Set out last summer blogging a short history of Britpop while I was reading the book The Last Party: Britpop, Blair, and the Demise of English Rock the summer ended and my blogging lagged, so I never finished. Here is an attempt to finish it up. I'm 8 months removed from reading the book but here we go.
Liam Gallagher - Vocals
Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs - Guitar
Paul McGuigan - Bass
Tony McCarroll - Drums
Noel Gallagher - Guitar and Vocals
Formed in 1991 in the industrial wasteland of Manchester England by Bonehead, Paul, Tony, and Liam the band was a spin-off of an early crap band Rain. Older brother Noel was a a roadie for the Inspiral Carpets and came to see an early performance of the band. He thought they were terrible, but saw the the band as an opportunity to get music he had been writing and working on for years out there. Story is that he joined the band, but made them all agree that he was the chief song writer and had control of the band. At this point the band got serious and started gigging regularly and traveling the whole of Great Britain to play. Rumor is that on one of these trips they forced their way into a playing slot and corned Creation records head Alan McGee to listen to their demo and sign them to a deal. He did.
Footage from that night:
On the band's first single, Supersonic you can hear the influence of the Beatles in the lyrics and the massive sounding guitars were designed to be played to huge crowds.
The Gallagher brothers and Oasis were a group who wanted to be rock stars and embraced the lifestyle before the even got there. They did all the drugs, drank all the booze, trashed the hotel rooms; this lead to quite a reputation as being bad boys that helped solidify their status as cool on their quick rise to the top. They next released Shakermaker. It got them in trouble for being so similar to I'd Like to Teach the World To Sing. I think a big part of the brilliance of Noel is his ability to absorb and be influenced by a song and make it into something wholly new.
Listen to the Ghalleger brothers talk about the formation of the band, their inspiration, and their aspersions. The 6:40 minutes mark is awesome - talking about their greatness - just a fact. We also get some early jabs at Blur (8:00):
For the rest of the interview go here.
The next single was Live Forever released August 1994. Don't need to say a whole lot about this track it is genius. It broke into the top 10 on the UK charts and later in 1995 made the top 10 in the US and number 2 on the US modern rock chart. Easily one of their best songs ever. Noel has said he was inspired by the Rolling Stones song Shine A Light. Below is an early version and live at Glastonbury (love the beer in one hand and tambourine in the other).
A great little bite about Noel's writing process (1:37 is classic):
Hear Noel and Bonehead talk about the album cover:
The band toured like mad men at this point traveling the whole world and making a huge impression everywhere they went. While on tour in the US, the band came close to breaking up. Performing in LA all messed up on Crystal Meth, Liam flew off the handle and taunted the crowd. He then turned on his brother and attacked him with his tambourine. The whole tour Liam's behavior was chaotic and crazy. Noel had enough and left the band. He was persuaded days later to rejoin the tour, but this kind of back and forth between brothers would continue throughout the life of the band. The song writing of Noel and that cocksure attitude of Liam are what made Oasis great, but the attitude also got them in trouble with each other and everyone else.
Footage from the LA concert:
The last single released from Definitely Maybe was Cigarettes and Alcohol. My favorite single, an all out rock assault with serious swagger. Not from the same time period, but a great live version below:
Next Time: Oasis Part2
Still To Come: Other Britpop Players, Blur Vs. Oasis, and The Downfall and Legacy