When we were the young dudes

Mar 1, 2000 at 12:00 am

Have the Bollocks Brothers dropped the ball? Have they lost the plot in a fog of paparazzi flashbulbs, drug benders, tepid reception and newfound "maturity"? All this brouhaha and distraction from the task at hand is enough to make anyone forget how to take a sad Beatles song and make it bettah. But not Noel and Liam Gallagher, dammit! Well, to be quite honest, they still haven’t made a single Beatles song bettah – though they did do wonders for the "I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing" Coca-Cola jingle a couple records ago. But that’s another time and place, a world away from this year’s Oasis.

Back to the task at hand: a review of the new Oasis record, Standing on the Shoulder of Giants – a tweaked little title that implies the kind of ego-humility the bros. Gallagher and their newfound compatriots, rhythm guitarist Gem and bassist Andy Bell (late of Ride), express on the grooves herein. (Late in 1999, bassist Bonehead Arthurs and guitarist Guigsy McGuigan split from the band to retire to country quietude and a life of cashing royalty checks from "I-put-up-with-the-Gallaghers-and-lived-to-cash-in-on-it" paperbacks. But that’s another story.)

Oasis, a band most postmodern, acquits itself of the hangover left by its last flaccid outing, Be Here Now, by letting in all of the Primal Scream, Chemical Brothers, Sex Pistols, Stone Roses, Doors, Stones, Bowie, T. Rex hooligans who have always lurked around the edges of the band’s music. And the bros. let the groove, sampladelia, thudding rhythm and hubris carry the day (along with an elevated musicianship that can only be blamed on the addition of Bell and Gem and maturity and, oh dear, sobriety). Where once in the rock ‘n’ roll kingdom there was a glorious bluster of a punk-as-fuck, working class-and-pissed-about-it, one-dimensional bar band stalking arena stages and wreaking havoc on the populace, there now roams a sonically cultured new beast that looks and smells like the Oasis of old, but howls a different tune and is infinitely more likely to sit with you in the pub and commiserate. In short, Standing on the Shoulder of Giants will ingratiate itself to you if you let it, like a friend you’d given up on coming back to remind you what a good time you once had together.

Admit it, you want to like this record sooo badly. You really do. You need a record to sing along with when you’re on that fifth pint and the girl’s gone and the boys are calling you out to get into a little trouble and the morning may never come anyway. But that’s another story.