Sunday, July 26, 2009

D'you know what I mean?

33 Oasis, 'Sunday Morning Call'

The Britpop media hype of a few years ago is looking pretty creaky as the years go by, as most media constructs do. The much hyped 'new thing' is a long standing tradition in music papers. Bruce Springsteen actually survived being called the future of rock 'n' roll in the press, but for every Springsteen there is a Steve Forbet. Steve, like about a billion others over the years, was hailed as the next Dylan (we haven't got done with the old one yet so it's a farce right from the get go).

The other thing the press love to hype is perceived animosity amongst bands. If that doesn't fly they'll work at actually creating a rivalry where it doesn't exist. The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were mates and each was living it large and drug fuelled, but for some reason (commerce actually - selling papers) they hyped the Beatles as cuddly, safe and cute. Lennon, in even his fat Elvis cuddly period, was NEVER safe and cute. The Rolling Stones were hyped as the antithesis - guys that were not cuddly or cute, and presented real and present danger to your daughters. Therefore they were ubercool to rebellious teenagers all over the world.

During the similarly hyped Britpop era the press got to it with two lippy English bands - Oasis and Blur. There wasn't any love lost but they were all musicians trying to establish an image, a career, something.

It was never a fair contest - Blur was always going to trounce Oasis with one brain tied behind their back. Because they were better musicians? Nope. Because they had better songs? Hell no! Because they were more intelligent? Piss off! No - they were always going to win, despite it all, because the press decided they would. So they painted the Gallaghers as dolts, sibling rivalry gone mad, talentless imbeciles who...shock/horror/probe...ripped off The Beatles. Arch copyists, fakes!! Not original you see. Just copied the Lennon blueprint and sat back grinning.

Too simplistic. Everybody piggybacks, pays homage, rips off. It's what you do with it. The Beatles took bits from Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Elvis and Roy Orbison among others. Please Please Me was initially in the style of the Big O but came out completely The Beatles. If you're gonna be inspired (best case) or steal (worst case) then do it from the best and make it your own.

Even Nick Hornby was taken in! In 31 Songs he compares Noel Gallagher's influences (The Beatles) to John Lennon's ('Goons, Chuck Berry, music hall, surrealism, loads of things'). Sorry Nick but - I can't go for that, no can do. Just because Noel LOVES Lennon and the Beatles doesn't mean that he's not interested in or affected by 'loads of things'. Interviewers focus on his Beatles inspiration, they don't bother to dig out his soul and nor should they want to. It doesn't make good copy. And Noel's too smart to upset the apple cart. And nor should he. It's all show biz, after all.

I love the music made by Noel Gallagher/Oasis and I have a hard time picking a favourite from all of their classics. I'll plump for Sunday Morning Call because it's relatively unknown. It was released as a single and is on the not very popular Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants album. It soars and spins and swoons. There's a brilliant vocal from Noel and it's just great and it doesn't sound anything like the Beatles and it'll do me, so there.

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