For 15 years Oasis were the poster boys of Britpop. The achingly hip and suitably moody Gallagher brothers were the essence of Cool Britannia. They raised hell and drank to excess, waged brother wars against each other and wrote such classic rock anthems as “Wonderwall” and “Champagne Supernova”. Oasis spent 765 weeks in the UK charts, with 22 successive top 10 hits. They were the great British eccentrics from Manchester who every garage band aspired to be and who, in the end, imploded in a Noel Gallagher walk-out at the Rock en Seine festival in Paris. Backstage bickering snowballed into a brawl, Liam smashed Noel’s guitar, Noel reached his limit, announced he could no longer work with Liam and so unceremoniously ended a piece of British rock history. The City of Love was the witness to an end of an era.
Time Flies 1994-2009 is a singles collection with a track listing organised to reflect a classic Oasis gig, not necessarily chronological release order. “Supersonic” kicks off the 2 disc compilation with the quintessential Oasis sound and Liam Gallagher at his twangy and snarky best. The opening lines “I need to be myself, I can’t be no one else, I’m feeling supersonic, give me gin and tonic, you can have it all but how much do you want it” was prophetic to Oasis’s success back in 1994. “Roll With It” is early Beatles-esque rock. If the Fab Four were starting out at the Cavern Club today, this is probably how they would’ve sounded. I am not comparing Oasis to the Beatles here, but the essence of their Northern counterparts has always been evident in Oasis. “Live Forever” has always been a great live track but the compilation really hits its stride with “Wonderwall”. In the mid 90s we were all singing it weren’t we? At the top of our lungs, arms held out high, swaying in the middle of a field in some summer music festival long, long time ago. All together now: “…And after aaaall, you’re my WONDERWAAALL”.
What’s The Story Morning Glory? was the album that launched the Gallagher brothers into orbit. And in addition to “Wonderwall”, the collection includes the nostalgia tinged “Don’t Look Back in Anger”. You can almost hear Noel Gallagher harking back to the times of the swinging 60s. Be Here Now was the album that started a slippery slide for the band and they seemed to lose some of their zeitgeist. “All Around The World” falls flat and sounds more like an album filler and “Stand By Me” is unremarkable in its ordinariness. The only interesting release of that album was “Do You Know What I Mean”, which is included in the second disc, but even that fails to evoke the verve of “What’s The Story…”.
On Oasis’s fourth album Standing On The Shoulders of Giants, Noel tried a different sound, presumably after the misfire of Be Here Now. “Go Let It Out” reached number one in the charts, but mostly because it was Oasis and not on the strength of the song. The album was released in 2000 and Oasis were clearly in trouble, if for nothing else than Britpop being truly over by the late 1990s. The only other track chosen to the collection from that album is “Who Needs Love” which is reminiscent of The Beatles discovering the Maharaja. Or as the case may be, Noel Gallagher discovering the Chemical Brothers. A largely forgettable album, the only memorable occasion was Liam Gallagher’s appearance on MTV’s TRL where Carson Daly tried to make some sense out of the mumbling Mancunian, who spent most of the time with his back to the camera staring out to Times Square. Noel may be a true original, but Liam is from Mars.
Heathen Chemistry saw Oasis returning to the sound that made them great and was the first step on the long way back to where they once belonged. “Stop Crying Your Heart Out” is pop song royalty and for approximately 5 minutes it is the summer of 1995 and you can almost see the hands and the lighters that flicker small flames dotted all around you.
It’s all there in these 2 discs. The way it all started in 1994 and the way it ended in 2009. The last two songs on the album “Falling Down” and “I’m Outta Time” are songs from a band who knows the end is nigh. “Here's a song, it reminds me of when we were young, looking back at all the things we've done, you gotta keep on keepin' on” Liam laments in “I’m Outta Time”. For a few years Oasis were the band of the decade. The compilation reminds us why, and if nothing else, serves as a great retrospective and as a nostalgic trip down memory lane.