The 10 Best Oasis B-Sides

As a tribute to the release of Oasis 1997 release Be Here Now, widely regarded as the beginning of the Britpop group' downfall, PopMatters will examine the overlooked parts of the band's body of work. This first list examines Oasis’ B-sides, where some of their true gems can be found.

With the success of What’s the Story (Morning Glory) having catapulted them to the forefront of pop music in the mid-1990s, Oasis had high expectations to match their growing fame. Most groups don’t start off with two well-received LPs, but Definitely, Maybe (1994) and What’s the Story (Morning Glory)? (1995) were loved both critically and commercially. All signs pointed to Be Here Now, their 1997 album, being something quite spectacular.

What followed was not the completion of a musical trifecta, but the implosion of the vision many had for the band. Be Here Now, running well over an hour, was criticized for being a bloated and overwrought. Oasis, who were once the Most Important Rock Band in the World, trudged on for the rest of their career, never matching their early glory. (Personally, the much-despised Heathen Chemistry remains my favorite record of theirs, but very few will agree with me on that one.) Four studio outings after Be Here Now, Oasis broke up. The discography we’re left with is one most perceive as unevenly weighted: aside from the first two releases, most will argue, all there is to the group’s music is a bunch of Beatles-aping anthems indistinguishable from each other.

While Noel and Liam Gallagher’s love for the Fab Four is a little more than obvious, to dismiss an entire body of work with a lazy tag such as that is too reductive and easy for a critic to do. I would join the majority in the opinion that Oasis’ earlier stuff was their best, but I don’t think their later records are all dreck.

August marks the 15th anniversary of Be Here Now's release. In light of this, Sound Affects will publish two List This pieces examining some of the overlooked parts of Oasis' career. This first list considers their b-sides, in my opinion where some of their strongest material can be found. Most music groups nowadays don't release CD singles, at least on a major level; a resurgence of this has been seen on independent labels, especially with 7-inch vinyl records. Yet Oasis kept putting out singles all throughout their career, spawning some pretty memorable tracks that unfortunately many Americans didn't get to hear. (The majority of these singles were released solely in the UK.) For those of you not acquainted, here are ten of their best B-sides.

10. "Angel Child (Demo)"
(B-side to "D'You Know What I Mean?")

The seven-minute long "D'You Know What I Mean?" was an odd choice for the first single off Be Here Now, as its falsely epic structure is a microcosm of what most people disliked about the album. This demo of "Angel Child", a pretty straightforward acoustic track sung by guitarist/chief songwriter Noel Gallagher, was the highlight of the CD single. What's remarkable is how enchanting it sounds in this rudimentary form; demos tend to sound pretty lo-fi, but the guitar production here is crystal clear. It makes one wonder what this would have sounded like in a completed version.

9. "Let's All Make Believe"
(B-side to "Go Let It Out")

"Go Let It Out" had the unfortunate burden of being the first single from Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, which followed Be Here Now. Given the latter's middling press, hopes of a bounce back were no doubt present. But while Giants didn't get horrible reviews, it certainly didn't reclaim Oasis' mid '90s golden years, and "Go Let It Out" ended up being a pretty underwhelming a-side. However the second b-side to the single, "Let's All Make Believe", in the grand scheme of things is one of Oasis' better cuts, one that should have been included on the LP. The cynical chorus lyric, "Let's all make believe / That we're still friends / And we like each other" can't help but echo the consistently erupting sibling rivalry between the Gallagher brothers.

8. "It's Better People"
(B-side to "Roll With It")

Sure, Oasis has one too many anthems in their catalog (they were quite the rage back then), but they are quite good at writing the sort of brotherly love-based stuff that's bound to get people singing arm-in-arm at a big stadium show. "It's Better People" has a straightforward message ("It's better people love one another / Because living your life can be tough"), but it's sold convincingly by Noel's great vocal delivery. It's understandable why the band excluded this from What's the Story (Morning Glory)?, as the flow of that record is excellent as is, but this ditty stands out well on its own.

7. "The Masterplan"
(B-side to "Wonderwall")

If there's one single where it's difficult for the b-sides to match the lead song, it's without doubt "Wonderwall". Oasis' signature song remains popular still after all these years, but remarkably some of its b-sides have aged just as powerfully. The Socratic aphorism that makes up the chorus ("All we know is that we don't know") is one that's been heard many times before, but it's delivered with real power here. This song would later become the title for the 1998 b-sides compilation The Masterplan, one of the few ways most American listeners would be able to hear most of Oasis' non-album tracks.

6. "Half the World Away"
(B-side to "Whatever")

Serving as a bridge between Definitely Maybe and What's the Story (Morning Glory?), the non-album single "Whatever" is noteworthy for bringing us this plaintive strummer. While some of its musings aren't really believable ("My body feels young but my mind is very old" -- really, Noel?), it's poignant, and even when it's not believable it's genuine.

Next Page

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.