In 1997 Oasis fans & the media were eagerly awaiting the release of the bands third album. A building sense of anticipation & mystique preceded it’s release, the likes of which hasn’t been experienced since maybe The Beatles left the world hanging before releasing their 1967 Sgt Pepper LP. Radio stations were denied pre release material, the press were forced to sign gag orders, preventing them from revealing anything which might ruin the surprise or dampen the hype. We were teased with song titles & the odd rumble of gossip, but were afforded no audio or solid information surrounding the forthcoming album. This all served to build up immense intrigue & a buzz around the release, it also meant that this next album had better be their very own Sgt Pepper, something special. The album was “Be Here Now” & at one point it was on course to be something very special indeed.
The problems with this third album actually began two years prior, in 1995 during sessions for the bands second album “(Whats the Story) Morning Glory”. That album, like “Be here Now” was a much anticipated release. Morning Glory was the follow up to their debut & instant classic album Definitely Maybe. So while the band worked excitedly on Morning Glory, Noel, unbeknownst to the rest of the band & record label, was actually working on & writing Oasis’ third album at home. He had even began jotting down an intended track-list & running order. One of the tracks on that list was Acquiesce & Noel chose to play that song to the band & Alan McGhee, the head of the bands label Creation Records. It was an instant hit with all of them & McGhee suggested releasing the song as a non-album single, much like they had done in 1994 with the single “Whatever”. Noel was unsure & pushed to release another new song, Some Might Say. He had an inkling that this song would appeal more to the masses & make more of a dent in the UK singles chart, Noel got his way (and was eventually proven right as it gained Oasis their first UK number 1 Single). It was then agreed that Acquiesce must be saved for the next album & later single release.
So far, so good. The bands 2nd album Morning Glory was coming together in the studio nicely, another classic album in the making, and judging by what they had heard of the ideas for a 3rd album, Oasis had another potential classic album to make after that. But this potential ‘classic third album’ soon became the inevitable ‘difficult third album’. Noel was tasked by McGhee to write & record a bside for the Some Might Say single asap. Noel ended up up leaving it till the last minute & with no spare material to put forward, told McGhee during a tipsy, late night phone call “fuck it man! just use Acquiesce. By the time the next album comes out I’ll have written somat else that’ll shit all over it”.
With Acquiesce being relegated to B-Side status, Noel knew that he needed something just as strong to replace it. The song that fell from the ether was “The Masterplan”. He knew instantly that he had another potential hit single & anthem in the bag. He went into the studio the next day to show the band his latest masterpiece. Liam sat as still as the Buddha, listening intently until the final A minor chord rang out & faded to silence. He sprung from his chair & demanded that they record it straight away for Morning Glory. Noel calmly packed his acoustic & note pad away; “No kid, I’m saving this one for the next fucker, this will be the title track of the next album”. The Masterplan was a favourite of Liam’s & he was desperate to take the lead vocal on the track. You can imagine the disappointment & fury then when he learned that Noel, unprepared, had again, decided to demote this song to the B-Side of the Wonderwall single.
So unfortunately, as we all now know Be Here Now didn’t turn out the way Noel or the rest of the band had originally intended. Band politics, in-fighting & drug abuse fractured the growing momentum they had enjoyed during & immediately following the recording of Morning Glory. Ideally, McGhee wanted the band in the studio working on the album that would have been called The Masterplan during October 1995 for a potential September 1996 release. But without his title track & having already given away Acquiesce, the project had already had it’s foundations severely weakened. Obviously Oasis did go on to release an album called The Masterplan but that was a collection of B-Sides & not the classic studio release it was supposed to be. Having seen the list of tracks Noel had planned for the album we have put the album together as best we can. The original tracks were:
- Do you Know what I Mean
- The Masterplan
- Fade In Out
- The Girl in the Dirty Shirt
- Be Here Now
- I Got the Fever
- Don’t Go Away
- Going Nowhere
- Its Getting Better Man
Be Here Now marked the end of my keen interest in Oasis. I queued up before work on the day of release, got the cover stamped in the shop to prove I was one of the first to buy it. I was late for work that day & told my boss I had been to the Dr’s. He let me off until he came striding out of his office into the factory with the local paper in his hand, it had a picture of me on the front page at the front of the queue at Ainley’s Records. I spent that working day willing the clock on towards 5.00 to get home & hear the album that Noel promised would shit all over the last 2 albums. I remember then spending the next few weeks trying to understand it, pretending that I liked it when deep down I actually felt like I was missing something that everyone else was in on. I think it took 6 months for everyone to own up to feeling pretty much the same way, the honeymoon period was over, people were realising what a disappointment the album was & it was evident that it wouldn’t stand the test of time. No one could believe that Oasis were capable of making such a poor album. It had its moments but listening to the album today you can see, as Noel has said himself, that the album is just a wall of strumming guitars turned up to 11, muddy with no dynamics. There is a good album in there but you can hear the lack of inspiration in the arrangement, production & song writing. It needed more time, it needed revisiting & remixing before release. It needed Acquiesce, The Masterplan, time spent on the production & love for the project. It is a big thing, because Oasis were huge, they were the biggest band at that time. When I first heard the band Doves on the radio in 2000, I thought it was the new Oasis single, after finding out that it wasn’t I remember wishing that it was. Luckily Oasis’ first 2 albums were that good that most people still saw them as the biggest & best band in the world & if Be here Now did turn out as good or better than either of those 2 albums then Oasis would have exploded. They couldn’t have got any bigger surely, so actually, wanting an album to be different to the way it is isn’t the organic way & Oasis‘ path had to go the way it did. Its fun to pretend & we can fantasise. If Oasis had made Doves first album “Lost Souls” then I think I’d still be wearing an anorak & swaggering around town now.
The story of the album above is one of my fabrications. Its an alternative history of the album & the way it could have gone in a twisted past. It helps back up my remix of the album. Bit of fun innit. I’m sure there are plenty of people that love Be Here Now, so we’re obviously not saying that our mix has made it better, but to me it has made it much more palatable. We have shortened some of the songs & edited parts together to help it to flow nicely. We also decided to use the Noel Gallagher remix of “Do You Know What I Mean“. Noel revisited the album in 2016 with the aim of remixing the whole album, losing some of the noise & allowing the album to breathe a little. He got as far as track one & then decided against the idea. I still think he should continue with that project. Not as a “this is what it should have sounded like” thing, but as a separate reimagining of the album, basically because his rethink on “Do you know what I mean” works so well. For now though, try out our alternative to Be here Now… The Masterplan.