Gemma Cockrell revisits Be Here Now by Oasis for Classics Revisited on its 25th anniversary.
I’m going to dive into the deep end here, and say that I think Be Here Now is pretty underrated. When compared to the double success of its predecessors, Definitely Maybe and (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?, it definitely isn’t talked about anywhere near as much.
"It reached number one in 15 countries and remained at the top of the UK Album Charts for four weeks"
And I’m not trying to claim that Be Here Now is better than Oasis’ prior work – I wouldn’t say it is. But my point is that Be Here Now was a massive album at the time of its release. It reached number one in 15 countries and remained at the top of the UK Album Charts for four weeks when it was originally released on 21st August 1997. People loved it.
However, people seemed to do a 180 and change their minds. It is now viewed as one of the biggest flops within Oasis’ discography. I definitely don’t think it’s a perfect album, but it still doesn’t deserve the level of criticism it receives today. I’m talking to you, Pitchfork, calling it “one of the most agonizing listening experiences in pop music”.
Maybe people grew to dislike the album because they realised the bands’ hearts were no longer in it. Producer Owen Morris recalls that “the only reason anyone was there was the money. Noel had decided Liam was a shit singer. Liam had decided he hated Noel’s songs… Massive amounts of drugs. Big fights. Bad vibes. Shit recordings.” And if the man who worked on the record thinks this, then how is anyone else supposed to like it?
(And he has a point: the recording quality is not great, even on the remaster).
But 25 years after the album was released, maybe it’s time for us to re-evaluate once again. Maybe we should consider that yes, it wasn’t as great as everyone thought it was when it was first released, but also that we were maybe a bit too harsh on it when we reappraised it. So, let’s try this again. Third time lucky, ey?
To achieve this, I’ll point out a few of the album’s highlights for you. Let’s start with the most well-known track, Stand By Me. This one has aged pretty well, if you aren’t sick of hearing it on the Halifax TV advert yet, that is. Interestingly, this is probably the track that sounds most unlike Oasis’ previous work. It sounds like… well, they actually put the effort into it and tried to bring something a bit more mature and different to the table.
Another moment that mirrors this sentiment is Don’t Go Away. It is quite a simple song, and the lyrics might not be anything to write home about on the surface, but once you start to delve into the story behind them, you will realise that Noel truly put his heart into this one, writing about hardships the band were going through at the time related to family members battling serious illness.
I know I’ve only spoken about a few songs from the album, but I’m not going to go through and list them all. I’d be here all day, and that tends to make a very boring review. Instead, I am simply recommending that, on its 25th anniversary, you go back, revisit the album, and notice the highlights for yourself – because trust me, they are there.
Edited by: Roxann Yus
Cover image courtesy of Be Here Now album cover. Photographed by Michael Spencer Johns.