Fifteen years of Oasis: if you’re like me, the fact that this bunch of Britpop yobbos were able to hold it together this long without killing each other is amazing all by itself. That they did producing a sublime catalog of guitar-driven pop-rock is even more of a reason to take note, of course — and for those of you who missed out the first time, here’s a two-disc retro of choice singles, aptly titled Time Flies. Yes, I know the band’s already released a best-of disc (2006’s Stop the Clock), but where that collection culled from the group’s single releases, this ‘un has ‘em all.
Which definitely makes it the set to get for those listeners unwilling to sift through the band’s later spottier catalog for the truly supreme stuff. If, like me, you found the opening track of Standing on the Shoulders of Giants so off-putting that you regularly skipped that disc as a drive time music selection, this is the set that’ll remind you of the power and glory of tracks like the Lennonesque “Go Let It Out” or the proto-psychedelic “Who Feels Love.”
Despite strong reviews of their first two albums, in particular, Oasis never quite received the adulation in the states that they did in their native country, a fact that’s inadvertently emphasized in the booklet accompanying this collection. Each single listing is accompanied by quotes from fans all around the world, writing about what each song meant to them, and the majority of comments are from the U.K. The track to receive the most Yankee plaudits is “Champagne Supernova,” which may say something about American sensitivities (“Where were you when we were getting high?”), but I’m not sure what that is.
The one charge that the brothers Gallagher have regularly face in this country is of being overly enamored with the Beatles catalog, something that the band’s primary songwriter and guitarist Noel Gallagher didn’t discourage by distractingly tossing late Beatles refs regularly into the lyrical mix (“Supersonic” calling up the yellow submarine, “Wonderwall” basing its title on a George Harrison soundtrack, “Don’t Look Back in Anger” reminding us of John and Yoko’s bed-in, etc.) But, musically, the lads took from more than just the Fab Four: “Cigarettes and Alcohol,” for instance, builds on a Stones-y guitar while singer Liam Gallagher indulges in an affected enunciation straight of the Ray Davies Style Book. Beatles emulators? Hell, these guys swiped from the entire British Invasion — and good for them.
If Oasis never made got the American fannish attention that, say, Coldplay have since captured, the fact remains that the band has always had the stronger rock ‘n’ roll heart. Me, I’m most enamored with strum and swagger tracks like “Lyla” and “The Importance of Being Idle” (Noel’s updating of “Sunny Afternoon”), but there are days when I have to hear a slower melodious rumination on life like “Little by Little” to get me through the day, too. If the song’s metaphorical conceits (“the wheels of your life are slowing coming off”?) occasionally beg the question, the song’s irrefutable melody and sonic beauty carry you to the end. “True perfection has be imperfect,” Noel sings at one point in this track, a truism that definitely holds for this magnificently imperfect pop-rock group.