This Is Oasis

Oasis' Noel Gallagher sticks tongue out at brother LIam

Noel Gallagher indulges in some minor sibling rivalry with brother Liam.

Could there possibly be a more entertaining band than haircut-obsessed Brit rockers Oasis? Putting aside, for a moment, the music, which is pretty darn great, there are the oversized personalities of the brothers Gallagher, Noel and Liam – cartoon characters who obsess over coiffing and interrupt each other constantly —  barely intelligible sentences heavily laced with cuss words. They’re almost too colorful – as if Mother Nature, allocating their character at birth, grabbed hold of that personality meter and dialed it up to 11.

And now they’re getting the full-on documentary treatment by the team behind Amy, the critically-acclaimed examination of deceased U.K. soul singer Amy Winehouse characterized by The Guardian as: “a tabloid-esque scrapbook” that “walks a thin line between insight and exploitation.” Oasis – hoisted by parade-float egos that swept the rest of us along for the giddy, fun-house ride of 70 million records and global fame – has the verve to fill that template.

For those who believe there already is such a film, let’s clarify: This Is Spinal Tap is not an actual Oasis documentary (though it does seem Rob Reiner was prescient with his 1984 release). To recap: Oasis was formed in 1991 and released seven terrific studio albums, beginning in 1994. Boldly pursuing the path less taken, the brothers charted a meteoric rise with a simultaneous flame-out, a novel approach, executed to great effect.  On Aug. 28, 2009, a fraternal fistfight at the Rock en Seine festival in Paris saw punches thrown, egos bruised and a guitar broken. (Noel is fond of recounting the particular violence with which Liam attacked him with a tambourine.) But don’t take our word for it! As reported that night in The Guardian: Scottish singer Amy Macdonald, who also played the French festival, wrote on her Twitter page shortly after 9 p.m.: “Oasis cancelled again with one minute to stage time! Liam smashed Noel’s guitar, huuuge fight!’”

That incident capped weeks of “abusive comments” by the pair across social platforms. In 15 years of existence Oasis provided enough psychodrama to enthrall armchair Freudians and Kardashinistas alike. And now Liam has a spectacularly successful clothing line, Pretty Green, while Noel huffed off with a briefcase filled with artist cred — a sort of happy ending, or at least one with enough frisson to make their imminent reunion … interesting.

From the Wikipedia entry on Noel, who wrote most of the songs: “Both he and his brother became famous for their ‘rock and roll lifestyle.’ They drank heavily, abused drugs, fought fans, critics, peers, and each other, and made celebrity friends …Gallagher spent extravagantly, buying various cars and a swimming pool, despite the fact he can neither drive, nor swim. He named his house in Belsize Park in London ‘Supernova Heights’ (after the song ‘Champagne Supernova’), and his two cats Benson and Hedges, after his favorite cigarettes.” Nothing terribly startling there; standard page from the Rolling Stones playbook circa ’60s.

But (and this is a big BUT), the Manchester siblings had pledged allegiance to the Beatles. Again, opposition worked to their advantage: all the fun of power-pop with the thrill of bad boy antics.

Meanwhile, lead singing little brother was busy netting headlines like “Liam Gallagher Loses Teeth in Club Brawl” and “Oasis Singer Banned From Airline.” During live performances, Liam enjoyed games like changing lyrics “so that they were offensive to both Americans and Noel,” or refusing to go onstage, heckling his brother from the crowd, experiments that led to furniture being tossed and incidents with cricket bats. A wealth of material! Amplified against a backdrop of brilliant music.

The Amy creative team – producers James Gay-Rees and Asif Kapadia — are  said to have received promises of unprecedented access to band members and previously unreleased archival footage. They’ve brought in Mat Whitecross to direct. “Unlike the producer’s previous subjects – Senna and Amy – the Oasis story doesn’t have an obvious tragedy,” mused The Huffington Post. That there’s a sort of tragedy in rock stars who become the living embodiment of parody is obvious enough. But it’s not all sad news. Older now, the brothers seem to have mellowed a bit. They get on with their ex-wives and have lovely children. Having enjoyed success at a time when people actually paid for music, they’re rich. A cover version of their song, “Half the World Away,” was just used in a Christmas ad for John Lewis, one of England’s largest retail chains, tilting them toward respectability. They’ve mellowed with age, and one guesses the biggest news to come from this documentary will be a musical reunion of the brothers Gallagher.

Post split, each has gone on to release independently. But it’s tantalizing to think there may still be some great music left in them a new configuration of Oasis (one informed by a bit more maturity and the wisdom of the years).

As the legendary David St. Hubbins put it when asked about the end of Spinal Tap: “I don’t really think that the end can be assessed as of itself as being the end, because what does the end feel like? It’s like saying, when you try to extrapolate the end of the universe, you say, if the universe is indeed infinite, then how – what does that mean? How far is all the way? And then, if it stops, what’s stopping it? So what’s the end, you know, is my question to you.”

Or, put more succinctly:

David St. Hubbins:
We say, “Love your brother.” We don’t say it really, but…

Nigel Tufnel:
We don’t literally say it.

David St. Hubbins:
No, we don’t say it.

Nigel Tufnel:
We don’t really, actually mean it.

David St. Hubbins:
No, we don’t believe it either, but…

Nigel Tufnel:
But we’re not racists.

David St. Hubbins:
But that message should be clear.

It’s pretty clear that this new documentary may hold the answers. At the very least, we’re likely to learn the secrets behind the perfect rock’n’roll haircut.

One Response to "This Is Oasis"

  1. Pingback: Oasis Coming to a Screen Near You | paulala

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