Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants


Epic, 2000

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Something had to change for Oasis after Be Here Now, and it did in a major way.

That overblown, ego-infested album was the final extension of the Oasis sound; there was no way they could continue down that path, and perhaps realizing this (and fed up with the Gallagher brothers), Bonehead and Guigsy (the founding guitarist and bassist) fled the band, though not after initially recording many of the parts that were supposed to appear on this record.

Noel Gallagher, having come down off drugs—prescription and otherwise—was facing the lack of a deadline and was thus inspired to switch up the Oasis approach. He and new producer Mark Stent brought in a Mellotron, synthesizers, electronics and beats, and even a sitar to add depth to the songs, which on the whole were far shorter and had more melody than those of Be Here Now. Once half the band left, Noel Gallagher re-recorded the bass parts, his guitar and some keyboards, while Liam sang and Alan White drummed.

The result is a swirling, colorful and darker album than its predecessors, never reaching the heights of Morning Glory in the songwriting but never succumbing to Be Here Now's excess. That sounds odd, given the large range of instruments, but the freedom to experiment unlocked a side of Noel's songs that had taken a backseat to attitude on the band's best work. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Granted, "Fucking In The Bushes" sounds nothing like an Oasis song, but with White's insistent cymbal-heavy drumming (recalling Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life") and the piles of guitar licks, it's a fun ride and a great way to start things off. "Go Let It Out" is even better, a late-period Beatles update with lyrics about moving on, perhaps a reference to the breakup of the original band. Not only was this the first single, but Noel rightly considers it one of the best songs he has ever done; it could have fit on Definitely Maybe.

The trippy Beatles vibe is strongest on "Who Feels Love?," which sounds like a mashup of "Rain" and George Harrison's sitar experiments, but without the soul of either. It's one of the times when the album values production over songwriting, which is a risk taken when one has tons of instruments to play with and all the time in the world to use them. "Little James" and "Sunday Morning Call" are along the same lines, songs that sound great but lack excitement, drama or much melody.

"Put Your Money Where Yer Mouth Is" fares much better, carried by washes of fuzz and a beeping guitar line; it is seemingly the answer to the Doors' "Roadhouse Blues," right down to the line "Put yer money where your mouth is / Your hands upon the wheel."

In an interview, Noel spoke highly of "Gas Panic!" and "Where Did It All Go Wrong," though the latter is by far the better song, with true emotion and the classic Oasis sound creating a triumphant work of art that stands with the band's best. "I Can See A Liar" is decent, trying hard to recapture some of the band's old swagger but falling just short. The closing "Roll It Over" is better, a wistful seven-minute epic featuring some of Liam's best singing, sparse but effective drumming, and a bevy of guitar effects and solos that create a true atmosphere.

Had a couple of the slower tracks been tossed in favor of the stellar B-side "Let's All Make Believe," this would have been a fantastic effort that would have erased some of the bad taste from Be Here Now and the band's media and on-stage shenanigans. As presented, Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants is the band's weakest selling-disc to date, which is unfair, because it's not only a darn fine Oasis disc but one of the better pure rock albums from 2000.

Rating: B+

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