Released in August 1997, Be Here Now was Oasis’ very own Titanic—a too-big-to-fail colossus that ultimately turned Britpop’s leading light into a sinking ship (one that was no doubt weighed down by nine laborious minutes of “All Around the World”). Granted, eight million copies sold worldwide hardly constitutes a disaster, and the band would continue to fill arenas and headline festivals worldwide until their 2009 dissolution. But after the world-beating triumphalism of 1994’s Definitely Maybe and 1995’s What’s the Story Morning Glory?, the infamously coke-bloated Be Here Now marked the moment when Oasis ceased to be a dominant pop-cultural force, precipitating a decade-long slide through a series of increasingly formulaic, interchangeable albums. Seemingly bereft of any inspiration beyond Abbey Road, the band spent their last decade cloning their old warhorses into inbred offspring (“Stop Crying Your Heart Out” is essentially “Slide Away” given the “Wonderwall” treatment), and at a certain point, it seemed like they couldn’t even be arsed to come up with fresh song titles (I’ll see your “Roll With It” and raise you a “Roll It Over”). Unlike their one-time peers in Radiohead and Blur, there was never a concerted attempt at reinvention, never an embrace of outré influences that could steer them into a new creative phase. Oasis were arguably the first massive, generation-defining rock band to become an oldies act by their third record.
But while songwriter Noel Gallagher effectively played all his chips on the band’s first two albums (and their equally top-notch B-sides) like a Vegas gambler who thought his luck would never run out, the band’s post-Morning Glory catalog still yielded a handful of keepers in between all the lugubrious power ballads, bloozy filler, and Beatles Rock Band karaoke tracks. And rarely were these songs the lead singles—for all its overwrought, helicopter-powered bombast, “D’You Know What I Mean?” coasts on a repetitious, undercooked chorus that wouldn’t passed muster on their first two albums, while on perfunctory would-be anthems like “Go Let It Out,” “The Hindu Times” and “Lyla,” Oasis sound like they’re content to just hit the first 30 rows of Wembley rather than the bleachers. Instead, this playlist focusses on those rare tracks where Oasis still exuded the hunger and swagger of a band that anointed themselves rock ‘n’ roll stars on the first song on their first record (“I Hope I Think I Know,” “The Shock of the Lightning”); the simple acoustic sing-alongs that stripped away all the ego and excess (“Songbird,” “She Is Love”); and the tentative toe-dips into experimental psychedelia (“The Turning,” “To Be Where There’s Life”) that they sadly didn’t pursue any further.
On one of Be Here Now‘s superior tracks, Liam Gallagher declares, “It’s getting better, man!”—and, unfortunately, as their post-1997 discography proves, it really didn’t. But even if Oasis’ last five albums didn’t yield nearly as many classics as their first two, there are definitely, maybe enough quality choons here to inspire a spritzer supernova.