1994 was a rough year. The Tories were still in power. Rangers were in the middle of their tainted 9-in-a-row. The Top 40, something that actually mattered then, was riddled with MOR pop and novelty songs. But there was light at the end of the tunnel. Labour was getting itself together to finally oust the conservatives, the sad passing of John Smith not withstanding. Fergus McCann had just completed his takeover of Celtic, laying the foundations for a generation of domination. And Oasis released Supersonic.
The song begins with a drumbeat so simple in its style. Simple it may be, but it was instantly recognisable and a thousand indie kids a night launched themselves toward the dance floor the moment it kicked it. Then came the sound of a plectrum skyscraping its way down guitar strings while the notes of the opening chords are picked out, shimmering as if in heat haze. And then the sonic bomb drops as the flying rhythm column arrives and lays down a thick slab of noise, paving the way for Liam to detonate his incendiary vocals.
Lyrics were never a strong point for Oasis, and Supersonic was a prime example of this, but the openings lines sit at odds with the remainder of the song for their power and message
“I need to be myself, I can’t be no one else.”
Is it the words of someone struggling to understand who he is and what he is meant to be? Or those of a confident, some might say arrogant, young man who knows the world is there for the taking? The truth probably sits somewhere in the middle. But the swagger and bravado from Liam and the gang didn’t leave much room for self-doubt.
The song continues, with an air of menace hanging over it at all times. It’s so easy to visualise Liam stalking the stage, tambourine in hand, as he sings this, while has band mates pummel away with their sonic sledgehammer. Even when they take their collective foot off the gas slightly for the pre-chorus and Noel lets fly with some soaring backing vocals, they still manage to hold onto us sonic hostages. And when the singing stops, Noel carries on the menace with a searing guitar line right to the end. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.
Within two years, the British charts would see an Oasis number one and countless other high-charting songs from the likes of Blur, Pulp and The Prodigy. While Oasis were not the first band in this so-called wave of Britpop, they were definitely one of the most important and Supersonic was their calling card. Not long after Oasis’ success the Tories would be out and Labour under Blair would be in power. This was a moment of joy for many in the country which is now viewed differently through the prism of Iraq and many other calamitous decisions his government made. On the field, Celtic would follow the example of the Mancunian band and finally top the charts themselves in ’98, before going on to dominate Scottish football for the next two decades.Listen to COSMIC ROUGH RIDERS’ JAMES CLIFFORD with A Celtic State of Mind here: