Album Of The Week - Oasis - Definitely Maybe
Continuing down the road of Liam Gallagher following last week's Beady Eye record brings us to an album that's celebrating its 25th birthday this year - Oasis' explosive debut Definitely Maybe.
As Noel Gallagher famously said, "In 20 years' time our album Definitely Maybe will still be in the shops and that's what it's about. In 20 years' time people will buy the album and listen to it for what it is. They won't listen to it because we were rock'n'roll or something like that. That's what matters.". I tell you what, he's not half wrong.
There's this fantastic timelessness surrounding Definitely Maybe as it spawned a series of hits such as the thunderous Cigarettes & Alcohol or the wistful Live Forever. These are just two tracks that would go on to cement Oasis as one of Britain's greatest rock music acts alongside the likes of The Beatles and Queen.
Rock 'n' Roll Star has to go down as one of the best opening tracks of any album anywhere and to introduce yourselves to the world with all that Mancunian arrogance means you'll be remembered. It's got drive and punch, fuelled by a gravelly Liam Gallagher vocal and an iconic riff behind it.
Live Forever is another obvious talking point, with Tony McCarroll's thumping drumming taking centre stage for perhaps the only time in his short tenure as drummer with Oasis. Nonetheless, it gives the track a wonderful spine. Also noteworthy are the emotional lyrics written by Noel Gallagher - whilst sometimes it's hard to make sense of what he writes, there's a wonderful meaning behind it all, detailing his optimistic outlook on life, juxtaposing the grunge of Nirvana and Kurt Cobain that was prevalent at the time.
Up In The Sky is a deeper cut that doesn't get enough recognition when compared with the hits. It's got rhythm, a catchy riff and some brilliant drumming to back it all up. An acoustic version of this song was released as a B-Side on the Live Forever single, being sung by Noel as opposed to Liam this time. It's an example of a song sounding brilliant both electrically and when done with an acoustic in-hand:
Columbia, another one of the deeper cuts to some, sums up Oasis perfectly. With its overarching guitar riff, it's one that you can imagine Liam standing there on the stage at Knebworth, watching the crowd be consumed by this wall of sound from the rest of the band. In fact, he did, before proceeding to jump into the crowd for a brief moment.
Leading on from Columbia, Bring It On Down is heavy and evocative of punk music, with everything turned up to '11' on the amplifiers. It details someone who is stuck in hard times, going unnoticed in the working classes in the North of England, which songwriter Noel Gallagher was at the time. Alan McGee, founder of Creation Records, wished for Bring It On Down to be the band's first single. He was taken by the "You're the outcast/You're the underclass" series of lines, as he believed it spoke to a fair few people. It's one of Oasis' more political songs which only amplifies its attitude and resentment for society.
To end the column, we have one of the best songs ever written. Slide Away has to be one of the most complete love songs, with every conceivable part of a relationship rolled into six-and-a-half minutes. Even then, it's not long enough - it could go on for half an hour and nobody would care. It's that perfect. Along with this, it's sung by an intensely passionate Liam Gallagher who takes this song to its giddy heights of perfection, above even Live Forever and Don't Go Away from the Be Here Now album - my other two favourite Oasis tunes. If you want further evidence of this passion, take a look at around 3:10 during the Knebworth 1996 performance where he sings the words "Now that you're mine" with so much intent that it knocks his whole body backwards:
When looking on lists for "The Best Ever Debut Albums" or something similar, you're more than likely to find Definitely Maybe and personally, it wouldn't go amiss if it was put right at the top of the list. It's one of the most explosive records ever released and should be loved and cherished more than ever before on its 25th birthday.
More musical magnificence to come next week!