Oasis and class

A bit late in the day, but I just got round to reading a couple of things in this morning's Guardian. One is Matt Bolton's piece on the class war in British indie. The other is Alexis Petridis' customarily thought-provoking review of Oasis' "Dig Out Your Soul".

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A bit late in the day, but I just got round to reading a couple of things in this morning’s Guardian. One is Matt Bolton‘s piece on the class war in British indie. The other is Alexis Petridis‘ customarily thought-provoking review of Oasis’ “Dig Out Your Soul”.

I’m not going to bother saying much about “Dig Out Your Soul”, other than that while it’s certainly better than the last one, you could easily slip a couple of the tracks from the new Pete Best Band album in place of some of Andy Bell, Gem and Liam Gallagher‘s tracks without anyone noticing much; has any supposed born-again democrat ever so shamelessly frontloaded an album in his favour as Noel G does here?

But read Stephen Trousse’s much better-informed review here. What those Guardian pieces made me think about was an irritation that working-class music, whatever that is, should not, according to Gallagher, be experimental. As if anything other than foursquare Beatles rips are somehow “unsuitable” things for the proletariat to engage in.

It strikes me that one of Oasis’ fundamental strengths is that they have been aspirational: that they make themselves and their fans believe they can live forever, or at least drive brown Rolls Royces and live in Primrose Hill.

But what bugs me is how it is still, in their credo, authentically working-class to send your children to private school, to be conspicuously as rich as Croesus. And yet not authentically working-class to mess about with musical orthodoxies a little bit. Or read books.

In the Matt Bolton piece, James McMahon rightly cites Manic Street Preachers as an example of a working-class band who aimed to culturally transcend their background (not that I can stand any of their music, but I do admire them on some levels). But there’s still this weird assumption that middle-class bands don’t “want” “it” as much.

Maybe they don’t. Maybe “wanting it” is some bogus manifestation of the authenticty obsession that always strikes me as being so wrong-headed. Maybe middle-class bands can afford to experiment. Whatever. But if the only thing stopping working-class bands taking musical risks is financial exigencies, it doesn’t say much for the sort of rebel credentials so many of them use so assiduously in their marketing, does it?


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