Be Here Now and Then

Be Here NowI bought my first record 15 years ago, and by first record I mean one that I actually went to the shops on my own, with pocket money that was mine, rather than pleading with my mum to buy Timmy Mallet’s Itsy Witsy. I was thirteen and at the time I was no music fanatic, I liked what my parents listened to, the staples; Bowie, Madonna, The Beatles. Two years previously I’d discovered Oasis. There isn’t anyone reading this who isn’t aware of them, so I won’t go into detail waxing on about their scope, how they were cool Britannia and what was to happen post ’97. Instead I’ll concentrate on the record I bought.
Be Here Now. It was released on a Thursday and sold nearly a quarter of a million copies in its first week. It was an event, people queued to grab it at midnight, it was raved about and then a couple of months later, turned over and ridiculed. It was the beginning of the end. The bandwagon pulled to the side of the road and everyone jumped off. The two studio records that were to follow had a handful of great songs between them, and as they were clawing their way back, the band imploded nowhere near as spectacularly as they once could have done.
This is the record that burst the bubble then, a huge, blustering record apparently recorded with Noel doing 9grams of coke a day (I measured that out in flour once, it’s a scarily impressive amount).
Personally I’ve never understood the derision of it. Not then, not now. Maybe because I treat as my own, recall it with the same fondness I do my first kiss and trip to Wembley. Whatever, I’m here to defend it even despite Noel’s having given up on it.
What makes it great? I hope, I think, I Know’s the best thing they ever wrote. It has a fist pumping chorus, punk drumming, Liam sings it like he means it. It’s fast, it’s furious, it’s genius, simple as that, and it sits like a crown amongst powered up, amped up, rock and roll jewels turned way up past eleven.
The opening three tracks, fuelled like Lance Armstrong, go triumphantly soaring on without tiring, and how can you fail to be won over by All Around The World? The longest number one ever. Noel wanted to do it as a Eurovision song contest number. I’ve heard it described as a Beatles pastiche and for some reason coming out with the (tongue in cheek) audacity of taking on Hey Jude has people’s backs up. What about if we call it a homage? That didn’t hurt Tarantino in Kill Bill 1 when Uma Thurman’s spinning round taking out more suited members than The Matrix, nor is anyone kicking Van Gough’s whole career.
And what of the depth in Stand By Me and Don’t Go Away? There’s yearning and heartache in there, this album is textured (albeit with a hell of a lot of guitars.)
It’s major problem was timing, while they were in the celebratory bubble of Morning Glory and Knebworth, everyone around them was coming down. This was the year Radiohead released OK Computer, Spiritualized Ladies and Gentlemen we are Floating in Space. The party was over, but they were too wired to notice. There’s no fear of what’s round the corner, because as the title tells you, it’s all about the now.
So rejoice, Be Here Now is not just a record I should be proud in owning, you can take yours out from behind the CD rack where it accidentally fell down and enjoy it for everything (admittedly sometimes preposterously) it is.

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3 thoughts on “Be Here Now and Then

  1. This is probably an ok album – I really would need to listen again. I think the expectations for it at the time were far too great given how brilliant the first and second albums were. I think as a band they were far too involved in ‘being Oasis’ to step outside of that and make anything more original – when I think of it being the Beatles was more what like what they were aiming for. Fair play for reassessing it though. There are many albums that were lambasted at the time but are now considered great.

  2. Pingback: A Music List – College Wait | the artshed

  3. The thing that this post brought home to me most was not the album but the right of passage of buying albums (which in my case were vinyl). That feeling of scanning the music papers seeing what was coming up and saving up pocket money before getting a bus into town to buy the record. You’d then play it to death while saving up for the next one by which time you would know every lyric and all the sleevenotes. Whilst music is far more accessible now than ever before it has also become disposable and just another thing to be consumed I sometimes feel and that right of passage that many of us went through has gone which saddens me.

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