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Sunday, 27 February, 2000, 01:55 GMT
CD Review: Oasis

Oasis: Standing on the Shoulder of Giants (Big Brother)
By the BBC's Chris Charles

They don't make 'em like they used to, more's the pity.

When Be Here Now was released, expectation was high, with the buzz generated off the first two albums still ringing in the ears. By the time it hit the streets, the unfamiliar sound of anti-climax was deafening.

This time around the critics have been sharpening the knives for months and fears this would be another let-down are, sadly, spot on.

The new-look Oasis line-up
The problems have been well documented, with Bonehead, Guigsy and svengali Alan McGee all jumping ship at a critical period, and Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants is hardly a barrel of laughs.

Their fourth studio album tracks Noel's painful voyage from despair to where as he peers out from the haze of his drug-riddled past.

There's no hint of the tedium that lies ahead when opening track F*****' In The Bushes comes crashing through the speakers. Built around a thumping drum loop, it's ZZ Top and The Who attending a big beat party as a disgruntled OAP mutters about the outdoor activities of the younger generation. So far, so good.

Next up is the single Go Let It Out, a Beatles homage (well, well!) which matures with age and finds Liam at his sneering best.

Our Kid has always been the maverick force capable of turning a good song into a great one and his startling omission from three of the 10 tracks is a glaring one.

Man of few words: Liam Gallagher
When he is removed from the equation, the momentum is lost, although his much-maligned songwriting debut Little James will hardly have Bob Dylan quaking in his boots, with lines like "You live for your toys, even though they make noise".

Perhaps that was part of the deal struck by Big Brother (so important they named their record company after him) enabling him to get his oar in on two songs, one after another.

The first, Where Did It All Go Wrong, is another emotional trek down Cocaine Boulevard - "you feel you're older than time, you're not exactly sure if you've been away for a while". Meanwhile, the desperately dull Sunday Morning kills the album stone dead with two tracks still to go.

When Liam finally re-enters the fray on the punk-fuelled I Can See A Liar, it's like the battered boxer taking one last swing to try and land the knock-out blow before falling flat on his face.

Noel peers into his drug-riddled past on several tracks
There are hints of former glories amongst the rabble, suggesting that the return to form craved by the masses may not yet be out of their reach. And therein lies the frustration.

Gas Panic! is probably the best of the bunch. A triumphant, effect-laden anthem with a huge chorus, the title could take on an ironic twist when airborne lighters are running low at forthcoming stadium gigs.

The psychedelic Who Feels Love? ("Now you understand, this is not the promised land they spoke of") is another plus. With nods to The Byrds, the Roses and, you guessed it, The Beatles (note the Dear Prudence riff that reappears on at least two other tracks), it's a pleasant away day from normality.

But for every two steps forward, there's at least two back.

Oasis: Only hints of former glories
Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is - or Morning Glory Part 2 - is built around a re-worked first line of Roadhouse Blues, but is ultimately loud without saying anything, while the six-and-a-half minute conclusion that is Roll It Over tries to be an epic but ends up as an average flick with no dramatic twists.

Noel does not seem to have learned his lessons from Be Here Now. Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants was supposed to signal a radical departure from the Oasis of old, but instead it is as predictable as rain in Manchester and overloaded with too many indulgent guitar solos.

Maybe fatherhood will help them lose the cheap frills and rediscover the humility that seems to have been left in the playground of the rich.

A band can't survive on reputation alone. Not even Oasis.

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See also:

14 Feb 00 | Entertainment
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13 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Oasis back at the top
11 Feb 00 | Entertainment
UK debut for new-look Oasis
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