No-asis? Better than Faux-asis…


I awoke to news that Oasis are almost definitely maybe splitting up. Again. I haven’t bought an album of theirs in ages, but for a time they were my favourite band. Although, to hear they may be calling it a day… or not… doesn’t upset me at all – even though I was a mad fan back in the day.

I remember anticipating each release – sneaking out of the office for an extended lunch break to pick up a newly arrived copy of (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? (on the same day, if I’m to be honest, as Blur’s The Great Escape – which came with a t-shirt!)… buying a second copy of …Morning Glory? a year later because, for whatever reason, Sony’s latest supply were Japanese picture disc pressings… blowing entire pay packets on boxed sets of singles… securing copies of my favourite mags with additional glee when the sparring brothers Gallagher were appearing on the cover again. 

Part of the attraction of Oasis was that they were clearly kids who liked the Beatles and who wanted to grow up to be rock stars, and then did. Beatles references abound in their music, and Noel Gallagher has said, “If you’re not in it to be bigger than the Beatles, it’s just a hobby”. Maybe I did only like them because they were the world’s most successful tribute band… the point at which their hobby intersects with my hobby.

I stopped listening pretty much after Be Here Now (which shares its title with a solo period George Harrison song, by the way – itself inspired, most likely, by a book about spirituality). I don’t know if I’ve even listened all the way through that album. I did like the collection of B-sides, The Masterplan. I persevered with the singles for a while longer – ‘Lyla’ was my last one – picking up the odd album secondhand or in those ten-dollar shops that sprang up, helped cripple retail stores, and then disappeared again when migration to downloading well and truly killed all but the strongest retailers.

So, yesterday (or a few hours ago? It’s Saturday morning in Australia as I write this, so it’s still Friday night in the UK…) their website carried an announcement from Noel Gallagher:

“It’s with some sadness and great relief to tell you that I quit Oasis tonight. People will write and say what they like, but I simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer.

“Apologies to all the people who bought tickets for the shows in Paris, Konstanz and Milan.”

This contradicts his wife, former All Saints singer Natalie Appleton’s statement from the day before, insisting “Oasis will die before they split up”. That was no doubt damage control following rumours of a split, after the band cancelled their headline gig at V Festival Chelmsford the previous week due to Liam’s ‘illness’. “The rumours are absolute rubbish,” Appleton insisted. “Even in his sick bed, Liam was vowing to get back on stage.”

Liam had himself gone into damage control a couple of days earlier on the official Oasis website:

“The voice may of disappeared but I'm still here.1st things first V I’m gutted your gutted, I’m sorry what can I say f*ck all at the moment.

“Secondly, respect to those bands who covered Oasis last night, even though I might of given some of you shit in the past...

“Finally reports in smartarses column about Oasis last british gig ever. The kids talking out his arse, I mean rkids, bware of darkness. LG”

There can be no Oasis without that two-headed beast, the brothers united. Surely any attempt to carry on will result in Faux-asis. Although – with Noel’s departure comes a vacancy for a vocalist and guitarist. While Zak ‘son of Ringo’ Starkey recently vacated a drum seat, perhaps ‘not-quite-Beatles’ cred may be regained by recruiting Dhani ‘son of George’ Harrison in Noel’s place. Considering all the comings and goings of band members over the years, this is the opportunity to take the hobby tribute band one step closer…

Yet, whatever happens, I realise I’m not really going to miss Oasis. What I mourn most, now, is the passing of my cashed-up 20s, when I not only wanted to own every release and see every gig by every band I loved, but could actually afford the financial outlay to do so.

(The fantastic caricature is the work of Nick O’Sullivan – who, incidentally, is also responsible for the ‘Stand & Deliver!’ logo.)


Brian Eno Roxy’s The Vote

I was pleased to hear this week that knob-twiddler extraordinaire (in the synthesiser/studio boffin sense, that is) Brian Eno is going to back a political campaign to unseat another knob-twiddler (in the more traditional sense), Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The candidate Eno is backing is the father of a fallen soldier, who believes the war in Iraq is unjust. The man’s name is Reg Keys, which is, of course, fitting, seeing as Eno, one of the greatest music producers in the known universe and the keyboard-playing founder member of Roxy Music, is a synthesiser maestro. Which leads us to the important issue of campaign songs. What form will Reg’s song take?

Remember, Reg is up against Blair, who took power on that bizarre ‘no, actually, Britain isn’t all completely shite’ campaign bolstered by Oasis riding the crest of the Britpop wave, when the passing of Kurt Cobain somehow enabled people to realise that grunge, with its distortion, few chords and self-centred lyrics, was really kind of awful – but clearly less awful than Oasis, with their distortion, few chords, and self-centred lyrics.

Oasis are about to release a great comeback album, apparently. Perhaps now would be the time for Blair to renew that staunch nationalism of not being completely shite by tapping into the not-quite-zeitgeist and co-opting Oasis once again. It could lead to such rallying campaign songs as ‘Shuddup Or Our Kid’ll Nut Yer’ and ‘I’m Fookin’ Mad, Me’.

But where does that leave the Reg Keys campaign song? Well, really, it’s a question of, will it be one of the ‘synthesisers go whoosh’ Eno compositions, or one of the ‘synthesisers go bleep’ Eno compositions?

I’m in favour of the latter. In fact, I’d go so far to suggest an excerpt from a little ditty called ‘The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch’ from the Eno album Here Come The Warm Jets. Have a listen.

Of course, there could be a very good argument to be made for Eno somehow combining both styles of music – synthesisers go whoosh and bleep – for such an auspicious occasion. I can’t think of what that very good argument would be – but I can offer a pretty crap one: ‘Brian Eno Backs Campaign’ happens to be an anagram of ‘ransacking bop ambiance’, an activity that perfectly encapsulates exactly what Eno would be doing to devise such a composition.

The challenge has been issued. It’s your move now, Brian.