So Noel Gallagher hates ‘Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants’.
It’s quite an admission from a man previously so delusional that he could fart into a penny-whistle and declare it “better than Bowie’s fucking Berlin period”. At 44, has the Guv’nor finally developed the reflection and humility of the older man? Come off it. Having pissed venom over every man, woman and child in western music, I reckon he’s just run out of targets and turned the gun on himself.
Anyway, Noel is in good company. In 2011, the best that a CD copy of ‘Giants’ can hope for is to prop up a wobbly desk, be incorporated into a baby’s cot mobile or get melted down into something more glamorous, like paperclips. Nobody owns it, nobody plays it, and live, Oasis mined it with the enthusiasm of a nutritionalist picking sweetcorn out of a stool sample. It has become The Thing Of Which We Do Not Speak, like the time you found your dad crying on the toilet.
So why did ‘Giants’ bomb so badly? One word: context. Back in 2000, the people still believed. ‘Be Here Now’ had been a momentary lapse of omnipotence, like Jesus fluffing a miracle and grafting asses’ ears onto John The Baptist (trust me, The Bible covered that one up…). This time, we were certain, the chastened Gallaghers would get back to business as usual: industrial-strength choruses, arms around your mates, Red Stripe, eyebrows, and so forth.
Think of the Titanic and you think of the iceberg, not the glorious view from the sun deck, the fresh seafood buffet or the pleasant early days of cruising. Likewise, think of ‘Giants’ and all you remember is ‘Little James’: Liam’s sickly, mawkish, finger-down-the-throat abomination, whose rhyming of ‘trampoline’ and ‘plasticine’ sounded like the losing pitch for a Toys R Us jingle, and probably made Patsy Kensit’s infant son wet the bed in protest.
But ‘Little James’ is a rotten tooth in an otherwise healthy mouth. I’m not suggesting you’d rescue ‘Giants’ from a house fire, but it’s well worth retrieving from the loft. The opening volley is killer. ‘Fuckin’ In The Bushes’ sounds like feral al fresco sex should sound, then it’s all aboard the fun-bus with the lazy lollop of Oasis’s greatest post-millennium single, ‘Go Let It Out’, straight into the underrated Beatles-felch of ‘Who Feels Love?’.
From there, it’s just two stabs of the ‘skip’ button to another solid run, with Noel whipping up genuine atmosphere on ‘Gas Panic!’, then throat-lumps on ‘Where Did It All Go Wrong?’ and ‘Sunday Morning Call’. ‘Roll It Over’, meanwhile, is a stadium-sized finale, buried before it got the chance.
I’d be the first to argue that Oasis dropped the ball after the millennium, but Noel Gallagher has disowned the wrong child. Oasis’s fourth is categorically not a shit album. It’s just not a masterpiece, at a time when only a masterpiece would suffice. So give ‘Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants’ another spin. It’s available from all good bargain bins…