Oasis – Definitely Maybe 20th Annniversary

Definitely Maybe is the reason I love music. It’s as simple as that. It was the first album that really spoke to me in a way nothing had before. The energy, passion and attitude of the whole thing totally changed how I listened to music and had an impact on me that holds to this day. As an ‘inner-city youth’ as we were usually branded, the album spoke to us at a social level – ‘Rock and Roll Star’, ‘Live Forever’ and ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ all felt like they were written for us; something to aspire to, live for and dream about. So when I heard it was being remastered for its 20th anniversary as a deluxe edition with 44 tracks I just had to do a review.

There’s really no need for a track-by-track analysis of the original album. It’s as incredible as it was back on 30th August 1994 and for the first part is the same track list we know and love. It has however been remastered and, having had it on cassette, CD, mini-disc and various downloads I must say that this is the crispest it has ever sounded. ‘Live Forever’ (one of my favourites which I have tattooed on me and is my outro music when I leave this planet) stood out particularly for having a new presence and clarity to the production. It all just sounds really, really brilliant. The time invested to bring it up to speed with today’s standards was clearly worth it.

What the 20th anniversary edition brings with it is an extra 33 tracks of unheard (thanks to the internet, most are technically just unreleased) tracks and it is an absolute treat for fans. Hearing ‘Columbia’ in its rawest format was great with some guitar work that never made it to the final cut. Hearing ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ without the trademark hiss and lead guitar intro was great too, Liam sounding every bit the fresh-faced frontman he was at the time. I’m really glad the lead guitar got added later for the album, it brings a huge dimension to the track which feels incomplete without it (which being a demo I suppose is exactly what it is)!

A remastered ‘Sad Song’ is glorious in its new-found presence and clarity with much clearer guitar and vocals. The live version of ‘I Will Believe’ sounds absolutely brilliant; of all the times I saw Oasis there were tracks I wished they played and they never did so this is a real treat for all of us that missed it. Noel’s delivery of ‘Take Me Away’ really shines, showing off the craft that got him to the status of one of the finest songwriters of our generation and with a gentle nod to ‘Octopus’s Garden’ let his influences seep through onto this absolutely brilliant acoustic track.

‘Alive’, a remastered ‘D’You Wanna Be A Spaceman’ and a monstrous live version of ‘Supersonic’ which Liam proclaims will be ‘the new single’ all sound great. Hearing ‘Supersonic’ from ’94 just before being released as the new single is incredible; the track is delivered with such raw passion and energy it’s no wonder the band sky-rocketed as quickly as they did. Turn it up loud and just absorb it; it is insane.

The acoustic version of ‘Up In The Sky’ with the “right…wrong” intro is a good listen as is the remastered ‘Cloudburst’ with the drums sounding absolutely enormous. ‘Fade Away’ appears a couple of times and has the same impact it had on me when I heard it as the B-Side to ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ – emotive, powerful and just a great rock and roll record. ‘Listen Up’ is a welcome edition to the album followed by a live version of ‘I Am The Walrus’ recorded at Glasgow’s Cathouse venue – what I would have done to be there, for all eight minutes of it!

‘Whatever’ quite simply sounds bigger than ever. This track was the first song I ever played live in a room full of strangers so it holds a special place in my heart. Great to hear it remastered. ‘It’s Good To Be Free’ and ‘Half The World Away’ follow on to continue the remastered tracks from the Masterplan album. Another live version of ‘Supersonic’ (and why not?) this time from Glasgow’s Tramshed sounds monolithic and captures the energy perfectly.

The ‘Rock And Roll Star’ demo is great too in that it sounds so different to what eventually made the album; amazing to hear the early iteration and imagine how many reworks were taken to get it to what we know and love today. Liam’s angelic vocals are an absolute highlight on this track – look after your instrument kids. ‘Shakermaker’ live from a Paris instore and an Eden Studios Mix of ‘Columbia’ are also very welcome editions.

For those who enjoy some of the lesser known tracks from the band you’re catered for too with a demo of ‘Cloudburst’ and ‘Strange Thing’ to enjoy, both of which are excellent tracks if you haven’t heard them before. The instore of ‘Live Forever’ in Paris starts with some banter from the brothers Gallagher in typically competitive fashion followed by a boisterous rendition of ‘Cigarettes And Alcohol’ from the Manchester Academy which is “for all the piss-heads” with Liam proclaiming part-way through “stop throwing cans up, dickhead” without missing a beat – you can imagine what that gig was like!

There are a few more live acoustic tracks from the Manchester Academy gig – ‘D’Yer Wanna Be A Spaceman’, ‘Take Me Away’ and ‘Sad Song’ with a demo of ‘Fade Away’ in between. Across the globe, ‘Half The World Away’ is performed from a hotel room in Tokyo and it’s just magnificent – true, warm and perfectly delivered by Noel. There’s another Paris instore track ‘Digsy’s Dinner’ (which I think is brilliant!), a demo of ‘Married With Children’ which is pretty close to what made the final cut and a version of ‘Up In The Sky’ which although has the intro missing is still brilliant and is long enough ago where Liam hits the high notes with no effort. The final track is a strings-only version of ‘Whatever’ and it is absolutely glorious. Hearing the arrangements and the complexities of some of the sections without the rest of the track is a real treat.

44 tracks that defined my youth I loved every single second of every track and if you, like me, still can’t get enough of this band after 20 years then get a copy of this…you won’t regret it. There’s also a documentary available (which has been out for years) about the making of the album which you can find below now that it’s available on YouTube.

 

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