Oasis, Definitely Maybe – Retro CD Review

Two brothers Gallagher, Noel and Liam, had a band when they lived in Manchester. They relied on straightforward rock & roll sounds and hedonistic lifestyles to get them to the top of the world, which they did. Their best recorded example of this is their debut album, Definitely Maybe. Don’t get me wrong: they have definitely released some good material since, but this album is by far the best example of excess that these boys live up to.

“Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” is the opener: it basically states their intent. It’s the truest proclamation I’ve heard on a record in a while. This slips into “Shakermaker”, a song for which they got sued by the New Seekers, for the same reason George Harrison got sued by crazyman Phil Spector. I don’t care that they lifted it; it remains one of my favorite songs from the 1990’s.

“Live Forever” was the song that got them noticed in the States, and it’s a good song, but, still not my favorite. One can respect, though, the rock & roll imagery from the video that showed on MTV, as well as the sentiment of the lyrics. “Up In the Sky” is fair but lacking in the personality they have thus far cultivated on the record. This song shows a blatantly obvious take from the Inspiral Carpets, for whom Noel was a roadie prior to joining the band that became Oasis. The final cut on the first half of the album is “Columbia”, which was their first demo release. It has a brilliant intro and shows the boys in fine form, lending an air of post-shoegazer guitar to the atmosphere.

The first song I heard by the Gallagher boys was “Supersonic”, and it heads off the second half of the album. This, again, is rock & roll at its finest, along with “Digsy’s Diner” and “Cigarettes & Alcohol” (which was later covered by Rod Stewart). There isn’t too much rock & roll left in the world, and these boys had some of it for a good while, complete with sass, pomp, and sneer. “Bring It on Down” and “Slide Away”, however, again lack some of the focus of the rest of the album. “Slide Away” seems to fit better within the album and is a fairly solid tune, but “Bring It on Down” easily could’ve/should’ve been thrown away. The closer is “Married With Children”, acoustic guitar and vocal with an electric lead over the top, and fits the tone of the album perfectly: arrogance, sneer, and tongue-in-cheek humor.

OVERALL ON THIS RELEASE: I give this record an 8.50 out of a possible ten. It has its weak points, but, fortunately, they are few and brief. The album had such an attitude that portrayed the Gallagher boys exactly as we subsequently perceived them, and that is the way it should be. Too bad they got so introspective on later releases.