Friday, 23 February 2007

Hard to blog regularly, especially when you're working...

That said, something that caught my eye, and following on from my Amy Winehouse post (and yes, I was pleased that she won two awards, although Arctic Monkeys were well-deserved winners also), was the Brits. I watched it half-cut from cheap red wine, with the kids shouting and running in front of the telly every 15 seconds - me shouting, "GERRROUTAVITTT!" Anyway...

Last award of the night was Outstanding Achievement for Oasis. Now this was a bit of a puzzle to me at the time. Outstanding? Really? When was the last time they actually released a good record? I scratched my head cast my mind back... and realised they hadn't done anything of note since 1996. Be Here Now was stunningly crap, and none of the supposed 'comeback' singles since then (Go Let It Out, Lyla, The Importance Of Being Idle) had ever been worth the asking price. So they were getting what's supposed to be the biggest award for what is essentially a career of two albums - Definitely Maybe and Morning Glory.

Hmmm. Bit over the top?

Then - worst of all - they started playing. And Liam opened his mouth. Oh dear. What happened to that voice? I once read it described as a cross between Lennon's caustic sneer, Johnny Rotten's nasal whine, and Ian Brown's shamanistic mumblings, and what the hell was it now? Just a sort of strangled bark. This wasn't how I remembered Oasis.

They looked the same. Well, on first inspection, anyway. Liam still has that huge mane that he's been cultivating since time began, and Noel... Actually, Noel looks like a waxwork of himself. And I twigged - he's 40 now. 40 years old. I sat back and realised that this man, an icon of my youth, was now well into the 'old codger' phase of his life. Which would explain why he looks like that. An older man trying to look the same as he did 15 years ago. God, has time flown that much?

And obviously the rest of the original band have long gone - Guigsy, Bonehead, Alan White - replaced by Noel's crawling sycophants, Gem Archer and Andy Bell, who couldn't get anywhere with their own bands and had to hang onto the hull of a supertanker, leaving their sinking rubber dinghies behind. Non-entities, never of any consequence, never will be, but living proof that Oasis aren't really a band anymore, just a name and a group of people, nothing more.

It was appalling really, listening to what were just competent renditions of songs that had actually meant something once, like watching a tribute band. Including the crap vocalist, trying to ape his hero, aiming for the stars and falling way, way short. I started to question why I'd ever liked them in the first place. Wasn't this just pub rock, no imagination, no intelligence behind it?

Then I remembered an interview with the Arctic Monkeys, saying that Oasis inspired them to pick up their first guitars. And I remembered all my years of listening to those first two albums on the bus to college. So I made a promise to myself to listen to Definitely Maybe on my Walkman the next day.

Next morning, walk to the bus stop. Rock'n'Roll Star. Oh my god. Yes, it was this good. I had completely forgotten. And fuck me was it loud! CDs nowadays are louder than ever, but this was right up there in volume, and not diminishing quality, because this was how it was meant to be played - full blast. A massive wall of guitar. Slade pounding away at the stomping guitar riff, with a sudden Smithsian jangle thrown in for good measure.

And this was before Liam had even started singing. And yes, his voice really was that good. Not joking, he almost sounded like a choirboy, almost angelic. Not innocent, of course, that goes without saying, but something pure and unaffected. This was how it was, and he wasn't trying to play the role of Liam Gallagher, he was just himself. His vocals just soared, like an eagle. And I was stuck to my earphones with a dizzy grin on my face, transported for an hour or so back to my teenage years. In a good way.

It was like that through the whole ablum, and more. Live Forever and Slide Away, still glorious love songs, those vocals achieving lift-off again. The just-too-slow-enough-to-be-cool drum pattern on Supersonic, Cigarettes & Alcohol just oozing cool, with that sleazy T Rex riff rolling along, Married With Children still as understated and affecting as it had always been, Whatever - a better anthem than Hey Jude, still pissed all over East 17 and Mariah Carey, who pushed it down into No.3 at Christamas 1994 (crime).

So even though, as I said, they received an outstanding achievement award for what amounts to two albums - it was worth it, they did their job. And I'll forgive Noel for Be Here Now.

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