Week 14: Oasis

album cover

Definitely Maybe

Okay I have to come clean here.  I wasn’t at the King Tuts gig when Alan McGhee ‘discovered’ Oasis.  I always think the Tuts story was a bit overplayed and mythology has overtaken the event.  I doubt Oasis would have gone unnoticed for long when you hear the songs on Maybe but it makes a great story I suppose.

I always say you should play music loud although sometimes it isn’t always possible but this album demands to be played loud, this isn’t some background incidental music.  It’s loud, in your face, rock n roll with a swagger. This record just drips attitude and it has the songs to back that swagger and attitude up.

band 1

It’s actually quite remarkable the album sounds so great when you realise how many attempts were made to record the album followed by even more attempts to try and mix it.  I didn’t know that they ditched the first producer then Noel tried to re-record the album with a new producer and the results weren’t much better.  It was down to producer Owen Morris who was brought in to salvage the disaster who managed to strip away all the crap and produced a raw sound that perfectly encapsulated the whole Oasis sneer.

liam

As debut albums go this one was pretty special and much anticipated having been preceded by three singles, Supersonic, Shakermaker and Live Forever.  For my sins I missed the first wave of Oasis and came in at the tail end of the Maybe period and ran headlong in to the What’s the Story phase as Oasis took off and became far and away the biggest band in the UK.  They not only attracted headlines for their music but the Gallagher brothers, Liam and Noel, were a whole publicity machine of their own.  Internal fights, external feuds, celebrity relationships etc.  They were a tabloid’s dream.  The bad boys of rock n roll were never far away from a front page and it all helped build up the image of the band and helped boost their fan base.  Unfortunately a large part of that fan base were complete and utter bams and made going to see them live an ‘interesting’ experience. I’ve only seen Oasis five times as I stopped going when they hit the large arena/stadium circuit as it really wasn’t worth the hassle.  This meant I almost stopped going to see them before I’d started.  I saw them three times in 95 on the What’s the Story tour.  Two nights in a tent on Irvine beach which was mental but in a good way and later in the year at Earls Court in London which at the time held the record as the biggest indoor crowd for a concert in Europe. I then saw them at the Barrowlands on the 10th anniversary Noise and Confusion tour in 2001 before my final Oasis show at the Usher Hall in 2005.

band 2I felt the Barrowlands show was over the top mental and although I enjoyed the show there was an odd atmosphere to it all.  I realised my decision not to go and see the band in bigger venues was kind of vindicated and that I really wasn’t interested in this kind of crowd being 20 times the size with the the number of bams exponentially growing as the crowds got bigger and becoming harder to avoid.  I don’t mind a bit of pint throwing etc. but when it becomes an almost threatening atmosphere tinged with violence it ceases to be fun and suddenly you have one eye on the crowd rather than concentrating on the band.  That’s not why I go to see live music.  I could of course have stood way at the back and avoided or tried to avoid the nutters but I like to be in the middle of the action at the front and I can look after myself but sometimes it’s not worth the hassle.

band 3

Their rise to massive venues also coincided with them releasing some very mediocre albums although there are plenty of Oasis fans who think subsequent albums are still really good but they weren’t for me.  They were never going to sustain the Maybe/Glory period but some of the stuff released was a pale imitation and all a bit Oasis by numbers but it didn’t seem to dent their popularity much.  There were some good songs along the way but they seemed to lose that urgency and rawness that attracted me to them in the first place.  It’s a story often played out in music.  Success sees a band lifted out of the circumstances and surroundings that made them great in the first place and they just can’t recapture that feel and sound again.  It’s what made Definitely Maybe and to a lesser extent What’s the Story such great albums.  They were also often accused of being Beatles copyists but I never really heard it, an influence yes but that was it as far as I could tell.  Although I was never a fan of The Beatles other than a couple of tracks so maybe I’m missing something obvious.

That all said Definitely Maybe is a fantastic album full of great songs.  It was Columbia that first made me sit up and take notice.  I love the drumming on that song and along with the guitar hook makes this my favourite song on the album.  Opener Rock n Roll Star sets down the marker and there isn’t really a low point just lots of high points.  Supersonic, Slide Away, Live Forever all brilliant and were to become classics of their time.  There isn’t a bad song on this album and Definitely Maybe was, at the time, the fastest ever selling debut release and went straight in at No 1.

band 4

Liam and Noel were a pair of ‘lads’ but Noel especially could be very observant and humorous and I enjoy hearing him talk.  He has a great knack of cutting through the bullshit and his scathing attacks on other artists and celebrities in general usually hit the spot.  Liam often gets criticised for his outbursts but I like my rock stars to be a bit out there and be a bit more interesting than someone like Chris Martin.  These are two brothers brought up on a tough housing estate in Manchester.  They don’t suffer fools.

Since the band split in 2009 there have been the usual rounds of rumours about reunions that have never come to anything.  I thought the 20th anniversaries of Maybe or Glory might have brought them back together again but despite a making up between Liam and Noel a reunion still seems highly unlikely.  Of the two Noel has made the best of his solo career with his High Flying Birds.  Liam had limited success with Beady Eye who split in 2014.  Neither band did anything for me and I’ve lost complete interest in either of them outside of Oasis.  I have given both bands a listen but just seems a bit Oasis lite without the swagger and attitude that made this album so good.

See you on week 15.

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