what of the much-heralded new material?

As you’d expect, it’s all a bit of a mixed bag. Unambitious opener ‘Turn Up The Sun’ sees Oasis wading through treacle as it resolutely circles itself like a one-armed oarsman while ‘The Importance Of Being Idle’ finds Noel attempting to master the whimsy of The Kinks but succeeding only in sounding like The Small Faces attempting to play the ‘Steptoe & Son’ theme.

But there are real flashes of the old Oasis magic. ‘Mucky Fingers’, a wholesale steal of The Velvet Underground’s ‘Waiting For The Man’, is fantastic. So shameless is it in its lift – right down to the two-chord riff, Zak Starkey’s agitated drumming and Gem replicating John Cale’s viola drone with a harmonica – that it induces a knowing grin in the same way that ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’ did the first time you heard it. If you’re gonna steal, you may as well steal from the very best, right? Elsewhere, the splendid throbbing of Gem’s ‘A Bell Will Ring’ raises an eyebrow as it threatens to explore the outer reaches of drone rock to the obvious consternation of Andy Bell but these flashes are few and far between.

Ultimately, despite Noel’s recent claims and best efforts, it’s the early back catalogue that comes back to haunt them and in the confines of a club gig, it’s what their audience really wants to hear as they relive the halcyon days of a decade ago. So it is that ‘Champagne Supernova’ has become Britpop’s own ‘Comfortably Numb’ while ‘Wonderwall’ resolutely remains the anthem of a rose-tinted generation.

Their approach will do little to earn them platoons of new fans but at least it gladdens the hearts of the legions of existing ones. Neither a victory nor a defeat, then: just business as usual for Oasis.