Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Oasis Beatles Ripoff List

The Oasis Beatles Ripoff List

It's a 1995 flashback as eternally battling brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher of Oasis get into an offstage fight. One smashed guitar later Noel announces he's "leaving the band" which is kind of like Chrissie Hynde announcing she's leaving the Pretenders.

The Gallaghers are so famous for their fights that back in the glory days of Britpop a single was released of a fight they had during an interview--and it hit the charts. They also had several breakups and temporary departures during that era, and any breakup of a family act is temporary at best.

Liam and Noel may have been the only Celebrity Deathmatch contestants to fight in real life. Youtube yanked it but you can take your chances with this spotty server based in Vietnam:

(bonus: before the Gallaghers you get the Governator)

But if there's one thing Oasis is more famous for than its fights, it's the ways they copied the Beatles. So this gives me an excuse to run the long-brewing Oasis Beatles Ripoff List.

Now, I'm a obsessive Oasis fan--you'd have to be to be able to compile this. They still have it, or had it; their 2008 album Dig Out Your Soul was a good listen. I'm not talking so much about the general vague Beatlish sensibility or the habit of burying classic songs on rare B sides. I mean the blatant obvious cringe-inducing copyright infringing references. I mean, if it was great once, it's good a second time, innit?

The blatant lyrical references start with the very first single, "Shakermaker," which somehow manages to include the phrase "yellow submarine" for perhaps the second time in the history of the English language.

Noel has acknowledged that Liam's ability to enunciate the word "shine" ("shiiiiiiiiine") exactly like John Lennon in "Rain" led him to work the word into as many lyrics as possible. See "Rock 'n' Roll Star," "Up In The Sky," "Cigarettes And Alcohol," "Slide Away," "Acquiesce," "Hello," "Some Might Say," "Fade In-Out," and "All Around The World," among others.

"D'You Know What I Mean?" squeezed in back to back Beatle titles AND throws in a Dylan nod as well:
The blood on the trax and must be mine
The fool on the hill and I feel fine

Plus the video recalls the "I Am The Walrus" scene from "Magical Mystery Tour."

Speaking of the Walrus: it was an Oasis concert staple, a B-side, and the grand finale of their 1996 concert video (performed with Beatle impersonators in full Sgt. Pepper regalia). Other Beatle covers include "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" and "Helter Skelter."

"Helter Skelter" also gets a lyrical reference in "Fade In-Out," which throws in "blinded by the light" for good measure.

"All Around The World" (last heard in telephone ads) has a long "na na na" ending deliberatively evocative of "Hey Jude," while "Be Here Now" asks: "Sing a song for me one from 'Let It Be'" although I'm willing to pretend that's a Replacements reference.

"Don't Look Back in Anger" directly quotes Lennon both lyrically ("start a revolution from my bed") and musically (imagine all those opening piano chords... in a different song)

Oasis wanders "down the long and winding road" in "My Big Mouth." The road is also winding in "Wonderwall," which of course was the title of a George Harrison solo album.

This lyrical list is not necessarily comprehensive; see here and here if you want to find more.

But other moves were even more blatant. Their live performance of "Live Forever" featured a stage backdrop of photos of deceased rock stars: Hendrix, Joplin, Vicious, and an incongruous Martin Luther King. The grand finale, of course, is Lennon, as Liam turns to do a we're-not-worthy bow and Noel plays the rest of the song facing Lennon, back to the crowd. The "Live Forever" single, meanwhile, features a cover photo of Lennon's childhood home.

Liam Gallagher once in a fit of ego (he has many) actually claimed to be a reincarnated Lennon, despite being born eight years before John's death. He even went so far as to name his first son Lennon.

OK, Noel, Liam, we get it. You're really, really into the Fab Four.

But the list has to be capped by their 2005 drummer decision. Unable to actually go back in time and become the Beatles, they did the best they could and recruited their generational peer Zak Starkey--son of Ringo. Perhaps until Noel simmers down Liam will carry on the Oasis franchise with Julian Lennon on guitar.

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