Sunday, 24 August 2014

Oasis 'Whatever'

Chart Peak: 3
Oasis - Paul, Paul, Tony and brothers Liam and Noel - come from Manchester and are reckoned by many to be the best new rock band on the planet. 'Whatever', a Top 3 smash, followed 'Live Forever' and 'Cigarettes & Alcohol' into the charts in December '94.
One of the B-sides on 'Wake Up Boo!' from earlier in this album is a weird spoken-word piece called 'The History Of Creation Parts 17 and 35' in which somebody claims that Oasis have everything a great rock band needs "except a bald lead singer". Certainly that was a widely-held view at the time and here in Spring 1995 their second Now appearance may have been about the last time in a long while when it was considered necessary to identify the band members by name in this way. I'm sure there were plenty of dance or hip-hop fans who would not know the names of the non-Gallagher band members even at the peak of their fame, but then they wouldn't care either.

It's safe to say that Oasis had a pretty good year in 1994, with a chart-topping and genuinely big-selling debut album spawning four hit singles, each charting higher than the previous one. So for the coup de grace they had to aim at the big prize - a Christmas Number One. Possibly learning from the mistake of Take That, who infamously topped the chart the week before Christmas 1993, they held back releasing this non-album single until the very last week possible in the hope that it would burst straight in at the top of the chart. But could they claim the big Number One spot? Well, if you've been reading this far you'll know that they couldn't, with East 17 getting the honours and Mariah Carey's 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' the runner-up. Still, helped by its lack of festive sentiment, 'Whatever' stuck around the chart, joining in with the regular sets of Oasis re-entries in the mid-1990s. It ultimately became their most-charted (though not biggest-selling) single of the pre-download era, helped by the exclusivity of the A-side and the popularity of CD bonus track 'Half The World Away'. Ironically, though, it was their last single to become available as a digital download, even the last of the four tracks from the single to show up in the format, only arriving as part of the Time Flies best-of after the band had split.

The obvious reason for the delayed release that the track isn't on an album, but there again some of the singles were available digitally for their B-sides too. Possibly there was some connection with the fact that Noel Gallagher was successfully sued for plagiarism of 'How Sweet To Be An Idiot' by Neil Innes. Fans of irony will note that Innes was also the songwriter for classic Beatles parody act The Rutles, and was also a friend of George Harrison, who found himself on the receiving end of a plagiarism suit himself once. Still, whoever's song this is it's a pretty good one, though it already seems to find Gallagher already lacking in lyrical inspiration and it's an early case of the self-conscious EPIC sound that eventually ruined the band, as if they were determined to release a six-and-a-half-minute single whether the song was really good enough or not. In fact, the version here is a very slight edit - it fades out the last few seconds of self-applause after the song ends. It's a difficult track to dislike even though it shows the early seeds of what would make the band insufferable; at least they had a few more good singles in them before that.

Of course the post wouldn't be complete without a little Noel Gallagher DVD commentary.

Also appearing on: Now 29, 31, 32, 33, 34, 38, 52, 53, 54, 61, 62
Available on: Time Flies... 1994-2009

No comments:

Post a Comment