After the frankly underwhelming news that Oasis will be reissuing their debut album ‘Definitely Maybe’ on the 20 year anniversary date in all it’s Re-mastered glory it opened a floodgate of social media chat and Oasis bashing quotes such as “it’s ALL just copying The Beatles”, “it’s all rubbish”, “I preferred Northern Uproar” etc. These are the usual things that happen whenever their name is mentioned and as an Oasis fan it is something you just tend to ignore as the people usually parrot talking these recycled opinions weren’t there when Oasis hit for the first time. How could they be? They were 5 years old.
I was 13 years old in August 1994 the same month that ‘Definitely Maybe’ was released. At the time I’d been listening to a steady stream of Nirvana (obviously), Guns N Roses (who in 1991 had released x2 separate DOUBLE albums the same day with ‘Use Your Illusion 1&2” so even the casual fan had a lot to work through) , Lenny Kravitz (‘Are You Gonna Go My Way’ had been released only the previous year) and a bunch of non-descript Grunge bands that had been signed on the back of Nirvana but had half the charm and none of the hooks. Looking back at the above list the most apparent thing is that that they are all American bands as for me the early 1994 U.K scene in West London for the 13 year old music fan was pretty flat. There was the tail end of the ‘Grunge’ scene happening although with the devastating suicide of Kurt Cobain in the April of 94 the wind had definitely farted it’s last from the sails of that ship. I was at secondary school where music as a pastime and lifestyle was broken into a few key fractions, those who listened to Happy Hard-core/Rave music and those who listened to Rock. Hip-Hop hadn’t really broken in Ruislip at that time amongst the playground elite (which I most definitely wasn’t considered). Anyone who didn’t fit into either of these groups listened to chart music or couldn’t care less.
When ‘Definitely Maybe’ was released it seemed to do it without much fanfare on a large scale although there was a definite buzz surrounding it with people who had only discussed football and computer games the Friday previous. I had bought the album along with ‘Parklife’ by Blur the same day and although I cannot give an exact time I became an Oasis fan I think it was somewhere between second 1 and second 5 of the intro of ‘Rock ‘N’Roll Star’ after which I was a goner.
It sounds ridiculous now but at the time nobody since the Sex Pistols was playing loud rock and roll music like this. The charts were really full of bands like Wet, Wet, Wet, Mariah Carey, Bryan Adams and Chaka Demus & Pliers! The ‘real’ guitar music was all coming out of America and even that was starting to look pretty stale. Bands that used to be leather trousers and makeup were now wearing lumberjack shirts and playing pawnshop looking guitars to jump on the ‘alternative’ bandwagon. The more indie fans in the press still spoke in hushed tones about "the new Stone Roses album finally coming out" but as I hadn't even heard the debut at the time and couldn't care less about the follow up that had now been 5 or so years in the making.
“Why didn’t you choose Blur?” I hear the more sensitive of readers out there moan. Well in all honesty I did listen to ‘Parklife’ more than few times (mainly as the guitar chords were printed inside the sleeve so as a new guitarist I loved playing along) but I picked ‘Definitely Maybe’ up first and it struck such a chord within me that anything secondary was going to be a passing interest. Also Blur had already released 2 albums previous to ‘Parklife’, they weren’t new. They had a strong fan base and weren’t too welcoming in a bunch of newbies muscling in (especially those who still required a fake ID to get a beer). Oasis on the other hand still had the wrapping on them and I felt like I was getting in on the first floor. This was year zero. The first album and steady stream of singles were released one after the other and each track and more importantly the B-sides were digested accordingly. Oasis fans will know about the joy of their B-Sides which in a lot of cases were better than the A-sides (‘Listen Up’, ‘Acquiesce’, ‘Headshrinker’,’ Half the World Away’…etc.). Gigs were regular and fairly cheap in relation to todays hiked up prices and not only would you get to see Oasis but the support band would be a group such as The Verve, Supergrass or The Bootleg Beatles! The band was smart enough not to price their fans out of the gigs and always kept them at a level where even someone signing on the dole could walk up to a box office and buy one without any hassle.
Like all cultural trends and fads when all is said and done only the clichés and posters will remain and when people go to fancy dress parties in 20 years and ‘dress 90’s they will wear Union flag jackets and dresses while playing a selection of Brit Pop anthems and it will all seem correct and bang on the money, but like those people who bought ‘Sgt Pepper’ the day it came out the person who downloads it in 2014 will only see a fraction of the bigger picture. Unless you were there and lived it you’ll never really 100% get what it was like and how important it was. Sorry.
Is it too soon to rose tint the mid 90's? Possibly. I know that I don't ever feel the need to listen to any of the songs from this period as at the time I must have played them constantly on loop although I will admit that now and then if a lesser played track from 'Definitely Maybe' such as ‘Bring It On Down’ or 'Slide Away' gets cued up I’ll prick up my ears and feel the blood pumping again and remember how vital Oasis were to the music scene back in 1994 and how glad I was to have been there when it happened.
'Definitely Maybe' 20th ANNIVERSARY Edition will be reissued on May 19th and will include rare and unreleased recordings. The reissue is the first in the new 'CHASING THE SUN' series that the groups label Big Brother Records will be issuing along with the follow up 'What's the Story (Morning Glory)?' and 'Be Here Now'.
Along with the standard CD reissue there will also be a digital download version as well as a special 3 disc special edition that includes rare recordings and demos, a 12" vinyl LP featuring the bonus CD content as a free download and finally a 'DELUXE' box set which will feature the LP and CD.
Oasis will also re-release the single 'Supersonic' on 12" Vinyl 45 to coincide with RECORD STORE DAY 2014 (April 19th)
The bonus tracks will include:
'WHATEVER' (Single version)
'LIVE FOREVER' (Acoustic Version)
'HALF THE WORLD AWAY' (Demo)
'STRANGE THING' (Unreleased)
'SAD SONG' (Live At Manchester Academy)