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I’m like a one-man band, clapping in the pouring rain.

June 18, 2009

Oasis – Standing on the Shoulder of Giants
Part 4: The second single.

“Who Feels Love?” in my humblest of opinions, is the finest thing on Standing on the Shoulder of Giants and a significant departure for a band that’s still constantly maligned for doing the same thing over and over and over again.

Granted, the track does go head first into completely different stratospheres in terms of being a techno-punk with rap and jazz overlay sound experiment, but considering the almost comedic levels to which Oasis revered the Beatles, it’s kind of funny to consider it took them six years to that eastern vibe. I mean, the Beatles did it in four years…

And if Noel was finding any peace in a cleaner lifestyle, “Who Feels Love?” proved to be the best reflection. Sure, the “Thank you for the sun, the one that shines on everyone who feels love” chorus seems pulled out of the guidebook to hippie cliche, but there’s something kind of genuine about it. Even the fact that Liam’s in sneer-rather-than-sing mode does little to compromise the track. It’s the sound of a band that’s found a little bit of peace in a time of chaos. I’d say it’s the sound of an Oasis, but I’m not that ridiculous. Oh…

And like “Go Let it Out,” the song is anchored on solid groove with a tabla loop and busy (by Oasis standards) bassline helping move the whole affair. The song never fails to put me in a decent mood, and that’s why I included it on this year’s summer mix.

Of course, it was an ill-timed single. Although reviews of the album and new Oasis lineup were for the most part positive, a lot of critics weren’t as eager to stay on the Oasis bandwagon and it was really around this point that all that “Should have packed it in after Knebworth” talk really started to bubble. In it’s review of the single, NME called the track emotionless and “pure mock Maharishi spirituality that not even Liam can salvage from the realm of self-parody.”

To make matters all the more ironic, the band singing about feeling love would face the biggest threat to its existence a month after the single’s release when Liam and Noel got into yet another argument, and Noel departed the world tour, vowing to never play with the band outside of England again. Thankfully he rescinded on that promise, but that news easily took the focus off any new music the band was releasing for the rest of the album’s promotional cycle.

Which is a shame, because the single actually featured the band’s best B-side of the era. And the worst.

Whofeelslove

Oasis – One Way Road
Everything that Noel was trying to encapsulate about his state of mind in the ignored songs of the time like “Solve My Mystery” and  the material that did make it on to singles and albums — even “Who Feels Love?” (“Now you understand that this is not the promised land they spoke of”) — is perfectly rendered here. It’s a simple verse, bridge and chorus that completely repeats itself once before fading away. And if Noel’s falsetto on the bridge and passion on the chorus don’t make you think the guy’s not half bad after all, I think any argument in Oasis’ favor is lost. This is a bit of early 21st century soul, and might be the most soulful thing the band’s ever done. Too bad no one was paying attention.

Oasis – Helter Skelter
I never understand band’s desire to do this song. Well, no. I understand it — who doesn’t want to turn the amps up to 11 and figure out that little riff on the chorus, but of all the Beatles songs to do, I just never understand the obsession with this particular one. It seems so obvious. And for a band of Beatle completists like Oasis, that just makes me wonder all the more. Noel has a special feeling in his heart for the song — he reckons this song is the reason punk rock ever came into existence — but, meh. If covering Beatles songs is a useless exercise to begin with, why not at least challenge yourself and try something like… “It’s All Too Much”? I don’t even know if the Beatles ultimately did the best version of “Helter Skelter” that they could have. Ah well.

The video for the song turned out pretty cool, although I like that it took this long for a director to think “Why don’t we put Oasis in a desert?” Hey!

Tomorrow: The “Sunday Morning Call” single.

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