There were many things you could have predicted about the Gallagher brothers when Oasis swaggered this way back in the dark ages.
You certainly could have predicted that they’d be around for some time. You’d have predicted that they’d still command headlines decades on. And you’d probably have predicted that the music would deteriorate rather than get any better.
It was always thus. They entered the arena with the promise of a bright era which we’d actually already experienced decades earlier. This brace of mouthy Mancunians were in thrall to the music from the times of their ma and da. As a result, they were perfectly in tune with the horrific way rock music calcified in the Nineties and began to go backwards rather than forwards.
Wonderwall is the classic song Val Doonican didn’t get around to finishing.
The Gallaghers were nostalgic for an era they’d never experienced except through old photos and records. This showed itself in their sorry cloth-eared approximation of what those sounds of the Sixties were all about. There were some occasional flashes of genius – Wonderwall is the classic song Val Doonican didn’t get around to finishing – but they were mostly flashes in the pan.
What they did get right was timing. They came to the fore when the record industry was still capable of flexing its muscles and producing mammoth acts to fill big hilly fields in Knebworth and Slane. They arrived when there was a longing in the air for that nostalgia. They knocked on the door just as the Cool Britannia raméis was kicking off. They were the absolute boys for the Loaded magazine era and they filled their boots with abandon.
Twenty or more years on and we’ve reached a sorry pass as the Gallaghers have turned into the Kardashians for the bootleg jean wearing generation. They’re a pair of characters better known these times for their off-stage antics and interview bon mots than for any musical acumen. There’s a reason for that: unlike that viral video of Liam making himself a cup of tea, their music has gone completely off the boil in recent times.
Many of the reviews which have greeted Liam’s solo album As You Were can be distilled in journo shorthand as "phew, not as bad as we thought it would be". That’s the equivalent of Joe Brolly patronisingly patting you on the head when you’re substituted after 15 non-eventful minutes on the pitch in Clones. Damned with faint praise, it’s also a cop-out by reviewers who, as always, are afraid to rock the boat and call a spade, well, a f***** spade. Wouldn’t want to stop those free streams of albums we can only listen to our ancient PCs between 10pm and 10.45pm. You know it, duckies.
Let’s call it here so: As You Were is appalling, a ropey set of ropey songs which makes you realise that Liam could not write his way out of a soggy paper bag of chips. Despite all the desperate attempts in the studio control room at making the album stack up in 2017, the songs are still obsessed with a past (the 1960s) as seen from another past (the 1990s). We weren’t expecting some class of aphorism for clean living in difficult circumstances, but we deserved more than this shoddy set of third-hand songs which have been around the block more times than the neighbourhood tom cat.
Perhaps Who Built the Moon? will save the day. Noel’s new album arrives next month and we’ve been promised the sun, the moon (naturally) and the stars. Noel has form when it comes to trying his hand at the left-of-field pop game – he did an album with Amorphous Androgynous and not just to see what would happen when Liam tried to pronounce their name – and he’s worked with Belfast cosmic cowboy David Holmes on the new album. Maybe this will be the one which casts a new narrative? Then again, we did just listen to Holy Mountain so we're not exactly holding our breath.
Of course, there is another storyline in all of this and that’s the Oasis reunion. There’ll be a run on bootleg jeans and Superdry jackets when they announce that one. As sure as eggs are eggs, it will happen. Not next summer or the summer after – both solo albums will need tending in the next while – but it’s going to happen.
Let’s call it here so: As You Were is appalling.
Here’s the reason why. The record industry which produced and developed Oasis may not be the powerful beast it was of old, but the live industry has taken up the slack. And the live industry needs heritage acts like Oasis to fill its stadiums, big hilly fields and barns.
You can imagine Oasis getting offered silly money put the show back on the road and spend a summer playing to the masses. All that predictable acrimony between the pair of lads will be parked because this is bigger than all of that. Sure, their ma will probably broker the peace, with Brunch ice-creams and Tayto crisps thrown into the mix for the Irish press to write about ahead of their shows at Croke Park.
The music, though, will still stink to high heaven….