So, the conventional view: Oasis never did anything of value after What’s The Story Morning Glory? While it’s certainly true that they came close to recapturing the glory of their first two releases, with Be Here Now helping no one, the fourth offering, the mistakenly dubbed Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants offers some rather tantalising morsels.
Let’s take a step back, Oasis were all always going to struggle in the long-term, and Be Here Now is the sound of a band pushing the bigger and better ethos way past breaking point. An album of excess that collapses into flabby Dad-Rock territory. I was going to listen to it now, but it goes on for 70 fucking minutes. Nearly as long as the amount of plot in the average season of 24.
The point of this article is not to say that Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants is a classic album or a lost treasure, simply to say that there is some fine stuff here well worth checking out. Misunderstood and worth re-appraising then. For one thing, Oasis sound more comfortable here and assured, not trying to be stadium rock or ape the rock ‘n’ roll ambition of Definitely Maybe. Production is excellent, with lots of work going into slipping interesting bit of psychedelia into the backgrounds.
Lets look at the highlights. ‘Fuckin’ In The Bushes’ kicks the album off in badass style, crunching looped bass and those notable samples. You know what? It’s both fun and funny. As for ‘Go Let It Out’ I’m biased, I’ve loved this one since I bought the single back in the year 2000, effortlessly cool with studio chatter, managing to be languid rock ‘n’ roll. As an Oasis single it performs well. ‘Put Yer Money Where Yer Mouth Is’ offers a standard slice of Oasis rock ‘n’ roll but what with this being an Oasis album that’s hardly a crime and all in all earns the song it’s place. Rescuing the album from the horror of ‘Little James’ is ‘Gas Panic’ with Noel showing his brother how to write a song with a fine encapsulation of a panic attack. And straight from that pearl is ‘Where Did It All Go Wrong?’ a huge Noel ballad that’s as good as anything he’s written. ‘Sunday Morning Call’ simply tries too hard, should have been shorter, less overcooked but it just about scrapes by.
And now the weak spots. ‘Who Feels Love’ is trying way too hard to be psychedelic and coming third on the album kills pace. ‘Little James’? *Facepalm* Just when you think it can’t get worse it starts ripping off ‘Hey Jude’. I actually listened to it at the way through while writing this, earning myself an ice cream for my hard work. Just so we’re all clear, ‘I Can See A Fire’ rhymes the title line with “Sitting by the fire”. Even by the standard of Oasis lyrics this is particularly boneheaded. What’s next? “I can see a goat / swimming in the moat”? Spend five minutes thinking up lines as equally stupid as a way to pass the time in queues. Finally there is nothing particularly bad about ‘Roll It Over’ but suffers from too many slower paced numbers on the second half.
Again proving the old adage that Oasis threw in gems as B sides, ‘Go Let It Out’ offered ‘(As Long As They’ve Got) Cigarettes In Hell’ nailing the psychedelic vibe, aching and epic.
So, this is what I suggest. Trim the album down to the following tracklisting: ‘Fuckin’ In The Bushes’, ‘Go Let It Out’, ‘Put Yer Money Where Yer Mouth Is’, ‘Gas Panic’, ‘Where Did It All Go Wrong?’, ‘Sunday Morning Call’ and ‘Cigarettes In Hell’. Now that’s a short but potent little album with a lively top end before some excellent Noel stuff in the middle and a classy ending. Now tell me that doesn’t look like a fine little album.