Review Summary: While it has some good ideas at its core, Be Here Now is way too loud and way too long to be successful.
Fifteen years ago, if you lived in Britain and asked who the biggest band around was, the unanimous answer was Oasis. Many people hailed the band from Manchester as the second coming of the Beatles, a revival of British rock and roll, and an expression of happiness in a country that hadn't had much of a musical personality since the mid 80s. Led by Oasis and their rivals Blur, “Brit-Pop” emerged in the mid 90s, and it featured a sound based off of melody, huge choruses, and washed out electric guitars.
After some considerable hype, Oasis debuted with Definitely Maybe
, an album that was a fuzzy, loud and brash statement of intent from the band, and was also an immediate success. Their follow up, What's the Story (Morning Glory)
ended up selling 23 million copies because of singles “Some Might Say,” “Wonderwall,” “Morning Glory,” “Don't Look Back in Anger,” and “Champagne Supernova.” Without a doubt, in 1997, Oasis was the biggest band in the UK, and their eventual follow up was to be one of the most anticipated music releases of the decade. Be Here Now
, the band's third album, was released in August 1997. While it was originally praised as being one of the best albums since Sgt. Pepper
, the frenzy eventually faded, and now has the honor of marking the end of the height of Brit-Pop because of its excess and lack of marketable, radio ready singles. Coming in at a bloated 72 minutes, the album reeks of half-baked ideas, rushed recording, and heaps of cocaine. To give you an idea of how loud and long this album actually is, there's a song that has thirty guitar overdubs, there's a different song that has a running time of 9 minutes and 20 seconds...and then has a two minute reprise, and the shortest song on the album has a running time of 4 minutes and 23 seconds. Did I mention that the album artwork features a car in a swimming pool, in front of a mansion?
As soon as you start the album, you know something has changed since Morning Glory
. First track “D'You Know What I Mean,” (which goes for 7 minutes 42 seconds) starts off with about a minute of static, and beeping noises. The song has a fine chorus, as well as a decent reverb soaked guitar solo, but, like most tracks on this album, it becomes stagnant and overstays its welcome by about two minutes. At its absolute core, the song is solid, but was obviously rushed and simply too busy and loud to make any lasting impressions. “My Big Mouth” follows the same vein; a good idea washed away by too much background noise and distortion. “Magic Pie” nicely slows things down for a little while, but the lack of decent lyrics (“I dig his friends/I dig his shoes” and “Cause you see me/I got my Magic Pie”), and not enough emphasis on making the song plain listenable eventually drags it down as well.
The first glimpse of anything actually great on the album is “Stand By Me,” an anthem that features a great pre-chorus lead up, some distortion-free guitars, and is probably the only song on the entire album where you can decipher each individual instrument. However, the album just drags on from there. “The Girl in the Dirty Shirt” is a six minute throw away. “Fade In-Out” starts off terribly, and then degenerates further into a mess of noises, and “Don't Go Away” is a just plain boring ballad that doesn't have the right stuff. “All Around the World” carries a great tune, and has three dramatic key changes, its only downside being that it is another track that could have easily been cut by about three minutes, at which point it may have been comparable to “Champagne Supernova.” It also has a completely unnecessary reprise that adds another two minutes at the end of the album that should have been cut without even a second thought.
Even though it did end up selling quite a few copies, upon listening to Be Here Now
in full, one has to wonder how on Earth this album was released the way it was. At the end of the day, the album should have been cut down by about twenty minutes, and that's being lenient. Where Definitely Maybe
was all about wanting to become a rock star, and Morning Glory
was all about the excess of actually being a rock star, Be Here Now
is the hangover of all that fame. If you're willing to deal with its excessive running time, sonic mud, and barely average lyrics, Be Here Now
offers an interesting look at the end of the Britpop honeymoon, and, at a band, who despite being at the height of their fame, almost lost everything in one single swoop.