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Oasis

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Oasis is a rock band originally formed in Manchester, England. The band is led by principal songwriter and lead guitarist Noel Gallagher and his younger brother lead vocalist/songwriter Liam Gallagher, who are the only remaining original band members. It should be noted that on certain tracks, Noel handles lead vocals. Musically and lyrically, they cite bands such as the British Invasion bands like The Beatles, Slade, T.Rex and The Kinks amongst their extensive influences.

Thanks to the success of their critically acclaimed debut album, Definitely Maybe, and its 19 million selling follow-up (What's The Story) Morning Glory?, coupled with a supposed rivalry with contemporary band Blur, Oasis became one of the most successful and prominent British bands of the mid-90s and one of the leaders of the Britpop movement. The Gallagher brothers featured regularly in tabloid newspaper stories, and cultivated a reputation as both bad boys and the band of the people. At the height of their fame, their 1997 third album Be Here Now reached number one in the UK charts and also became the fastest-selling album in chart history, with almost half a million copies sold on the first day alone.

Having survived the loss of founding members and sustaining support from their loyal fan base, Oasis has managed to outlast many of their Britpop contemporaries. Suede, Pulp and some other peer groups have split up, or record only infrequently, while Oasis maintain a regular schedule of releases and touring to popular acclaim. Their latest album, Don't Believe The Truth, released in 2005, was a moderate critical and commercial success.

Oasis evolved from an earlier band called The Rain, who took their name from a 1966 Beatles' B-side. The Rain was comprised of Paul "Guigsy" McGuigan (bass guitar), Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs (guitar), Tony McCarroll (drums) and Chris Hutton (vocals). When McGuigan invited school friend Liam Gallagher to join the group, Gallagher accepted, and quickly pushed for the band's name to be changed to Oasis.

Oasis first played live in August of 1991, at the Boardwalk club in Manchester. Noel Gallagher, who had recently returned from touring America as a roadie for the Inspiral Carpets, came to watch his younger brother play. A few months later he was invited to join the band. Although he had been critical of them, he agreed, with the provision that he would become the band's sole songwriter and leader, and that they would commit to an earnest pursuit of commercial success.

Oasis gained a loyal and vocal following on the local Manchester gig circuit and in 1992, Noel contacted Tony Griffiths of The Real People (who he had met when the latter performed as the opening act for the Inspiral Carpets), asking him if Oasis could use their studio in Liverpool to produce a professional sounding demo which they could then send to record companies. The resulting tape, known as the Live Demonstration tape, would form the basis for Oasis' first album. Ten cassette copies of Live Demonstration were sent out with a J-card insert depicting a swirling Union Jack and the now famous Oasis logo designed by Tony French but no response was received.

Following a limited white label release of their song "Columbia", the commercial singles "Supersonic" and "Shakermaker" were released in the spring of 1994. Both gained national radio airplay and were Top 40 hits in the United Kingdom.

In August 1994, their polished and melodic single "Live Forever," made the UK Top Ten and brought the band a measure of fame. Also around this time the band was involved in a high-profile incident on a ferry off the coast of the Netherlands. Liam Gallagher and McGuigan were arrested for fighting, whilst Arthurs and McCarroll were detained for alleged shoplifting. All four were subsequently refused entry to the Netherlands, and this incident became the first of many tabloid stories on the band. The publicity helped their debut album, Definitely Maybe (a phrase allegedly often uttered by Noel during recording), enter the charts at number one in September 1994.

More hit singles quickly followed. The October 1994 single "Cigarettes & Alcohol" reached number seven  in the UK charts. The EP Whatever was released in December 1994, peaking at Number Three in the UK charts and foreshadowing the band's move toward a mellower sound on the following album.

Oasis soon had their first UK number one with "Some Might Say", the first single from their second album (and the only track on the second album to feature McCarroll), in late April 1995. At the same time, drummer Tony McCarroll was ousted from the band. McCarroll was replaced with quiet Londoner Alan White, formerly of Starclub and younger brother of renowned studio percussionist Steve White. White made his debut for the band at a Top of the Pops performance of Some Might Say.

Although a softer sound led to mixed reviews, Oasis's second album, (What's the Story) Morning Glory? became the second largest selling album of all-time in the UK. The album also went on to sell over 18 million copies worldwide and spawned two further hit singles, "Wonderwall" and "Don't Look Back In Anger", which reached numbers two and one respectively. The album's opening track "Hello", with its sing-along chant, was a common feature of Oasis's live performances. It features a sample from Gary Glitter's 1973 Top 10 hit "Hello, Hello, I'm Back Again". It also contained their hit, "Champagne Supernova" - featuring guitar playing and back vocals by Paul Weller - which received widespread critical acclaim and peaked at number 20 on the US charts. Despite not being released in the UK, it received significant airplay and remains one of the band's most popular songs to this day.

In September 1995, bassist Paul McGuigan briefly left the band, citing nervous exhaustion. He was replaced by Scott McLeod, formerly of The Ya-Yas, who featured on some of the tour dates as well as in the "Wonderwall" video before leaving abruptly whilst on tour in the USA. In order to complete the tour, McGuigan was successfully convinced to return to the band.

Oasis spent the end of 1996 and the first quarter of 1997 recording their third album. Be Here Now was released in August 1997, the band choosing to launch it on a Thursday rather than the traditional Monday. Preceded by the UK Number One single "D'You Know What I Mean", the album was perhaps their most anticipated effort, and as such became the subject of considerable media attention.

Be Here Now ultimately outsold Definitely Maybe worldwide but could not match the sales of (What's the Story) Morning Glory. Although early media reviews were positive, once the hype had died down, the album was criticized for being bloated and derivative with most of the critics focused on the extensive length of several songs, the heavier sound, and overproduction.

After a Yellow Submarine-inspired video for their fourth UK number one, "All Around The World", and the conclusion of the Be Here Now tour, the group decided to stay clear of each other and kept a low profile throughout 1998, although a compilation of popular B-sides, The Masterplan, was released in November.

In early 1999 the band returned to action to begin work on their fourth album. First details were announced in February with Mark "Spike" Stent revealed to be taking a co-producing role. Recording sessions began in the south of France in April, with everything believed to be have been going to plan. Behind the scenes, however, things were not going well and the shock departure of founding member Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs was announced in August. This departure was reported at the time as amicable, with Noel stating that Arthurs wanted to spend more time with his family. Arthurs' statement clarified his leaving as "to concentrate on other things". Oasis fans were given a further shock days later, as the departure of bassist Paul "Guigsy" McGuigan was announced. McGuigan said later that the departure of his close friend triggered his own.

The now three-piece Oasis chose to continue recording the album, with Noel Gallagher re-recording most of Arthurs' and McGuigan's guitar parts. The hunt was also on for replacements for Arthurs and McGuigan, with such names as Bernard Butler, Johnny Marr, John Squire, David Potts and Steve Cradock all rumored to be contenders to fill the positions. The first new member to be announced was new lead/rhythm guitarist Colin "Gem" Archer formerly of Heavy Stereo, who later claimed to have been approached by Noel Gallagher only a couple of days after Arthurs' departure was publicly announced. A week later, Oasis' new bassist was announced as Andy Bell, former guitarist/songwriter of "Ride" and "Hurricane". Bell had never played bass before and he was obliged to learn to play it, along with a handful of Oasis' back catalog of songs, in preparation for a scheduled tour of America in December 1999.

With the death of Creation Records, Oasis formed their own label, Big Brother, named after Noel, as a subsidiary label of the Sony Music Entertainment group, except in the UK and Ireland, where is it is semi-independent.

Oasis's fourth album, Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, was released in February 2000 to good first-week sales. However, the album was met with lukewarm reviews and seen as a significant departure from their traditional sound, with a more experimental, psychedelic sound, as Noel was influenced by George Harrison's forays into Indian and folk music and his own quitting of taking cocaine. The departure of Guigsy mid-way through the album's recording led to many of the tracks needing to be re-recorded. As a result, the completed work, whilst interesting, sounds more like a loose-fitting mish-mash of styles rather than the coherently experimental original.

The album featured a new "Oasis"-logo designed by Gem Archer and was the first where Liam Gallagher debuted with a song - "Little James". As of now, Standing is among the band's lowest-selling albums worldwide, although it did spawn another UK number one with "Go Let It Out".

In 2001 the band were kept busy with work on their new album and live shows around the world. They began in January with a short South American festival tour before returning back to England to start work on their fifth studio album. In May, the band went off to North America to take part in a month-long co-headlining tour, entitled the 'Tour of Brotherly Love', with The Black Crowes. Alan White missed the tour as he was suffering from a condition called Hypermobile Thumb, which causes the thumb to seize up from time to time. His replacement was his older brother Steve.

Heathen Chemistry, their first album with new members Andy Bell and Gem Archer, was released in July 2002. The record retained an experimental flavor from the previous one, but also borrowed heavily from British rock music of the 60s and 70s with heavy Lennon-esque influence by Liam, who was rapidly growing as a capable songwriter creating the gentle acoustic ballad and subsequent top single "Songbird". Heathen Chemistry was also a much more balanced recording process for the band, with all of the members, apart from White, penning songs. This new working method ultimately gave the record a more relaxed feel compared to past efforts. Johnny Marr provided additional guitar as well as backup vocals on a couple of songs, and while critics gave Heathen Chemistry lukewarm reviews, it was commercially successful. Around this time, Liam also provided vocals for the title track of the 2003 albums Scorpio Rising and Death in Vegas.

Preliminary work started in December 2003, with producers of Death in Vegas for their next album, touted for September 2004 release to coincide with the Definitely Maybe ten-year anniversary. However, problems loomed ahead, when in January 2004, longtime drummer and member Alan White, who had played on most of Oasis' material made his exit out the band.

Recording sessions continued with Proud Mary drummer Terry Kirkbride, brought in to temporarily take over drums, before the band asked Zak Starkey - drummer of The Who and Johnny Marr and son of The Beatles' drummer Ringo Starr - to join them. He performed on all Oasis' touring dates on the subsequent world tour, as well as all of the promo videos for the singles.

In June 2004, Oasis headlined the Glastonbury Festival for the second time in their career, with Starkey on drums, and performed a greatest hits set which also included two new songs - Gem Archer's "A Bell Will Ring" and Liam's "The Meaning of Soul".

In September 2004, the band released Definitely Maybe: The DVD commemorating the tenth anniversary of their debut album's release. The DVD contains an enhanced audio version of the album, four hours of live footage, and interviews with band members and the production team. The tour passed without many major incidents and is the most successful one for the band for more than a decade.

In May 2005, after three years and three scrapped recording sessions, the band released their sixth studio album, Don't Believe the Truth. It followed the path of Heathen Chemistry as being a collaborative project again, rather than a Noel-written album. Also it was the band's first album in a decade not to feature drumming of Alan White, but of their newest addition - Zak Starkey. The album was generally hailed as the band's best record since (What's The Story) Morning Glory? by fans and critics alike, spawning two UK number-one singles with "Lyla" and "The Importance of Being Idle" (the band's seventh and eighth number-one UK singles, respectively), while "Let There Be Love" entered at number two. Oasis picked two awards at the Q Awards: one - a special People's Choice Award and the second for Don't Believe the Truth as Best Album. Following in the footsteps of the previous five studio albums, Don't Believe the Truth also entered the UK album charts at number one. The sleeve of the new album was also more understated than earlier designs, subsequently emanating a different tone compared to the band's previous albums and it also featured the logo from their first albums. Andy Bell has likened the album to Forever Changes by Love, Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan and Revolver by The Beatles, though there are permeating influences from The Kinks and The Rolling Stones.

With Zak Starkey due to go on tour with The Who in the summer of 2006 with dates possibly running into 2007, his future with Oasis still needs to be fully confirmed. In interviews conducted in March 2006, Noel revealed that Zak is likely to continue his dual roles with both Oasis and The Who. He told the Toronto Sun that he is "definitely going to record on the next (Oasis) record and definitely going to be out on the road, if he wants to.

Before releasing their next album, the band have to negotiate a new recording contract as with the release of Don't Believe the Truth, they fulfilled the six-album deal with Sony that they signed in 1993. Before the release of the album, it was speculated, that the band will sign a three-album deal. Following Noel's comments whilst accepting the "Best Music DVD" award at the NME Awards in London in February 2005, speculation grew that they were seeking to work once again with former Creation boss Alan McGee on a new label, albeit one with major backing.

The recording of Oasis' next album is expected to begin after Zak Starkey's commitments with The Who are over with, probably sometime in early 2007. Noel Gallagher has claimed that part of it will consist of songs that were written before the release of Don't Believe the Truth but weren't included on the record as the songs didn't fit the feel of the album. Noel said the band has eleven songs ready for the previous sessions. Possible new songs include the much hyped "Stop the Clocks" and the Liam-penned "The Boy With the Blues" - touted for a new EP this summer that never materialized. He has also said that working with Dave Sardy again is a strong possibility and that he hoped the recording of the new album wouldn't take as long as the last one.

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