Oasis have always been about bringing people together. Just last year Noel Gallagher pulled back the ribcage of his approach to songwriting and exposed its beating heart. “It was never about me; it was ‘you and me’,” he said. “So when people go on about Oasis, they miss the point. It wasn’t about snarling and shouting and gobbing in the street. It was inclusive.” And while he and Liam haven’t quite put aside their differences for a Zoom reunion (you just know that Gallagher junior always forgets to turn his mic on), Noel has dusted off an old demo for us to gather around together in the age of isolation.
He explained on Twitter last night (April 29) that, like everyone else, he’s “had infinite time to kill lately” and in the midst a big old clear-out had “stumbled across an old demo which I thought had been lost forever”. No, it’s not quite The Rolling Stones logging onto House Party to knock out the world’s first coronabanger, and your enthusiasm might wane a touch when you hear that ‘Don’t Stop…’ is a demo of a track recorded in soundcheck in Hong Kong 15 years ago. Could we expect a song so mediocre that even Oasis didn’t consider it worth releasing in an era when the supremely irritating ‘Lyla’ passed as a return to form?
Actually, the dusted-off demo is a bruised, melancholy little number in the vein of ‘Talk Tonight’ or, closer still, ‘Half The World Away’. You know, a Noel’s-having-some-feelings kind of tune.
It’s initially disappointing to find out that Liam’s not on it, but then you remember that this type of Oasis song always conjured up the image of Noel tucked away in the corner of a studio or hotel room, far from the drama and hubbub of celebrity, doing some serious brooding. For all his endless attributes as the greatest frontman on the planet, Liam is the sound of intensity and chaos, and anything he lends his voice to makes you want to neck one of those big pint cans of Red Stripe and put a brick through the window of your local Tory Party HQ. A noble calling, but not really the vibe right now.
Instead, over heavily strummed acoustic guitar – Noel plays these kinds of songs as though he’s just found out his dog’s died – Gallagher senior sighs through lyrics about resigning yourself to a bit of alone time. “Bye bye, my friend, I’m leaving,” he opens, “I’m gonna feast on the stars in the sky.” Anyone else get the feeling that Noel whiles away self-isolated evenings in a hot tub in the back garden, variously checking out the constellations and enjoying Sergio Agüero goal compilations on YouTube? Either way, in quintessential Oasis style, he later promises us that everything’s gonna be OK: “Don’t stop being happy / Don’t stop your clapping / Don’t stop your laughing… It’s all right.”
Even that classic, elliptical Noel song title points at the good times to come. A great little boogie-woogie guitar lick shimmies in at the three-minute-mark, after which he reminds us that we’ll soon be “side-by-side”. He might sound bruised, but this unearthed little gem does exactly what Oasis are supposed to: it rallies everyone together and exudes optimism. Of course, nothing’s ever quite that simple, and this morning Liam tweeted his reaction to the song: “There’s something missing in this god almighty stew and it’s your brother… don’t forget your brother.” Let’s hope that, when all of this is over, there’s room in that hot tub for two.