Essential New Music: Oasis’ “Be Here Now”

oasis

Two decades beyond its creation, it’s now possible to read Oasis’ third LP—bloated as it is with five songs seven minutes or longer and Beatles lyrical thievery as a core product feature—as something more complex than the start to a long, painful climb down from the top of Britpop Mountain. 1996 represents, in many ways, Peak Oasis—the band’s original lineup was intact, its Knebworth shows that year still stand as a record for the largest demand for a show in British history, and the 425,000 copies sold of Be Here Now on its first day made it the fastest seller in the U.K. to date.

Fittingly, the album’s original tinny, trebly sound has been corrected—“D’You Know What I Mean” now reveals actual bass playing beneath the din—and the addition of demos and b-sides point to craft and IQ that might’ve escaped notice when Be Here Now was first released. That said, it’s the plaintive plea of “Don’t Go Away” (“Say that you’ll stay, forever and a day … ’cause I need more time”) that makes fully clear the troubled bromance between the Brothers Gallagher as the combative kindling that always fueled this group’s best moments. If Morning Glory was Oasis’ Rumours (the jilted speaking to the player in wounded song), then Be Here Now is its messy, glorious Tusk.

—Corey duBrowa