Now that Oasis have been written into British rock history alongside The Beatles, The Sex Pistols and all those other elder statesmen they so publicly admired and absorbed, 1984’s Definitely Maybe survives as a revered, although sometimes distant, memory. These days when Oasis play Glastonbury, there are waves of excitement but no huge hullabaloo about their perfunctory parade of greatest hits, and their albums have ceased to generate the expectation, the queues around the block in Oxford Street, that was once the norm. Oasis are no longer trailblazers; some might say, unkindly, that they are simply trailing.
It was very different 10 years ago. Back then, they had nothing to lose and everything to gain, storming over the horizon with the urgent and irresistible mission statement of “Rock’n’Roll Star”, the curtain-raiser to an album that boils with ambition and bare-faced cheek.
Crucially, it represented the dawn of a new era. Grunge was reeling from the suicide of Kurt Cobain only a few months earlier, and the restless, swaggering lads from Burnage, Manchester were snapping hard at the heels of the UK’s baggy gurus, from whose circles they had arisen, with a louder, angrier and yet more beautiful take on music. Britpop had arrived, and although it may have gone on to mean different things to different people, Oasis would be the godheads, the people’s champions, their mix of aggression, melody and populist lyricism trampling any and all of the opposition.
Now, Definitely Maybe is comprehensively assessed, explained, explored and celebrated in a package that takes full advantage of the DVD format, revealing more about the album over several hours than anyone would even think to ask, There are options for listening to the songs straight through with an accompanying pictorial collage, and for seeing them all performed live in various venues. The five promo videos are also included. But it’s the documentary, bustling with newly recorded interviews with the original band members and many of the key characters around them at the time, which really gets the blood rushing.
Here are all the anecdotes, the gossip, the trivia and the stories behind the songs, the sessions and the sleeve. Here too is a laying-bare of the long labour pains that attended such a seemingly spontaneous musical outburst, an insight into the political preoccupations and personal clashes within Oasis even then as they strove to recreate the raw power and passion of their demos.
Eventually, they managed it. Stealing shamelessly from everybody from T. Rex (“Cigarettes And Alcohol”) to The New Seekers (“Shakermaker”), they were na