Don’t look back sincerely: how Oasis conquered the world
While the technique of having the opening scene of a movie come back at the end (with the story told in the middle) is not new, it works perfectly for Oasis’ compelling documentary ‘Supersonic’.
Beginning with the group boarding a helicopter that takes them to Knebworth, where they will perform for 250,000 people for two nights in August 1996, it ends with them on the Knebworth stage as the most popular band in the world. The flight may have been just a short jump, but the journey that brought the group’s key members, brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher to their preeminent position in the rock world, had been turbulent, chaotic, and in the previous two years bewildering. and frantic. By August 1996, Oasis had reached a stratosphere of popularity that few ever reach, and the fact that they got there at such an early stage in their career made it all the more amazing.
But if his speed to the top of the mountain had been blurred (if Noel and Liam will forgive the analogy), maintaining that level of attention from there would always be a daunting task. They were the most important band of the time and Knebworth was the highest height they had reached so far, but it was to demonstrate their supreme glory, admitting Noel Gallagher at the end of the documentary ‘Supersonic’: “After coming from where we had in the two and a half years ago. At Knebworth I had the feeling that this was the end and not the beginning. I remember thinking, where do we go from here? “
Where they came from was a tough Manchester neighborhood and a childhood where his abusive father was regularly violent to his wife and older children Paul and Noel. The youngest of the three, Liam also received rough treatment, and while mother Peggy eventually gained legal custody of the children and for the most part raised the family on her own, their turbulent early years did not forge any unifying bond between. Noel and Liam, which the documentary makes quite clear; Noel described him as withdrawn and antagonistic towards Liam. Their troubled, often threatening (and worse) relationship is the lynchpin on which Oasis’ backstory turns, and even in the group’s early home movies, long before their mutual animosity made headlines. of the tabloids, mockery and smugness often appear. it’s just a heartbeat away from punching.
At this point it is impossible not to begin to draw comparisons with the mainstays of Kinks, Ray and Dave Davies. Noel just takes over Liam’s gang, as Ray did with the gang Dave had formed, an often horrific sibling rivalry drives other members of the group out, with jealousy and provocations as a prelude to outbursts of violence. physical. What Noel is saying about Liam could easily be Ray commenting on Dave: “He was always cooler than me, funnier, had a better haircut and clothes fit better. But he was jealous of my songwriting talent.”
If Ray and Dave go down like rock brothers Grimm, then Noel and Liam are the Peaky Blinders who get involved in a civil war.
After Noel joins the group in 1991, two years follow in which he remembers that “not a single paragraph was written about us.” But his growing talent as a songwriter and his dynamic live shows in which Liam is becoming the quintessential rock frontman and singer, attract the attention of Alan McGee, director of Creation Records, who signs them to his label in May. 1993. But if anything, the road becomes even rockier (and not purely in the musical sense). They make a number of excellent singles, including ‘Supersonic’, while their debut album ‘Definitely Maybe’ exceeds all expectations in terms of sales and critical acclaim. It will become the fastest selling debut album in UK music history, but along with the music a (guaranteed) reputation for rebellious behavior quickly develops that brings deportation from Holland and a disastrous appearance on the Whiskey- A-Go-Go Club in Los Angeles, where pre-show drug overload confuses heads to the point where different songs are being played at the same time, culminating in a furious on-stage exchange between Liam and Noel, which causes Noel left the tour and for a short time. , the band (they eventually find him hiding in San Francisco and persuaded him to return, the episode that led to Noel writing the melancholic ‘Talk Tonight’, one of the excellent lyrical ballads he would write around this time).
What happens next is less of a follow-up album and more of a ’90s cultural phenomenon: (‘ What’s the Story ‘)’ Morning Glory ‘(1995) is one of those rare records like’ Tapestry ‘or’ Dark Side of the Moon ‘ you are an essential embodiment of your time. If much of ‘Morning Glory’ is exceptional, then the statistics are mind-boggling: 347,000 sold in its first week of release, 13 times platinum in Britain, 4 times in America, and officially the best-selling album of the decade. Even if you’re wary of equating big sales with musical achievements – soccer teams, comedy actors, and puppets have all had number one singles, while The Clash and Neil Young haven’t, there’s no question that Oasis produced. a very good album, with at least three tracks ‘Wonderwall’, ‘Don’t Look in Anger’ and ‘Champagne Supernova’) becoming defining songs of the time.
Lyrically forceful but also melodic, it was a welcome antidote to prevailing grunge rock trends and stands as the undisputed highlight of the Britpop movement whose origins can be traced back to The Beatles and The Kinks, two bands whose influence loomed large in the structure of Oasis. songs. Contemporary critics have come to view ‘Morning Glory’ a little less favorably, calling Beatles derivative material and they may have a case, but only up to a point; Let’s face it, sometimes the Beatles themselves were not averse to borrowing an idea or two, drawing inspiration from artists like The Byrds, Dylan, and The Who.
Towards the end of the documentary ‘Supersonic’, Noel Gallagher reflects on the moment Oasis arrived on the Knebworth stage: “Nothing that someone does in the future will be as great as Oasis; in the times we live in, it is unrepeatable.” Before hitting a note, announce to the crowd, “This is history, right here, right now.”
An even more relevant assessment today than then.