As often happens these days, this collection is being released in several formats. This is a review of the standard, two-CD set that has been released in the United States …
“Oasis will become the premier gilt-edged rock ‘n’ rollers of the age; they will irreversibly change the way you walk and talk, the way you dress … the future’s assured. The past is gone. This is now. Listen. That’s the story.”
Was NME right when they wrote this in 1995? Well yes … and no. For a few years back in the ’90s, Oasis was the biggest band in the world, unless of course you include the United States as a part of the world. While the band was able to fill arenas here, they never attained the level of success that they did in England and the rest of the world.
The reasons for that failure, if it can be called a failure, are not readily apparent, at least not to me. I guess maybe that’s it. A lot of people here saw them as musically derivative, and were put off by their snotty attitude, and the ongoing sibling rivalry between the Gallagher Brothers, Noel and Liam, that eventually doomed the Manchester band. To me they were a great rock and roll band that synthesized the glories of the past while blazing new trails, and revitalizing the British music scene. The influence that they exerted remains strong to this day.
So who should buy Time Flies … 1994 – 2009 (Big Brother/Columbia)? Since this is a collection of every Oasis single beginning with “Supersonic” (1994) and continuing through the aptly named “Falling Down,” from the band’s final album, 2008’s Dig Out Your Soul, this set is pretty much an ideal place to jump in if you’ve been looking for a starting place. More casual fans of the band are unlikely to have all 26 of the Oasis UK single A-sides, so they will appreciate having all of this music in one place too. And for once, U.S. fans get a bonus. Believe it or not, “Champagne Supernova” was never released as an Oasis single in the U.K., but since it was such a big hit (#1 on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart in in April, 1996) in this country, it’s been included as well.
The perceived wisdom is that the Oasis had a grand beginning, and then lost the plot somewhere along the way. Songs like “Live Forever,” “Don’t Look Back In Anger,” and “Wonderwall,” support the wisdom of that opinion, but later tracks like “The Hindu Times,” “Lyla,” and “Who Feels Love,” prove that it didn’t all end in 1995 after all. One of my favorites, the dense, ominous “D’You Know What I Mean,” came from the 1997 album Be Here Now.
Maybe the albums declined in focus as time went on. Maybe. But Oasis remained a single-making machine until their dying day. To listen to these tracks is to relive the glories of a great rock and roll band that did indeed change the world. The future’s assured.
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