Thanks to self-isolation, people have significantly more free time on their hands. Time to finally get through that stack of books, maybe, or learn the piano like you’ve been telling your mates you will for a decade. There are endless evenings to ponder the really big questions. How will humanity rebuild after a pandemic such as this? What do I want to change about my life once lockdown is over? Was ‘Be Here Now’ actually… quite good?
See you at 8.30pm. Be Here Now #TimsTwitterListeningParty I’m not gonna blind you with guitar amps and drums sounds, just turn it up and I’ll introduce each track and answer as many questions as I can. Tune into @sleafordmods before that at 7.30
— Paul Arthurs. (@BoneheadsPage) April 23, 2020
Step forward The Charlatans‘ frontman Tim Burgess, who has been hosting ‘listening parties’ on Twitter to keep fans entertained during lockdown. You log in, hit the hashtag #timstwitterlisteningparty, learn some nerdy facts and have fun. So far he’s covered Pulp‘s ‘Different Class’, Blur‘s ‘Parklife’ and many more.
Having hosted online listening parties for Oasis classics ‘Definitely Maybe’ and ‘What’s The Story, Morning Glory’ – albums whose classic status can’t be questioned – this week he brought his ever-growing, cultish series to 1997. He brought it, specifically, to ‘Be Here Now’. It gave the unfairly maligned third Oasis album a deserved second chance.
Despite selling over 400,000 copies on its first day and becoming the fastest-selling British album in chart history, ‘Be Here Now’ has largely been labelled in musical history as the moment when Oasis lost it. A 70-minute behemoth, the album swapped out the short, furious anthems of the first two records in favour of spacier, trippier odysseys.
As they entering sessions for their third album, Oasis were – as Noel Gallagher put it in 2007 – “the biggest band in the world … bigger than, dare I say it, fucking God.” Excess and indulgence ruled everything around ‘Be Here Now’. Noel rented Mick Jagger’s house to record demos in and videos were shot in RAF helicopters. This excess was so intense, in fact, that Liam refrained from taking part in the new listening party because he “can’t remember pish” from the creation of the record.
It’s been 23 years, though, and Thursday’s (April 23) online get-together offered the album a much-deserved re-appraisal. “Glad I gave ‘Be Here Now’ another chance,” one fan tweeted. “I’m not sure I ever got to the massive ‘All Around the World’ the first time and never listened to it on headphones (or ear buds)… definitely plays well as a whole album.”
Glad I gave Be Here Now another chance. I'm not sure I ever got to the massive All Around the World the first time and never listened to it on headphones (or ear buds)… definitely plays well as a whole album. #timstwitterlisteningparty
— Edward Douglas (@EDouglasWW) April 23, 2020
Regardless the greatness DM and (WTS)MG, the combo of the arrogance and swagger from 3 years doing no wrong, the over-production, the boatloads of drugs and just how rocky it is mean #BeHereNow is my favourite @oasis album. Flawed brilliance. #TimsTwitterListeningParty
— Chris (@ManYellsAtCIoud) April 23, 2020
Be Here Now gets a lot of stick. But to me it’s perfect. A bunch of working class lads, the biggest band in the world and living it up in every way you could possibly think of – reflected in an album. What I’d give for a band to be able to do that now. #TimsTwitterListeningParty
— patricridge (@PatricRidge) April 23, 2020
It also gave a rare opportunity for ‘Be Here Now’ apologists to air their love for the album without repercussions – one called it “monumentally underrated”.
— Neil Nicholson @ 🏠 (@NeilNicholson_) April 23, 2020
be here now deserves so much more love #TimsTwitterListeningParty
— nat! (@headshrinkvr) April 23, 2020
Hating be here now is a hate crime I'm telling you #TimsTwitterListeningParty
— ceo of liam's eyebrows 🐒 (@parkamonkey_mx) April 23, 2020
Been laughed out the practice room a few times for my support of Be Here Now. Stand by the fact it’s a fucking belter of an album. #TimsTwitterListeningParty
— Bogle (@Bogleshake) April 23, 2020
A whole host of fans also praised Liam’s gritty, emotional delivery across the album. “Anyone think they might cry during this?” Burgess tweeted during ‘Don’t Go Away’, while another praised Liam’s voice for being “class on this entire album”.
Don’t Go Away. Anyone think they might cry during this? It kind of hits you right in the heart. Liam’s delivery is 🔥🔥 #TimsTwitterListeningParty
— Tim Burgess (@Tim_Burgess) April 23, 2020
Liam's voice is class on this entire album. #TimsTwitterListeningParty
— Iain (@CemetryGates89) April 23, 2020
I am so in love with Liam’s voice #TimsTwitterListeningParty
— Natasia 🐙🌹 (@moondust3890) April 23, 2020
— Chris Slater (@chrisslaterMEN) April 23, 2020
While few would suggest that ‘Be Here Now’ could hold a candle to Oasis’ first album, the album provides a different kind of feeling to anything the band created before or since. There were no pop songs here – everything was stretched to its transcendent limit – and you weren’t going to argue with the band that were bigger than God, after all.
- Read more: Tim Burgess on listening parties with Oasis’ Bonehead and Blur’s Dave Rowntree: “They’re a distraction”
Many who logged in to #timstwitterlisteningparty reflected on the release day of ‘Be Here Now’, when thousands of fans camped outside HMVs across the country (including a certain young Pete Doherty, who spoke about the experience to MTV), reminding fans just quite how big a deal Oasis were at this point, and the sheer pandemonium that greeted the release of ‘Be Here Now’. It put the album’s beefed-up, gargantuan sound into a fresh context.
— George Eaton (@georgeeaton) April 23, 2020
— Tony Pottinger (@tonypottinger) April 24, 2020
— Simon Whitehurst🎧🎶😎 (@Simon_W1976) April 23, 2020
One fan also re-shared the BBC’s ‘Right Here, Right Now’ documentary, which followed the band in the run-up to the album’s release and was aired the night before ‘Be Here Now’ hit shelves. Again, it’s a reminder of just how huge a moment this was – probably the most hyped musical release of the ’90s.
The listening party also shone a significant light on the album’s lyrics, which are often overlooked. Shifting away from the huge, booming mantras of ‘Definitely Maybe’ and ‘What’s The Story Morning Glory’, ‘Be Here Now’ is full of cutting, emotional lyrics from a band simultaneously on top of the world and falling apart. The new listening party re-positioned ‘Be Here Now’ as the most emotionally fragile Oasis album.
— Owen Bennett (@owenjbennett) April 23, 2020
Please don’t cry never say die 🙌🏻🔊 #TimsTwitterListeningParty
— Scott (@ScottCurwen) April 23, 2020
— Stuart Smith (@Stuysmith) April 23, 2020
From a fan’s recollections that Noel has no idea what ‘Magic Pie’ is written about because he was “high as a kite” to Bonehead questioning a “mad note on the guitar 6 seconds in” on ‘I Hope, I Think, I Know’, it appears the band are as in the dark about this formless, baggy, 70-minute beast as legions of Oasis diehards were in 1997.
Held up against ‘Definitely Maybe’ and ‘What’s The Story Morning Glory’, ‘Be Here Now’ inevitably pales, but as we get deeper into months of quarantine and dive further into our record collections, it’s one to give a deserved second chance.
The album is a gloriously messy, half-cut portrait of rock’n’roll excess, and of clinging on desperately to the good days. Its creation fed the album with a psychedelic kind of anxiety and pressure, of claustrophobia and worry while also desperately trying to live in the present and make every moment count. Sound familiar right now? In essence, it’s an ideal lockdown album.