The first three Oasis albums, as we all know, are the best. And the B-sides compilation The Masterplan is also amazing. I listen to those albums all the time, and my favorite changes depending on mood. I had not listened to Standing on the Shoulder of Giants for quite a while before sitting down to write this essay, but it’s got some wonderful music.
Even though Standing on the Shoulder of Giants is not Oasis’ best effort, it’s got a few really good songs on it. I had forgotten how many I really liked. When it was released in 2000 I had recently fallen in love with Dave Grohl. The third Foo Fighters album (read about it here) had just been released, and I was immediately obsessed! I was a dedicated Oasis maniac for the previous five years, and though I may have had fantasies here and there are about Liam (I did have a thing for bad boys at the time) I was never as passionate about him as I had suddenly become about Dave. I saw Oasis in concert for the first time in April of 2000, and then saw Foo a few months later. It was an exciting music year for me!
I was excited when this album came out, because it was their first studio album in nearly three years since Be Here Now. The Masterplan was released in 1998, and though it was B-sides most of the songs were new to me, so it was like a brand new collection in a way. But there’s something about hearing newly-written songs on an album that creates a whole different kind of anticipation. Most of the first half of the album was what I wanted to hear; the rest of it, well, I’m not saying anything that Noel hasn’t said himself.
The instrumental “Fuckin’ in the Bushes” that starts off the album with a bang, drums kicking in right away and then a clip of an angry guy yelling at the audience at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival. There are other brief and funny clips from the film about the festival, and they fit beautifully with the kickass harshness of the music playing over them. It’s a great example of how to start an album.
And “Go Let It Out” is a great second song. It’s got quite a bit of the Oasis of the 90s that we loved so much. Liam’s voice is a bit more gravelly by the year 2000, but it totally works with this song. I love it not only for Liam’s gorgeous vocals but for the words Noel wrote that are inspirational and sometimes nonsensical.
Paint no illusion, try to click with whatcha got
Taste every potion cos if yer like yerself a lot
Go let it out, go let it in, go let it out
Is it any wonder why princes and kings
Are clowns that caper in their sawdust rings
And of all the Beatlesy songs they have, “Who Feels Love?” is extra Beatlesy, like, 1965-1966 Beatles when their lyrics started getting more serious and they were using sitars and being all mystical. It’s a fucking great tune.
“Put Yer Money Where Yer Mouth Is” is one of the songs from this album that I remember really loving. The lyrics are simple, common even, and are another great kick in the arse for the listener to just get on with it.
Ready or not, come what may
The bets are going down for Judgment Day
So put yer money in yer mouth
And your hands right upon the wheel
Say what you mean and mean what you say! Yes, Noel.
“Little James” is proof that Noel should always write the songs. Liam did what he could, and while it’s a sweet sentiment, it’s not one of the band’s best.
I think about “Gas Panic!” once in a while. I like the Liamness of it, the way he phrases everything in that almost whiny way that I fucking love so much! I can just imagine him standing in front of the microphone that’s way too high, his neck straining to bring his face towards it, his arms as always locked together behind his back. It’s such a fabulous example of Liam being Liam. It has that big sound that the songs from Be Here Now have, sort of all-encompassing and overwhelming. Exciting and thoughtful at once.
“Where Did It All Go Wrong?” showcases Noel’s powerful and beautiful voice. It’s got a bit of a modern country music feel in parts, and along with “Sunday Morning Call” also has a bit of some more generic radio-friendly unit shifter on it. Noel has confessed that he was feeling less than inspired while writing this album.
We should have never made Standing on the Shoulder of Giants…. I’d come to the end. At the time, I had no reason or desire to make music. I had no drive. We’d sold all these fucking records and there just seemed to be no point. Liam, to his credit, was the one who was like, “We’re going to make a record, we’re going into the studio next month, and you better have some fucking songs written.” We should have gone to wherever it is the Rolling Stones disappear to, wherever the fuck that is. Rent a boat and sail around the Bahamas or whatever. But I went ahead and did it, even though I had no inspiration and couldn’t find inspiration anywhere. I just wrote songs for the sake of making an album.
Those songs, as well as the closer “Roll It Over,” definitely sound like he just wrote them to have something for the record. And I love Noel’s writing, but you can tell when someone’s just phoning it in.
That said, I kind of dig “I Can See A Liar.” It has sort of a Boston vibe. It does have some Beatlesy stuff going on. These lyrics sound very Lennoneque to me:
He sits upon a throne
He lives a sleazy lie
But he’s all alone again, again
And again, it’s a great showcase for Liam’s Liamness.
This has always been my fifth favorite Oasis album, and hearing it again reaffirms that. The songs I loved in 2000 are still awesome, and the ones that are like milkawhut? are still milkawhut? But even brilliance sometimes needs a rest. I forgive Noel his transgressions on this album, because there is enough good on it to make up for the stuff I can only tolerate.