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No maybe about it, Manchester’s Oasis definitely were supersonic

Feature-length documentary Supersonic charts Oasis' glory days. By John Meagher

Published 24/09/2016

Roll with it: a new documentary charts the bands high point
Roll with it: a new documentary charts the bands high point
Roll with it: a new documentary charts the bands high point

It is said that 19 is one of the most impressionable of all ages to be snared by new music and that's the age I was when Oasis released their monumental debut, Definitely Maybe, in August 1994. Every time I listen to that album now, I am transported back to my first year in college.

I practically wore the tape out in the first year after its release, such was the regularity of its play on my battered Sanyo cassette player. It was the sound of a cocksure young band, who had made anthemic music that connected with a zeitgeist soon to be labelled Britpop.

They supported REM at Slane in the summer of 1995 and, although I was hugely excited to see Michael Stipe and Co play live - they had stopped touring after the Green Tour in 1989 - Oasis were a huge draw that July evening.

And they were immense - especially as Liam Gallagher looked up for it right from the start: his opening gambit to the crowd was to take a pop at rivals Blur.

Now, fans of Oasis in their pop days will get a chance to relive those glory days in a forthcoming feature-length documentary, Supersonic, named, of course, after the first Oasis single from April 1994.

Made by the team behind the award-winning Amy - the documentary on tragic Amy Winehouse - there's serious pedigree here and its trailer suggests the film will major on their first few heady years.

"Oasis was like a Ferrari," Liam notes in the film. "Great to look at. Great to drive. And it'll f****** spin out of control every now and again." He could say that again.

Having split in 2009, the warring brothers have seemingly resisted all efforts to get back together and they wouldn't even appear in the same room when it came to providing the voiceover for Supersonic.

And don't expect a united front, either, when it comes to any promotion for a new, 40-track "deluxe" version of their third album, Be Here Now, which will be released on the same day the documentary comes out - October 4.

Be Here Now was released on August 1997 and it's the point many Oasis admirers - me included - checked out.

Horrendously bloated and untethered to anything that had made the Gallaghers special to begin with, it marked the end of what had been an astonishingly creative and fertile period.

Although they had quickly become tabloid fodder, because there were few rock-star cliches that they didn't indulge, they released some truly wonderful music in the space of just 14 months.

Definitely Maybe remains one of the most defining albums of the 1990s and, along with Blur's Parklife, a milestone Britpop release, and follow-up (What's the Story) Morning Glory? was even better, and proof that Beatles-obsessive Noel was maturing into a very special talent indeed.

And while a wonderful B-sides compilation, The Masterplan, wouldn't see the light of day until 1998, most of the songs from it were written during this fruitful period, too.

In fact, the opening two songs that day in Slane were B-sides - The Swamp Song and Acquiesce. It takes cojones to stand in front of 80,000 people in only your second gig in Ireland (having played Dublin's Tivoli the previous September) and deliver an opening brace that most would have been unfamiliar with.

But when you're a band with absolute conviction in what you're about, anything seems possible.

In retrospect, Oasis's meteoric rise - from unsigned band to Knebworth headliners in just three years - is practically unthinkable today.

That pair of Knebworth shows remain remarkable: 125,000 people were in attendance each night, while more than 2.5 million ticket applications were registered.

In this information-overload era, where social media has helped give us the attention span of gnats, Oasis would hardly have been the running story now like they were in 1994 and 1995.

Certainly, they wouldn't have sold anything like they did then, when Be Here Now, for instance, shifted 700,000 copies in the first three days of release, and would go on to shift eight million units.

Subsequent Oasis albums only did a fraction of that sort of business, partly because technology was forever altering the game for the record industry, but mainly because the band just didn't have the sort of magnetic alchemy that had been so present before.

The omens look good for Supersonic, but it will have its work cut out for it if it is to be the best music documentary to be released this year.

  • Supersonic is released on DVD and Blu-ray by EntertainmentOne on October 4

Belfast Telegraph

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