Do You Want to Know a Secret? Oasis’ Cover of ‘I Am The Walrus’ is Significantly Better than the Original
. If there is ever a music hipster’s coup of Great Britain, several new laws will be passed before you can say ‘Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong’. I can guarantee that these will include it being illegal to prefer Radiohead’s ‘The Bends’ to their supposed pièce de résistance ‘OK Computer’, finding ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ unbelievably dull will condemn one to a prison spell of 15 years, and insulting The Beatles on a musical level will be punishable by death. I hope that said coup never occurs, primarily because I contravene all of them – the latter only for the purposes of the opinion outlined in the title. And I won’t retract that opinion, borderline blasphemous as it sounds.
. Much as I love The Beatles (proven here), and despite the fact that they were famously ‘bigger than Jesus’, they were never going to have 13 perfect albums. Magical Mystery Tour is one of my favourite albums of theirs, but ‘I Am The Walrus’ is a low point for me. Where slow-paced psychedelia is magnificent in MMT bedfellow ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, it’s dull and sluggish in ‘Walrus’. The lyrics have an Edward Lear-esque nonsense charm, but that’s the only positive; the singing is monotonous, the tune is boring and it chugs along inconsequentially for four painful minutes.
. All criticisms that are frequently levied at Oasis’s much-maligned third and fifth studio albums, Be Here Now and Heathen Chemistry. But their version of ‘Walrus’ is proof that their no-frills approach can be brilliant. It’s a rare example of a fast Oasis song, which like many of their best songs is squirrelled away on B-sides compilation The Masterplan. Their rock anthem treatment of it vitalises it, and consequently improves it; the live recording and Liam Gallagher’s snarling drawl make it more vicious and raw – a world away from the over-produced original. Several of these minutes are of squealing guitar noises and feedback – the latter being something that The Beatles themselves originally pioneered with the opening of ‘I Feel Fine’, ironically enough. These make it sound psychedelic to the point of being unhinged, which works strangely well. It may be six minutes, but these pass more quickly and enjoyably than the four minutes of The Beatles’ version.
. It’s paradoxical, given Oasis’s reputation of being serial poor man’s Beatles plagiarists, that they improve the stagnant original so dramatically. The Beatles may be fantastic most of the time, but they’re by no means invincible, and especially not here. And that will be my defence if the hipster coup occurs.