“Getting High: The Adventures of Oasis” by Paolo Hewitt

By Jae-Ha Kim
Cleveland Plain Dealer
May 25, 1997

In Great Britain, Oasis isnt just any band–it is the band.  To get a perspective of how popular they are in their homeland, check this out:  The five-man group from Manchester performed two nights at Englands Knebworth Park to more than 250,000 people.  It was the largest audience for any single band in Britain.

Their album (Whats The Story) Morning Glory ranked as one of the Top 10 best-selling records of 1996 in America.  And although their claim to be as good as the Beatles has yet to be proven, the groups talent and arrogant charisma is undeniable on hits such as Wonderwall, Dont Look Back in Anger and Live Forever.

A skilled journalist who has been an Oasis fan since their early days, Paolo Hewitt has written the most comprehensive book to date on the band (there are at least a dozen circulating in the UK).  With Getting High:  The Adventures of Oasis, he had access to the band, their friends and family members, and Hewitt seamlessly weaves their stories into the groups history.  While he spares no adjectives to describe the greatness that is Oasis, he also doesnt dismiss the groups love for drugs (cocaine and marijuana) or their early bouts with crime (car theft, shoplifting).

Guitarist/songwriter Noel Gallagher, 29, and his baby brother, singer Liam, 24, were born and raised in Manchester by their mother Peggy.  When their father left them, Noel became the de facto man of the house, even though his elder brother Paul still lived at home.  The pugnacious second son would take on a similar role when he joined Liams band–Oasis–in 1992.

Prior to that, Noel had toured as a guitar tech with the Inspiral Carpets, even though he knew more about playing the guitar than fixing any technical problems.  His solution when there was equipment failure was to kick the offending item into submission.  Failing that, he would tell the band to purchase new gear.

Once he joined Oasis, the power structure shifted in the group from Liam, who had formed and named the band, to Noel, who had something the other members didnt:  good, original songs.

Hewitt’s portrayal of the bickering Brothers Gallagher is vivid.  And as much as Liam resented his brothers dominance in the band, he also had a reverential attitude for Noels talent as a songwriter.

After one particularly heated row with his brother, Noel played a song he had just written (The Masterplan).

Liam stands up, goes over to Noel and says, “That is as good as any Beatles song,” Hewitt writes. “Im telling you man, it is.  You dont know how ——- good you are … And its a B-side?  How ——- top is that?”

Oasis has been criticized for copying other bands (the Beatles, Sex Pistols, Rolling Stones) rather than relying on their own skills.  To a certain extent this is true.  What Getting High makes clear, though, is that critical accolades take a back seat to having fun and giving their fans a good time for Oasis.  And in many respects, thats what rock n roll is all about.

The Pop Music Critic at the Chicago Sun-Times, Kim is a New York Times Best-selling author. Her latest book is Best of Friends (HarperCollins).

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