Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Last Worthwhile Oasis Single For A While: “D'You Know What I Mean?”

The Good: All four tracks are well written and presented
The Bad: Only four tracks, Two songs available on better albums!
The Basics: A must for fans of Oasis and a lot to recommend to general fans of rock and roll, "D'You Know What I Mean?" is a solid single.

As I near the end of my Oasis collection, I've rediscovered one of the simple joys of reviewing everything around me; sometimes I find a gem I forgot about. The c.d. single "D'You Know What I Mean?" definitely qualifies as one of those exciting listening experiences I had almost completely forgotten about. With only four tracks, it's easy to see how this disc would get swept behind my books for years and be forgotten. Not that it deserved such treatment . . .

"D'You Know What I Mean?" opened Oasis's third studio album, Be Here Now and set the stage for the epic tracks that dominated that album. It's an intriguing and engaging rock and roll intro that instantly sucked the listener into the album. As a single, it performs no less strongly and the real disappointment of this single is that the work is so short. "D'You Know What I Mean?," the track, sets the listener up for a big, grand listening experience and this disc only has three other tracks. Those other tracks are very well chosen, but still, I was ready for much more music.

For those who have not heard the song "D'You Know What I Mean?," and if you're American that puts you in the majority, this seven minute rock and roll anthem that exhorts its listener to stand up and live life. One interpretation is that it is calling the divine out into the street, that this is the rock and roll moment where man stands up to god and takes the world. It's an intriguing song and one of Noel Gallagher's most well-written (as in not simplistic) endeavors. The bridge is brilliant as Liam sings, "I met my maker I made him cry / And on my shoulder he asked me why / His people won't fly through the storm / I said 'Listen up man, they don't even know you're born. . .'" It's a compelling rock song with excellent guitars and drums backing the poetry of Noel Gallagher. This is one of Liam's rougher vocals, with his voice a little deeper than usual, so it gives the listener something different from what they might expect.

The single follows with "Stay Young" (which is also available on The Masterplan), "Angel Child (Demo)," and a cover of David Bowie's "Heroes." The latter two tracks are available only on this disc.

"Stay Young" is another anthem, one that fits perfectly with the big sound of the songs on "Be Here Now" and that place in the Oasis chronology. As a function of that, the song is a little longer than most pop-rock tracks, clocking in at about five minutes (indeed, with only four tracks, the c.d. "D'You Know What I Mean" impressively presents 21 minutes of music). "Stay Young" is a rock anthem, heavy on the guitars and a very typical Liam Gallagher vocal demanding that the listener "Stay young and invincible . . ." This might be one of the most simple and direct tracks to come from Oasis during this otherwise poetic period in the band's history. It is a cry out for youth to be youth and it's not much beyond that.

More intriguing is the way the single downshifts into "Angel Child," a demo song that is only available on this disc. Unlike other demo versions of tracks that have been on Oasis singles, this one has never yet been produced into an album version. It has stark, acoustic guitar strummings and unproduced vocals. Liam Gallagher softens his voice to actually emote in "Angel Child" and the song has sweetness to it that one would not expect of Oasis. Noel's lyrics for the song are gentle with lines like, "Won't you take me? / Won't you take me to the edge of night and make me / Won't you make me walk into the light?" It's definitely a treat for Oasis listeners who want to hear some range from the group.

The disc closes with a cover of David Bowie's classic song "Heroes." Oasis is known for covering the Beatles, but here they illustrate they can do Bowie quite well. The sound is more guitar-heavy than the original and when Liam cries out "I, I wish I could swim / Just like a dolphin / Like dolphins can swim . . ." it's clear this is not Bowie's version. Oasis does what a good cover ought to with "Heroes," it presents the song in a new way without simply trying to repeat the performance of the original. Here, Oasis makes the song their own and makes the song rock anthem less broken up and more overwhelming. This is the heroic presentation of the song and it works wonderfully.

"D'You Know What I Mean?" was never widely available in the U.S. (despite the success of (What's The Story) Morning Glory? Oasis fell out of the public's imagination here pretty quickly and never got it back in the mainstream. "D'You Know What I Mean?" is essential for any fan of Oasis, though as it offers four solid performances. It is worth the effort of tracking down. I would go so far as to say many fans of Bowie will enjoy the disc as well as it is an ambitious cover of "Heroes" and the other tracks fit the general tastes of Bowie fans that I know.

Either way, despite only having four tracks, this "single" is anything but a disappointment!

For other Oasis works, please check out my reviews of:
Definitely Maybe
"Whatever" (Single)
(What's The Story?) Morning Glory
“Wonderwall” (single)
“Don’t Look Back In Anger” (single)
"Some Might Say" (single)
Be Here Now
"Stand By Me" (single)
"Don't Go Away" (Single)
The Masterplan
"Go Let It Out" (single)
"Sunday Morning Call" (Single)
Familiar To Millions
Heathen Chemistry
Don't Believe The Truth
Stop The Clocks
Dig Out Your Soul


For other music reviews, please check out my Music Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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