Prior to Oasis, British music lacked an identity during the 1990s. Grunge rock was everywhere, particularly prior to Kurt Cobain’s suicide. There seemingly was a lack of cultural and individual need for rock music to thrive in the UK.
Then, along came Oasis.
Oasis was the most identifiable rock group of the 1990s and re-energized the rock scene for the first time in a long time. They seemed light years away from bad keyboard sounds, weird haircuts and the Thatcherism of the 1980s. They combined the best elements of pop and rock culture into their songs and sang from a deeply emotional and upbeat place.
Their first album, Definitely Maybe, is their best by far. It’s also their most punkish album as well. It features Liam Gallagher’s unique vocal (a John Lennon/John Lydon hybrid), Noel Gallagher’s awesome songwriting skills, loud rhythm guitar parts, fluid basslines, and tom-tom style drums. But on a deeper level, it features great songs with realistically meaningful lyrics and catchy melodies too. It was also the first record to use the mixing technique of “brickwalling” (everything cranked to full).
It starts off with Rock ‘n’ Roll Star. This song is an ode to the art form and loud music of rock and roll. It’s a joyous and fantastic listen and blows all the rubbish 1980s records “experimenting” with synthesizers away. It’s no doubt that these guys knew they were going to get big from their music.
Shakermaker is a semi-blues melodic song, although in retrospect it is a little weak. It does borrow the melody and verses from the I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing Coca-Cola song, but obviously was changed for legal and copyright reasons. Ah, the joys of suing others…
Live Forever is one of the deepest and most meaningful songs that you will ever hear. It uses a lot of hopeful statements and kills off the sour mood of Grunge bands earlier in the decade. Apart from Wonderwall, this may be the band’s best ever song in terms of emotion. Brilliant.
The next song Up In The Sky is a political song, believe it or not. Although Noel denies this directly, it is what it is. The meaning of it is completely direct and pointed to the future of British politics with the Third Way of Tony Blair. It’s weaker but still fun.
The jam Columbia sounds absolutely brilliant on a mega stereo. With a trippy guitar intro, punchy drum beat and nonsensical lyrics, it’s the best jam style song you will ever hear. Oh yeah, it’s really loud at the end of the song. Enjoy the tinnitus.
Supersonic is the band’s first single, and is there any other reason why? “I need to be myself, I can’t be no-one else.” This is one of the best lyrics ever, and Noel who follows in the footsteps of The Beatles writes a killer tune here. It’s a good piece.
The tom-tom drums are on full speed during Bring It On Down. It’s the most punk-like song off the album, and Liam really sounds Johnny Rotten-like here. It’s a weaker track, but still great.
Drugs ahoy on the next song, Cigarettes And Alcohol. It’s about getting trashed obviously but has some nice lyrics too. It explicitly mentions Cocaine use in it. These guys must have had their fair share of parties, you think? An awesome guitar riff is borrowed from T. Rex for your listening. Enjoyable.
Digsy’s Dinner is absolutely ordinary but still has its place on the album. It is saved by some piano and a good bridge in it. Still, it’s skippable, except if you listen to every song on the album.
The mega love song Slide Away is next. It features one of Liam Gallagher’s best ever vocals and it sure is brilliant. It’s a favourite of Noel’s and should be rated as one of the best love songs ever.
The last song, Married With Children, is actually about the things that annoy partners most. Nothing to do with marriage or children, it is so simple and brilliant, it just works. A nice way to finish a brilliant record.
With an analysis track by track, this is quite simply one of the greatest albums of all time. Oasis may have delved deeper into their emotional side later on in their records, but for emotional simplicity, look no further. It’s a great listen, and something that every single rock music fan should own.
If you loved this album, be sure to check out the remastered re-issue featuring extra songs and goodies galore. This is Definitely Maybe, a fine album.