If you consider yourself the world's most popular and important rock band, some sort of critical backlash might be inevitable—particularly if you experience an artistic, um, lull at the same time your peers release the records of their careers. That's Oasis' current predicament.
The Gallagher brothers' band, which hits Mercer Arena this Saturday, 1/24, made two good records that got an insupportable amount of both public and critical acclaim. And then there was last year's Be Here Now(Epic)—and Radiohead's OK Computer and the Verve's Urban Hymns. The fawning continued when Oasis' third recordinitially appeared (to the point where Liam Gallagher appeared in a Vogue fashion spread wearing his own clothes; Anna Wintour must've had to bite her tongue). But Be Here Now is not an album that wears well, and just as its charms were waning and reports of uninspired live shows were appearing, the Gallagher brothers pulled the latest trick out of their loutish working-class rock-star bag: In a maneuver reminiscent of power-drunkards Guns N' Roses, Oasis removed its authorization from a Nick Kentdirected documentary, basically barring it from ever being shown on British TV. Although the band's management gave no reason for the ban, the program did include interviews with Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, George Harrison, Paul McCartney—in other words, all of Noel Gallagher's songwriting influences—in which these icons criticized Oasis in ways both subtle (Jagger: "It's not good for dancing") and extreme (Richards: "I wouldn't go out and buy that crap!"). For more details, check out the extensive transcripts reprinted in the December '97 issue of the fine British music mag Mojo.
Fabulous Stain power
An even more fascinating oral history can be found in the latest issue of Grand Royal. The subject is the long-lost cult movie Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains, which chronicled the career of a fictional girl-punk band, and was filmed in Vancouver, BC. It never had a theatrical release, though it was shown at 1984's Seattle International Film Festival. Music fans blessed by the cable gods in the mid-'80s will remember it from USA Network's Night Flight (also notable for its music-news snippets from dead-glamorous, whiskey-voiced rock journalist Lisa Robinson). The Fabulous Stains, which starred Diane Lane and Laura Dern and a bunch of actual musicians such as Paul Simonon from the Clash, and Paul Cook and Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols, was on heavy rotation in Night Flight's New Wave Theater. Interviewer Sarah Jacobson, herself a filmmaker, lets Stains participants, including screenwriter Nancy Dowd, tell the story themselves. Not only is it a great read, it's an important one in light of the whole year-of-the-girl-in-rock crap that mags like Spin are trying to foist on the general population. Three hundred sixty-five whole days before we've gotta give it back? Gee thanks, guys.
Sub Pop singles swing again
And while we're on the subject of reemerging cultural highlights: The Sub Pop Singles Club, which released its last subscription-only, limited-edition 7-inch in 1993, is making a welcome return. Beginning in 1988 with a 1,000-copy pressing of Nirvana's "Love Buzz" b/w "Big Cheese," the series continued with releases from the likes of Smashing Pumpkins, Flaming Lips, Sonic Youth, and Jon Spencer. The tracks are only available through advance subscription from Sub Pop mail order (music writers don't even get promos—a trend not to be encouraged). The revived club promises releases from Cornershop, Radiohead, Luna, and others, with its first mailing happening in April. Subscribers get two singles every two months; a six-month subscription is $40; one year is $70. For more information call 800-SUB-POP1.