The Chief has quit, but should Liam carry on without him? In a word, no.
“I will never leave Oasis”, stated Noel Gallagher in an interview only two months ago, shortly prior to the band’s gigs at Wembley Stadium. The media, clearly unable to stop recycling the same tired stories of an Oasis split, had been publishing rumours that the band were on the verge of doing just that – again. It would only take Liam to look at Noel the wrong way on stage for them to sensationalise it into being “the end”.
Then rumour became reality. Minutes before they were due on stage at a festival in Paris, a fracas broke out backstage between the Gallagher brothers which allegedly involved a punch up, a smashed guitar, and an ambulance. Thousands of fans waiting for the band’s arrival on stage were left absolutely gutted and shortly afterwards in a statement posted on the band’s web site Noel officially stated he had quit. Same shit, different tour, was my immediate thought, as any Oasis fan will know this was yet another case of deja vu. Then followed a second statement, which crushed any hope that this was going to blow over anytime soon. Noel cited “verbal and violent intimidation” and a “lack of support and understanding from management and bandmates” as his reasons for quitting. This sadly suggests that it is not only his relationship with Liam that has been damaged, but with others too, so it might take a lot more work to heal the wounds this time round.
That solo album
Noel is an intelligent man, he knows that quitting the band will hurt Liam more than any insult or punch ever could. Despite the fact they obviously do not get on, it’s obvious Liam deeply respects his brother and admires him greatly. How could you not have respect for a man that joined your band and wrote the songs that propelled the group to levels on par with the legends that inspired you? Not to mention making you a millionaire. Liam could never forge the type of successful solo career that Noel is more than capable of achieving. “When I grow up I want to be Paul Weller”, Noel once said in an interview. Well now is his chance. Whether or not Oasis did ‘split up’, it was likely he was going to do a solo album after this tour was complete regardless, and so he should as it is well overdue.
Noel had got that edge back on the last two Oasis albums, Don’t Believe The Truth and Dig Out Your Soul, more-so on the latter. Given the platform to record an album not under the Oasis name, I’m convinced Noel will feel more confident to expand his musical horizons and throw in a few curve balls, as well as deliver some acoustic gems which suit his voice so very well. Speaking of which, vocally, he has never sounded better, and if the new songs he’s been singing at sound checks that leaked online are anything to go by, there is a lot of potential for the album to be something very special. As a long term Oasis fan, the prospect of an album written entirely by Noel is exciting, as we haven’t had one of those in over 12 years since the cocaine fuelled Be Here Now.
Should Liam carry on with Oasis?
So with Noel more than likely out of action with Oasis for the foreseeable future, should Liam carry on the band without him? No, is the answer. Liam has an incredible voice and is probably the last great rock star left (and no, Bono is not a rock star). His snarling Mancunian delivery is both charismatic and distinctive. He has a voice that can turn a great song into an even better one. Would Some Might Say have been as brilliant with anyone else singing it? would it fuck. With that said, without his brother in the band, it’s simply not Oasis. It’s a car without a steering wheel, it would inevitably end up wrapped around a lamppost. Both Gallagher’s must be involved for Oasis to justify using that name, collectively they are the heart and soul of the band, but apart the glass is half-empty.
It was Noel who wrote the timeless songs that changed lives and inspired people to pick up a guitar, a talent demonstrated at its best on their debut album, Definitely Maybe. Rock n’ Roll Star is a glorious statement of intent. Live Forever is an epic anthem that still tops ‘greatest ever song’ polls on a regular basis. Supersonic’s swagger and attitude has not been matched by a single band since it’s release. Cigarettes and Alcohol is social commentary done in a way no one can anymore, and Slide Away is a truly great love song, probably the best Noel ever wrote. These songs, among countless others, mean a lot to people, in some respects they are bigger than the band.
Oasis’ greatest songs were born out of a hunger to break free from the confined trappings of limited opportunities in Manchester during the Conservative period, these songs are inspiring and uplifting. They document the hope, aspirations and determination of a young man wanting to make a better life for himself and live the dream. The theme on Definitely Maybe can be summed up in five words on Cigarettes and Alcohol – “you gotta make it happen”, and he did. Noel has been criticised for being creatively a spent force as of late, but he can still undoubtedly write a great song, if not as often as he used to.
Liam’s role in Oasis should also never be undervalued. They would not be the band they are today without that voice. He has also written a handful of decent songs, and a couple of very good ones, namely Guess God Thinks I’m Abel and I’m Outta Time. But let us not kid ourselves, neither he, Andy, nor Gem could ever write a song that would sit alongside any of Noel’s best. Gem and Andy between them have come up with a few solid tracks. Turn Up The Sun and To Be Where There’s life are great tunes. I’m sure it is healthy for the chemistry of the band to have everyone contributing to the song writing process, which has made for mixed results. What is important though, in this band at least, is that the man responsible for writing their best material and steering the ship for nearly two decades is involved. You can lose as many drummers, guitarists and keyboard players as you like because at the end of the day they are replaceable. Noel is not.
Entertaining the thought of Noel-less Oasis is ludicrous, especially if they toured. They would become an absolute joke. It’d be as awful as the remaining members of The Jam touring as From The Jam without Weller, its inexcusable and a disgrace. I’m hopeful enough that if Liam is actually keen on carrying on as Oasis without Noel, that Andy and Gem will persuade him not to and convince him that this is an absurd idea. There is no doubting that an album without Noel on board would be decent at least. Between Liam, Gem and Andy I’m sure they have enough songs good enough to put together a record that wouldn’t be substandard, but if that really has to happen, they need to change their name and not rely on the laurels of ‘Oasis’. It would be riding on the coattails of Noel’s hard work and talent. Alternatively, Liam should record a solo album and collaborate with Andy and Gem who can chip in as co-songwriters. If Liam’s motives for potentially continuing Oasis are based on proving a point to his brother, then he’s in it for the wrong reasons.
Many critics have said Oasis should have quit at their peak in 1996 after the Knebworth gigs, with even former rhythm guitarist Bonehead agreeing that this would have been the best time to bow out. Two classic albums, a stack of great b-sides, the biggest gigs and most records sold by any band in a very long time, it would have been an impressive legacy to leave behind. Nobody could have predicted what would become of Oasis after that point, to say they have never been the most stable of bands would be an understatement. If this really is the end now though, 13 years after those gigs, as far as stories in rock n’ roll go, what a dramatic ending to the saga it would be. Given the choice between choosing this ending and having Liam soldier on and make a mockery of the band I love, it’s not a hard decision. At least there’s always the hope of a box set release with tonnes of unreleased tracks and demos at some point in the distant future.
Liam has allegedly said he’ll have news on Oasis in January 2010. What this means is anyone’s guess at the moment, but if it involves use of the words “carrying on without Noel” it will not be met with the warmest reception. In an interview with the Gallagher’s that featured on the DVD from the Stop The Clocks best of package, they were asked about the time Noel walked out of the band in 1994. “Who cares, he’s back now,” Liam said with a surprising demeanour of happiness and relief in front of his brother. Will we ever hear him say that again? who knows, but until then Oasis as a band should be put on the backburner until both parts that make up the puzzle are able to stand in the same room together without someone having to call an ambulance. Worst case scenario? Bonehead makes a comeback and takes over Noel’s place. Nevermind, as someone once said, it’s just rock n’ roll.