Recorded in a blizzard of cocaine, at the time Oasis’ overblown rock and roll opus, Be Here Now, was written off as a self-indulgent, drug-addled mess. However while time has not been too kind to its rather hackneyed and obvious predecessor, Morning Glory, Be Here Now actually sounds ambitious, majestic and in places, rather innovative. All those things Noel said it was 20 years ago this week.
In fact if I had a quid for each time some ageing hipster has mumbled the words ‘this sounds a lot better than I remember’ while inflicting it on unsuspecting millennials in offices today while celebrating its 20th birthday, I would have enough to chuck my own Roller in a swimming pool.
Here at PopJunkie, it’s actually our favourite Oasis album – the moment when Noel Gallagher and the boys finally perfected their sound and stuck two fingers up to the rest of the world. Definitely Maybe and (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? are great records, if a tad patchy, but Be Here Now blows them away – just listen to the production, it’s so over the top it’s brilliant. Helicopter sounds, walls of guitar noise, sonar bleeps, orchestras, a horn section and then some…
Released at the height of Britpop, Be Here Now is a swaggering soundtrack to a charlie and lager-fuelled Saturday night out that’s followed by a crashing comedown (check out the evil country blues of Fade In-Out with Johnny Depp on mean slide guitar) Opening track, D’ You Know What I Mean? is a long-lost Oasis single. A brooding epic with an anthemic chorus, dark strings and a heads-down groove, it’s a fantastically arrogant call to arms – batton down the hatches; it’s sounds like there’s a storm on the way. And so there is – My Big Mouth, the loudest song in Noel Gallagher’s canon of work, it’s easily one of Oasis’ greatest tracks. With its ear-splitting feedback, corrosive guitars and huge drums, it sounds like a cannon going off in your head.
We’re suckers for Noel’s stadium rock anthems and Be Here Now contains one of his best – Stand By Me – a lighters aloft concert classic that’ll have you drunkenly hugging your bestest ever mate and slopping lager all over their trainers. It provided the stand out moment in the band’s Supersonic bio-pic. We even love Magic Pie (Noel’s Macca homage), the plinky plonky, Beatlesque Meg Matthews tribute, The Girl In The Dirty Shirt, (the song She’s Electric could have been) and the heart tugging, pleading ballad, Don’t Go Away – Liam laid bare over a backing of weepy strings and Bacharach horns. The title track too has a zip and edge sadly missing from future Oasis platters.
Be Here Now’s standout track is All Around The World – why it wasn’t used as our Eurovision entry that year beggars belief. Noel’s ultimate Beatles fantasy, it’s basically All You Need Is Love meets Hey Jude with just the right amount of Oasis’ trademark sound (“These are craaazy days and they make me shiiiiine.”) The whole thing heads skywards with a mass ‘nah-nah-nah’ sing-a-long, brass, an orchestra and the kitchen sink.Genius.
Is this Oasis’ finest album? Definitely, not maybe.
Words – Sean Hannam