31 August 2009

One Hit Wonder #3 -No Way Sis - I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing

No Way Sis - I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing

Label: EMI
Year of Release: 1996

Suffice to say that this wasn't really very high on my list of potential blog uploads, and has been sitting waiting in those mythical mp3 wings for some time already... but when the news that Noel Gallagher was quitting Oasis broke, I couldn't resist a rare dip into relative topicality.  Let's face it, we couldn't have got less topical than "Loadsamoney (Doin' Up The House)" a few days ago, so a chance to be in synch with current events feels like a rare treat.

Before we focus on this single, I may as well say that I feel (at best) indifferent to Oasis' split.  Yes, I was a fan once, and still rate "Whatever" as being one of the more exciting Christmas releases ever - I can remember playing it non-stop all evening when I first got hold of a copy, thrilled by its energy and optimism.  By the time of "Be Here Now", however, the plot appeared to have been lost, nobody either within the band or outside of it appeared to have the knack of using a nice sharp pair of editing scissors on their material, and eventually they became reduced to the level of an occasionally good singles band whose albums were immensely patchy.  It wasn't supposed to happen that way, but anyone who wishes to argue with my perspective is wasting their time - I've heard it all before (both the arguments and the less-than-supersonic albums) and nowhere sums up the failings of "Be Here Now" better than the Sweeping the Nation blogsite here, which gives a blow-by-blow assessment of the album's content.  Nope, save your comments.  Honestly.  If you're hearing something I'm not, I'm thrilled for you, but no amount of  superlatives are likely to make me change my mind at this late stage.  Few British bands have had more written about them in the last fifteen years than Oasis, after all, and I've had plenty of time to change my mind.

Back in December 1996, however, I would happily argue the band's merits to anyone wishing to dismiss them as "plagiarists" or "thugs", and it was back then this bizarre little single was issued by none other than their tribute band.  This wasn't the first occasion a tribute band has sneaked into the charts, the Abba tribute act Bjorn Again managing much the same thing with the "Erasure-ish" EP in the early nineties - but suffice to say, it's not exactly a common occurrence.  ABCD, Alike Cooper and The Bootleg Beatles have yet to gain entries in the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles.

The story behind the track is perhaps more unlikely still.  The Coca Cola Company allegedly refused to allow Oasis to use the line "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" in their "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing"-apeing "Shakermaker" single.  The fear at the corporation's head office was that the Mancs would cause the public to associate the soft drink with cocaine, which would never do.  Cocaine hadn't been part of the recipe for some time, after all.  When No Way Sis decided to cover the track directly, however, the corporation decided to give the whole arrangement the green light.  Presumably as Oasis' tribute act, the cocaine which they may or may not have been alluding to would simply be pretend cocaine, and therefore would not ruin the brand's image.  This, at least, is the only explanation that's ever made remote sense to me.

To give credit to No Way Sis, this single nails their sound particularly well, parodying some of the Oasis riffs and cliches which were already becoming familiar and apparent, and it's not half-bad - but it really wasn't good enough to be a Christmas number one as some had rather optimistically hoped.  In the end, it had to settle for a number 27 position before waving goodbye to the charts in early 1997, and EMI rather ungraciously tore up the band's contract to record an album not long after (although why anybody thought there was a need for an Oasis tribute band to record an entire long-player is a moot point, and one which probably doesn't need much more emphasis).

Whilst having your own tribute act on Top of the Pops might seem like a major achievement for any band, 1996 was really the last window of opportunity anyone would have to cash in on Oasis' success.  Unlike The Beatles, who saw endless cover versions and novelty singles parodying or covering them charting throughout the sixties, the mania surrounding Oasis wouldn't weather the disappointment of "Be Here Now" in '97.  No Way Sis' release, then, was the last nod to the phenomenon of the Gallagher brothers, following Mike Flowers' effort the previous year, and festive follies around their catalogue would not make annual chart appearances.  A shame, as I wouldn't have minded hearing The Bootleg Beatles taking on "She's Electric" in 1997, but you can't have everything you asked for on your Christmas wishlist, can you?

Full tracklisting:

1. I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing
2. The Quick Sand Song
3. Good Times
4. I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing (Instrumental)

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