Monday, 8 August 2016

"The Searchers" (1979/1980)




"The Searchers" (1979/1980)

Hearts In Her Eyes/Switchboard Susan/Feeling Fine/This Kind Of Love Affair/Lost In Your Eyes/It's Too Late/No Dancing/Coming From The Heart/Don't Hang On/Love's Gonna Be Strong

I doubt the bookies were carrying odds about when the sixth Searchers album would be coming out in 1965, but if they had and you'd said 'fifteen years after the last one!' you'd be  sitting on a goldmine that would make even Donald Trump blush. Who knew, back when the band were led by drummer Chris Curtis and were pioneers of folk-rock, that their next release would see them riding the crest of another wave - new wave - with the band celebrated (at last!) by new-coming acts like Elvis Costello and Tom Petty (who even gets a song on this album) who adored their fast-paced adrenalin-fuelled but clean-cut pop. Who knew too that The Searchers were going to be labelmates with many of these new wave darlings, chosen specifically by Warner Brothers subsidiary Sire to work alongside such bands as Cyndi Lauper, Delta Rae and Risidual Kid. After fifteen hard years of heavy slog up and down the cabaret circuits of Western Europe The Searchers were finally given the lifeline they were looking for. The 1960s cool The Searchers epitomised was finally back in fashion (it should never have gone away!) and fans finally had a Searchers product in the shops that wasn't yet another '20 Golden Greats'. So this is going to be a madly happy clappy review at last, yes?

Err, no. Well, not exactly. You see this is an album that's both great and ghastly at the same time, with several contradictions across the record that mean it both wastes and makes the most of its opportunities at the same time. It's not that the album is bad or anything, it's just that it misses the mark, not adding much to the old Searchers sound or quite fully embracing the new. It's also near-impossible to find I'm afraid, which will give you some indication of how poorly this record clicked with the general public, That said, there's certainly a fondness out there amongst fans for the two albums made on Sire that isn't necessarily matched by the material. Go to the album directly from the old Searchers albums or compilations and it sounds slightly hollow, as if someone has taken the soul at the heart of the album out and just left the packaging. And that packaging is still curiously 1960s despite all the attempts to make up a 'contemporary' album, with a sound that would surprise most modern listeners when they learn it comes from 1979 and not 1969. Part of this album (and it's two sequels') problem is that it lacks a really strong identity. Though The Searchers were more known for their interpretations than their originality, it seems a shame that a band who'd gone seven years without recording anything and fourteen since their last full album can only manage two songs between three songwriters. Especially when those songs just sound like the other tracks on the album by outside songwriters rather than what The Searchers used to sound like. Rather than the start of a brave new world of albums you just had to buy, this album sounds like an echo of something people had long forgotten about without much of a memory about why it was worth celebrating in the first place. Ironically most new wave fans stayed away and preferred the old stuff: this album falls between the 1960s and 1980s stools and doesn't sound much like either.

That said, it's the core of the album that's at fault; some of the details are excellent. It's wonderful that this album exists at all - and after so long being ignored it's great to have The Searchers back at all in any form. In many ways supporting a rock and pop band who drop out of the charts is like cheering on a former premier league division football team who've fallen on hard times: you don't go to see them play a perfect match: you go partly to see if they can play their back into the top-spot of course, but there's also a sense of reality that what you're seeing is a memory of the old days with only flashes of their best past and you cheer anything that's even half-good, even if it pales to past glories. Seen in that way, you won't feel too cheated. Luckily there are lots of half-good things about this album and not too much bad. This album and its successor (named either 'Play For Today' or 'Love's Melodies' depending on which side of the Atlantic you lived at the time)

Amazingly this is the first album which features guitarist Mike Pender as the dominant force, with the vocalist who used to get nothing to do in the Tony Jackson days finally stepping out of the shadows to become the band's creative lynchpin. For some reason while The Searchers as a whole don't suit the 1980s hall of mirrors (which is so alien to their clean-cut piercing sound), Pender's voice really suits it, with the extra production effects giving extra dimensions and added roar to Pender's voice. John McNally's guitar is the only real link to the days of the old and the old boy has lost none of his skill, with the instrument even more central to the swing and motion of the album (though with a tad less echo it would have sounded better still). Frank Allen has really grown into his role in the band, adding the bass and harmony glue that keeps everyone together whilst being the driving force off-stage past the Chris Curtis era. 'New' drummer (as in  'he's only been there fifteen years') Billy Adamson is an under-rated talent too: more controlled than either Chris Curtis or John Blunt, he's the stable table the others can dance off across the album and it's a shame he didn't make more records with the band (he left The Searchers in 1998). Though the creativity can't match the days of old The Searchers are still pretty good judges of material, ignoring what most reunited bands would do (either write their own material, commission other songs to be specially made or nick songs that had just been hits for other people) in favour of doing what they used to be specialists in: seeking out rare and forgotten gems from the current age no one else is doing yet (The Searchers were the best band for covering rare B sides). In other words: this may be a lost opportunity, but it's a lost opportunity with a band who have so much talent they somehow come out unscathed anyway.

This album deserved to become the big seller The Searchers had always dreamed of (since 1964 anyway) and certainly there were far worse albums by recovering 1960s bands in the charts at the time. The reason this album sold abysmally, even worse than 'Take Me For What I'm Worth' in 1965, is more the fault of record label Sire than anything the band did.  The Searchers were dogged with more bad luck than most and their time with this label is a catalogue of missed opportunities, rushed sessions and inadequate publicity. Even the band's biggest fans - and they still had many - didn't know it had come out until the band mentioned it in concert. Few people bought this album, even fewer people reviewed it and those that did missed the point entirely: most assumed The Searchers had reformed especially for the album, the way The Small Faces and Simon and Garfunkel had around this time and were trying to ape the new style that had just come in. But no: what's great about this sixth self-titled LP is that The Searchers did what they always did (or at least the poppier half of their repertoire they'd been leaning towards during the years post Tony Jackson and Chris Curtis); it's just a shame they didn't do a little bit more.

And yet in common with the contradictions inherent in the record Sire are also the biggest heroes of the project, firstly of course by having belief in The Searchers when no other record label had in so long and then by allowing them to do their thing without much interference. Other record labels (including RCA, who the band had just escaped) would have insisted on re-recordings of old hits, covers of tracks that were big in the charts at the time and big name superstar writers who'd probably never heard of the oldies act covering them. In the end the only big name star here is Tom Petty, who no doubt was pleased as punch that a band he so admired thought his songs were worthy enough of covering (and, typically Searchers, they pick an unreleased Petty song to record - Tom's version still hasn't been released yet though it appears on bootleg, with most music fans knowing 'Lost In Your Eyes' better from a later Jeff Healey cover in 1992). Sire left the band alone almost completely, which was great when they were making it - and a pain come the release date. To this day this album is a pain to track down, with even multiple re-issues disappearing overnight (your best bet is the 'Sire Recordings' anthology and even that's amongst the pricier AAA records on Amazon at the time of writing. Don't despair though: this album is out in some format every five years or so in the CD age. Which means we're due another go very soon, surely!)

I also have a sneaky suspicion that for some reason Sire thought they were getting The Byrds and settled for The Searchers as the next best thing (after all, The Byrds owed a lot to The Searchers, especially that ringing Rickenbacker sound). Both 60s bands were enjoying renaissances in this era as folk-rock, clean-cut guitars, harmonies and bands filled with characters all came back into fashion. The difference was basically that the ex-Byrds were all busy: Roger McGuinn was going solo and working with Bob Dylan, Chris Hillman formed The Desert Rose Band, David Crosby was in prison and Gene Clark and Michael Clarke were trying hard not to get sued by using every inventive use of The Byrds name they could get away with (and quite a few that, legally, they couldn't).  The Searchers, of course, had stayed together through thick and (mostly) thin and enjoyed quite a different career since their heyday. I do wonder, though, if Sire didn't confuse the two acts rather more than they let on. I mean, just look at the original front cover which is full of model jets in various states of preparation preparing to take off which just screams 'Byrds'; by contrast the closest The Searchers got to taking off from planet Earth was getting needles and pins. On its own the cover is faintly impressive, though The Searchers rather ruin the illusion by each posing with a 'section' of the plane to prove that it really is a model and Sire didn't hire a Boing 747 just for the album artwork. But what has it got to do with this album? Nothing as far as I can see.

What Sire perhaps should have done is exploited this record's obsessions with 'hearts'. Now, you may have been taught in your biology lessons that all your heart is pump blood round your body but no: hearts can get broken, hearts can 'feel fine', hearts can be 'strong' and people can even get hearts in their eyes (with advice like that it's a wonder I ever passed biology). While hearts appear in a lot of song lyrics, it's apparent just how many times they appear on this album compared to normal (I haven't quite been through every lyric but, a single word in 'Needles and Pins' aside, the last time they played such a big role in a Searchers song was 'Since You Broke My Heart' way back on the first album from 1963). What's more the obsession with hearts will continue across the next two (the last two) Searchers albums where we'll get 'Murder In My Heart' 'Everything But A Heartbeat' and the rather graphic 'Love Lies Bleeding'. I wish I could tell you what all this meant, except I can't: the  'real' link across this album is that all these songs are love songs and that's just boring. Lots of albums are made up of just love songs. What's perhaps a little bit more unusual is just how young and teenagerish most of the love on this album happens to feel like for a band of The Searchers' age. Yes, you could argue that The Searchers were trying to appeal to the pop market, except they'd never appealed to a pop market quite like this before: of all the songs in The Searchers canon up to this lot only 'Goodnight Baby' (from 'Sounds Like Searchers' in 1964) sounds as if it features quite so fresh-faced a couple. And don't forget The Searchers were pretty young themselves in 1964. Though other reformed/recovering 1960s bands did this sort of thing on the tie-in single, no other now-middle-aged-band sounded quite so young across the entire record! And it's not as if The Searchers are trying to engage with a young person's idea of love in 1980: there's even a song about a switchboard operator for heaven's sake! (They even had mobile phones in the 1980s, after a degree - and a degree was what you needed to work them back then). No, what's odd about this album is how hard it tries to go purely for nostalgia and people's memories of the 1960s as an innocent time - while at the same time exploiting modern sounds and production values and often modern songwriters. In 1980 the 1960s were seen as cool and just far enough away to be re-assessed, for the first time since they ended really (At last! It took long enough...) It speaks volumes that a record like this, which is as plain and simple and sweet a record as you can have, spends so much time in teenage-hood and is released now, not during prog rock or punk-rock. Rather than try to sound contemporary or do what The Searchers always did, instead they make you feel nostalgic for their birthing period, rather than the sound the band came birth to, which is an unusual idea for an album and only half comes off.

What's even more of a pain is the fact that there two different versions of this album kicking around and if you're enough of a Searchers fan to spend the time and money needed to look out for one of them then you're surely the sort of Searchers fan to want to look out for them both. The 'original' version of this album (and the harder of the two to find) is the ten-track version listed here and released sometime in the Autumn of 1979 (nobody seems at all sure when), complete with a cover of Bob Dylan's 'Coming From The Heart' as track eight (between 'No Dancing' and 'Don't Hang On'). After the album sank without trace Sire had another go in March 1980, using the exact same cover but very different contents. This version is a twelve-track version using the same 'Searchers' title but now with three new songs (the new attempt at a hit single 'Love's Melody', 'Back To The War' and 'Silver') but this time Dylan's heart is around anymore (just to add to the confusion of collectors everywhere  the sequel album 'A Play For Today' was also given a new makeover and re-named 'Love's Melodies' even though that track doesn't appear on the album!) As it happens all four of these 'extra' songs are amongst the best: the slow burning Dylan cover is pretty even with the shades of Las Vegas clubs, 'Love's Melody' is a catchy song that most naturally resembles the 'original' Tony Jackson era Searchers, 'Silver' is a sweet and sensitive ballad and 'Back To The War' is the single best thing the Searchers recorded post-RCA, a glorious reading of John Hiatt's equally glorious protest song. If the album had sounded more like this core quartet and less like the other nine songs it would have been an entirely stronger album and it's a shame the band didn't have time to create a whole album in early 1980 instead of just a mini-one. Luckily for our nerves (being a collector is hard work, isn't it?!) the 'Sire Sessions' disc contains all of these songs from multiple albums!

Overall, then, 'The Searchers' is a curious beast. Like many eponymous albums it's actually the least Searchers-sounding album of their entire eight record run, with little to nothing of their traditional harmonies, songwriting or themes. Instead there's only the guitar and Mike Pender's voice to remind you which band this is - and even then Pender only started singing during the second half of the band's record releases. The 'new' 1980s production jars with the predominantly 1960s themes and memories and you never come away with a feeling that The Searchers have found a formula that quite works (though the three 'extra' recordings made for release the second time round come closest). In a way this record is even more of a disappointment than the (largely unreleased) RCA material of 1972, which may have been patchy but at least featured the band honing their skills and stretching their sound in parts. The last time The Searchers were around  at album length they sang 'Take Me For What I'm Worth', but the problem is it's hard to tell exactly what 'worth' is here and The Searchers are trying to be judged by 1980 new wave standards rather than keeping to their own sound. And yet in other ways, this album is a winner: it feels like this record should have sold a lot better than it did because it really taps into the 1980 consciousness nicely and it was reviewed very positively by reviewers who assumed The Searchers were a new act, not survivors of the Merseybeat era. There's a certain chirpy optimism that breezes through the whole album and even cuts through the typical 1980s production trademarks, making this album sound slightly more timeless than some other AAA 1980s albums I could mention. The band still sound great most of the time: the hardest working guitar in pop, Mike's sturdy lead vocals and some tip-top harmonies all clock up the extra 'bonus' points for detail, even where the songs and production often let this album down. The band are riding the crest of a wave which they deserved to ride after keeping the rage for all those years, even if it's new wave they're riding the crest of rather than their true natural sound. 'The Searchers' is a likeable album worth tracking down that deserved to do better, but it falls far short of what they could have done - and indeed had already managed in their 'first' career.

'Hearts In Her Eyes' is arguably the strongest song on the album - at least until the new songs that got added to the second version. It's a note-for-note copy of a mid-selling single by Surrey new wave band The Records, who sound remarkably like a Searchers/Byrds cross (and if anything their harmonies are tighter). Oddly The Records spend almost all their few songs talking about 'eyes' in the same way this period Searchers are obsessed with hearts... The song's a good fit, though and a strong choice as a first single from the album as it's the one track here that sounds vaguely like people's folk memories of what The Searchers kind of were with a contemporary twist. Actually the more you study this song the less it seems like a Searchers track: this is about a girl who plays the field and falls in love easily and only the surface. The hint, to some degree, is that she wants more than that and can never be satisfied, with the song's main hook a restless dancer that won't slow down or stop even when it's clearly feeling weary. Here the song turns on the key change which happens to coincide with the narrator's line 'my girls' smart, she won't give her...heart', but is she really that smart or is the narrator secretly frustrated, wishing she'd choose him and a deep love he's secretly holding for her? Generally speaking Searchers relationships are intense, whether it's the fuzzy feeling of 'Needles and Pins' or the alienation of 'He's Got No Love' but are we meant to feel the same thing here; equally none of The Searchers' songs had ever been quite so much through the eyes of a female character before (even 'Desdemona', the only Searchers song named after a girl, is more about what the 'boy' singing the song 'likes'). However where this song works as a Searchers track is the choppy and very 1960s chord progression which, when played on a ringing twelve-string, sound like the most natural fit in the world. Pender sings a gritty lead, though the band have clearly kept the song in the same key as the original and he's a touch high compared to normal. Oddly Frank keeps his mouth shut and we barely hear him, in direct contrast to the original where the whole point of the song is the free-flowing harmonies. The inventive drum pattern, caught somewhere between playful and desperate, may well be Billy Adamson's greatest moment in the band too. A success, even if a lot of that success comes from both the original source material which is copied to the letter and whoever the hero was in the Searchers camp who suggested they record this song. My money's on McNally, he had a good ear for a cover song...

'Switchboard Susan' follows the same formula, being a pretty contemporary (1979) single by new wave artist Nick Lowe ('borrowed' from lesser known new waver act Mickey Jupp) that sounds incredibly retro. There are a handful of AAA songs about switchboard operators out there, usually from the late 1960s and almost all comedy songs about mis-communication where the narrator rings up to ask a girl out and either accidentally or deliberately invites the operator out instead. By 1979 switchboards were almost entirely a thing of the past and so, largely, is this song's thwack-thwack-thwack swampy guitar riff which sounds more like something from the 1950s (or Shakin' Stevens - all his songs sound a bit like this one). Here the narrator has already fallen for Switchboard Susan before she even picks up the phone ('I fell in love with your ringing tone!') Though he lives many miles away, the narrator is lonely after a break-up and needs to talk to someone - unfortunately for Susan she's a captive audience and can't ignore the call. Though only a very simple silly song, more like 'Sweets For My Sweet' or 'Love Potion no 9' than any of the later deeper songs in The Searchers canon, there are some good lines in here including every possible telephone gag in the (phone) book. 'Engaged' rhymes with 'enraged', a 'long distance romancer' longs for an 'answer' while needing another 'chancer' and the narrator even gets in a quick innuendo with 'hey, babe, your number's great!' Oddly though they miss the obvious gag: Susan's a bit tied up at the moment to go out with the narrator. In fact we don't hear about poor Susan's side of things at all, so we don't know whether she's enjoying the attention, ringing for the police or can't get a word in edgeways. The Searchers choose to be less tongue-in-cheek than Nick Lowe, going for innocent bravado rather than cheeky send-up and Pender's almost grave delivery works well against the daftness of the backing. Again, though, most of the hard work came from the original arrangement (which The Searchers don't change too much, they just play a fair bit softer and - uncharacteristically - take the guitar part down in the mix quite a bit) and whoever picked the song.

'Feeling Fine' is a dear John letter from writer John David (formerly of The Airwaves, who had a hit with 'You Are The New Day' in 1978) but with added ringing guitars. Pender's narrator's been building up his courage to tell his girl he loves her, but gets the response 'I love you - but not in that way!' Pender angrily explodes 'What's that supposed to mean?!' And yet this isn't the sad song it could have been: the title isn't sarcastic at all but heartfelt, with the narrator feeling that at least he's got somewhere and he doesn't have to worry about speaking his feelings out loud anymore. You begin to wonder if the narrator is on drugs, actually, as he talks about sudden highs and adrenalin rushes and 'never feeling this good', which makes you wonder just what exactly he's taken beforehand to steady his nerves. Certainly his re-action seems way out of step with his intended girl's rather nonchalant response. Fittingly The Searchers' arrangement is almost psychedelic, with McNally's and Pender's guitars meshing in nicely together - although it's of a more generic psychedelic sound than anything The Searchers actually did for real during the summer of love (when they were either using big orchestras for soap operas or in a sentimental mood for teenagerdom themselves). The end result is like a lot of this record: it sounds good while it's playing, but there's so little going on under the surface that it is just like one big sugar rush where we used to get a big meal: enjoyable while it's there, forgettable once it's over. Better this than some unsuitable gormless new wave epic, though, while the band sing with gusto.

Mike, Frank and John between them wrote 'This Kind Of Love Affair', which ends up sounding like just about the most 'new wave' and least 1960s track on the album! Frank's bass and Billy's drums set up a nice inventive backbeat over which Mike and John's guitar weave in a very late-period Rolling Stones kind of way. The riff is a good one and the way it keeps darting out into both choruses and middle eights is like the inventive Searchers of old, especially when the latter is accompanied by the twist that the narrator has gone from enjoying the experience to becoming a helpless victim whose now obsessed. 'I give my love so easily!' cries Pender before the last repeat, but he's feeling no one: this time it's different.  Twist aside though, it's the lyrics that disappoint though: the narrator feels a fire and wants to get to know his lover better. The chorus is especially disappointing, repeating the title nine times before adding '...I like at the end of each third one. More polished and, well, sexier than anything The Searchers had done before, like a lot of this album it manages to alternate between being genuinely impressive at stretching out into a new sound and rather clumsy ('Thrill me with your lips, take me even higher, like before!') It's the sort of track you're grateful the band tried once because the verses especially sound incredibly exciting with so much going on everywhere, but you're also quite sure that The Searchers career wouldn't have lasted anywhere near as long had they started off like this. Still this once this kind of love affair I like.

Tom Petty never released his own version of 'Lost In Your Eyes' which is a shame. Though not by any means the most talented Travelling Wilbury (well, he did have George Harrison and Bob Dylan in the same band) you sense his earnest gruff voice would have carried this rather over-dramatic song a bit better than The Searchers can. For some reason best known to the engineers Mike Pender's voice is smothered in echo and sounds a million miles in the distance on what's usually quite an intimate and sparse track (at least that's what Petty's demo and the best known cover by Mudcrutch both sound like). At last on this album we get a track with some substance: far from being a teenage song about crushes, this is a deep and dark track about the intensity of love. And one-sided love at that: for the narrator time stands still when he sees his beloved, 'hypnotized, paralysed' by the intensity of his feelings and recording everything in that environment where he first saw her because the moment meant so much to him. However for her part she's oblivious and hasn't noticed him at all. Much as the narrator protests that it's ok, that love 'doesn't have to mean a thing' and as many times as he tells us that it's no big deal we, the listeners, know it is. After all the narrator longs to stay there all day staring into her eyes, but would probably be arrested if he did that in reality so he sadly moves on, but this isn't some light love affair he's going to forget in the morning: this is a moment of his life that changed him forever. More believable are the words 'love isn't always easy, love isn't always kind'. This could have been the basis for a great track: especially as Mudcrutch's wasn't out yet and back in 1979 an unreleased Petty composition was big news. Unfortunately The Searchers rather fumble things here. It's not just the echo, which makes Pender's delivery sound artificial - the backing too sounds disconnected from us somehow, as if this is just another cheesy new wave pop song instead of the matter of life and death it really is. The Searchers were once the masters of offering intensity and contrasts in song: 'Sea Of Heartbreak' 'He's Got No Love' and several more pride themselves on trying to be light and fluffy while clearly connecting to us from the depths of despair. Sadly you don't feel that from this track whose odd mix and overtly 1980s trappings outstays it's welcome long before the narrator tears himself away from his wannabe lover. Not so much lost in her eyes as just plain lost.

Side two starts with a second John David song - even some Airwaves albums didn't feature that accolade. 'It's Too Late' was the album's second single (the only single in America, where for some reason 'Hearts In Her Eyes' wasn't considered commercial enough), even though it's probably the least catchiest thing on the album. Which is not to say it isn't catchy: like most of this album there are more hooks than a pair of curtains and more riffs than a Steve Martin comedy routine. But this is a different style of song that's actually quite boring during the verses and doesn't explode as it much in the snappier choruses. Pender's narrator is in a bad mood, feeling that his girl has let him down and he isn't in the mood to accept her apology, delivering the quick-stepping words through clear emotion. However we never find out quite what she did that was wrong - perhaps there isn't a reason with this song sounding much like a teenage strop, the 'negative' counterweight to this album's usually summery teenage pop. Unfortunately it doesn't sound like Pender quite connects with this song which requires anger and snappiness, though McNally comes alive with one of the greatest guitar solos in all of The Searchers' catalogue, never mind the limited 1980s lot. This song also sports perhaps the best use of period echo, synthesiser and production values to the point where few people hearing this on the radio without knowing the band name would have guessed they were 1960s survivors. Of course, to most sensible modern ears being so very 1980 is a worse crime than sounding pure mid-1960s, but if you ever wondered what The Searchers might have sounded like had the band all been fifteen years younger here's your best chance.

'The Searchers' is arguably the band's most danceworthy album: there might not be much going on up top but the beats are heavy and the playing is good so if you'd rather move to the music than be moved by the music this album is the one for you. So it's odd that the next track is titled 'No Dancing' and is perhaps the most energetic beat-driven of the whole record (there'll be a lot more of this sort of thing on sequel 'Love's Melodies'). The writer is Noel Brown, who disappeared after writing this track for The Searchers and a couple of songs for Graham Parker. It's not hard to see why: this song is a simple authority defiant statement as Pender threatens that the landlord will throw you out if you dance, so there. Of course the 'joke' is that the band are playing so loud and having so much fun (especially Pender's brief exuberant solo) that they can't do anything else. The Searchers play impressively well and hungrily for a band approaching their forties and cope admirably well with a song so unlike their usual style, with a gruff grungy guitar riff and lots of shouting rather than their usual ringing guitarwork and slick harmonies. However the song might well be the single most stupidest thing they've done since 'Tricky Dicky' back in 1963 and at least that song was fun in a naive charming sort of way: this one just seems pretty pointless somehow. As far as I can tell this is the one non-original on the album that was written specifically for the project and was never recorded by anybody else. Which makes you wonder whether Noel Brown actually paid any attention to who The Searchers were or just sent this song in to be cheeky.

By way of contrast 'Coming From The Heart' is almost a well known track, even though technically speaking writer Bob Dylan's original has never been officially released. As we were saying earlier, it really is as if Sire confused The Searchers with The Byrds by getting them to record one of the Bobmeisters leftovers and like the usual Byrd covers it's one of his better discarded ideas. The Searchers pull out the song's inherent musicality unusual for Dylan) without lingering for too long on how clichéd the words are and there's even a rousing chorus that sounds like the melody of 'Hey Jude' twinned with the words of 'The Long and Winding Road'. Despite the deeply sad and serious mood ('The road is long and it climbs and climbs when I think of love that I've left behind') it feels like an uptempo track the way The Searchers play it, with a heavy beat and an unexpected false ending where the song shifts from mournful gospel to uptempo R and B with Pender unleashing his inner preacher. In short it's a fine if not that deep song that many a band would have handled well. However, it doesn't sound much like a Searchers song: their switch from guitar rock to earnest piano ballads in the early 1970s never really suited them and they're too heavy-footed to really connect with this number. Once again it's the moment when the band attack the song with energy and gusto where it really takes off - and sadly that only accounts for the final thirty seconds or so, with the opening four being something of a slog. Still, this song is far from the worst on the album and deserved to be re-instated when Sire decided to re-release the album with a new running order. If only because it might have inspired The Byrds (who have a much better feel for this sort of thing) to record it on their brief 1990 reunion when they were looking for rare Bob songs to record: this number is right up their street.

'Don't Hang On' is the joker in the pack, delivered in best 1950s posing style by Frank Allen doing his best Elvis impression. Credited to him, John and Mike it's a fun groovy rocker that might not sound much like The Searchers again but suits them to a tee and reflects the nicely homed primitivism of their early records. In a series of tightly twisting chord changes and some urgent military style drumming (Billy Adamsons' second greatest drum part!) Frank urges his girlfriend to become his girl but it's alright if she doesn't, friends will be ok. Unfortunately the pair seem to be at odds, one coming on stronger when the other falls back, with the game of love turned into a dance that fair wears both partners out. Frank also compares love to a recipe that has to be just right, because if the pot boils over all he'll be left with his ashes and all he really wants is not to be alone anymore. Instead the lovers learn to compromise, to not to be too clingy or too distant with each other but to keep just the right distance between them, though this becomes increasingly hard to achieve as the song speeds up and threatens to spiral out of control. The Searchers' speed energy and discipline is impressive, with this the best performed track on a generally tight and energetic album and special praise going to Frank's eccentric vocal delivery. Shakin' Stevens would have had a lot of fun with this song, but it's way too good for him! Not deep or original enough to compare with the best in the Searchers canon by any means (who'd have guessed, after the stunning originality of 'Take Me For What I'm Worth', that the second best thing on the next Searchers album would be an Elvis parody?), but not all good music has to be deep or worthy. Great fun!

The album ends uncomfortably on 'Love's Gonna Be Strong', an uneasy return to new wave pop by songwriter Ronnie Thomas (once of the band Heavy Metal Kids who sound much like their name suggests, although in truth this song is more Lightweight Babies). Once again Mike gets the thankless task of trying to convey an unconvincing sentiment of earnest love and support over a clunky and forgettable melody-line, while the rest of the band get the more interesting bit - a genuinely catchy staccato riff ('You know that love's gonna ma-ake you stro-ong!') and a final use of those ringing twelve-string guitars. Everything's being played at such a speed though that even returning to a sort-of Searchers formula of old this doesn't sound like any Searchers track that's come before, played fast loose and wild with McNally almost chopping at the chords instead of his usual clean style. Had the main song been stronger this song of comfort could have been a strong closer, but it just feels so empty compared to what the band used to do and all the fast tempos and production techniques in the world can't make up for what's lacking in this composition as a song. It's a bit of a limp finale to be honest, the most forgettable song here.


At least 'The Searchers' has its moments, though, and even if around a third of it is unconvincing and forgettable while the rest is largely shallow there's definitely an aura around it that prevents it from being the usual 1960s-band-tries-to-go-1980s-and-falls-flat-on-their-faces routine we've seen so many times around. Unlike so many of their contemporaries The Searchers 'get' new wave: the short bursts of manic energy but performed in a tightly controlled style is right down their street and combines the signature sounds of the pre and post Tony Jackson Searchers. The band play with an impressive fire and attitude unusual in a band whose been around the block for so long and you can tell that The Searchers want this to work and are enjoying the chance to pursue their ambitions again with the intensity of old after years of playing to the chicken-in-a-basket crowd who barely notice what act is on. The band really wanted this to work and put in every effort they could in the studio; it's the choice of material that's a bit suspect and the lack of originals don't help (especially given that both 'This Kind Of Love Affair' and 'Don't Hang On' point to just how easily The Searchers could mould their old sound into the one currently in vogue). Sadly the lack of recording time and especially the lack of publicity killed any chance of this record becoming an overnight success and even with the biggest promotions team in the world a record this samey and repetitive (one ballad the whole album?) would have struggled to hit the big league. However AAA records deserve bonus marks for bravery and this record is brave indeed: The Searchers get all the hard bits right by proving that they can sound like all the band's they've so heavily influenced, that they can still play fast and tight and that they do have a future. It's just a shame that they couldn't find a couple of deeper, more impressive tracks to show off their talents as interpreters as well as popstars to give this album a sense of substance as well as style. The Searchers will learn from their mistakes, sort of, in time for their next album 'Love's Melodies', which is a less consistent but generally more suited album made in a similar vein. When this record works it works very well, but like new wave itself it's best heard in small doses - hearing the whole high adrenalin album in one go is heavy work. Maybe that's just me though: if new wave is your thing but you're also enough of a fan of the 1960s to seek out this site then search no more: 'The Searchers' may well be your new favourite record. Now it's just a case of searching for the flipping thing...

Bonus Reviews: two tracks from the re-issued album (I'm still trying to track down 'Silver'!) 
At the end of 1981 The Searchers also recorded what was first a standalone single in [  ] 'Love's Melody', which then ended up being the 'title track' for a re-launch of the 'Play For Today' record. Nobody bought this version either sadly, but there's no doubting that 'Love's Melodies' serves as a better title and that this song is also a welcome album track. The band's chiming guitars sound good behind Pender's slightly over-falsettoed lead and I could imagine this song being a hit just for it's pretty chord changes, though it's not that deep as Searchers songs go. The narrator and his girl fall in love while the melody is playing 'for you and me' as if they're the only people that matter - ropey idea salvaged by a good tune and The Searchers finally grasping, late on in the sessions, how to update their traditional sound for the 1980s. That third Sire Searchers album really might have been the best one after all...  

The last ditch effort by The Searchers on 'Sire' was the third single 'Another Night'. Perhaps sensing that it might be a while before they got the chance to record again, The Searchers went back into the studio to record one last song for release as a B-side that barely anybody heard. In typical Searchers style, it's by far the best thing they ever did for the label: [ ] 'Back To The War, a catchy song that makes good use of the old trademarks but also starts to make sense of the synthesisers as part of the band sound too. Better yet, it's an old fashioned protest song of the sort that everyone except The Searchers were making in the 1960s. John Hiatt's song starts off with the line 'you're different from me' as the lyrics go on to both look at the reasons for war and use it as an extended metaphor for two lovers going their separate ways. It's unusually aggressive for The Searchers, with lines like 'those bullets in the park, those rendezvous after dark- somebody has to bleed' but as we've been saying quite often in this book that aggression suits The Searchers' style well: those slashing Rickenbacker chords, that endless bouncy energy, that sense of hidden darkness and melancholy there in all The Searchers' best songs (from 'Needles and Pins' to 'Goodbye My Love'). Mike sings one of the best vocals of his career, a mixture of war weary and triumphant as he sarcastically asks to stop the lovey-dovey stuff and get back to fighting ('That's what we're here for!) If the two Sire albums had been more like this one this book would run for another hundred or so pages and have another half-dozen albums in the discography at least. Sadly, in another Searchers tradition, it was all a bit too late. 

Other Searchers reviews from this site you might be interested in reading:


'It's The Searchers' (1964) http://www.alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/its-searchers-1964.html

‘Sounds Like Searchers’ (1965) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/the-searchers-sounds-like-searchers-1965.html

'Take Me For What I'm Worth' (1965)  http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2008/07/review-5-searchers-take-me-for-what-im.html

'Play The System' (B sides and rarities) (1988) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2008/07/review-89-searchers-play-system-1988.html

Oasis: Surviving TV Clips 1994-2009











That stare, those eyebrows, the mad mad music videos filled with 'absolute nonsense (Noel's own words, folks!) - the visuals have often been as important a part in the Oasis story as the audio (so much for video killing the rock and roll stars!) Despite being a good three decades younger than most of the bands we cover, Oasis in all their shapes and forms have been an awfully busy band with this one of the longer TV-related articles in our canon. It's a good one too, dominated with music videos which, rather like the music, grow with ambition and back donw to earth again to the basics over the course of the band's fifteen year run, together with a few choice TV performances and the greatest number of surviving TOTP clips of any of our bands (don't know about you but I think the TOTP re-reruns on BBC4 should skip the 1980s and pick up the story again in 1994 when there's something worth watching again!) Unlike almost all of our AAA bands (except perhaps contemporaries Belle and Sebastian) everything by Oasis seems to have been kept by somebody somewhere: it helps being the biggest band in the land as soon as you're third single, of course, but Oasis are also a modern band from modern times (by AAA standards anyway) at a time when archivists keep everything safe now for future generations. Thank goodness too - how we could look ourselves in the eye if the drunken shambles of a video that is [21] 'Whatever' had ever been lost to the world?!
As usual, though, a few caveats. Keen Oasis fan that I am, I can well believe that I missed something somewhere - that's just law of averages. I can only review things I've actually seen with my own eyes, so a couple of the things that I missed (specifically the American appearances around 'Be Here Now' time that haven’t turned up on anything since) are absent from this list as a result. This list was also becoming long enough as it is, so we've missed out documentaries (although there are dozens of them on Youtube if you need that sort of thing - some of them are actually quite good!), anything available separately on DVD which should hopefully also end up in this book at some point (such as the 'Live At The Sea' gig), instances where one band member appears without the others (unless they're doing or performing something unspeakably interesting) and we end  our story almost when Oasis do, without the Beady Eye gigs or the High Flying Birds videos (with a few key exceptions). We've also restricted this list to items that were actually intended for broadcast, even though practically every Oasis gig seems to have been filmed by somebody somewhere and uploaded to Youtube, many of whose amateur camera work is better than the official thing (have you seen the shaky camera in 'Lord Don't Slow Me Down'?!) Please bear in mind too that the ordering is approximate, although things are helped by a number of handy lists available on the internet listing the band's first three golden years together. Do feel free to write in if you know of another clip however - and if we can get to see it too. Sadly we don’t have what’s thought to be the first appearance by Oasis on film, a performance of early song ‘Take Me’ for a TV series named ‘The Blackpool Roadshow’ in July 1992, part of a twenty-four hour fundraiser telethon. Apparently the show did go out with Oasis a last minute substitute for planned band Utah Saints but is the one Oasis clip that has sadly been lost to the mists of time. Unless of course you have a copy?...
Thankfully for once a majority of these clips are available officially, as part of either of the two best Oasis DVDs: the 'Time Flies' music promos set (best seen with Noel's giggling commentary) which includes all the music videos mentioned here and the 10th anniversary set of 'Definitely Maybe', which includes a TV appearance for every one of the album songs as well as relevant promos (how many albums can you say that about then, eh?!) However there are still a handful of tracks missing, which is where our handy patent-pending Youtube playlist comes in. If you're reading this article on our website then you'll have already seen it flickering away at the top of the page. If you're reading this in book form then fear not - you can join in too. Simply visit our Youtube page (https://www.youtube.com/user/AlansArchives) and have a scroll through until you see 'Playlist #19: Oasis' (there's a few fun extras added at the end for you too!) Right that's that out the way - we're standing on the edge of the noise and feeling supersonic so join our time machine up on the silver screen, a litany of magical mysteries - it's not all in my mind though surely? You can see the men with legs made out of sausages too, right?...

1)    The Boardwalk ([60] All Around The World, Rehearsal, ?/1992)

Thankfully what we do have is a three minute clip of Oasis rehearsing in a place with a cool and trendy name but was really just a tiny garage down the road in Manchester. The band are playing way too loudly as they rehearse, of all things, ‘All Around The World’ five years before it turns up on album (Noel always reckoned he wanted to keep this one back for ‘the third album when I can afford strings’ and was true to his word). The song is so much better like this, punky and aggressive, you rather wish they’d done without the strings altogether. Look out for the picture of The Beatles at the launch for Sgt Peppers in 1967 which has been tacked up on the wall for luck! An extract of this turned up on ‘Supersonic’ but do look out the full uninterrupted three minutes on youtube if you can – it’s fabulous!

2)    King Tut’s, Glasgow ([2] Bring It On Down [10] Up In The Sky Concert May 1993)

I still can’t believe this clip really exists!!! For this is the day that Oasis’ fortunes were changed overnight after Alan McGee, intending to sign a local Glaswegian band, pops into King Tut’s Club to half-heartedly sign them – and instead falls in love with their scruffy supporting act from Manchester. Though extracted and used in the ‘Supersonic’ film again the full eight minutes or so is quite something as the band (clearly already halfway through their performance before someone started filming) are at their absolute best here. The sound is basic bordering on bad (the drums outweigh everything except Liam’s voice) but the performance is mighty: Liam has dropped his gentlemanly vocals and is now really living the words of his brother. ‘Bring It On Down’ and ‘Up In The Sky’ both sound superb, even more dangerous than the finished versions, with Liam dancing over the top of pure noise. No wonder Alan McGee signed them there and then – it’s a wonder actually that nobody had before.

3)    Gleaneagles ([18] Shakermaker [2] Bring It On Down [13] Digsy’s Dinner  [9] Live Forever [12] Cigarettes and Alcohol [11] Supersonic, February 1994)

‘These could be the best days of our lives!’ The next earliest footage we have is a very grainy low quality print of Oasis playing a tiny golf club. Golf? Oasis? Not an obvious link perhaps but they sound great in this setting too. ‘Bring It On Down’ and ‘Forever’ appeared on the ‘Definitely Maybe’ DVD but the best is surely ‘Shakermaker’ back when it was a brand new song and is sung with a real whallop, quite unlike the whimsy of the record. Tony McCarroll’s drums were never better than here as he drives this grungy song along and Liam roars over the top of it as if the lyrics mean everything to him, while the wall of noise bouncing off the tiny walls was made to be heard like this, not re-recorded in a studio however good. Even Digsy’s Dinner sounds great done like this though – what a shame the early oasis never taped a live album like this, it would have been fabulous! The best clip on this list by far.

4)    The Word ([11] 'Supersonic' UK TV March 1994)

Oasis are so new on their first TV appearance that compere Mark Kermode even has to look the band name up on his little card. The band get more than their fair share of applause from the audience though and would no doubt have got a standing ovation at the end of this cracking performance from the audience had they not all already been, umm, standing in the first place. Liam (the only one not miming?) is on cracking form against a colourful mid-1990s version of psychedelia backdrop and some camera shots that have dated surprisingly badly in twenty years (there are AAA clips from 1963 that look more modern than this!) Still it's a great performance and the camera already loves this band - or at least the lead singer; the others look nervous, with Noel dressed in his favourite red shirt barely looking up from his guitar. 'Cheers, goodnight' Liam shrugs nonchalantly as the band's first and in most ways their most important TV appearance comes to a feedback-blazing glorious end. It already feels like an important new band have arrived. This clip appears on the 'Definitely Maybe' DVD.


5)    [11] Supersonic (Music Video April 1994)

Oasis' first music video was actually shot twice, once for the UK market and again for America. For some odd reason Oasis are playing (well, miming) on top of the roof of a building ('opposite King's Cross Station' according to Noel's typically witty commentary for the 'Time Flies' DVD which you'll be hearing a lot of in this article). 'I always thought it would be more glamorous when we shot our first video' he deadpans, 'Dizzee Rascal and them lot get to go to f!cking Barbados for theirs!' Shot moodily in black and white, it's like the 'Can't Buy Me Love' scene from the Beatles' 'A Hard Day's Night' film, only instead of freaking 'we're out!' and running down the fire escape the band have climbed onto the roof and are far too 'cool' to mess around (though Liam, still all of twenty-one, enjoys pulling funny faces at the camera all the same). The band were apparently made to act 'surprised' when a plane flew overhead which the band were promised would look like a massive jumbo jet but looks awful and pathetic here (by Noel's own admission). Oasis will get their own back by hiring a fleet of helicopters for [51] 'D'Yer Know What I Mean?' three years later. Noel also comments on the director getting the sack after disagreeing with Liam (although he might just be making mischief) and complaining about his dress sense ('I look like F!cking Columbo!') The American version of the video, released about a year later when Oasis were much bigger in their homeland but hadn’t yet cracked the States, dispenses with all this homespun 'nonsense' in favour of stock footage of a Nasa rocket taking off, Oasis looking like rockstars, Liam slurring his words in the back of a limousine and the band miming in a dome filled with lightbulbs. I still prefer the more down-to-Earth original somehow, which is much more Oasisy. Additionally available on the 'Definitely Maybe' DVD set.

6)    Nulle Part Ailleurs ([11] 'Supersonic' French TV ?/1994)

Britain was already falling under their spell, so Oasis follow the old Beatles pattern of taking Europe one country at a time. The French never really went as mad for the fab four as some others and it's hard to gauge what re-action the unseen audience give to Oasis here on another splintering version of the band's debut single. The band appear to be miming again, though to a very different mix of their debut single (or is Noel playing along with it too?), while Liam seems more nervy and muted than usual. He already looks the part of a rock and roll star, though, with the first use of his trademark Lennon sunglasses and a striped jumper that looks like the Gallagher's mum forced him to wear to stop him getting cold. Only Liam could carry off that look - it was my normal look too back then but never looked anything like as good on me...


7)    Naked City ([11] 'Supersonic' [18] 'Shakermaker' UK TV June 1994)

'Naked City' is a now forgotten music/chatshow/alleged comedy series that ran for just one series in 1994/1995 but did make stars of its presenters Caitlan Moran and Johnny Vaughan who managed to be slightly less excruciating than the format and most of the guests. Most people only remember the show now for Oasis' explosive performance of their debut single. Oasis are 'very much so' apparently, although very much so what we never find out. An impossibly young Liam is on top sneery form as the band appear to be playing live, although it's hard to tell given that the cameras only very briefly take their eyes off the snarling lead singer. The band also perform a preview of their second single 'Shakermaker' for the first time to camera which is simpler and raunchier than the studio single and played slightly more for laughs. Noel looks a lot more animated in this one, as if he's already getting sick of performing 'Supersonic' already or perhaps he's just pleased to be getting the TV time during the solo for once, which he embellishes with a few extra Chuck Berry riffs at the end. The 'Shakermaker' clip appears on the 'Definitely Maybe' DVD, but sadly not the 'Supersonic' one which is a good one too.


8)    Glastonbury June 1994 ([19] Fade Away/[13] Digsy's Dinner/[9] Live Forever)

It's a sign of how quickly Oasis had come from nowhere that they're both big enough to be at Glastonbury a mere two singles into their career and that the TV coverage still deems the band only important enough for three songs. The band are clearly struggling with the sound set-up and sound tinny and small compared to normal, with McCarroll's drums drowning out everything. Oasis already look like they own the stage, though, with impressive performances of two relatively rare tracks and that summer's forthcoming release 'Live Forever', which would probably have marked the first time the people in the crowd would have heard one of the decade's defining anthems. It's a stunning version too, with Liam howling out the chorus over the fade as his brother sings falsetto, beating everything else on the stage that year including James Brown, Joss Stone and even, dare I say it, a rather limp appearance by Paul McCartney's band (the first of many times The Beatles and Oasis will cross paths). Oasis will make it a tradition to premier songs at Glastonbury from here-on in, presenting [27] 'Wonderwall' for the first time when they return to headline the following year. The clip of 'Live Forever' appears on the 'Definitely Maybe' DVD, but sadly not the other two.


9)    Shakermaker (Music Video June 1994)

A slightly more personal music video, this one was shot outside the Gallagher's family house in Burnage, intercut with footage of the band playing in Bonehead's garden (you can see the back window of the guitarist's living room where the 'Definitely Maybe' cover was shot and a local park, where Guigsy runs around with a football wearing a biker's helmet. Bonehead even scores a goal on camera!) More importantly, the third verse features the actual shop of 'Mr Sifter who sold me songs when I was just fifteen' - a real secondhand record shop precipitously located right next to Manchester's dole office where most of the band's money went in their early days. Noel looks pleased with his bargain as he walks round it for the cameras, a mint copy of the Paul McCartney and Wings album 'Red Rose Speedway' released in 1973 which was worth a pretty penny even back in 1994. Fittingly, many of the 'park' shots, surrounded by greenery, recall the promo The Beatles made for ‘Paperback Writer’ and 'Rain' at London’s Chiswick House – with so many Beatlenuts in the band this is surely not coincidental. The video ends with a rather nice sunset, as if to inform us that this is just one in many busy days in the life of Oasis although it does all feel slightly staged. In his latest commentary Noel complains about the signed Manchester City football in shot (worth precisely...nothing'), gives his brother a rare compliment ('Nice trainers!') and warns people who want to go on the Oasis tour round the area 'just don't mither my mam, please!' Additionally available on the 'Definitely Maybe' DVD set.


10) Top Of The Pops #1 ([11] Shakermaker June 1994)

Welcome to another Oasis institution: the first of nineteen (!) appearances on Top Of The Pops, which certainly wins the 'AAA TOTP clips surviving in the vaults' award although I reckon the Stones and Hollies and all might well win if the BBC had kept better care of what was on back in the 1960s. Unlike some bands who spurned the chart show as too 'populist' Oasis loved it because it allowed them such a directconnection to their audience - the band had spent every Thursday watching it and moaning their favourite bands weren't on so they weren't going to snub it if they could. The band's famous early red and white stripe logo is used as the backdrop for the first time and the band look as if they're having fun, miming behind Liam's live and thunderous vocal. Who wouldn't want to shake along to this?


11) Something For The Weekend ([7] Rock and Roll Star UK TV July 1994)

Oasis next appeared on their first ITV show, a rather curious mix of chat show and guest spot, although for now Oasis are here to keep the programme trendy by playing music - heaven forefend any of them might be allowed to actually speak! With 'Definitely Maybe' being prepared for release, the band decide to take a break from plugging their singles and advertise their forthcoming record instead with a mimed-except-for-Liam version of their album opener. For some reason the band appear in what looks like a rubbish tip surrounded by tin cans, while the studio audience uncomfortably bob up and down (this song is actually slower than it sounds because of all the noise and would be a hard one to dance to -not that I'd know about that, I'm too busy listening to dance!) This unique performance of the song cuts out most of the second half too, skipping the guitar solo and heading straight to the 'it's just rock and roll' finale as the camera decides to do lots of fast cuts to keep up pace. I feel a bit sick.

12) Wetlands Preserve ([7] Rock ‘n’ Roll Star [3] Columbia [19] Fade Away [13] Digsy’s Dinner [18] Shakermaker [9] Live Forever [2] Bring It On Down [10] Up In The Sky [14] Slide Away [12] Cigarettes and Alcohol [15] Married With Children [11] Supersonic [20] I Am The Walrus [7] Rock ‘n’ Roll Star, USA Concert July 1994)

This was Oasis’ big break in the USA, a concert in New York that was filmed for posterity and which survives – all seventy-five minutes of it – complete, though to date only ‘Slide Away’ has ever been seen (on the Definitely Maybe DVD). The band should really stick this out – while they have a few technical problems with the sound, Noel struggles to sing harmonies and play guitar at speed and the cameramen use handheld cameras and seem very drunk, the show itself is a terrific one with the band actually enjoying themselves on stage playing a full set after so much TV promotion and intense recording. The band are clearly riding the crest of a wave and are never more mad fer it than here! Musically the most interesting thing is a full=-throttle electric version of ‘Married With Children’ though everything feels as if it’s being played with extra aggression and punch tonight. What on earth did the sophisticated New York audiences make of these working class Northerners I wonder?!? Noel is having fun with the banter too, pointing out a geezer in the crowd and saying ‘he looks just like my Grandad!’ at one point before asking the audience ‘does anyone here like The Beatles?’ before their Walrus finale. Liam, meanwhile, is perfecting his ‘staring intensely at the audience and saying nothing’ look. The band must have been popular as they get brought on for a rare second encore: a repeat performance of ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star! Fabulous.

13) Buckley ([9] Live Forever [13] Digsy’s Dinner [35] Champagne Supernova, Concert, August 1994)

A month later and Oasis are plugging away in Europe and are now in Tivoli. I can’t work out if this show was professionally shot or not – the cameras are static and the lighting feels all ‘wrong’, though the band considered it official enough to release ‘Digsy’s on the ‘Def Maybe’ DVD. It’s far from the best song played that night though, with a magnificent snarling angry version of ‘Live Forever’ at its most punkish and a most beautiful on-camera debut of ‘Champagne Supernoiva’ stealing the honours.

14) MTV Most Wanted ([9] Live Forever [21] Whatever US TV August 1994)

Introduced by REM’s Michael Stipe, Oasis return to MTV and play their forthcoming single as well as the one that will immediately follow (they are so prolific across 1994!) Neither performance is particularly good (though against the odds and their current reputation as hooligans  Oasis turn in a lovely acoustic arrangement of ‘Live Forever’ for the first time) but Oasis outshine their other guests which this week include James, Suede and – in one of their very last appearances anywhere – Nirvana. Was Oasis too much competition for Kurt Cobain?

15) [9] Live Forever (Music Video August 1994 UK and US Versions)

Once again there were two promo clips made for the band's third single, for Europe and America. The 'original' version is a much-seen classic, which includes Liam perched up a chair halfway up a wall (everyone who half-remembers it naturally assumes ithis is from ‘Wonderwall’ but it isn’t!) and the band burying drummer Tony McCarroll in a park in New York, ending on a shot of him clutching his drumsticks from the beyond (a nice ironic use of the title there). Poor McCaroll seems to have buried at Noel's request, an early sign they weren't getting on (though Noel meant it as a joke by the sound of it and was astonished when the director picked up on an idea he meant purely as a joke during their lunch hour - 'I'm not into symbolism and that Sh*t! Anyway he got the boot ages after that'). Music fan that he is Noel may have been thinking of the similar Kinks video for 'Dead End Street' (finally given a belated TV screening in 1990 as part of a documentary after being banned for several years) in which the band carry out a coffin of a man who wakes up. There'll be more hi-jinks from beyond the grave on [119] 'The Importance Of Being Idle', which is definitely a rip-off of this same video. Weirdly Bonehead is also filmed in the shower wearing sun glasses - a scary sight. Noel comments that he 'couldn't be f!ing arsed' and didn't even turn up to the second day of shooting (he's barely seen throughout) and ad libs 'and don't we all look pleased to be there?' as the band look mean and sombre. Noel's verdict: 'F!cking nonsense...f!ck me!' As for the American edition, it's more generic miming with big flashing lights intercut with footage of Liam leering from behind a big desk and again loses the home-made charm of the original. Both are available on the 'Definitely Maybe' DVD set.

16) Top Of The Pops #2 ([9] Live Forever August 1994)

'If you're searching for the best and most colourful music then you've come to the right place..Liam forever!' is the rather over-enthusiastic introduction for the band everyone is suddenly talking about. In retrospect a lot was riding on this appearance: Oasis aren't newbies anymore but potential future stars and the mainstream TV audience of a third single is when most lesser bands would have stuffed it and either experimented too far or played too safe. Not this one: Liam owns this song, again singing live to the record and this is also the first time on TV he's been seen leaning up to a microphone far too tall for him to get his message across which enhances his leer no end.

17) Whisky-A-Go-Go ([14] Slide Away [15] Married With Children, US Concert September 1994)

Back across the pond we go for a gig recorded at the club famous for launching the careers of The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield amongst others. Sadly only extracts from this show seem to exist – the opening is chopped off a particularly mean and defiant ‘Slide Away’ (the line ‘wonder where you are now?’ turned into an [10] ‘Up In The Sky style sneer rather than a lost and guilty one) which might be why it isn’t officially available despite being fabulous and one of the best Oasis clips of all; alas the clip of ‘Married With Children’ out on the ‘Defo Maybe’ DVD isn’t anywhere near as good. Oh and the crowd sing along tunelessly for both songs on the master copy but somehow this seems to have been cleaned up for the DVD.

18) Virgin Megastore ([9] Live Forever [27] Wonderwall [32] Cast No Shadow [14] Slide Away, US Concert, September 1994)

Sadly nobody thought of filming the first time Oasis pulled off an advertising coup by appearing in store at the Manchester Virgin Megastore at the start of the year – the soundtrack can be heard on the ‘Definitely Maybe’ deluxe edition and is great! This second go in London isn’t quite the same – the crowd are disinterested and so is Liam, skulking off for the middle two songs which Noel performs solo with his acoustic guitar. None of these performances are classics but they clearly pave the way for the idea of the ‘Unplugged’ show the following year. Interestingly Noel suddenly seems much happier in front of a tiny audience than his brother, whose histrionics and voice are a bit loud for such an intimate setting.

19) Top Of The Pops #3 ([7] Rock 'n' Roll Star September 1994)

In the 1990s when TOTP was playing around with formats they briefly had an 'album section' where a full CD that was jumping a lot of place in the charts would also get a plug. Oasis were beneficiaries thanks to the heavy first week sales of 'Definitely Maybe' and stick to an album track, although for once on TOTP the performance is entirely mimed, Liam's parts included. The clip appears on the 'Definitely Maybe' DVD.

20) [12] Cigarettes and Alcohol (Music Video October 1994)

The first of two new Oasis traditions, a moody black and white shoot that's set in a club (London's 'Borderline') and as sleazy as befits the song. The band played live, including some previews of songs from Morning Glory, to get the crowd in the mood – and it was meant to be one of their finest shows - though they merely mime to the record as seen on camera. Noel sticks his tongue out at the camera in 1994. Noel in 2010 replies 'and the same to you mate!' Noel likes this one ('Happy days!') though to be honest the video’s a bit bland and obvious by their usual standards, though he is concerned enough to comment 'Who are all these girls? It looks like a scene from Britain's Next Model!' He might just be feeling let down though, telling the viewers 'that fit bird I'm next to would never go out with the likes of me by the way - all for the video I'm afraid'. Available on the 'Definitely Maybe' DVD set.

21) Metro, Chicago ([7] Rock ‘n’ Roll Star [3] Columbia [13] Digsy’s Dinner [18] Shakermaker [2] Bring It On Down [10] Up In The Sky [14] Slide Away [12] Cigarettes and Alcohol [15] Married With Children [11] Supersonic [20] I Am The Walrus US TV October 1994)

More professionally shot than the ‘Wetlands’ gig but more amateurishly played, Oasis are beginning to show signs of wear and tear after so many constant months of performing and promotion. Liam is wearing glasses for the first time on stage and somehow looks all the cooler for it – even if he messes up in the middle and introduces the wrong song, his brother eagerly correcting him! He also eagerly takes part in the ‘crowd surfing’ going on, grinning as he moves the audience members who get too close to the stage. ‘Up In The Sky’ and ‘Walrus’ both ended up on the ‘Definitely Maybe’ DVD, the latter only on the deluxe edition – ‘Sky’s is definitely the best song of the night, with Liam scything his way through the backing track rather than floating on top the way he normally does.

22) The O-Zone #1 (UK TV October 1994)

Even this early on Oasis’ reputation has come before them – Noel and Liam want to talk about the music and all they get is chat about trashing hotel rooms. Noel and Liam seem very shy and one-wordy, but the banter is much the same: ‘We’re the best band on the planet’ says Liam’ ‘and that’s a fact!’ while Noel claims to have never trashed a room in his life and ‘this lot used to but can’t afford it now’. ‘It’s not overnight top us’ Noel says perched on a bed, ‘we’ve been trying this for three and a half years’. Noel on his songs: ‘Most of them are about escaping and having a good time; a few are about being on your own and miserable and not having a good time’ – and if there’s ever been a better summary of Oasis than this I’ve yet to hear it! Liam is asked his ambitions and says ‘I want to be a big pop star with all the success that goes with it!’ Noel gets the best line right at the end when he plugs the band’s new B-side and says ‘I just wanna be a spaceman!’ referencing [17].We’ve dated this clip here thanks to the use of the ‘Live Forever’ promo.

23) Southampton Guildhall ([12] Cigarettes and Alcohol [21] Whatever, November 1994)

I’m really surprised this version of ‘Cigs and Alcohol’ made the def Maybe DVD as there are far better versions around, in terms of both performance and quality. Oasis sound a bit off judging by what footage does exist, with a particularly ropey version of ‘Whatever’ also doing the rounds. Why did they choose to film this gig I wonder? It doesn’t seem to have made it to TV.

24) MTV 120 Minutes ([11] Supersonic November 1994)



Oasis have changed their look again: Noel is in a snappy Union Jack suit and a crew haircut, while in contrast Bonehead actually has hair! The music is still mostly the same, with another great version of the band's debut for an end of year TV party, with Liam yelling the words as the rest of the band play live for once, with a great looped opening drum part from Tony McCaroll before the rest of the band finally pounce on the song. Noel milks his closing guitar solo for all he's worth too, pushing this song out from roughly three and a half minutes to a full five while Liam just stands still and out-stares the front row. The camera fades as Liam walks up to Tony expecting a big finale that never happens, Noel turning the sound down on his amplifier instead for an unexpectedly calm ending. One of the better Oasis TV clips. This may also have been the moment when Noel met Meg Matthews for the first time backstage, who will become his first wife in 1997. That might explain his good mood and humour!

25) [21] Whatever (Music Video December 1994)

A famous old Oasis moment. Usually Liam's the one who disrupts the videos, but Noel turned up to the shoot in a right old state, having got badly drunk the night before and turning up late after falling asleep at a bus stop (he was still too hungover to drive). A still inebriated Noel turned up late to the recording and then does his best to upstage the video, standing in front of his brother in key shots and staring down the camera, eating a McDonald's meal ('probably the last time I ever ate McDonalds...'), giving the finger to the orchestra, counting his brother in and borrowing a caretaker's broom to tidy up the room at the end of the gig. Liam, who never much liked this song (another pre-fame track) anyway, was said to be furious - even Noel admits on commentary 'I haven't seen this for years but I know I get really f!cking annoying in a minute'. All good fun, though, including some laugh out loud moments (Noel waving to the camera with a broom above a  stack of amplifiers!) and one of the funniest videos on this list as Oasis go one stage further than even The Beatles at lampooning their stardom and sending the whole music business machine up royally! Noel's end verdict 'It's not a bad video this is it really?' He’s right – this is the perfect self-mocking video Oasis needed at this point in their career when they were in danger of getting too big and leaving their audience behind.

26) Later...With Jools Holland #1 ([21] 'Whatever/[20] I Am The Walrus/[24] Sad Song' UK TV December 1994)

Another favourite show of Oasis' was Jool's Hollands' horrifically forced show which was at the time twice as irritating as TOTP ever was even if it had the better acts. Oasis really have made it by now with a full three songs slotted into the half hour programme with a rare chance to play slightly different material. A very psychedelic 'Whatever' loses from Liam being slightly off mike (and clearly far from happy with the song) but gains from a supportive string quartet and a much louder and more eccentric Noel Gallagher guitar part than on the record (he's clearly loving this song), with Bonehead perched uncomfortably on a stool playing acoustic. In a neat switch on what happened during the making of the music video, this time Liam seems to have the hangover and Noel is the perky one. Oasis struggle to condense the high drama of 'I Am The Walrus' into a TV studio but this track too gains from the use of strings and a slight change to the record arrangement with Noel now singing the 'I'm crying' lines, effectively duetting with his brother. A solo acoustic performance of B-side 'Sad Song' is arguably better than either, with a still crew-cutted Noel on top form on his first real TV recorded 'solo acoustic' performance, all good practice for the 'Unplugged' show in a couple of year's time. 'Sad Song' appears on the 'Definitely Maybe' DVD weirdly enough, given that the song didn't appear on the album!


27) Top Of The Pops #4 ([21] 'Whatever' December 1994 UK TV)

Ho ho ho, at the start of their bitter feud some bright spark hires Blur's Graham Coxon as the guest presenter of TOTP the week Oasis are on(yes they had guest presenters for about five years in the 1990s in a desperate attempt to get more ratings, which didn't often work). Described as 'five Manchester prettyboys' with a layer of irony Liam would have been proud of, Oasis are turned pink thanks to the set dressing's typically exuberant lighting system. Liam, his glasses pulled up above his eyes, looks fed up at singing the band's fifth single all over again, although he actually does a better job of the lyrics than on the record.

28) [7] Rock 'n' Roll Star (Music Video Early 1995)

By now Oasis were so big that even their album tracks were getting airplay and a low budget promo was quickly put together for broadcast on TV. The band simply mime the song against a backdrop of flashing lights, while Noel puts on his evilest mono-browed stare, intercut with footage of the band looking cool while...going bowling (this really was a long time ago wasn't it?) Included as an 'extra' feature on the 'Time Flies' DVD, sadly without any extra commentary this time.

29) The White Room ([36] 'Talk Tonight' [37] Acquiesce [22] It’s Good To Be Free, UK TV April 1995)

Presented by a then-unknown Mark Radcliffe getting his big TV break, 'The White Room' was a slightly more grown up music show than TOTP more like ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’, a new show which ran for two series between 1994 and 1996. The shows were particularly interesting for the interaction between the musical guests – especially this episode which started a lifelong friendship between Jam fan Noel and modfather Paul Weller. Another chance for Noel to appear without his brother, he performs a groovy version of 'Talk Tonight' all the better thanks to his breaking voice while Weller adds a subtle piano groove and an accompanying harmony part. This pretty song has rarely sounded so good and the pair of songwriter's voices go together remarkably well, even if Noel does sound as if he's been up all night and then some (back in 1994 he probably had).


30) [31] Some Might Say (Music Video April 1995)

A bit of a non-event this single, cobbled together from footage from the five previous music videos - mainly [12] 'Cigarettes and Alcohol' (at the last minute, when the single made number one - 'the first one in years that hadn't had a video'). There was a video planned but it was cancelled at the last minute 'because Elvis wouldn't leave the fooking building' (i.e. Liam 'didn't like the script!')

31) Top Of The Pops #5 ([31] 'Some Might Say' UK TV April 1995)

Back on home soil things are much calmer for the launch of the first single from 'Morning Glory' and, surprisingly, the band's first number one. The lighting man is the one working hardest on this clip, with his fast flashing spotlights enough to bring on a seizure so do be warned. Oasis by contrast look as if they can't really be arsed to do much for this mimed performance so get by with as little as possible. Has it all stopped being fun so soon?

32) Rockfield Studios ([35] Champagne Supernova May-June 1995)

How frustrating! A video camera is there to film oasis in their natural habitat making their second album and…seemingly only shoot two minutes worth of Liam hanging around singing an outtake of ‘Supernova’. Is this all that was shot or just all that has leaked? Either way it’s a precious document of a moment in time and Liam is already right on the money for this song, but it’s such a shame there isn’t more of this stuff out there.

33) Glastonbury June 1995

Oasis were now far bigger stars than they had been a year ago and were headliners at the festival's prestigious 25th anniversary event alongside two musicians who'd headlined back in 1970: Al Stewart and Keith Christmas (that is his real name folks - he was support act to both The Kinks and The Who in the 1970s so deserves to be better remembered than he is). The Stone Roses were meant to be the 'other' headline act but pulled out at the last minute to be replaced by Pulp (another band who'd had a great year) - were they scared by the pretenders to their throne? It's certainly one of Oasis' better gigs, with a tightness and crispness missing from many of their early shows and a whole bunch of great new songs the crowd haven't heard yet getting a great reception. [31] 'Some Might Say' has a real rocking power and an intense yet simplified [34] 'Morning Glory' sounds pretty darn good too, but it's old warhorse [14] 'Slide Away' that's the awesome highlight of the set, treated as an angry song of vengeance rather than a sad song of loss with Liam spitting feathers over the betrayal (one brief lyric change: 'Let me see the sun that shines with you...' instead of 'Let me be the one...') The most important performance of the night happens not on stage but behind it though with the first ever recorded performance of [27] 'Wonderwall', which is performed by Noel the 'morning after' for the cameras rather than the audience in the show's then-new 'acoustic' tent. It ought to be a huge moment of monumental significance, but is ruined by a row between Mark Kermode and Mark Radcliffe who keep butting in with daft questions ('What do you think of dairy products Noel?' 'I dunno - are they a band?') A must see for all Oasis fans and still talked about to this day by those lucky enough to be there, like all the best gigs.

34) The O Zone #2 (UK TV ?/1995)

We haven't quite included every interview Oasis ever did for the cameras on this list - life's too short and I'm not gonna live forever - but we have included the key ones. This is the second, with a rather uncharacteristically emotional band reflecting on their first year with Noel sounding in shock that it's only been a year (‘we feel like we've been going for ten!' he adds). A nervous Liam talks about how recording for 'Morning Glory' is going (‘better - the first time in the studio we didn't know anything about it!') and that he really does argue as often with Noel as people say (yeah - everyday' 'Do you respect your brother?' 'Yep' 'Is he always right?' 'Nope!') Even Bonehead adds a rare comment that 'it's sounding rocking!' The band get on to the recent Blur bashing: Noel denies all responsibility while Liam calls his rivals 'a bunch of students not worthy of being spoken of in the same breath as us'. Asked how he copes with the bad times, Noel quips 'we roll with it - as some idiot once said!' The journalist clearly doesn’t understand that he’s making an in-joke.

35) The David Letterman Show #1 ([9] 'Live Forever' US TV ?/1995)

This is where Oasis' story starts declining in comparison to their idols The Beatles. Where the fab four vanquished America due to luck and charm with 'I Want To Hold Your Hand', the Americans never really took to their 1990s successors after a brief flurry of interest in 1994 and Letterman is dismissive bordering on rude as he discusses a CD he presumes none of his audience have heard of (even though it's 'selling great in England - and that country has been selling CDs for centuries!') There's nothing wrong with the performance, which is extra loud and extra aggressive, with the loudest 'wall of noise' yet (you can see Bonehead glance over to Noel lots to see what the heck's going on at one point!) and Liam, unfazed, raising his vocal delivery to compete with it. Perhaps it was all just too loud for the audience - or perhaps they didn't take kindly to the 'weirdo' hand gestures Noel uses on the TV host in reply when his back is turned at the end of the song!


36) [26] Roll With It (Music Video 1995)

A bland video, consisting of the band 'performing' one of their lesser songs in front of a big crowd of fans (possibly in Camden according to some sources). Noel's verdict: he doesn't like the song either ('I don't what this song is about...It's about three and a half minutes, that's about all!') and comments how rare it is to see a shot of bassist Guigsy smiling ('He must have been stoned as a monkey!')


37) Top Of The Pops #7 ([26] 'Roll With It' 1995)

Who shall we get to present the edition of TOTP that went out the same week as the infamous 'battle of the bands' between Oasis and Blur and will surely be looked back on as a key moment of Western civilization and our times? Yes, of course you guessed it, the only logical choice...cricketer Phil Tufnel! Perhaps Oasis lost the number one slot the next week because Phil mentions they're his 'tip' ('because they're mad fer it!') or because they turn in a relatively lacklustre performance of what's far from their best song. Liam sings for real this time, though not that well, while behind him the rest of the band mime to the record. Well sort of: for one week only Noel is pretending to be the 'lead singer' and Liam is miming lead guitar! Did all AAA bands do this about thirty-forty clips in? This is becoming a running joke…

38) [34] Morning Glory (Music Video September 1995)

Like [7] 'Rock and Roll Star', this is a sort of half-official video put together without much band involvement to promote the 'Morning Glory' record. What's the story, morning glory? A simple one as it turns out. The band perform the song noisily in a very beige looking hotel while people outside keep ringing their doorbell and clamouring to get them to turn the noise down. By the end the cross individuals have turned into a seething mob but they don't get a chance to break the door down before the band apparently drown underwater. As you do. Somewhere along the way the band start playing football again, which is impressive given that the instrumental is taking place at the same time. Sadly Noel never recorded a commentary for this video, which would have been great fun to hear, though it is an extra on the ‘Def Maybe’ DVD.

39) [27] Wonderwall (Music Video October 1995)

Another famous Oasis moment, again shot in moody black and white (apart from Bonehead's guitar, which keeps changing from green to yellow). The band (with new member Alan White now replacing Tony McCaroll for the first time) are sitting in a row of chairs playing acoustic guitars while Liam mouths the words to camera and in the background a clown plays their latest single on a record player. As you do. The video lacks the gravitas of the song, somehow, and loses out from having stand-in bass player Scott McLeod (of band The Ya-Yas') hiding behind a newspaper, filling in for Guigsy (off with nervous exhaustion, which Noel rather cruelly puts down to 'lazyitis'; it's been a very busy year).Noel's verdict 'That video won an award...for most black and white British video ever!'  (Actually it won a Brit award as best music video in 1996 - strangely, perhaps, the only Brit video award Oasis ever won as its far from their best).

40) Top Of The Pops #6 (UK TV [27] 'Wonderwall' November 1995)

A slightly different feel for another famous performance, with Oasis sitting on stools to deliver this one. Sadly Liam is back to miming again (the 'miming laws' come and go across this period of TOTP) and has now swapped his clear lenses for sunglasses for the first time. A regular on 'sounds of the 1990s' re-reruns, this currently stands as the most viewed Oasis clip on the whole of Youtube, though I’m not sure it deserves it.


41) Later...With Jools Holland #2 ([27] 'Wonderwall/[49] Cum On Feel The Noize/[41] Round Are Way' UK TV December 1995)

Liam has gone awol and left Noel to hold the fort with memorable performances of three key songs, including thesecond to feature the elder Gallagher singing his own composition [27] 'Wonderwall'. A sprightly [43] 'Round Are Way' is the best of the three, with a powerful guitar surge and a guesting horn and harmonica section that rocks better than the studio version. More interesting than the songs though is the chat. A grumpy Noel gets interviewed by the ever-irritating host in an uneasy interview where both men sit as far apart as it's possible on a piano stool ('I'm sitting like this so you don't catch my cold' explains Jools, 'Oh good - I thought I had bad breath for a minute then' replies Noel). Liam has 'gone for his MOT' which is bandspeak for 'too many late nights drinking' . Jools is worried the singer has 'given it to him' meaning his sore throat before a genuinely angry Noel jokes 'no but I'm going to flaming give it to him when I see him...' In a revealing interview segment Noel talks about being ignored by his teachers and never being accepted for his talents, telling his music teacher down the cameras 'want to borrow a tenner?' Cue uneasy laughter from an audience not quite sure how 'real' all this is. Noel's clearly joking when asked what Beatles he would have wanted to be and jokes 'Ringo - because he didn't do anything!' The audience gasp rather than laugh even though it really is meant as a bit of fun and Noel turns defensive in turn ('He didn't have to write anything!..except fanmail'). In an audacious move, Jools plays a clip of Slade to Noel to show him what his performance of their song should have sounded like and comments that he has the best hair in the band. Wanting to know what Gallgher liked about Slade a confused Noel answers 'the music' to which Holland replies 'just as well because that's what this show is all about!' In a quick witted reply after such a rambling clueless interview Noel looks bemused and jokes 'is it???' My sentiments about Jools Holland entirely...


42) White Room Sessions #2 ([37] 'Acquiesce' [22] 'It's Good To Be Free' [36] 'Talk Tonight' [28] 'Don't Look Back In Anger' [27] 'Wonderwall' [26] 'Roll With It' [41] 'Round Are Way' [25] 'Some Might Say' UK TV December 1995)

Oasis always stayed remarkably loyal to the shows that helped them on the way up and agreed to come back to the comparatively unknown 'White Room' a second time post-fame, with Liam in tow this time, for a special where the band took over the show for a mini-concert. I'm surprised more fans don't know about this clip because it's rather a good one, with some rare tracks not often played live (including a whole run of flipsides) and the band on good form. The key song for many fans, though, is the TV debut of future single 'Don't Look Back In Anger', perhaps picked after Noel feared his brother would leave him in the lurch again promoting the song on TV! A mini-acoustic segment containing a lovely 'Talk Tonight' and a sweet 'Wonderwall' is the other highlight, while in the electric show 'Roll With It' sounds impressively on form. By the end Liam is sweating like a pig being chased by David Cameron and is clearly the worse for wear, forced to sit on the floor mid-way through 'Round Are Way', though he valiantly carries on, even improvising the line 'round are way the birds are minging', in deference to mid-190s Midlands slang for ‘something yuck’ and returning for the encore of 'Some Might Say' looking terribly ill. It's a fabulous aggressive performance of this fine #1 single though, played a lick faster than the studio take with more of an urgent feel about it, perhaps because Liam visibly needs to get off stage, quick! Well, it was new year's eve and it had been one hell of a year...A confused Mark Radcliffe is left at the end to plug the band's new album 'Morning Glory', joking that it's a difficult job because the last song just played 'Round Are Way' wasn't even on it! Now that’s a depth of catalogue that is…


43) The David Letterman Show #2 ([34] 'Morning Glory' US TV 1995)

Letterman seems much happier to have Oasis back on a second time (did he not see Noel's hand gestures to him last time then?) and the band get far more whoops from the crowd. This is more like it then, despite more painful banter between host and guests ('How do I know you're the best selling band in Britain today? Just take your word for it?' 'No' says Liam 'just look at us!') Dressed in a striped t-shirt that looks as if he's about to head to the beach, Liam performs the title track of the band's new album a touch softer than normal, while Noel and Bonehead pass on the trickier guitar flourishes and simply keep chugging on the power chords. This time Noel behaves himself when the host walks out on set, but does lift his hand up...before itching his nose and grinning down the camera, suggesting he was thinking about making the same gesture!


44) [28] Don't Look Back In Anger (Music Video February 1996)

Take that look from off your face because is the band's first big 'concept' video! Actor Patrick Macnee (the weird, smug one in The Avengers) is the band's chauffeur for the day as he drives the band past lots of their old haunts before taking them to a suitably rockstar millionaire house in LA complete with swimming pool. A whole group of extras have turned up too to mime the words into the camera while the band keep moving round and round the garden, like a teddy bear. No, like Pink Floyd actually - if you know the 'Ummagumma' front cover (a picture within a picture, each band having 'moved' position) then it's like that. Only  with beds and a set of drums in a swimming pool. One of the 'playbunny' extras became drummer Alan White's wife after a whirlwind romance that saw them married the next year, so at least something came of one of the band's odder videos. Noel's verdict: 'You'd have thought with all the money we spent on it you'd have thought they'd have made it as if the drums were floating instead of on a f!cking plastic drum riser!' The director of the 'Time Flies' video reckons this one was based on 'The Great Gatsby' but they've got the wrong band there - Oasis are too working class for the joke about aimless rich wannabes to work (although the video might symbolically end with the band driving away in their mini to the line 'at least not today'). Blur on the other hand...


45) Hotel Babylon ([28] 'Don't Look Back In Anger' UK TV February 1996)

Noel, dressed in a floral shirt, performs a lovely acoustic performance of the band's new single (how many times did that happen in the 1990s with different bands? Acoustic versions of their latest electric hits?) Before you ask, no it isn't that US comedy/soap series about a hotel but a curious short-lived UK series that had guests 'drop in' to do a turn on a set that looked like Fawlty Towers.


46) Top Of The Pops #8 ([28] 'Don't Look Back In Anger/[49] Cum On Feel The Noize' 1996)

Oasis are now officially the biggest band on the planet. Top Of The Pops is used to dealing with biggest bands on the planet - traditionally once they reach a certain peak they stop showing up. But not Oasis, not right here, right now. However TOTP reach a compromise, one which hasn't been used since The Beatles back in 1965 (other than specials): Oasis get to perform both sides of their new single! 'Cum On' must be the first time a band has ever played a B-side on TOTP - and a Slade cover at that - with Noel taking the lead role on the first song while a bearded Liam sulks in the background. Sadly the band are miming (Noel rather badly - he doesn't have the gift of his brother to make it all look 'real') and the performance of 'Noize' even includes the spoken word 'baby baby...' intro which seems to surprise the band when it comes out of the speakers. This must surely be a unique clip in that Liam is there for both songs but doesn’t sing lead on either!


47) TFI Friday (Noel Only, UK TV April 1996)

For anyone not British or of a certain age, TFI Friday stands for 'Thank Fuck It's Friday', with the well known acronym used so the show can actually get on the air - although that won't stop swearing being the show's undoing when it will finally be taken off the air after one 'f' word too many in the year 2000. Oddly all of Chris Evan's guests walks onto his favourite piece of music (Ocean Colour Scene's 'The Riverboat Song') no matter how ill fitting that is - Noel looks most annoyed at hearing a burst of music from his rivals but is still 'Noel' enough to great the big cheers by raising his arms in a 'give me more' gesture. Noel talks about a piece in that day's papers about him robbing houses in his youth and he jokes that he's 'casing the joint' as he walks in and teases the host throughout, giving as good as he gets. He also talks about working in a woodwork hut that never had any customers so he could get on with writing [9] 'Live Forever' and [3] 'Columbia'. More seriously Gallagher reveals that writing songs is becoming harder since he's become famous and the pressure's got bigger and mentions his two most recent songs are [52] 'My Big Mouth' and [55] 'I Hope I Think I Know'. Noel is asked about that year's big event - Jarvis Cocker interrupting Michael Jackson at the Brit awards - and says that his rival 'should be given an MBE', arguing that 'we all know what's gone on' (child molestation charges) with Wacko Jacko having a 'nerve to come here after all that dressed in a robe thinking he's the Messiah. Who does he think he is? Me?' Inevitably the show turns to the talk of the brothers ('How's Liam?' 'Bigheaded!') Sadly Noel's next plan (sponsoring Man City football team) never happened. A  nice clip of Noel responding to 'real' people and being a right old geezer. He won't have this much fun again for the rest of the list.


48) [35] Champagne Supernova (Music Video May 1996)

This odd promo features a now bearded Liam lying down on a bed (well, if you have to hang around being filmed for days on end you might as well be comfy). However the surreal 'what the?' images (full of go-go dancers and a groovy lightshow) suits this psychedelic epic, perhaps the ultimate example of a Noel Gallagher lyric that works precisely because it doesn't make any sense and yet feels as if it means something anyway. Noel wears a fetching union jack jacket throughout. In case you’re wondering, this was a Last minute chance to plug the ‘Morning Glory’ album in America and the band never had any plans to make this a single as such. You can see it as an extra on the  ‘Time Flies’ DVD.


49) MTV Unplugged (November 1996)

We've already covered this fascinating gig with a whole review of the audio on our live/solo/compilations list *here*, so just to recap in brief: Oasis were one of the few modern bands (along with polar opposites Nirvana) to play MTV's new acoustic show; Liam was meant to sing but said he had a bad throat and instead heckled the rest of the band from a nearby box and Noel sang the songs instead, most of them very well indeed. Sadly Oasis are one of the few bands to have never released their MTV set on video/DVD or even a CD. It's worth seeing though if you can track a copy down (such as the one in our Youtube playlist!)


50) [51] D'Yer Know What I Mean? (Music Video July 1997)

Bring on the helicopters it's the big budget special! Breaking the silence of a year's work, this video's premiere was one of the most watched things in the band's homeland the year of release and was an 'event' the same way that 'Knebworth' had been the year before (for me too, I stayed up all night to see this despite having an exam the next day). The video is certainly long enough - timed to last a second longer than The Beatles' 'Hey Jude', it seems more like a blockbuster movie than a music video  According to the directors they set the video in a post-apocalyptic Britain where only Oasis have survived, which is why they're all dressed in army fatigues. The shoot took place on the set of the film 'Full Metal Jacket' and though a dozen helicopters appear to fly over the shoot only two were actually there at the time and the rest were added in by computer- to be honest I was rather upset when I learnt that as it’s all meant to be grandiose and huge and stupidly expensive. The phrases 'D'Yer Know What I Mean?' and album title 'Be Here Now' were translated into Czechosalovkian and painted onto the side of the buildings as graffiti - even though few fans would have noticed or understood (and why would there be a war between Britain and Czechesolovakia of all places anyway?) Noel: 'Guigsy and Bonehead look like they're going to the bookies, Alan looks as if he's going ski-ing and I look as if I've just come off manoeuvres in the outer Hebrides - the most unlikely looking bunch of rockstars you'll ever see in your life...at the time everybody thought this was the past, present and future rolled into one...but this is fooking nonsense...they are nice sunglasses though!' Noel also records Paul Weller's verdict on the video: 'Apocalypse Yesterday!' The video had an unfortunate side effect: on seeing it the British Army decided both video and song would make good grounds for a recruitment video and used it without permission, over which the (relatively) peace loving Oasis sued successfully in 2002.

51) Top Of The Pops #9 ([51] 'D'yer Know What I Mean?' July 1997)

Though the TOTP performance was lacking in helicopters, it still felt like a big deal, breaking the TOTP silence of a lengthy year or so with an only slightly edited six and a half minute version of the lead single from 'Be Here Now'. This is arguably the last time Oasis are kings of the world and they make the most of it with a comfortable mimed performance which was also one of the last times all of the 'classic' line-up appeared. Liam and Noel both celebrate at the end as if they've just won the war (see the video clip) with fist-pumps and jumping on the spot as the crowd go mad fer it. Ah, happy days.


52) Canal Plus Studios ([51] 'D'Yer Know What I Mean?' [54] 'Stand By Me' July 1997)

Here's an odd clip - a full fifteen minute mini show tacked onto the end of a French music show to plug 'Be Here Now', an album that to be honest really didn't need much plugging. The band turn in a terrific set, one of the best of their career, with some really confident and hard-edged versions of the new material which in many cases sounds better than the record with a more stripped-down production, especially a riveting 'D'Yer Know What I Mean?' which is a brave stab at such a tricky song. 'Stand By Me' fares less well, with an orchestra very out of tune with the guitars and an oddly arty concept where Liam sings to himself playing back on a stack of TVs (did they get the idea from the TV special 'James Paul McCartney', which did the same thing back in 1973?) Still officially unavailable, it’s a shame this clip always gets overlooked – perhaps the last great concert Oasis gave.


53) [54] Stand By Me (Music Video September 1997)

A truly confusing video for a rather too straightforward song. The video, you see, is shot in reverse and all about changing 'perceptions'. As seen 'our' way round it looks as if all the hoodies have caused a car crash and a robbery, but seen the 'right way round' it turns out that the skinhead thug is helping a businessman break into his stuck car and the robbery going on is actually people rushing to help a biker whose crashed into a shop and been covered by TVs. The biker, you see, was swerving to avoid a child. The video was most likely inspired by an advert series that had run in the Guardian newspapers using still photographs similar to these and which had ruffled a few feathers back in the day. However, the idea is never really explained properly on screen and the presence of various members of Oasis walking past by in 'real' time is unexplained - do they exist outside time and space as deities? Or did they 'cause' the mess in the first place? The band, meanwhile, play their latest song for the fictional 'Radio Supernova'. Noel's verdict: 'Yeah I'm not having any of this...It must have taken somebody minutes to come up with this...We look like we're wearing other people's clothes in these videos...it's f!cking bananas!...That's disgraceful, I want my money back for that...what is the...? what?...That's a bit fooking mad that one!'


54) Top Of The Pops #10 ([54] 'Stand By Me' September 1997)

Here, in a single video, is where it all goes wrong. The band sound wretched and slow, this lengthy track sounding as if it's been going on forever, while Liam and the rest of the band sound so detached from each other they might as well besinging different songs. The backing track reduced to a bland chug, even Liam can't keep this song moving.



55) T-Mex: Live In Manchester ([59] 'Be Here Now' [62] 'Stay Young' [54] 'Stand By Me' [11] 'Supersonic' [31] 'Some Might Say' [26] 'Roll With It' [51] 'D'Yer Know What I Mean?' [28] 'Don't Look Back In Anger' [58] 'Don't Go Away' [27] 'Wonderwall' [9] 'Live Forever' [61] 'It's Getting Better! (Man!!!)' [60] 'All Around The World' [57] 'Fade In-Out' [35] 'Champagne Supernova' [12] 'Cigarettes And Alcohol' [37] 'Acquiesce' UK Concert December  1997)

Broadcast on MTV as a sort of early Christmas present, this home-coming show finds Oasis giving 'Be Here Now' one last plug. Band and audience try to give their all - and there's a hilarious opening where in an interview Noel tells the crowd to come back after the advert break 'turn the telly up, cheer when Liam walks out and then go mad for me when I walk out later and go 'he's a geezer, 'im!' However compared to previous gigs Oasis seem on their backfoot, taken aback by the backlash now beginning to greet their third album and beginning to have second thoughts about the material. The 'Be Here Now' music is, ironically enough, the most interesting here, if only because of the way the band have tweaked so many of the songs from the fuller more 'epic' arrangements on the record. The oldies are starting to sound a bit mouldy by comparison, with a rare performance of 'It's Getting Better (Man!!!)' the real highlight here.

56)  [60] All Around The World (Music Video January 1998)

As Noel helpfully tells us, this is a cartoon. Not just any cartoon either, but a 1990s 'Yellow Submarine', complete with a green elephant with thirty eyes, fish-eating submarines and where the  vehicle Oasis are in is made out of flowers. Apparently it took twenty-four animators six months to make this (well, it's a long song isn't it?!) delaying its release as a single and it isn't exactly value for money. It's all a bit mad, even by Oasis standards, with no link whatsoever now between the song and the images and the band struggling to cope with the ideas of acting against so much blue/green screen. Noel's verdict: 'If you're listening to this at home you're advised to go and mow the garden or summat because this goes on for ages and ages!' 'A man with legs made of sausages? I know for a fact that's got nothing to do with this song...oh lord!' , on Liam 'He was always good for a 'na na na na' him, the singer!' and 'Pigs don't fly never say die? Why didn't somebody stop me at that point and say 'time to go on holiday... I'm actually getting annoyed watching this  now...I bet somewhere this song is still going on even when it finished. And do you know what the strange thing is? This got to number one - it's one of our biggest singles!'  Not one of the band's best moments.


57) [58] Don't Go Away (Music Video February 1998)

More absolute nonsense, relegated to the 'extras' portion of the 'Time Flies' DVD even though it was a proper single and everything. Liam is at home, painting and missing his loved one, which is intermingled with shots of random extras holding umbrellas and flying like Mary Poppins. Liam seems as if he's torn up quite a few first drafts of something and has littered the floor with them - perhaps it was the camera script? It's a real shame that Noel didn't give a commentary for this video as it would surely have been hilarious, with the rest of the band apart from Liam relegated to appearing as toys dwarfed by the 'Be Here Now' props. Actually I can see why Noel might want to forget this awful video now...


58) The David Letterman Show #3 ([58] 'Don't Go Away' US TV February 1998)

By now Letterman is far more respectful, impressed at global sales of 20 million as he introduces Oasis without any insults or snide comments. This performance is another struggle though, with Noel and Bonehead slightly out of sync and Liam struggling to work out which guitarist he should be following. The presence of an orchestra adding to the noise only makes things worse. This time it's Liam's turn to upset the host, who turns back to him after shaking hands with Noel and Bonehead (why not Guigsy or Whitey?) only for the singer to reject his outstretched arm with a nod.


59) The Keenan Ivory Wayans Show ([58] 'Don't Go Away' US TV February 1998)

More plugging in the States, with Noel sporting his famous Union Jack guitar for the first time, no doubt as a 'gesture' to his yank cousins. Liam sounds a little better here and the guitarists are closer meshed together although this still sounds like a song that's a struggle to sing live and a bit of a flog to sit through to be honest.

60) Mabudachi ([58] 'Don't Go Away' Japanese TV February 1998)

Like most of the best bands Oasis were also a big hit in Japan, curiously beginning with this third LP which comparatively flopped round most of the world. Perhaps that's because Noel dropped in dressed in a natty striped suit for a quick chat. The host offers Noel a present that makes him look worried ('does it explode?') while the chat keeps being interrupted for lengthy translations even though most of Noel's responses are mono-syllabic at best. He also sounds upset to report that other bands have caught with Oasis now, naming The Verve, Radiohead and The Prodigy as his biggest rivals ('though I still say we're the best!') 'Don't Go Away' sounds good though, with a nice acoustic performance of the song that suits it better than the record and sounds good with Noel singing. The three hosts look suitably awed, as well they should (it must have made a nice change after the likes of Letterman!)

61) [37] Acquiesce (Music Video April 1998)

Goodness knows why the band decided to celebrate their return to the mainstream with a launch party for 'Be Here Now' that featured a B-side that was by now two years old (that's why the band are playing in front of a giant clock, a prop from the album cover). To be fair, it is a fan favourite this song and for good reason and the band turn in a storming version even if the director misses most of the good stuff by playing with the slow-mo button on the camera. A second video has the band miming to this song while in Japan, although the story spends too long following a Liam-looking Japanese fan in a parka on his way to a gig rather than the real deal. The wonders of karaoke then fool the ad hoc crew of mates that they really are Oasis by the end though only 'Liam' looks the part. Both are included as a welcome extra on the 'Time Flies' DVD.


62) [62] The Masterplan (Music Video April 1998)

Though the song had already been released on the back of 'Wonderwall' three years earlier, Oasis gave one of their best loved tracks a new lease of life as the title and lead track from the contract-filling B-sides compilation released in the gap between albums three and four. Though Oasis had nothing to do with it, the video is one of their best and perfectly captures their spirit (and Liam's apelike walk!), recreating Manchester of the 1980s and 1990s in the style of local artist L S Lowry. A land of grey buildings and doomed bow-headed crowds, it's not unlike the shots of rainy grey Liverpool in the 'Eleanor Rigby' sequence of the 'Yellow Submarine' film. The drawings of the band are all spot on, while the video actually pays attention to the lyrics, with 'four and twenty corridors' appearing right on cue and the band actually walking into one of Lowry's paintings by the end (Noel and Liam even go into the same house at the song's end, in keeping with the pre-fame vibe, although in a typical airbrushing of history Tony McCaroll looks suspiciously like Alan White; this is - sorta – the last time we’ll see Bonehead or Guigsy). A cheapo time filler it may be, but 'The Masterplan' both single and video are made with a lot more care than many of the real things. Sadly only an extra on the 'Time Flies' DVD - come back and record a commentary for this one Noel!

63) Unknown (Noel Only Swedish TV ?/2000)

Oasis are back! Noel takes time off from finishing 'Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants' to talk about the soon to be released album and set some rumours straight from Oasis' favoured 'Wheeler Studio' (a rare chance to see his array of guitars). He likes Liam's first song [82] 'Little James' ('I don't think it's great - but it is good, yeah') before being unusually kind ('It's better than the first song I ever wrote, that's for sure'). There's an interesting story that Liam was too shy to show the band the original song and kept delaying it because it 'wasn't finished', so Noel and Whitey secretly taped him working on it in the studio and worked the arrangement out while Liam was off on holiday, surprising him with it when he came back. Noel jokes about the future, saying that he doesn't want to be the kind of musician who 'records a solo album at 45' (funnily enough he'd just turned 45 when 'High Flying Birds' came out – odd how these things turn out!) This is the first interview to talk about the 'history' of the band rather than the present day and Noel refers to the pre-fame years as 'the early days', which makes him quite nostalgic and feel old, even though it's only been six busy years since [11] 'Supersonic'. One of Noel's better interviews, filling in a relatively 'forgotten' period of Oasis history.


64) [79] Go Let It Out (Music Video February 2000)

Ding! Ding! It's all change as a new-look Oasis reveal their new line-up on a much more back-to-basics video closer in feel to the 'Definitely Maybe' video set in a bus depot. However Andy Bell hasn't joined the band yet, leaving Noel to mime the bass, Liam the rhythm guitar and Gem the lead part. None of the band's fellow passengers look that thrilled to have the band there - Oasis' halo really had slipped by the time of their fourth album. The band got into trouble for their opening joke: 'Only the best videos have space for captions!', a joke that earned the band an MTV ban, which might be one of the reasons why this song didn't sell as well as some of its predecessors. When the band finally get to their destination the set dressers again let them down. 'That was meant to look like a spaceship - it looks like a load of scaffolding sinking!' Noel complains about a white unfinished dome covered with lights the band were afraid might electrocute them when rain fell heavily out of nowhere during filming.


65) Top Of The Pops #11 ([79] 'Go Let It Out' February 2000)

After two years away, Oasis are back on their favourite stomping ground and straight in at #1, which must have been a relief. Liam has grown his hair and bought himself a fur coat, while Noel is still rubbish at miming (he misses his 'pick up the bass' line completely). The camera seems very careful not to view the two new members too much, who are only seen in the distance throughout.


66) [84] Where Did It All Go Wrong? (Music Video February 2000)

Though Oasis' fourth album 'Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants' hadn't sold anything like as well as the first three the band propped up the album with its own 'extra' music video anyway, sensibly choosing the best song from the record not already out as a single. Drummer Alan White is alone in a hotel room watching the band on TV playing with amps labelled 'working class hero' while we get some mad random story inserted featuring a couple having a big row. I doubt the video will stick around with you until the day you die, somehow, but the tune's a good 'un. Included as an extra feature on the 'Time Flies' DVD.

67) Later...With Jools Holland - The Concerts #3 ([79] 'Go Let It Out' [80] 'Who Feels Love?' [11] 'Supersonic' [31] 'Some Might Say' [12] 'Cigarettes and Alcohol' [84] 'Where Did It All Go Wrong?' [83] 'Gas Panic!' [7] 'Rock 'n' Roll Star' [27] 'Wonderwall' [28] 'Don't Look Back In Anger' [110] 'My Generation' [9] 'Live Forever' UK TV March 2000)

Around the millennium Jools 'plink plonk' Holland varied his show with some full concerts. Oasis were an obvious band to ask and happy to comply, revealing their new line-up to the world properly. For one awful moment you think the band are going to mime the whole gig when the taped drum pattern of 'Go Let It Out' comes in from the speakers but then the band pile in one by one for real and hit a really nice groove. Though there are better Oasis gigs out there (Liam's voice is already losing its natural freedom and beauty) this is a good one for fans like me of the 'Giants' album whose songs aren't often performed. All four new tracks sound rather good, with a much more sprightly 'Who Feels Love?' gaining in organ bleeps what it loses in massed harmonies, a gorgeous Noel 'n' piano version of 'Where Did It All Go Wrong?' a new highlight of the acoustic set and a nicely grungy 'Gas Panic' far tighter than the live version on 'Familiar To Millions'. The older songs fare less well - 'Rock 'n' Roll Star' has already gone from a sneering song of rebellion into a crowd pleasing singalong and a dodgy 'Don't Look Back In Anger' has seen better days. A preview of the band's new B-side cover, The Who's jaw-dropping 'My Generation', is pretty darn good though, with Andy Bell nailing John Entwistle's bass solo. A pretty welcome return - and as an added bonus no mindless interruptions from the host. They should go back to using this format!


68) The David Letterman Show #4 ([86] 'I Can See A Liar' US TV March 2000)

Oasis never go for their obvious material in the States do they? This 'Giants' album track ought to be born for live performance but sounds a little woolly and unconvincing somehow. Liam, wearing a long-coat for the first time, is a little shaky and Noel spends most of the performance squealing feedback rather than playing. The band don't do anything to the host this time, which is perhaps the biggest shame of all.

69) [80] Who Feels Love? (Music Video April 2000)

Oasis are in a desert looking for love, as you do. The band are now complete ('Andy looks like he's fooking sixteen!' says Noel) but are walking in five separate ways looking for inspiration ('We spent all day walking across there...somebody's sussed out ten years into this that what they do best is they can walk and play and stand still and look bored...') The band have gone big budget again with Woodstock-style split screens, but sadly the visuals don't match the audio and one of the band's more inventive and under-rated songs comes over as bland and boring. Noel does at least have the grace to apologise to drummer Alan White for making him bang a conga!

70) Top Of The Pops #12 ([80] 'Who Feels Love?' April 2000)

This is Oasis: the Paddington years with Liam wearing his duffel coat to work. On this evidence he should have worn it more often, turning in a scintillating lead vocal performance to rate alongside his best on top of his brother's pre-recorded mass sea of harmonies, at least the beginning. Poor Gem and Andy don't get a look in.

71) [85] Sunday Morning Call (Music Video July 2000)

Noel famously hates this single (it's only a bonus track on the 'Time Flies' audio set, at Noel's insistence) and this video and groans loudly when it's introduced. Personally I've always loved the song, which is one of Noel's better depressive ballads, though it's so alien to Noel's usual upbeat writing you can see why he might not like it so much. Noel recorded the song more or less alone (with just Alan White on drums) and appears alone in the video until the end, playing behind a bead curtain as a man tries to flee his bedsit only to be collared and locked up in a mental asylum. Strangely enough, intended or not, the video serves as a parody of [18] 'Shakermaker', with the inmates playing imaginary football while a cold and detached looking Oasis stare on from a window. Filmed in Vancouver as a pastiche of 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' It is a truly awful video without any of Oasis' usual twists and turns, but it seem unfair to take it out on the song. Noel's verdict: 'Fooking dreadful!'

72) Top Of The Pops #13 ([85] 'Sunday Morning Call' July 2000)

Only Noel, Gem and a guesting keyboard player (not the band's usual extra member Jay Darlington from the look of things) for an unplugged performance of a song Noel seems to have hated from the moment he released it. You wouldn't know that from his performance, though, which is powerful and moving and decidedly more 'upbeat' than the version on 'Giants'.


73) [95] The Hindu Times (Music Video April 2002)

The first video from 'Heathen Chemistry', the song named for a T-shirt slogan has a real return to basics feel - the video even goes back to being shot in black and white. The band appear apparently playing the song at Abbey Road - the first of many times the band will be seen where they made 'Be Here Now' and a few other tracks - but they don't really mime, instead staring out the camera as they play. Just as with The Beatles' 'Let It Be' film the original plan was to fly the band out to India and exploit the mood of the song - but the band were too lethargic to go and filmed it where they were busy recording their fourth album instead (stopping short of actually playing on the roof). Noel actually likes one, until the end which has nothing to do with song or video: 'That's weird though innit? A skeleton drinking milk?'


74) Top Of The Pops 2 Special ([95] 'The Hindu Times' [98] 'Stop Crying Your Heart Out' [110] 'My Generation' [37] 'Acquiesce' [28] 'Don't Look Back In Anger' April 2002)

'For a band of our size Top Of The Pops mean everything because...well it's Top Of The Pops innit?' Liam's less than erudite introduction to a clips show is bested by his bandmates' : Noel jokes that the band tend to do their TOTP performances 'on rare days off, when we treat it as such', while Gem is thrilled to 'phone me nan up and say I'm on Top Of The Pops - what other programmes can I do that on?' A few scant years before the show was axed and Jimmy Saville's reputation made it toxic, the band are still genuinely excited that gruff Mancunians from a council estate have become the heroes of a British teatime institution. The band perform (well, mime apart from Liam) their next two singles with a slightly quicker 'Heart Out' sounding particularly good before performing a storming 'Acquiesce' that's one of the best in the list ('People like it because you see my ying to Liam's yang, man').


75) [98] Stop Crying Your Heart Out (Music Video June 2002)

Noel hates this one with a passion, though, perhaps because it's another of the 'big concept' videos the directors put together without much Oasis input. It kind of works though: a suicide victim tries to kill herself with what seems like petrol but turns out to be 'holy water' ('What, that she bought from a garage? That defines nonsense that does!') It's a typical Oasis twist which goes well with the shots of Oasis sneering 'you'll never change what's been and gone'.


76) The Hit Machine ([98] 'Stop Crying Your Heart Out' French TV June 2002)

There's no holy water in France - just the French equivalent of Little and Large jokily introducing one of Oasis' most heart-wrenching songs. Shot in moody black and white, yet again, it's a fully mimed performance most memorable for Noel sporting a fuzzy beard which will be long gone by the next appearance.


77) Top Of The Pops #14 ('Stop Crying Your Heart Out' June 2002)

A different performance to the 'TOP2' one, this is fascinating. The band perform completely live, with Liam snarling rather than soaring while Noel hits a really psychedelic guitar groove that takes the song to a whole different place. One of the very best performances from the second half of the band's careers, this one teeters on the edge of collapse throughout and sounds a lot more 'real' than the record without all that polish. Even the comforting move to the major key on the chorus is accompanied by the loneliest mellotron this side of The Moody Blues, while Noel's ghostly voice is a great counter-punch to Liam's aggressive lead. The ending is especially good, the song dying down to just Noel's vibrato-shaky guitar for an extra long run through of the song's magical riff. Brilliant stuff that makes you wish the band had done more TOTP appearances live. 


78) [100] Little By Little (Music Video September 2002)

An important video, not just for featuring one of the most important songs from the second half of Oasis' career but for being the first to feature an actor 'playing' the singer in the band. Robert Carlyle is the victim for this particular video and he changes height across the song, presumably as a pun on the song's name. Noel is the only band member to appear in the video at first, busking in a doorway as people throw him money, until Liam is seen at the end helping Carlyle up when he falls over and turning him into the 'proper size'. Once again somebody has been messing around with the colour with several bright shades across what's otherwise another very monochrome production. Personally I think it's this video that's absolute nonsense and very much lacks the gravitas of the music, but Noel seems to like it for once, perhaps because he found it easier to make than some of the others ('Can you sit on a doorstep and mime the guitar for a couple of hours?' No problem!) A black and white shot of the band performing this song in Finsbury Park also turned up on the 'Time Flies' DVD although it's not a great performance or a great video (why can't they flipping film something in colour for once?)


79) [99] Songbird (Music Video February 2003)

Liam's video for 'Songbird' is as low key and 'real' as the song itself and both video and composition are clearly close to the younger Gallagher's heart. The song was written for girlfriend Nicole Appleton (a former member of All Saints) and their pet dog who, hilariously, chases Liam in the final shots after Liam is seen to take him for a walk. Liam simply turns up in Hyde Park, sits under a tree, grabs an acoustic guitar and starts playing with none of the pretentiousness of some of the other Oasis videos. According to the commentary this was because Liam wrote the song in his garden, under a tree, so thought he’d shoot the video in nature too. Liam's verdict: 'Nice day out, even if it was a bit cold'. None of the rest of the band appear.

80) Top Of The Pops #15 ('Songbird' February 2003)

This time it's Noel's turn to go awol as Gem plays acoustic and Jay Darlington piano behind Liam's energetic lead on his own song. Liam is clearly having fun while the song sounds prettier and less polished in this version with the rough edges left in.

81) Glastonbury June 2004 ([7] 'Rock 'n' Roll Star' [2] 'Bring It On Down' [11] 'Supersonic' [34] 'Morning Glory' [3] 'Columbia' [124] 'A Bell Will Ring' [98] 'Stop Crying Your Heart Out' [100] 'Little By Little' [12] 'Cigarettes and Alcohol' [9] 'Live Forever' [120] 'The Meaning Of Soul' [37] 'Acquiesce' [35] 'Champagne Supernova' [99] 'Songbird' [27] 'Wonderwall' [28] 'Don't Look Back In Anger' [110] 'My Generation')

Oasis' third Glasto set is a stormy one, with Liam the most out of it we'll see across his career, with rumours of a heavy drug addiction at the time which thankfully doesn't seem to have been the case. He doesn't half draw attention to it too, dressed in pure white and in a costume that looks more like a Eurovision Song Contest entry which he still nearly pulls off. The rest of the band sound a little out of it too, though not quite so much, quickly realising that this is one of those gigs you just have to keep your head down and get through. This set's 'Stop Crying Your Heart Out' may well be the single most wretched moment on this list, real car crash television which Noel takes over partway through when he realises just how much difficulty his brother is in. Luckily Noel has to sing the next few songs anyway so Liam's voice gets a rest and perks up for the rest of the set, sounding quite good by the time 'Ciggies and Alcohol' rolls around. Oasis gigs almost entirely consist of old songs by now with an impressive amount of songs from the first album now celebrating its tenth anniversary (heck, where did all that time go?) The band still have a year to go till 'Don't Believe The Truth' is out (an album that took so long to complete the band probably booked the festival expecting to have it out by now) and only play two songs from it: lacklustre versions of 'A Bell Will Ring' and 'The Meaning Of Soul', one of only two live performances of both songs. They're not quite the same league as the past two Glasto debuts 'Live Forever' and 'Wonderwall' somehow.


82) [117] Lyla (Music Video May 2005)

Back to the heavy concepts, with the title character of 'Lyla' ('not so much a song as a stampede') watching Oasis on TV when she falls out with her rottweiler-owning  husband and running out like Cinderella to the local club to watch Oasis. The band play to their fanclub and seem to be having a ball in the video, although Lyla's own story is rather convoluted and unclear. Apparently she takes too many drugs and gets wasted on the dancefloor, but I only realised that when Noel told me what was going on - that in itself makes for a rather odd moral. Was Lyla better off listening to her abusive boyfriend and not partying after all then? Not very Oasis is it? Back in the days when the album hadn't yet been released the gossip for ages was about what the message on the fence at the end reading 'Don't Believe The Truth' actually meant – we didn’t know at the time that it was just an album title. Noel adds that he wrote it for his wife Sarah but decided to change the name 'in case she wanted royalties'.  Noel's verdict 'It's not too bad a video'.


83) Top Of The Pops #16 ([117] Lyla May 2005)

The band are much sharper for this comeback single, which finds the band both looking and sounding sober and clean-shaven. Zak Starkey is the band's new drummer after Whitey having fallen foul of an angry outburst from Liam at the end of 2004 and he very much looks like part of the band here dressed in a sharp mod suit. Liam, never one for following rules, makes his feelings about TOTP's return to miming known by walking away from the microphone mid-line, a joke first done on TOTP by The Beatles almost forty years to the day! (It's 'Ticket To Ride' if you're wondering...)


84) Live In Manchester ([115] 'Turn Up The Sun' [117] 'Lyla' [12] 'Cigarettes and Alcohol' [119] 'The Importance Of being Idle'[100] 'Little By Little' [124] 'A Bell Will Ring' [37] 'Acquiesce' [99] 'Songbird' [9] 'Live Forever' [116] 'Mucky Fingers' [27] 'Wonderwall' [7] 'Rock 'n Roll Star' [120]'The Meaning Of Soul' [28] 'Don't Look Back In Anger' [110] 'My Generation' July 2005)

Talking of which, this homecoming to Manchester - screened complete on the BBC - seemed doomed from the start. Things start going wrong when the capacity crowd edge towards the stage on the first song, cracking the barrier and the security guards interrupt opening song 'Turn Up The Sun' to ask the crowd to move back. While Liam starts posing in a big white hat, it's up to big brother to sort things out ('They have to fix it or we can't do the gig, if you move back two or three paces we can sort it and we can tear the fooking roof off this place. Oh yeah I just remembered, we don't have a roof...') Just as Oasis seem to be taking it quite well Noel points out all the member of the stage crew he thinks should get the sack and jokingly wonders if they'll make it to the end of the first song (amazingly all this was shown complete on television!) The band are good but not great with Liam on slightly muted form and the mix used for TV moving the band members apart from each other instead of hard and central where they should be. 'Lyla' and 'Little By Little' both sound particularly good though, while 'The Meaning Of Soul' benefits from some great Noel harmonies not on the record and this one of the better 'Wonderwalls' around too.

85) [119] The Importance Of Being Idle (Music Video August 2005)

'If you need a gruff Mancunian pretending to shave, then I'm your man!' Noel has always loved both song and video, perhaps because it doesn't really feature the band at all. Instead it stars Rhys Ifans miming to the words and dancing round coffins in Grenwich while the Gallagher brothers appear as undertakers. The video would be great if it hadn't already been done better by The Kinks with 'Dead End Street' in 1966 - the song sounds like a Kinks pastiche too. Noel's verdict: 'That's fooking brilliant' - I'm not so sure.


86) Top Of The Pops #17 ([119] 'The Importance Of Being Idle' August 2005)

Liam doesn't show for his brother's big showcase a few weeks later, with Noel unwittingly messing up the mimed vocal even more than usual! Noel doesn't look himself actually, as if 'my heart's not in it' as he barely looks up stage front and keeps his eyes glued to his guitar. He's also not quite as immaculately turned out as usual. Oasis are 'going to rock' at the V Festival soon in the interview apparently. We'll see about that.

87) V Festival ([117] 'Lyla' [34] 'Morning Glory' [12] 'Cigarettes and Alcohol' [119] 'The Importance Of Being Idle' [28] 'Don't Look Back In Anger' August 2005)

Bravely the presenter of the BBC's V Festival footage, Edith Bowman, goes to see Liam backstage before he goes on. He's eager to get going and much brighter behind the eyes than at Glasto, plugging his new favourite bands (Red Walls and Kasabian) and, erm, Spongebob Squarepants. Not just for the show either: Liam also complains 'I want to be the biggest band in the world - 'cause we're not' and that he wants to 'stay out of trouble and do the next record as soon as possible'. Sadly events won't quite turn out that way... All this chat means that we only get twenty minutes of performance highlights as screened, a long way from Oasis’ heyday. They sound pretty good though, with Liam at his sneering best for a crowd-stomping version of 'Lyla' that clearly works well live, with the band slightly tweaking the arrangement so Noel and Andy arrive a verse after Gem and Zak. The drummer tweaks old standard 'Morning Glory' into a much simpler rock and roll song, while 'Ciggies' has a real crunch to it with only 'Idle' disappointing. Perhaps the last half-great set Oasis ever played.

88) Let There Be Love (Music Video November 2005)

An extract from the 'Lord Don't Slow Me Down' documentary, this is a final moody Oasis promo made in black-and-white, but slowed down to half-speed as well for some reason. It doesn't really work: the band are seen walking down stairs and greeting fans but there's very little sense of what Oasis were really all about and the result leaves you longing to see it all at the right speed. The footage is taken from two different shows in London and Manchester on the tour - neither of which featured performances of this song.


89) Top Of The Pops #18 ([125] 'Let There Be Love' November 2005)

The last regular Oasis TOTP performance is one of the very last made by anybody with the last regular edition of the show broadcast in June 2006,seven months after this performance. Frustratingly they've just got the format right: no nonsense, no cameo presenters, no gormless interviews and the bands are free to mime or play live as they choose. Oasis, of course, play live (well, some of them do) and turn in a rather glorious rendition of their last single from the 'Truth' album, singing and playing along to the record so that at times Liam seems to be in stereo. Noel messes up the synch badly by the end of the song, leaving Liam and Andy giggling away to his right while Noel looks furious. The 'new' mellotron string part sounds great however - wish it had been on the album - and the song sounds like a much more rounded and less plagiarised composition than it did on the album (where the resemblance to Lennon's catalogue was disturbing even for Oasis standards).

90) [135] Lord, Don't Slow Me Down (Music Video October 2007)

More from the documentary film to go along with the band's second and last standalone single. It's slightly more interesting than [125] 'Let There Be Love' simply because it's all playing at the proper speed and gives a better sense of the fun and chaos backstage at an Oasis gig. Liam gets a birthday cake, the band do a bit of dancing and a lot of bottles are swigged back, while outside the crowds break down the security barriers. The highlight: Noel winning a game of 'Frustration'!  It's still not that interesting though: bring back the man with legs made out of sausages! Noel's verdict: 'This is one of the good ones...it just looks like one long f!cking stag do!'

91) The Brit Awards ([12] 'Cigarettes and Alcohol' [120] 'The Meaning Of Soul' [34] 'Morning Glory' December 2007)

The band famously turned down the Brit Awards back in their 1994/1995 hey day, refusing to mime at the first gig and backing down after being told they couldn't play a full set to fans waiting to come in at the second. Amazingly the band were asked again and even more amazingly said yes, playing a good set despite the reliance on old songs and 'Ciggies' especially hasn't had this much life for a long time after so many years of being the dog-end of the band's sets. The punky 'Meaning Of Soul' has also had a wake up call with Zak on one of his last performances with the band giving up with subtlety and whalloping the drums with everything he's got on the fastest version of Liam's song around. Only 'Morning Glory' sounds a little sleepy, with the brother's harmonies not going together at all well.

92) Standing On The Edge Of Noise ([7] 'Rock 'n' Roll Star' [139] 'The Shock Of The Lightning' [143] 'To Be Where There's Life' [138] 'Waiting For The Rapture' [62] 'The Masterplan'[99]  'Songbird' [14] 'Slide Away' [144] 'Ain't Got Nothin' [119] 'The Importance Of Being Idle'[140]'I'm Outta Time' [11] 'Supersonic' [28]  'Don't Look back In Anger' [142] 'Falling Down' Live December 2007)

Another tour, another concert, another documentary of a concert and one which, funnily enough, seems to have been named for a Gem song that won't be recorded until the first Beady Eye album. By now Liam is struggling something rotten with his vocals and 'Lightning' and 'Where There's Life' are particularly poor, the latter turned from punchy rock song into mellow groove with Noel trying to cover for the holes in brother's voice on another of the longest five minutes in the Oasis catalogue (and I say that as someone who loves the studio take of this under-rated song). Thankfully this last tour saw a much more interesting collection of songs than usual recently, with welcome returns of a stunning 'Masterplan' and a poignant 'Slide Away' which really suits Liam's aging voice. It's nice to see the band playing so many new songs too on what will prove the only outing for the 'Dig Out Your Soul' material, with 'Rapture' and 'Falling Down' particularly well suited to the stage. Even so, this band lark is looking like a dead end and you can tell from the band's eyes that the enthusiasm is running down, although perhaps thankfully there's less of the aggressive feel heard on the last album, which might well have been a mellower album during the early sessions judging by how the band play the six songs from their last record here.

93) [139] The Shock Of The Lightning (Music Video September 2008)

Oasis' artiest video, which makes up for the last pair of videos in black and white with a sea of technicolour. The best part of the song is the start, when the band's four heads (Alan White is long gone, Zak Starkey has just gone) are seen 'inside' each other a la the Rolling Stones 'Hot Rocks' compilation.  Somehow a load of images from the album artwork come to life, which is the part of the video that works least well. Apparently the band cribbed the idea of the video off U2 - this is a real comedown for a band who used to at least rip off the best bands in the world like The Beatles and The Kinks.

94) [140] I'm Outta Time (Music Video December 2008)

Most Oasis videos are a little weird, but they're rarely boring. This one is though as Liam is dressed as a cowboy but barely seen in his own video as we keep cutting to random animals. Liam is as cross as Noel over what happened to his concept: 'I okayed the bits of me looking like Clint Eastwood, but what are the foxes and owls about? Terrible! I wanted to be walking through the streets of New York like a fooking geezer, that's what this video should have been...' Liam has a point - the band should have outgrown black and white videos by now and the visuals add nothing to the song's sense of drama or concepts. Why didn't the directors pick up on the lifted Lennon speech at the end if they wanted inspiration?

95) [142] Falling Down (Music Video March 2009)

And so it ends, not with a bang but with a whimper. Not in terms of music - 'Falling Down' is more what Oasis should have been doing in their last decade, picking up on the paranoia and scares of the better songs from 'Be Here Now'. But the video is awful. A society belite doing things she shouldn't betrays the Royal Family in a Princess Di type way and is snubbed for being part of the establishment. Well boo hoo hoo, poor thing with all that money and privilege: Oasis are usually about characters more interesting than that. The band refuse to shake her hand in the video, sensing that she's 'betrayed' her real character - Noel says that he would have shook her hand in real life ('What's not to like? Great house, loads of money, servants - why are you crying? Try being in a fooking band love - graft!') But this video is just a lazy re-write of the one for [117] 'Lyla'. Noel's verdict on the girl: 'I wish I'd looked like that on drugs - actually I probably did a few times. I like this video though - both the way it was shot and the fact I'm not in it!'

96) Comic Relief TOTP Special ([142] 'Falling Down' March 2009)

The band that started as unknowns on forgotten show 'The Word' are by now an institution who get rounds of applause just for turning up and are 'establishment' enough to appear on charity telethons (which is where we – should have – come in…) To be fair, few charity telethons ever feature songs quite as dark and brooding as this mimed performance of Oasis' last single, a final TV appearance at which Liam doesn't even show, just like the old days. Noel is half amused, half angered by comedian Noel Fielding's rambling introduction ('Even cats love them!') while Noel's live vocal is softer than the album (which is good) but also more nasal (which isn't). That's a rare appearance by new drummer Chris Sharrock on drums, filling in for departing Zak Starkey rather well. However it's a rather sadly muted way to say goodbye to all that we've ever known.

97) Comic Relief 2015 (Liam Only)

We've added a few extra final entrys though, this one purely for laughs and it's another charity appearance that touches on what we were saying six years earlier, above. There is room in the land of English showbiz for a 'new' national treasure and those lucky enough to get the iconic status are auditioning new entrants. The panel, made up of genuine institutions, are shocked at the riffraff that keeps turning up. Just when things seem as if they can't get any worse, in through the door walks Liam as the last guest, swearing and gesticulating his way into the nation's hearts. It's enough to give poor Stephen Fry a breakdown!

98) Manchester Tribute (June 2017)

In May 2017 twenty-three people (mostly teenagers) died at a concert given at the Manchester Arena by pop princess Ariana Grande, a bomb apparently detonated outside the gig by an Islamic terrorist as people were walking out. The venue was shut for a week and gigs cancelled, but when it re-opened wanted to send a defiant message to the killers by featuring a big concert with many of Manchester’s greatest. Both Liam and Noel got calls to appear and rumours were rife that there was going to be an Oasis reunion. In the end Noel turned it down, agreeing to play a second tribute later in the year, while Liam got to play on the night, turning in a moving setlist that as well as premiering his ‘As You Were’ album featured some moving versions of old friends – including the first time Liam ever sang [27] ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ in public (a song he’d always wanted to sing; to be fair the crowd sing most of it), a track that was being sung in defiance even on the night of the bombing. Noel will sing his own version a few days later.

99) The Big Weekend (May 2018)

For our final appearance both Noel and Liam played gigs a day apart at the Radio One festival. Noel had a rollercoaster ride – his set was ruined by playing three songs in a row from ‘Who Buolt The Moon?’ that leave the crowd distinctly underwhelmed (there’s a great shot where one lone person in a sea of a thousand people are waving their arms and everyone else looks stunned) while his co-singer plays three pairs of scissors and answers a phone that rings on stage and natters in French (Noel really is turning into Lennon isn’t he?) Gem, on stage left, looks distinctly embarrassed, though Chris Sharrock – sweating buckets from the first song – is the ‘hero’ of the hour in the new-look High Flying Birds. Things get better when old songs start turning up with an excellent [100] ‘Little By Little’ though while he ends with yet another Beatles cover with ‘All You Need Is Love’ (complete with a sneaky snatch of Rutles song ‘Love Life’ at the end!) Noel quips to the crowd at one point:‘Who’ve you come here to see? Right answer! I’d go home after this…’ Liam’s set is more stable. His backing band are awful and ruin all the best moments while his voice isn’t so good but his choice of songs is much better. There’s a moving finale of [9] ‘Live Forever’ played slower than usual during which he throws his tambourine to the crowd and is shocked to see two girls fighting over it. ‘Don’t do that, it’s about peace’ and to the shock of his minders strides out to the crowd to hand the girl who lost out a pair of his maracas before walking out of sight while his younger band play on. A very rock and roll end indeed!



Other Oasis articles from this site you might be interested in reading: 

'Be Here Now' (1997) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2013/11/oasis-be-here-now-1997-album-review.html

‘Heathen Chemistry’ (2002) http://www.alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/oasis-heathen-chemistry-2002.html

‘Don’t Believe The Truth’ (2005) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/oasis-dont-believe-truth-2005.html

'Dig Out Your Soul' (2008) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/oasis-dig-out-your-soul-2008_31.html

'Different Gear, Still Speeding' (Beady Eye) (2011) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2011/03/news-views-and-music-issue-93-beady-eye.html

'Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds' (2011) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/news-views-and-music-issue-119-noel.html 


'Chasing Yesterdays' (Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds) (2015) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/noel-gallaghers-high-flying-birds.html