At their career zenith, Oasis were lauded as the best band in the world. They were actually never the greatest rock & roll band at any time, but for a few years they were the biggest. While they offered the '90s two of its most defining albums, and a resurgence of '60s-influenced Manchester rock, Oasis tumbled off the top of the mountain in the last half of the decade. Heathen Chemistry
is their first step back up the ascent, albeit a small step. The album opens with "The Hindu Times," which will certainly be listed among Oasis's best anthems, and it closes with "Better Man," a distorted-guitar-driven thrill that revs up to 60 mph in second gear. But between the strongest songs on the disc, Noel "Walrus" and Liam "Eggman" Gallagher exploit the Beatles references almost to the breaking point. It's no secret that the Gallaghers worship the Beatles (who doesn't?), but here they've gone beyond obvious influences and stepped right into infringement territory. On "Born on a Different Cloud," Noel's guitar weeps a little too gently, and Liam's signature rasp now sounds like a deliberate imitation of Lennon with a cold. Further, Liam shares the mic with Noel, who sings lead on several tracks, the best being "Force of Nature." Unlike on Beatles albums, however, the switch back and forth is jarring (Liam might be the biggest troublemaker, but he is also the better singer). Nonetheless, if a band is going to unapologetically rip off what was unquestionably the best band in the world, no one does it better than Oasis. --Beth Massa
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.