To call Oasis the best band of all time is certainly inaccurate. Even at its abbreviated peak, Oasis was a great band with a seemingly limitless future. However, in-fighting, substance abuse and a weakening musical catalog eventually relegated the band to the all-too-long list of “what might have been” bands. Once the biggest band on the planet, Oasis now feels like a missed opportunity of sorts, albeit one that gave us two great albums and singles that live on some 20-plus years after they were released.
So, no, Oasis is not the best band of all time. Hell, I’m not even sure it’s the best band of the mid-'90s. What Oasis was, however, is the most interesting band of its time. Sure, Nirvana had the grunge mystique, but looking back, Kurt Cobain cared far more about his image than he let on. The Red Hot Chili Peppers were a good band who never were all that interesting. Even Pearl Jam seemed more focused on (successfully) making good music than its place in the cultural pantheon.
This, of course, all begins and ends with the brothers Gallagher. There were better musical pairings among siblings (the Young brothers in AC/DC, the Jackson 5, the Allman Brothers, etc.), and one could argue Van Halen was even more dysfunctional than Oasis. That said, few could argue a sibling pairing more notorious than Liam and Noel Gallagher, if only because they took such glee in their mutual disdain.
Liam and Noel Gallagher were never shy about their distaste for other bands, but they reserved the most napalm for one another. A few examples:
*Noel, on Liam: “I read these interviews with him and I don’t know who the guy is who’s in these interviews, he seems really cool, because the guy I’ve been in a band with for the last 18 years is a fucking knobhead.”
*Liam, on Noel: “I’m insulted that people think Noel Gallagher has been fucking carrying this band for the last 18 years.”
*Noel, on Liam: “He’s actually frightened to death of me. I can read him and I can fucking play him like a slightly disused arcade game. I can make him make decisions that he thinks are his but really they’re mine.”
*Liam, on Noel: “I like Noel outside the band. Human Noel – that’s my brother – I fucking adore him and I’d do anything for him. But the geezer that’s in this fucking business, he’s one of the biggest cocks in the universe.”
You get the point. In fact, it’s amazing Oasis rode high for as long as it did before in-fighting, ego and assorted other travails finally did the band in. Oasis last released a proper album (Dig Out Your Soul) nearly a decade ago; Oasis last released a good proper album (Be Here Now, detractors be damned) more than 20 years ago.
Now, considering the brothers Gallagher aren’t especially close, and considering their band ended in one big ball of flames, it would be fair to assume that life post-Oasis has been unkind to the siblings. And for a time, this was likely the case, perhaps a combination of inner turmoil fueled by ego, regret and unrealized expectations.
Today, however, one could argue the brothers Gallagher are exactly where they should have been all along. Successful. Separately.
Liam Gallagher released his first solo record – As You Were – in October. It is a damn near flawless record, the ultimate '60s throwback. As You Were has rightly been well-received by critics and fans alike, and in its first week outsold the remainder of the UK Top 10 albums chart … combined.
Noel Gallagher, meanwhile, has been going the solo route a bit longer than his brother. Sure, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds is technically a full band, but it’s right there in the name and make no mistake, this is Noel Gallagher’s baby. The band released its debut six years ago, and it’s solid enough, but two records later, the Birds finally found their place with the release of Who Built the Moon? last month.
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This is all for the best. After all, the old adage of “time heals all wounds” hasn’t exactly proven true for the estranged musical siblings. After Liam dropped As You Were, Noel said he didn’t plan on listening to the album because he’s “not a fan,” going so far as to refer to Liam as a “common pigeon” who “doesn’t write his own songs.” This was in response to Liam slamming Noel’s solo live version of one of Oasis’ biggest hits, “Champagne Supernova.” Point being, a family gathering for the holidays is unlikely.
This is all well and good. While it’s unfortunate that brothers can’t get along, despite all the fame and success they achieved, it’s almost a fitting conclusion for Oasis, one of the most dysfunctional bands in the annals of rock music. If anything, Oasis is proof that not all stories have happy endings, that real life isn’t always that simple.
Egos get in the way, and some feuds never truly flame out. Liam and Noel Gallagher are living proof. They made great music together once upon a time. Now, they make great music on their own. Perhaps that's the way it always should have been.