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"Definitely Maybe 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition" Reviewed

Possibly Maybe The Greatest Album Of the 1990s

Possibly Maybe The Greatest Album Of the 1990s

At the time of Definitely Maybe’s release Blur were already on their third album, but however great two of Blur’s three albums were, Oasis sounded better. It was an astounding wall of melodic guitar behind (but only just behind) Liam Gallagher’s Lennon inspired snarl. 20 years later, with the release of the Deluxe Edition this week, it is a good time to look back in wonder over Noel –the songwriter and Liam –the singer’s achievement: it sounds like something you’ve heard before, I mean to the point of plagiarism, but it sounds nothing like else than or now: UL Britpop mixed with classic rock mixed with the Beatles (not to mention the New Seekers) in an all swagger headbanging silly poetic self fulfilling rock and roll star dream on an album.

Oasis rode this sound hard for years and years to great effect. It was like my bloody valentine without the artiness, the Beatles without the soul, the new art school of punk burnt to the ground and rebuilt. Like punk, it was working class, grimy boots nowhere land. You know how young Morrissey was bullied in his youth? Noel and Liam were the boys doing the bullying. Damon Albarn was terrified of em. Oasis, from even before Definitely Maybe was released, was a huge band, the first three singles were huge and the album sold over 2M copies in the UK. One out of every 31 people bought a copy.

And more should: it has the adrenaline push of great, the melody of great pop, a giddily silly lyricism and guitars guitars guitars.

And Liam, a gorgeous looking tough guy headcase stating the case and swearing down all comers. Liam’s swagger is legendary. Standing center stage, arms crossed behind his back, aviator shades in place, he was so arrogant he seemed like a monster pop star on Dramamine. When people complained about Oasis lack of really anything much on stage, Noel said: “It’s Oasis. On Stage. Playing our songs. What more do you want?”

I saw em on the DM tour and thought they were what Noel said they were.

Listening to the deluxe addition, I wish they had included “Round Our Way” (maybe their best song ever) but I am satisfied with the rest of the em: “Fade”, “Whatever” the “I Am The Walrus” cover. All still sound great. The live from Manchester cuts are better than I remember them on stage and the songs I don’t know is because I shouldn’t have known them.

But this lives and dies with those first eleven songs and they are the height of Britpop and the best UK album and, indeed, up there with Ready To Die and In Utero Stateside, as the best album of the 1990s. All these years later it sounds even better than it did than. I was already in my late 30s when it was released, I would have gone insane for it if I had been in my teens or early 20s. That sussed out feedback intro before the rolled out “Rock And Roll Star” dragging you “into the ciiiiity” before Liam emerges into a daydream and a truth, “I’ll take my caaaah an drive real faaaah…”

There is barely time to grab your breath with the lick intro into “Shakemaker” and suddenly your back in the trip of a life. “Live Forever”, “”Up In the Sky” and “Columbia” . “olumbia” is a monster and it is a shock to hear tan early demo which is even bigger. Yup, Oasis went pop on the album, they toned it down. By the time you reach “Digsy’s Diner” you are ready for a breather and you are gonna get one as well: a glorious noise of teen love, “I’ll treat you like a queen, I’ll give you strawberries and cream”.And to the end, with the bluesy “Slideaway” and the kissy kissy “Married With Children”. The album is spectacular and right under the surface it has the brashness of youth with the worries of success and aging. This 20th anniversary collection is superb in every single way.

Grade: A+

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