Sunday, January 15, 2012

Disappointingly Mediocre: Definitely Maybe, The DVD-Audio!

The Good: Overall decent music, some of the live performances are interesting, informative
The Bad: Videos are unimaginative, documentary doesn't hold up over multiple viewings
The Basics: Oasis' breakout album jumps media to DVD packed with videos, live performances and documentaries that are ultimately as mediocre as the album was.

Oasis is many things and it is hard to talk about them, after they've been around for over a decade, without defining one's affection or antipathy toward them as either a function of their music or the phenomenon. I am a fan of Oasis' music (though Don't Believe The Truth severely disappointed me) and not much invested in Oasis the phenomenon.

Definitely Maybe was the debut album for Oasis and recently, the band released an extensive two-disc DVD set on the album. It includes all eleven songs plus "Sad Song" in DVD quality audio, with live performances of all twelve songs and the "promo videos" (videos like one would see on a music video channel) for the five tracks that have videos. Also included is a documentary covering the genesis of the album and the band and each track on it. The bonus disc delves deeper into Oasis the Phenomenon and explores the effect Definitely Maybe had.

The documentary materials are fairly extensive. There is new and archived footage of the band members (including some of the current band members) discussing their thoughts, feelings and process in making the various tracks. There are interviews and statements by producers, reviewers and managers. Everything one would want to know about Definitely Maybe and how it was made is here on these two discs.

But if you don't care, this set is almost completely worthless. If you're not into learning the process behind the music, this set is an impossible sell. Why? The music videos are among the least imaginative I've ever seen. I'm not a fan of music videos where the band or individual simply sings to the camera. It's a poor use of the medium. The videos for "Live Forever," "Rock 'N' Roll Star," "Shakermaker, "Supersonic," and "Cigarettes & Alcohol" are largely just that. "Supersonic" mixes it up with some minor psychedelics and "Cigarettes & Alcohol" puts it in a public lavatory, but essentially, they are just singing to the camera and selling the band. There is nothing on here like the brilliance of the videos for "Don't Go Away" or "All Around The World" from Be Here Now."

Some of the live versions are decent, but others are either near identical to the recorded version of the song or troubling. "Slide Away" is a noticeably faster tempo than the recorded version and it has the feeling of being rushed. "Disgsy's Diner," which the group seems to universally detest, is presented as an up-tempo punky track for the live interpretation. The real gem is the live presentation of "Sad Song," which features a rare appearance of Noel singing.

If the disc is simply played (or just popped in the DVD player) the visuals are of the group in footage that appears in the documentary along with quotes on the song being played. Some of the footage seems rather self-congratulatory and watching the visuals for the audio tracks does not significantly add anything to the experience.

In all, the value of this disc must be weighed against how one feels about the actual album. Definitely Maybe is an album I need to be in the mood for. Unlike Be Here Now or Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants or even (What's The Story) Morning Glory (which launched Oasis in the mainstream in the U.S.), which I could listen to virtually any time, Definitely Maybe is an album I need to be in the mood for. I tend to listen to it when I'm driving at night and need to stay awake. Therefore, it's not my first choice for this type of experience.

I picked this up because I was interested in the documentary features and because I've had limited exposure to Oasis music videos. Having seen the documentary footage (some of it twice as some of the bonus footage on the second disc repeats information from the first) I've no real need to hear or see it again. It was not captivating or cohesive the way a cinematic documentary like Fahrenheit 9/11 or An Inconvenient Truth were.

As for the music videos, I cannot recommend this disc for those either. They are largely disappointing. I like videos that tell a story or make a statement or are otherwise artistic in some way. These videos largely act as an attempt to sell the band. They were, ultimately, disappointing, like this set.

Odds are, I'll give them a chance again if they do the same thing with their second album.

For other documentaries, please check out my reviews of:
Parrot Sketch Not Included: Twenty Years Of Monty Python
Michael Moore Hates America
Super Size Me


For other movie reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2012, 2006 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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