The Rise and Fall of a Working Class Band

Gary Fraser casts his beady eye over what the Gallagher’s did next. Great albums, great fights, great attitude and a great deal of drugs, there was never a dull moment when these Burnage Boys were around. Were Oasis the best group of all time? Definitely maybe.

Two of the best albums of the past couple of years have been released by the Gallagher Brothers, Liam and Noel. Oasis of course are no more but the Gallagher’s still produce high quality music. Noel’s High Flying Birds (2011) is something of a modern classic, an album full of beautiful melodies, catchy riffs, which demonstrate that on a good day Noel Gallagher is up there with the best of them. Following the Oasis split, Liam and the rest of the Oasis line up set up a new band called Beady Eye. However, their first album Different Gear, Still Speeding (2011) was more than disappointing to say the least. Liam it seemed was lost without his older brother. But he has proved the critics wrong. The new album, simply called Be (2013) is a pleasant surprise and a welcome return to form. It took me a couple of listening’s to get into it, but that tends to be the case with most of my favourite albums these days. Liam’s voice is still the best voice in rock n’ roll and now in his 40s his voice seems to have improved with age. In fact, Liam’s singing is so good that one critic said recently that it’s as if John Lennon’s spirit is singing through him. Now there’s a compliment.

But like Lennon before him, who was asked until the end of his career, ‘will the Beatles ever back together’, both Liam and Noel face the same question about Oasis. The answer at the moment is no. But at some point I think they will. The money and the adulation would be too great to turn down. Oasis’s output in the last decade or so has not been good, a few hits, some misses but mainly a lot of average stuff in between. But it was their two albums from the mid-1990s which established them as one of the great British bands of all time, and Noel as the best songwriter of his generation.

If you were coming of age as I was in the 1990s Oasis were the equivalent of the Beatles or Stones in the 60s. The early 90s saw a great revival in the British music scene. It started with the Stone Roses and included a plethora of other acts including James, Blur, Pulp, The Verve, Ocean Colour Scene, etc. The music and attitude looked back to the 1960s, a time when British pop music ruled the roost.

It’s hard to believe that next year will mark the 20th anniversary of the release of Oasis’s debut album Definitely Maybe (1994), perhaps the greatest debut in rock history. 1994: when only poseurs had mobile phones which were the size of bricks, before the Internet, Facebook and blogging. The hapless John Major was Tory Prime Minister and there was something ‘new’ about New Labour. Back then the British public still bought music in shops. Music was a collectivised experience. Earlier this year, I was personally pleased when HMV was saved. I still love sifting through albums and could spend hours in a record shop staring at album covers. For me, an album is a product that I like to hold in my hands. It’s why I never got into downloading because a really good album is more than just a collection of songs isn’t it? It’s the whole package including the sleeve notes in the inner cover which I still enjoy reading from cover to cover. In most instances rock journalism is written by sycophantic hacks who treat the music and the artists way too seriously. It’s crass, annoying and full of its own self-importance. But for some strange reason I enjoy reading it.