Oasis: Chasing the Sun – Noel Gallagher talks Be Here Now, Abbey Road Studios and missed opportunities

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Maine Road photography at the Oasis exhibition

Maine Road photography at the Oasis exhibition

As an exhibition looking back on Oasis’ early years and first three albums opened at the Old Granada Studios in Manchester, Getintothis were there to take it all in.

Following the release of the documentary Supersonic and the re-issue of Be Here Now, it seems that, once again, Oasis might just be the most talked about band on the planet.

Now, a new exhibition documenting the band’s career from their first single in 1993 to the release of Be Here Now in 1997 has launched at the Old Granada Studios in Manchester. It opened to much fanfare and remains open to the public until October 26 – and is any Gallagher fan’s wet dream, such is the comprehensive and exhaustive material on offer.

A host of big names gathered for the opening evening including rock & roller and journalist John Robb plus celebrated photographers Brian Cannon (the man behind all things Oasis from their logo to their sleeve art and much more besides) and Kevin Cummins (Stone Roses, Joy Division, just about anyone who mattered in British music).

Getintothis also popped in to check out the vast unseen photographs of the band in the early days, plus artefacts such as Liam Gallagher‘s Glastonbury coat, Noel Gallagher‘s Union Jack guitar and handwritten lyrics of some of Oasis‘ biggest hits, there was plenty on show for die hard fans to get stuck into, as well as being able to step into the Definitely Maybe album cover in a life-size recreation of Bonehead‘s front room which became the iconic record sleeve (see below for Getintothis‘ attempt).

Noel's guitars including one off the Definitely Maybe cover, tour, Maine Road and Glastonbury

Noel’s guitars including one off the Definitely Maybe cover, tour, Maine Road and Glastonbury

With the exhibition coinciding with the reissue of Be Here Now, Noel Gallagher spoke about how he had written much of the album long before the band had recorded their first LP, or even signed a record deal.

He said: “A lot of people at the time didn’t believe me when I said I’d written the first three albums before Definitely Maybe came out. But I’d written All Around The World and I’d had the idea for D’You Know What I Mean?, before Rock’n’Roll Star.

Getintothis do Definitely Maybe

Getintothis do Definitely Maybe

All Around The World was 11 minutes long then, and I remember playing it in one go and Bonehead had the look of a man who’d seen a ghost.

He added: “Trying to convince the band who don’t have a manager, a record deal or any fans, that this song is gonna be the centrepiece of our third album – it takes some doing!

The initial recording sessions for Be Here Now followed Oasis‘ colossal shows at Knebworth, and took place at the iconic Abbey Road Studios, yet the surroundings didn’t quite inspire and the resulting sessions were unproductive to say the least.

We were just getting pissed all the time,” says Noel. “In the corridors of Abbey Road, it’s very quiet. There’s guys in there making classical albums. You opened the door to our studio and it was like Animal House. Smoke billowing out, screaming… I think they got a little bit pissed off with us.

Read our review of Supersonic – the new documentary on Oasis’ early years

With the Abbey Road sessions unsuccessful, Oasis fled London’s media goldfish bowl for a residential studio in rural Surrey. Yet as Oasis decamped to Ridge Farm, the circus followed them.

Immediately, feelings of isolation and paranoia began clouding their efforts, particularly when the local constabulary began taking an interest in the new neighbours.

I remember one night,” says Noel, “this police car, with its lights off, just ambling down the lane… That’s the only time I was genuinely thinking, ‘We’re all going to jail.’ Thankfully they didn’t come into the studio. We’d have had a lot of explaining to do, put it that way.

Noel describes the final mix of Be Here Now as “terrible” and that the record was a “missed opportunity“, yet when released on August 21, 1997, it sold 400,000 copies in the UK that day alone.

It has left an indelible mark on the history of British rock. Even its principal architect and harshest critic can’t argue with that.

“Coyley and Phil, my pals from Manchester, summed this album up best,” says Noel.

“They’ve always said: ‘It was just meant to be played once, on that day, high as a kite, preferably in the park, pissed – then never listened to again.’” He laughs. “Why didn’t I think of that?!”

Pictures by Getintothis’ Peter Guy.

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