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Oasis

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Noel and Liam Gallagher of Oasis

Photo: Dave Hogan/Getty Images.

Oasis Overview:

Oasis distinguished themselves from the competition during their heyday in the 1990s in two important ways: Unlike the moody grunge rockers around them, Oasis celebrated rock-star excess, and instead of drawing inspiration from punk and metal, the Manchester group embraced classic rock, especially the Beatles.

Oasis' Origins:

Oasis came together in Manchester, England, thanks to songwriter and guitarist Noel Gallagher and his younger brother Liam, who was a singer. In the early ‘90s, they formed the band with guitarist Paul Arthurs, drummer Tony McCarroll and bassist Paul McGuigan. None of those other members remain with Oasis, adding credence to the belief that the band is really the domain of the Gallagher brothers.

'Definitely' Superstars From the Start:

The group’s first album, Definitely Maybe, came out in 1994 and was a massive success in the U.K. Grafting the Beatles’ sense of unstoppable melody on top of energized, multi-tracked guitars, Definitely Maybe was the epicenter for the Britpop movement – smart young English bands that drew from previous U.K. bands but added a contemporary spin. Definitely Maybe didn’t prove to be as major in the States, but it established Oasis as superstars at a time when most popular groups were more dour and introspective. By contrast, Noel Gallagher’s songs (sung with bratty exuberance by Liam) rocked with heedless abandon.

Capturing the American Audience:

The band’s crossover success in America occurred with their next album, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? Released a year after Definitely Maybe, Morning Glory built on its predecessor’s melodic power, letting up on the guitar rockers a touch for vulnerable ballads like “Wonderwall” and “Don’t Look Back in Anger” that were sizable hits on American radio. Oasis were now a household name on both sides of the Atlantic. At the same time, though, Morning Glory hinted at later lineup shuffles, as drummer Alan White took over for Tony McCarroll before the album was recorded.

Victims of Their Own Success:

As a response to the pop-influenced Morning Glory, Oasis made sure their next album was a louder, bigger effort. Be Here Now, a reference to a comment John Lennon made about rock music’s message, was released in 1997, and while the Beatles were still the band’s strongest inspiration, guitar rock and lengthy running times dominated the album. Largely perceived as overindulgent and a commercial letdown, Be Here Now couldn’t live up to the legacy of Oasis’ earlier records. In addition, the Gallagher brothers’ reputation for tabloid scandals was starting to make their music seem like an inconsequential afterthought.

The Slow Descent:

The disappointing reception for Be Here Now was compounded by more band turmoil. Before work on a follow-up could commence, Paul Arthurs and Paul McGuigan both departed Oasis, leaving only the Gallaghers and Alan White to work on the album. Because of audience backlash, 2000’s Standing on the Shoulder of Giants barely made a blip with American radio, although the group still had fans in the U.K. Standing actually was an improvement on Be Here Now, but its woozy, psychedelic sound obscured the hooks. By this point, Oasis’ best days were clearly behind them.

Oasis Soldier On:

Guitarist Gem Archer and bassist Andy Bell joined Oasis as the group set to work on 2002’s Heathen Chemistry. There was no hope of winning back the American audience, although the album represented a more straightforward rock style. Archer and Bell contributed songs, as did Liam Gallagher, which made for a more diverse sonic collection, but Oasis simply couldn’t summon the magic of old. Zak Starkey (son of Beatle Ringo Starr) replaced drummer Alan White for 2005’s Don’t Believe the Truth. As with all the post-Be Here Now albums, Truth had its share of great moments but not enough to fill an entire release.

'Dig Out Your Soul':

On October 7, 2008, Oasis returned with Dig Out Your Soul. The first single, “The Shock of the Lightning,” was released at the end of August, having a moderate impact on the modern rock charts.

Noel Quits the Band:

On August 28, 2009, Noel Gallagher announced that he was quitting Oasis, saying that he simply could not work with his brother any longer. Some fans were shocked at the news, while others assumed that this was just the latest chapter in the Gallaghers’ ongoing feud and that Noel would return eventually. But, the split suddenly felt more permanent when Noel put together plans for a solo album and Liam started working on his own record.

Current Members:

Gem Archer – guitar
Andy Bell – bass
Liam Gallagher – vocals
Noel Gallagher – guitar, vocals

Essential Oasis Album:

(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?
British fans and critics would choose Definitely Maybe, but Oasis’ second album is the band’s high point, a rocking, moving, funny collection of love songs and drug songs. Morning Glory made its name on its sweeping ballads, like “Wonderwall,” but the album confidently shifts from the accessible hard rock of “Some Might Say” to the distortion-heavy paranoia of “Morning Glory” to the melancholy swoon of “Cast No Shadow.” At the height of their fame, Oasis weren’t shy about boasting of their stardom – Morning Glory is where they backed up all that “greatest band in the world” rubbish they liked to spew to the press.

Discography:

Definitely Maybe (1994)
(What’s the Story) Morning Glory? (1995)
Be Here Now (1997)
The Masterplan (b-side collection) (1998)
Standing on the Shoulder of Giants (2000)
Familiar to Millions (live album) (2000)
Heathen Chemistry (2002)
Don’t Believe the Truth (2005)
Stop the Clocks (greatest hits) (2006)
Dig Out Your Soul (2008)
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