Ok so we all know the story, two brothers from Manchester, Noel and Liam Gallagher (guitar and vocals respectively), usually at war with each other, join forces with three mates, Paul Arthurs aka “Bonehead” (guitar), Paul McGuigan or “Guigs” as we came to know him (bass) and Tony McCarroll, who just stayed as Tony McCarroll (Drums), release an album and take the music world by storm. Crikey, all in one sentence!
Many years, albums and controversies later and the brothers are still at war with each other but are now towing along different, one might argue more talented, band mates. No “Bonehead”, “Guigsy” and Tony McCarroll didn’t last the pace but they were there at the start and when you consider the esteem in which this album is held, that is all that counts. Oh and by the way the Gallagher brothers, though devote, avowed followers of the light blue of Manchester City, no longer live in Manchester.
But what about the music, I hear you cry… Well…
It’s my intention to concentrate on reviewing the musicallity of this extraordinary rock and roll masterpiece from the point of view of a listener. I could bore you with such details as how the band first met Alan McGee of Creation Records at the “King Tut’s Wah Wah Club” or mention the contribution of producer Mark Coyle or bang on about Beatle connections like for instance the fact that the “B side” of “Cigarettes And Alcohol”, the single, was “I Am The Walrus [live]” but I’m not going to do that. No, I’m going to try and let the music do the talking for itself. Free of baggage, stories or myths, just straight as it comes out of the speakers.
So here goes. Oh and let me be clear from the start, I like this album… a lot, from start to finish and that includes the sitting room photo shoot that adorns that front cover. That’s right, the one with the clever little “Burt Bacharach” picture reference.
Oasis — Definitely Maybe: Track-by-track review
1. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”
How bold a statement of intent do you want for the opening of a debut rock album? Blimey! Who are you? “Tonight I’m a rock n roll star”. Damn right you are. Crisp guitar riffs, a banging beat, and unusual, unnerving but spot-on vocals. We experienced this with The Stone Roses, it even harps back to the 70s US punk movement when the ability to sing like a nightingale was not a prerequisite for a front man, but this nipper is taking it to a whole new level. It’s up front, it’s in your face, “it’s just rock n roll” and I’m “mad for it”.
Ok so a different pace, nice. Here come them guitars and what? He wants to “build a house out of plastercine”. It gets madder… You might as well write blaugh blaugh blarrrrrrrrrr for all the sense it makes but WOW. If the first track made you stop, now you are listening “shake along with me”… “Now he stops at traffic lights but only when they’re green”, it’s anarchy. Fade out awesome melodic guitars and rest.
3. “Live Forever”
Oops drumming sounds a bit out… but my god now these boys sound serious and this strange drawling voice is getter better. They can do fast rock and roll, they can do psychedelic and now they can do introspective as well… Yeah this is really good. The lyrics may be just as random as “Shakermaker” in terms of origin but they do give a bit of a glimpse into the mindset of Noel. Bold statement again “you and I, we gonna live forever” and why not?
4. “Up In The Sky”
This really sounds like a band having fun playing together, more great lyrics and an upbeat quality to bring a smile to your face. Simple stuff, great beat and guitars and Liam’s voice suits this band to a T. I’m lovin’ it, but not in a Maccy D way.
Screeching guitars introduce this one, some distant shouting and the drums pick it up… “There we were now here we are”; again this stuff sounds well in advance of any debut I’ve ever heard before. The music is very mature like “Up In The Sky”.
This is another great upbeat hip-wiggler; actually I could spin around and stamp the floor to this one. The guitar and magic memorable riffs are central to the whole album and this is no exception. “Yeah yeah yeah”…
More screeching guitar and a steady but sure drum beat. There’s that voice again, more random lyrics — “yellow submarine” — hang on, there’s a direct Beatles reference… yes there is defo something Beatlesish about them. Even though the lyrics are another random collection of satisfying wordplay I feel connected to them. Everydayness about them, the music behind is rhythmic and deeply catchy.
7. “Bring It On Down”
Feedback to start with this time, drums even more dominant the song explodes out of its metamorphic state… whack. This is not a tune to sit still to and neither is it a song for the car unless you wanna be a total maniac and drive up a tree… I’m going to have to play that one again but wait not too hasty whats coming next…
8. “Cigarettes & Alcohol”
Bloody hell they’ve pinched T-Rex’s “Get It On” guitar riff, which is good because I love it. Wish I hadn’t made the reference about driving up a tree now though. Ballsy, estate mentality, I recognise this and no it’s not worth the “aggravation of getting a job when there’s nothing worth working for”… I respect anyone who puts the word ‘aggravation’ into song lyrics. Now I’m defo gonna play that one again… when the feedback finishes.
9. “Digsy’s Diner”
A jaunty little ditty full of the joys of rock ‘n’ roll spring… positive overtones from Liam and this guy Noel can’t half play satisfying guitar. No he isn’t Clapton but that doesn’t matter. None of them are the best musicians I’ve ever heard, but wasn’t that the point of punk and isn’t it just as true of this. It might not be brilliantly played but it makes you feel brilliant and that’s what counts. I’m glad Noel bothered to learn. Simple down to earth lyric about going “round for tea”… Look I’m English, any mention of tea and I’m all ears.
10. “Slide Away”
Back to the slower more introspective sound, grown up, deep. It’s a track with a difficult to explain pleasantness that isn’t sickly, unlike Cliff for example (though I have to admit Cliff did do some great rock and roll). It’s a convincing union of voice and music. Throughout the album the vox and guitar have played around each other, particularly apparent with this track as the song really does “just slide away”.
11. “Married With Children”
Ok so this sounds just like the end of Abbey Road. Acoustic guitar, brutal lyrics delivered expertly, “your music’s shite it keeps me up all night”, I know the feeling. Nasty things said nice… It’s a fitting finish to an album that has rocked and rolled all the way through “Good bye I’m going home”.
Ok, and thanks for coming lads.
Definitely Maybe by Oasis
“Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”
“Up In The Sky”
“Bring It On Down”
“Cigarettes & Alcohol”
“Married With Children”