An era-defining record packed with hit singles and fan favourites epitomising the Britpop of the mid 1990s, Definitely Maybe turns 20 this year.
Despite Oasis only disbanding in 2009, it has managed to kickstart its Chasing the Sun reissue series with this audacious debut that even managed to reach platinum status (i.e. sell one MILLION copies) in America.
To date, Liam and Noel Gallagher have yet to reconcile. Since Noel wrote all of Definitely Maybe (and practically all the bonus tracks on this Chasing The Sun edition), it is blatantly obvious why his estranged brother has warned fans not to buy the reissue.
However, the brothers were magical together on this album. Liam’s sneery swagger has made Rock n Roll Star one of the most brash and memorable album openers in recent memory. Noel’s songwriting must be recognised for this exciting, youthful and timeless track.
Liam’s legendary, laboured enunciations (‘autograaaaaaaaph’ and ‘may-baaaaaaay’) for instance) and Noel’s knack for a good tune also shine on the debauched debut single Supersonic and the optimistic anthem Live Forever.
Definitely Maybe was clearly influenced by quite a few other bands. Shakermaker is a drunken, dreamy 12-bar blues rendition of The Stone Roses. Beatles vibes are strong in the acid-tinged Up in The Sky (which recalls the Fab Four’s Rain) and the epic, experimental Columbia (with its psychedelic guitars).
Cigarettes and Alcohol is a blatant ripoff of T.Rex’s Get It On, but who cares? It’s a fun, dirty and strut-worthy rocker ripe for an Oasis parody, as it has every cliche of the band imaginable.
Dare I say, Oasis may have been inspired by Britpop arch enemy Blur. The jolly, jaunty Digsy’s Dinner has a touch of Parklife and listeners can almost sing For Tomorrow on top of the stormy, climactic lost single Slide Away (which includes one of Liam’s finer vocals). It’s a good thing that Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon and Noel are all chummy these days.
The other two discs on this Chasing The Sun edition include lo-fi 1993 cassette demos that admittedly sound strange in their rougher stage and WITHOUT Liam’s exaggerated vocal delivery. Noel-led tracks finally receive the recognition they deserve beyond B-side status, such as Sad Song (with an insistent ‘don’t throw it all away’ chant), the tender Take Me Away and the mundane yet pleasant Half The World Away (Paul Weller’s favourite Oasis song). Some tracks even hint to the future; the post-album, orchestral single Whatever is a prequel to Don’t Look Back In Anger and the pre-chorus of (It’s Good) To Be Free almost sounds like Wonderwall.
The remainder of this reissue has an odd mix of live performances, by mixing up songs from different concerts despite differing levels of audio quality. The two live versions of Supersonic are astounding and an acoustic performance in a store in Paris is a nice touch. However, there is some scraping of the bottom of the barrel thanks to the inclusion of a poor-quality recording from Manchester Academy and a rushed, headache-inducing live cover of The Beatles’ I Am The Walrus.
Definitely Maybe deserves the deluxe edition treatment, as many hidden gems would have been forgotten and Oasis fans would not get to hear how the songs moved beyond the demo stage. Despite this, this Chasing The Sun reissue runs one disc too long. Perhaps a better sequenced live disc would have been a better bet.