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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Noel's no longer mad fer it...


Oasis is not the greatest band in rock 'n' roll. Okay, that's out of the way. Now let's review: Noel has gone and quit. Again.

The troubling - or at least puzzling - part of Oasis' 2009 breakup is the completely transparent and utterly inexplicable reason. Noel claims the "verbal and violent intimidation towards [him]" as the most recent catalyst and, while not going so far as to put the origin of the that on his brother, claims that he couldn't work with Liam "one day longer."

This is where we all let out a collective "NO SHIT!" Honestly, is this supposed to be a surprise? Oasis has made a living off strife, intimidation, confusion, turmoil. Noel and Liam have never been able to stand each other - simultaneously creating a publicist's nightmare and a critic's dream. Oasis is a great link to the past in that very regard - they've always made their best music during the worst periods of inter-band upheaval (think of the Beatles - McCartney and Lennon could hardly be in the same room as early as the making of Sgt. Pepper, let alone Abbey Road and Let it Be).

Rock 'n' roll isn't supposed to be pretty, particularly when brothers are involved. But it works. It always works, and in Oasis' case, it worked to the tune of a #1 record in the UK each and every time they left the studio with a finished product. Never - not once - did the band fail to produce a platinum record (their worst efforts went 2x platinum, their best went as high as 14x). Live, this is a band who's attitude essentially said "screw you and your $60 ticket" to arenas full of fans, only to sell out a bigger arena the next time around.

This breakup is a little scarier than those previous - rumors have been rampant for months that Noel was looking for an out, yearning to find a new outlet and didn't plan on recording a record with Oasis again for a few years (according to rock folklore, this is okay: every band is allowed a hiatus. Or two, or three...).

We (Americans between the ages of 15-23) have been trained to not really care about Oasis. "Wonderwall" is for high school dances, "Don't Look Back in Anger" has been reduced to a bar sing-along. But if Oasis is really done, think of the Brit-rock we're left with: Coldplay is its own joke and punchline. Muse is on minute 16 of their 15. Arctic Monkeys came out with a bang but are fading fast. Kasabian is, well, hopeless. Jack White, despite his best efforts, is American. If not for Radiohead, Rod Stewart could make a serious run at the title of England's best current musical export.

We don't need Oasis, but we could certainly use them. They were not always flashy, not always great (not always even that good) - but they were always reliable. You always knew what you were destined to get. Oasis is not the greatest band in rock 'n' roll history, but they made us "mad fer it" - mad fer it - for a long, long time. They led the Brit charge of our lifetime and, damnit, I'd love to see them finish it.

I've been writing for about 16 minutes, so odds are good that I refresh my web browser, the band is already back together, having a pint and drowning their hatred to write another great record. Here's hoping.

- Alec Wooden

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