Celebrating 15 years since Oasis’ fifth studio album ‘Heathen Chemistry’

Words by Jordan Scott

Released in 2002, ‘Heathen Chemistry’ is now older than some of today’s Oasis fans. The record may not be ageing as well as ‘Definitely Maybe’ and ‘What’s The Story Morning Glory’, but it still provided some pretty great moments.

The album came after a turbulent time for Oasis, following the underwhelming ‘Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants’, an album that saw founding members Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthur and Paul ‘Guigsy’ McGuigan leave the band halfway through recording. Noel Gallagher has since spoken about his writing at the time, calling it largely ‘uninspired’.

Following the departure of Bonehead and Guigsy, new members Gem Archer and Andy Bell joined the band in 1999 and toured the album in 2000, a year where the Gallagher’s weren’t on the best of terms. Noel had walked out on the group and ‘quit’ touring overseas, stating that he would only play in England.

The year came to an end with an infamous Oasis gig; their second night at Wembley Stadium in 2000. Liam Gallagher was midway through his divorce with actress Patsy Kensit, and after a night of drinking without sleep (out with a Spicegirl apparently) he strolled out on stage for what would become a half gig, half-drunken rant. Noel has since called it the bands lowest point, and said “I think it was the venues first stand-up comedy gig”.

Watch Liam’s Wembley rants below:

However, after all their issues, the band got through the tour and soon began work on their next album ‘Heathen Chemistry’. The addition of Archer and Bell breathed new life into Oasis, as both musicians had been songwriters in their former bands. Gem Archer was known for Heavy Stereo and Andy Bell for shoegazing band Ride. Archer made his Oasis debut with ‘Hung In A Bad Place’ and Andy Bell contributed ‘A Quick Peep’.

The album saw Liam Gallagher’s first glimmer of brilliance with ‘Songbird’ and it’s two chord, two-minute offering was enough for it to go down as an Oasis great. He also wrote ‘Born On A Different Cloud’ proving that he was beginning to master the art of song writing, so good that Noel doesn’t believe he wrote it. Listen to ‘Songbird‘ below:

‘Heathen Chemistry’ houses some of Oasis’ most recognised songs, and it’s no surprise the more memorable moments on the record came from Noel. At the time, he had said that he was sick of the Oasis ‘ballads’ and didn’t want the band to be pigeonholed as a ‘ballad band’, but when ‘Stop Crying Your Heart Out’ came along, the song was too good to leave off the album.

Noel wrote the album’s opener ‘The Hindu Times’ which kicked the record off perfectly, making it apparent that the band had recaptured the fire that had eluded them on their previous record. The highlight of the album came form of ‘Little By Little’ which today stands alongside Noel’s best, and it’s always gone down quite well live…

Watch Oasis perform ‘Little By Little’ live at Finsbury Park 2002:

After fifteen years the album still stands up and gave us some great songs, ones that have unfortunately been lost in time as neither of the Gallagher’s perform any of the album anymore, apart from Noel giving ‘Little By Little’ the odd run out.

‘Heathen Chemistry’ is well worth a revisit on its birthday, not just for the classics, but also the hidden gems you may have forgotten about.  

Written by Jordan Scott, you can follow Jordan on twitter here

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