Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Boyz II Men '4 Seasons Of Loneliness'

Chart Peak: 10
After a two year absence Boyz II Men hit the charts in September with 'Four Seasons Of Loneliness'... This soulful ballad entered the charts at at No. 10.
This being 1997, it never got any higher than 10 either, though it was a US Number One single: their last and apparently Motown's last too. It wasn't enough for the Four Seasons to get back together and record a song called 'Boyz II Men Of Loneliness' though, alas.

Although not the record-breaking success they were in their homeland, they were a pretty successful act so it's a bit of an oddity that they made their only Now appearance with this track, rather than one of their better known ones; the culprit is of course Motown's reluctance to licence to Now before the Universal/Polygram merger in 1998. This is the third track of the last for to refer to loneliness in the title, which makes me wonder whether Ashley Abram was trying to tell us something and why he didn't move Conner Reeves elsewhere. It's a pretty poor excuse for a song though, relying on vocal gymnastics to cover for the lack of anything memorable. A bit of a weak ending to an album that has some good stuff on it.

Available on: Legacy - The Greatest Hits Collection

Monday, 19 January 2015

Peter Andre 'Lonely'

Chart Peak: 6
'Lonely' looks all set to become Peter Andre's 6th huge hit in the last 18 months... It follows his previous smashes 'Mysterious Girl', 'Flava', 'I Feel You', 'Natural' and 'All About Us'
Although this was technically from his third album release, there was certainly a bit of second-album syndrome for Peter Andre at this stage. Thanks to clever marketing he was still able to notch up the hit singles, but following up a Number One album with a Number 28 only a year later is the sort of thing that happens to indie bands caught out by a change in fashion, not chart-topping pop stars with impressive abs. 'Lonely' was the second single from the ill-fated Time, and whilst the album featured some rap-oriented guest stars in such of a more "mature" sound, this is stays in typical soppy ballad for the Christmas market territory. I probably haven't heard it since it dropped out of the Top 40 and I'm already struggling to remember it just a few minutes after replaying it; it's a strangely featureless vehicle for Andre's pseudo-Michael-Jackson vocal.

It's not surprising that after a couple more hits he effectively disappeared from pop until reality TV came calling. What happened next was more of a surprise.

Also appearing on: Now 34, 35, 36, 40, 57
Available on: Unconditional Peter Andre Love Songs

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Conner Reeves 'Earthbound'

Chart Peak: 14
Following his Top Twenty breakthough with hit single 'My Father's Son' Conner hopes to continue this success with his November single 'Earthbound'
Reeves was one of the first signings to Wildstar, a label set up as a joint venture between Telstar and Capital Radio, with the latter having a vested interest in ensuring airplay for their signings. Unfortunately for them, persuading people to pay for albums was harder than scoring hit singles and few of the acts (with the notable exception of Craig David) managed any sort of long-term success; Reeves was dropped after the first single from a planned second album only made it to Number 28. He never had a Top 10 hit either, though this was one of three Top 20 hits for him.

'Earthbound' - also the title of his album - isn't that exciting a word and the song does a good job of living down to it. It's the sort of dreary male-fronted balladry that is always with us but seldom leaves much mark on posterity, a song that you can well imagine Ronan Keating singing. Reeves has a nice but characterless voice and he doesn't give himself much of interest to do with it. Although the track wasn't actually produced by Steve Mac (it's Grant Mitchell instead) it very much has that sound about it and it's a bit of a struggle to make it through the four-minute running time. And people say Sam Smith makes bland music these days.

Available on: Earthbound

Friday, 16 January 2015

Cast 'I'm So Lonely'

Chart Peak: 14
Cast have had another string of Top 10 hits this year - 'Free Me' - 'Guiding Star' and 'Live The Dream'... Next comes this haunting ballad 'I'm So Lonely' due for release in November '97.
There's always a certain sense of achievement when I get to the last page of the booklet on one of these albums. Like Ocean Colour Scene, Cast had a run of six Top 10 hits in 1996-7, although 'I'm So Lonely' was the track that ended it: Cast did also go on to score a seventh, unlike OCS, but then they never managed a Number One album. Like OCS they were never a remotely cool act to like, though in their early days they did have a strong reputation as a live act.

Although I'd bought their debut album - and not entirely on spec, I had borrowed it first and liked it enough to get my own copy - I never quite got around to picking up second album Mother Nature Calls. I guess the title wasn't exactly encouraging. I do now have all four singles from the album ('Live The Dream' isn't on a Now album but it is on Shine: Best Of '97) and I feel like I might have had the right idea. I do remember some reviews citing 'I'm So Lonely (Calling You Back)' (as it was sometimes called, John Power seemingly a big fan of brackets at this time) as the album's best track and indeed it is a nice bit of pop balladry, more enjoyable than 'Better Day'. But it's not quite the haunting classic it means to be and I keep finding myself willing it to be better than it is.

Also appearing on: Now 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 43
Available on: The Collection

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Ocean Colour Scene 'Better Day'

Chart Peak: 9
'Better Day'is due for release on November 10th... Following '100 Mile High City' and 'Travellers Tune' this could be their third big hit this year.
The prediction was right to the extent that this did indeed become their sixth (and last) consecutive Top 10 single, but its chart run was not a long one and the song is little-remembered today, even compared to their other hits of this era. 1997 was an odd time when they were still at the peak of their commercial success (this comes from Marchin' Already, their only Number One album) but their brief honeymoon of positive press was already over. At this point I was still unfashionably fond of them and indeed bought the album, though I was never a collect-all-the-singles type of fan.

I certainly didn't contemplate buying this post-album single because I was never keen on the song in the first place; it never struck me as a highlight of what is in all honesty a patchy album, and personally I never like it when the first three singles from an album are the first three tracks in the sequence. Worse still, the chorus uses the phrase "Get Blown Away", which is the title of a much superior track from the same album which they should have considered releasing instead. Possibly this track was picked out at the band's own insistence as it's lyrically self-referential, a history of their friendship, long road to success, struggles with their former record company etc. Sadly this isn't made especially interesting to even a sympathetic outsider and is set to music that is skillful but not distinctive or memorable. It sounded to me the way I know all OCS songs sounded to a lot of people. I think it was one of the tracks Bob Stanley had in mind when he described the second disc of Now 38 as "pop music crawling away to die".

This is probably an example of the tension between collecting the biggest and the newest hits onto the Now albums. Although this song was technically a current hit on the day Now 38 came out, it feels like one of those singles that comes out in November or December just to remind Christmas shoppers that the album exists. It would have been better to include the stomping 'Traveller's Tune' instead.

Also appearing on: Now 34, 35, 37
Available on: Marchin' Already (Deluxe)

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Jon Bon Jovi 'Janie, Don't Take Your Love To Town'

Chart Peak: 13
This is the third single from Jon Bon Jovi's solo album Destination Anywhere... The band Bon Jovi are still going strong and have now sold over 75 million albums around the world.
It's probably a sign of the way the charts were in 1997 that this single matched the chart position of JBJ's first ever solo hit 'Blaze Of Glory' despite being much less well-known. The two previous singles from the Destination Anywhere project - a TV movie starring Bon Jovi himself and Demi Moore was released alongside the CD - both made the UK Top 10, although reaction to them and the album was more muted in the US. In an interview, he claimed that 'Midnight In Chelsea' had "stiffed" in America because people over there didn't know where Chelsea was, although the next single was called 'Queen Of New Orleans' and they must have known where that was.

No place names in the title 'Janie, Don't Take Your Love To Town' but it's probably not coincidental that the title recalls both 'Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town' and Bruce Springsteen's 'Janie Don't You Lose Heart'; Janie is also the name of Moore's character in the film, apparently, but I daresay he wrote the song first. Despite the title references being very American, this is supposed to be a more European-sounding album, with occasional use of drum machines and synthesisers and even female backing singers (one of whom is the model Helena Christensen, though it's not clear whether she was on this particular track). Despite the intention, it's a pretty conservative-sounding track here, and not an especially memorable one either. His band are hardly immune to the generic or formulaic but at least they know how to come up with something catchy. This is just a female version of the Meredith Brooks song without the shock value. Maybe Richie Sambora was more important than we realised.

Available on: Destination Anywhere

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Meredith Brooks 'Bitch'

Chart Peak: 6
The American smash 'Bitch' gave Meredith Brooks her first UK success when it made No. 6 in July '97... The guitarist has already sold well in excess of a million copies of her debut album Stateside.
One of the many planned features for this blog that I've never quite got around to writing was an analysis of swearing on the Now albums. There are stronger words to be heard on the albums, albeit surely sometimes included by mistake; but never has a swear word been quite so prominent in a song title, given the broad audience the albums are supposed to appeal to. Though this song is sometimes euphemistically known as 'Nothing In Between' (there are even a couple of YouTube uploads under that title, possibly for viewers in places with stricter online censorship), a wholly sanitised edit would seem rather pointless. At least the fact that she is directing the word to herself (as the Prodigy did on 'Firestarter', also typically played uncensored) takes some of the sting out of it, and of course she's using the word with some level of detachment. Attention-grabbing title aside, the song recalls the offspring of  'I'm Every Woman', and 'W.O.M.A.N.", a sort of list-song trying to be defiant but some how it doesn't seem to match up to its own intentions, never quite sounding rebellious enough.

It doesn't help that the actual sound of the record is a very dated combination of grunge riffs and programmed beats, a bit like a more self-conscious version of Alisha's Attic. It comes over as rather too corporate for its own good and rather thin. It's very hard to avoid the sense that Brooks was one of the hundreds of acts signed by record companies in search of their own Alanis Morrissette, even if she saw herself differently (reportedly she refused to be photographed without a guitar at this time). She wasn't technically a one-hit wonder ('I Need' got as high as 28) but struggled to come near this sort of success afterwards. She later became a producer, which is in fairness a job where women are seriously under-represented so I suppose she deserves some credit for that. Even though the song had enough cultural impact at the time to inspire an answer song by Sonic Youth, it's too much a product of its time for serious contemplation now. Mind you, I didn't like it then either.

Available on: 101 Power Ballads

Monday, 12 January 2015

Texas 'Black Eyed Boy'

Chart Peak: 5
The modern soul sound of 'Black Eyed Boy' was the third Top 10 single for Texas this year... It was a whopping Top 5 hit in August following earlier successes with 'Halo' and 'Say What You Want'.
Three Top 20 hits in 1997 was already more than they'd managed in their entire previous career, and with them all making the Top 10 it was enough to put them alongside the Verve and, er, Chumbawamba as the year's late bloomers. By the time 'Black Eyed Boy' came out as a single in the summer, I already knew it well from my dad's copy of the White On Blonde album and the single remix took a little getting used to, particularly with the additional synthesisers dubbed over the bass solo.

The song - co-written by Robert Hodgens of the Bluebells, incidentally - is probably the best on the album, clearly aiming for a Motown-esque sound but stopping short of full pastiche and with a barbed lyric, both pleading and critical. For reasons I can't entirely articulate I've always especially liked the way Sharleen Spiteri sings the word "deceit", maybe because she's slightly smiling at the memory even as she complains about it. With a different delivery, the chorus lyric "Black-eyed boy, you will find your own space and time" could just be trite pep-talking, but it's clearly intended as a tougher sentiment here. Funnily enough, just last week Spiteri was asked on the radio who the song was about but if you were hoping for an exclusive, unfortunately she refused to answer the question. The production has a good propulsive energy and is well-detailed with smart use of percussion. On reflection I think the single mix is an improvement because that big string section really comes through on the intro and the extra few seconds in the fade leaves in a little extra taste of the vocals.

It's probably still not cool to say this, and there was a time in the last decade when I wouldn't have said it, but at their best Texas were very good indeed, and this is a real highlight.

Also appearing on: Now 36, 37, 39, 40, 43, 47, 48, 49, 56, 62, 63
Available on: Greatest Hits (UK Comm Single CD)

Friday, 9 January 2015

Ash 'A Life Less Ordinary'

Chart Peak: 10

Taken from the cool new movie of the same name, 'A Life Less Ordinary' peaked at No. 10... This is the first single to feature new band member Charlotte Hatherley.

It's been mentioned already, but this seemed the best place to refer to the film of A Life Less Ordinary, not only because this is the title song but because I discussed Trainspotting a couple of posts ago and the former was certainly promoted at the time as a sort of follow-up to the latter. It's obviously not a sequel - though one of those is planned for next year - but it's the same director (Danny Boyle) and the same leading man (our old friend Ewan McGregor), both presumably paid a lot more money this time around having established themselves. I never saw the film myself, but I understand from reviews that it was a lesser work.

Still, after the success of the Trainspotting soundtrack it was inevitable that the soundtrack album for this movie would also be a key part of the promotion, featuring big names like R.E.M., Prodigy and the Cardigans as well as another hit single (and personal favourite of mine) 'Deadweight' by Beck. It was apparently at Danny Boyle's personal insistence that Ash got the title song gig, although it must be said that the connection isn't actually that obvious, since the title isn't mentioned in the lyric. Apparently the song is actually about Tim Wheeler's search for the muse: thus the lyric "Put on your dress white goddess" (not, as I once thought "wankers", nor as others claimed "wipe that ass"), and presumably that's also why he claims to "smoke himself into a haze in the afternoon". It's an interesting idea, but like a lot of Ash's records it ends up sounding a bit tentative, something seeming unfinished in the production; indeed the song has been re-mixed several times since its initial release. Wheeler's vocal is, as has often been the case, rather on the vague side as well. It adds up to one of several Ash singles that are decent rather than brilliant, and it's a pity none of the truly classic ones ever made it to a Now album.

Available on: The Best Of Ash (Remastered)

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Robbie Williams 'Lazy Days'

Chart Peak: 8
'Lazy Days' smashed into the UK Top Ten in July, hot on the heels of 'Old Before I Die'... Releasing his first solo album and completing a UK tour this year, Robbie's career is set to go from strength to strength.
Side Four opens with the second consecutive track by a vocalist who also had a hit duet with Nicole Kidman.

It may just have been hype at the time, but that note was pretty vindicated wasn't it? It was  rather a brave prediction back then, with his early solo singles doing progressively less well and an initial 3-week chart run for his debut album. His next-but one single was to change things dramatically, but the seed was arguably sown with this, the first of his singles co-written by former Lemon Trees guitarist Guy Chambers. I seem to recall reading at one point that the song was indeed based on an unused track by that group, though Williams certainly did contribute the lyric.

'Lazy Days' was dismissed at the time as an Oasis wannabe, and there's more than a grain of truth to that, but there is a slightly lighter, more melodic side to this which reminds me more of The La's (who were of course also a much-cited influence on Oasis). I wouldn't even have contemplated liking this at the time but all these years later I can understand why this was released in the summer and I can almost understand why people liked it, apart from the irritatingly monotonous vocal. It's certainly much better than a lot of other Robbie Williams songs that are better-remembered these days.

Also appearing on: Now 34, 37, 39, 41, 42, 44, 45, 47, 48, 49, 51 (with Nicole Kidman), 52 (with 1 Giant Leap & Maxi Jazz), 54, 55, 56, 59, 60, 62, 63, 65, 66, 74, 75, 77 (with Gary Barlow), 83
Available on: Life Thru A Lens

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

PF Project featuring Ewan McGregor 'Choose Life'

Chart Peak: 6
PF Project are producers Jaimie White and Moose... The duo sampled Ewan McGregor's opening dialogue from Trainspotting, he liked it and the single is due for release on 3rd November '97.
Yes, Ewan McGregor has had more Top 40 singles than Jackson Browne, which is a fact you might find useful in a pub quiz someday. PF Project also had hits under other names, including the actually quite good 'Sounds Of The Wickedness' by Tzant. By late 1997, Trainspotting must have been out of the cinemas, but its impact continued. You didn't have to spend much time on university campuses to see the poster leering out of windows at you, and the soundtrack album was so successful EMI milked it for a second volume, including tracks not included on the previous selection.

Transpotting 2 also featured the full-length version of this number, which does indeed sample the opening speech from the film, though some of the language has been cleaned up for the radio edit. In context, it's an impressive ironic piece of writing that sets up the complex moral ambiguities of the film (and the book, I suppose, but I've never read that). Played over some generic trance music it's less effective and the thought of it being played in a club for people to sing along to is oddly distasteful. I'm glad I can choose to listen to something else.

Available on: Positiva 21

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Moby 'James Bond Theme'

Chart Peak: 8
Moby's reworking of the classic James Bond Theme will be release to coincide with the new Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies.
The name's Hall, Richard Hall, but he chose to work under a stage name. He'd already had a Top 10 hit with 'Go' and several minor hits to his name, but his career did seem to be on the wane a little until he was commissioned to remix Monty Norman's famous theme tune for the latest in the long-running franchise. Apparently even Moby himself, not a man who often seems to understate his own talents, had misgivings about the idea. Presumably he needed the money though and what he comes out with is a decent, if dated "re-version" of the original, complete with the obligatory "no Mister Bond I expect you to die!" sample. It also features then-Bond Piers Brosnan introducing himself, which fits with the corporate strategy.

It makes a lot of sense to try to attract younger pop fans to the series and in that sense it works, but it's hard to envisage anyone really wanting to listen to this in isolation. It was onwards and upwards for Moby though, as is his next project was the multi-million-selling Play album that made him ubiquitous for years.

Also appearing on: Now 20, 45, 46, 52
Available on: I Like to Score

Monday, 5 January 2015

Radiohead 'Karma Police'

Chart Peak: 8
It is now more than 4 years since Radiohead first hit the Top 10 with the anthemic 'Creep'... Most of their singles since have been mini-classics in their own right including 'Karma Police' which was a No. 8 smash in late August '97 from the album OK Computer.
Sometimes you can remember the first time you ever heard a song. I know that I can remember making my regular weekly visit to Andy's Records in Lancaster in the summer of 1997 and hearing them play then-current single 'Paranoid Android' in the shop; as the track ended I realised that they were playing the whole album the week before it was released; it was a pretty rare treat to hear a whole album before it came out in those days so I made sure to find plenty of things to look at for the next three-quarters of an hour. Although many of the subtleties of OK Computer were lost on me in the bustle of the shop, I do particularly remember noticing that there was a song that sounded a little bit like 'Dark Night' by Gorky's Zygotic Mynci on there, though that song was recent enough that the similarity could only be coincidental.

Like many of my fellow students, I bought the album the following week and that Gorky's soundalike turned out to be 'Karma Police', the song that ends Side One on the cassette and Side Two of the vinyl versions. Weeks later it became the album's second single and the band's third consecutive Top 10 hit, although its week at 8 was in the unbroadcast chart so few will have heard it announced as such. The title was apparently an intra-band in-joke (evidence that they have more of a sense of humour than is sometimes recognised) but the finished song is somewhat darker in hue, a song calling for vengeance. The frequent refrain "This is what you'll get when you mess with us" suggests it might be coming too, and the fact that we don't know exactly who's making that threat only accentuates it. Musically the track is outstanding, starting with a brilliantly engineered combination of piano and acoustic guitar (really, one of the best-sounding tracks I've ever heard) with the ominous rattle of the drums hinting at the breakdown to come as the rhythms break up and the vocal gets stuck on the repeated line "For a minute there I lost myself" and the reverb increases before the distorted guitar sample overwhelms the entire track until we're lost in an electronic stutter. On the album version, you can actually hear the click of the sampler being turned off at the end (reminiscent of a life-support machine being shut down, perhaps?) although this has been trimmed from the edit here. It's one of the most fascinating sound pictures ever painted in pop, but what makes this part of Radiohead's career so appealing is that they are able to combine that with a song that has a strong melody and a real human soul behind it. That makes it all the more involving than some of their later work which can be a little too coldly experimental.

Of course, this song is so widely acknowledged as a classic that you probably already know or disagree, so it's almost superfluous to write this post. But I recommend you check out the Gorky's track as well, since it's my only excuse to mention them in this context.

Also appearing on: Now 26, 32, 33, 37, 39, 49
Available on: OK Computer

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Faithless 'Don't Leave'

Chart Peak: 21 [original version: 34 in 1996]
'Don't Leave', due for release on 3rd November '97, is the new Faithless single... It is taken from the new hot movie A Life Less Ordinary and looks set to follow their other big hits 'Insomnia' and Salva Mea'.
Well, it certainly followed them chronologically. Whether it truly did so in any other sense is a bit more debatable, especially as the song had already been a hit once. Still, it does give them one of only two appearances in the Now series; the song, though is quite different from the big trance anthems they're best known for. It doesn't even feature usual frontman Maxi Jazz: the lead vocal is by Jamie Catto, who also co-wrote the song, which I rather welcome since I tended to find his rather pompous slow rapping off-putting and I was never a big fan of the pounding beats of their typical hits either, much as I recognise that people who were into that music genuinely loved them.

As it turns out, 'Don't Leave' (featured here in the "Hard Mix" by Tindersticks producer Ian Caple) is a sort of soul ballad that fits relatively neatly after Embrace and comes as a pleasant surprise, even if it's more easy listening than truly memorable.

Also appearing on: Now 35
Available on: Now That's What I Call Chilled

Friday, 2 January 2015

Embrace 'All You Good Good People'

Chart Peak: 8 [original version: 157]
Embrace are brothers Danny and Richard McNamara, Mike Heaton and Steven Firth... They have already charted this year with their Fireworks and One Big Family EPs and now look set for their biggest success to date with 'All You Good Good People'.
It must have been early 1997 when Longpigs played Lancaster Sugarhouse, probably the biggest act to play in the town while I was a student there. I didn't actually go, but I heard about the support band Embrace who were already being tipped as the next big thing, and had just released the original version of this song as a limited-edition 7" (of 1300 apparently, which I suppose was a small number of 7" singles in the late 90s) on Fierce Panda records. If I'd seen a copy I probably would have bought it, even though I hadn't heard the song. I was quite easily led then. I did indeed go on to buy the two more widely-distributed follow-ups without really thinking about whether I liked them, and so when this bigger-budget re-recording of the debut came out I bought that too, although I was in a slight quandry about which of the two CD formats to get, and I'm still not sure I chose the right one. With hindsight, the track is rather overlong and I should perhaps have bought the version with the shorter radio edit on it; unfortunately (and slightly surprisingly) it's the same six-minute version featured here.

You can tell what they were trying to do here, and it's much the same thing that Oasis were doing on the previous track; you can also see Danny McNamara practicing his Richard Ashcroft scowl in the video and indeed Embrace were signed to the Verve's label Hut. Of course, at the time when they were signed the actual Verve had split so this single already feels slightly overtaken by events, Top 10 hit though it was. If they'd released an album in late 1997 it would probably still have been pretty big - and to be honest, I would have bought one - but by the time a debut set finally did arrive in summer 1998 they had already lost a little of their momentum and I'd lost interest. This particular song was re-recorded again for the album, and that version has the more famous video where Danny McNamara is executed. The chorus is certainly memorable and the major-label versions benefit from better singing and a proper brass section instead of the cheap synthesised one on the indie release; but ultimately the song feels a bit hollow, trying too hard to be anthemic. I stopped buying their records at this point, although I did quite like their song 'Ashes' a few years later.

As for that gig I didn't go to, third on the bill were Travis, who of course ended up being the biggest of the three acts. Somebody who did go said Travis were "the new Kenickie" and I still don't know what he meant.

Also appearing on: Now 40, 41, 59, 63
Available on: All You Good Good People

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Oasis 'Stand By Me'

Chart Peak: 2
'Stand By Me' was a No. 2 smash for Oasis in late September '97... Every one of their 6 singles since 'Some Might Say' in 1995 has made either No. 1 or No. 2 in the UK chart.
In fact, they stretched that to eight before 'Who Feels Love' broke it by only getting to 4. Though it's oddly unmentioned in the sleeve note there, they'd also just scored the fastest-selling album in UK history with Be Here Now. Such was their fame at this time that ITN actually reported on the release of their previous single as if it was a news story, and speculated as to whether it would become the biggest-selling single ever (spoiler: it wasn't). Little can they have known then that the actual all-time biggest seller was just a few weeks away, and would indeed be responsible for keeping this follow-up from topping the chart.
That tweet is from JPK Discography, who I hope won't mind me mentioning that he is my brother. He's been listening to all the music he has in alphabetical order (he's got as far as P) and I think he's summarised 'Stand By Me' quite well there. It's probably the most played of the three UK singles from the album nowadays (despite being the only one not to top the chart) but understandably most of the retrospective fuss about Oasis still concentrates on the first two albums. At the time I was already "over" Oasis and viewed a lot of the hype around the album and single with amusement, though I do remember getting to go into HMV in the evening because they were doing an exclusive in-store playback the night we happened to be at the cinema in the local shopping centre; I can't remember whether that was the same night we saw a fight in McDonalds but I have a memory of pointedly buying something else. We did get a poster for our mum though.

In some ways, 'Stand By Me' is almost the archetype of an Oasis song, with its stately pace (it could only be considered fast by comparison with the previous three tracks) its obvious retro borrowings (Noel Gallagher admits that the chorus was inspired by 'All The Young Dudes', albeit that the chords are different for once) and the seemingly thoughtless lyric. And like almost everything they ever recorded, especially on this album, it's very long at almost six minutes; apparently a slightly shorter radio edit was released in France.  And yet there's also something oddly irrefutable about it, the way that it just keeps on going at its stately pace and doesn't care what you think. The string arrangements, buried in the mix, are rather pretty too. Although Gallagher grasped the Beatles comparisons with both hands, this is a reminder that the classic Oasis sound is at least as much influenced by pre-punk 70s rock as anything from the 60s. The song's grown on me enough that I was slightly tempted to buy the copy of the CD single that I saw in a charity shop the other day for 50p.

Also appearing on: Now 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 52, 53, 54, 61, 62
Available on: Be Here Now