Release Date: Oct 14, 2016
Record label: Big Brother
Oasis' third album has gone down in history as an Ozymandias-size monument to rock-star folly – the kind of studio monstrosity that just can't happen without a rare cosmic convergence of money, ego, hostility, dripping nostrils and guitar overdubs. Be Here Now was hyped in 1997 as the magnum opus of Britannia's (and the world's) biggest band, yet it turned out to be a crashing comedown from the arena-stomping glories that made the Gallagher brothers the toast of their homeland on the classics Definitely Maybe and (What's the Story) Morning Glory. This deluxe three-disc reissue gives it an affectionate salvage job, even if it still comes on like a classic Nineties cocaine album – all the songs way too long, mixed in the red, with a dippy nine-minute anthem called "All Around the World.
Triple-CD revisit to Britpop’s grandest folly. Twenty years have not been particularly kind to the ego-pumped indulgences of Oasis’s Britpop-murdering third album Be Here Now, famously the sound of cocaine turned up to 11. The lengthy plod-outs, dusty country interludes and oceans of ‘look ma, we’re The-Beatles’ bombast that turned the fastest-selling British album ever (at the time) into the album most flogged to second-hand record shops grate as harshly today as they did in 1997.
Be Here Now was to Britpop what Altamont was to the Woodstock generation - the messiest of death knells. Writing for the New Yorker last year, Richard Brody examined the complex metaphor that The Rolling Stones’ doomed 1969 free concert in Northern California provided, concluding that it signalled the end of “the idea that, left to their own inclinations and stripped of the trappings of the wider social order, the young people of the new generation will somehow spontaneously create a higher, gentler, more loving grassroots order. ” However much in thrall he’s always been to John Lennon, Noel Gallagher has never been much of a subscriber to the idea that peace, love and togetherness show us the way forward, particularly where his kid brother’s concerned.
The circus around Oasis’ third album, Be Here Now, makes the modern hoopla surrounding Frank Ocean, Kanye West, and Beyoncé look like amateur hour. Never was the hunger for new product greater, and never was the infrastructure designed to supply it in poorer shape. Back in the summer of 1997, the Manchester band’s label, Creation, and management, Ignition, were mobilized for battle, attempting to downplay the hype after months of tabloid chaos and over-saturation.
A lot has been said - not least by Oasis themselves - about why the Mancunian titans' third album Be Here Now went so 'wrong'. It is, for sure, a less good album than Definitely Maybe and (What's the Story) Morning Glory, being in large part the sound of a band who'd made their name writing three-to-four-minute-long indie rock songs now trying to write seven-to-nine-minute-long indie rock songs, with indie-rock not being a genre especially supportive of that sort of length, especially from a group that were hardly virtuoso musicians. It also mostly lacks the aspirational rock'n'roll swagger that had defined their early work.
There has perhaps never been a starker illustration of the dichotomy between an interesting record and a good one than this. Regardless of whether you think Oasis' first two albums were any good or not, there is no denying they were huge; they captured the mood of a Euro '96 football-obsessed England, dissatisfied with the dying embers of Tory rule. .