Definitely Maybe

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Definitely Maybe
OasisDefinitelyMaybealbumcover.jpg
Studio album by Oasis
Released29 August 1994
RecordedNovember 1993 – April 1994
Studio
Genre
Length51:57
LabelCreation
Producer
Oasis chronology
Live Demonstration
(1993)
Definitely Maybe
(1994)
(What's the Story) Morning Glory?
(1995)
Singles from Definitely Maybe
  1. "Supersonic"
    Released: 11 April 1994
  2. "Shakermaker"
    Released: 13 June 1994
  3. "Live Forever"
    Released: 8 August 1994
  4. "Cigarettes & Alcohol"
    Released: 10 October 1994
  5. "Rock 'n' Roll Star"
    Released: April 1995

Definitely Maybe is the debut studio album by English rock band Oasis. The album was released on 29 August 1994 by Creation Records. It is the band's only studio album to feature original drummer Tony McCarroll.

Definitely Maybe was an immediate commercial and critical success in the United Kingdom, having followed on the heels of the singles "Supersonic", "Shakermaker", and "Live Forever". The album went straight to number one in the UK Albums Chart, and became the fastest-selling debut album in the UK at the time; it went on to be certified 7× Platinum (2.1 million+ sales) by the BPI.[4] Definitely Maybe marked the beginning of Oasis' success in the United States, selling over one million copies there despite only peaking at 58 on the Billboard 200. The album went on to sell over 8 million copies worldwide and brought widespread critical acclaim.

Definitely Maybe helped to spur a revitalisation in British pop music in the 1990s, and was embraced by critics for its optimistic themes and supposed rejection of grunge music of the time. The album is regarded as a seminal entry of the Britpop scene, and has appeared in many publications' list of the greatest albums of all time. In 2006, the NME conducted a readers' poll in which Definitely Maybe was voted the greatest album of all time.[5]

Background[edit]

Formerly called The Rain, Oasis formed in 1991. Originally consisting of Liam Gallagher, Paul Arthurs, Paul McGuigan, and Tony McCarroll, the group was soon joined by Liam's older brother Noel. The elder Gallagher insisted that if he were to join, the group would give him complete control and they would work towards superstardom.[6]

Oasis signed to independent record label Creation Records in 1993. The limited-edition 12" single "Columbia" was released in late 1993 as a primer for the band for journalists and radio programmers. Unexpectedly, BBC Radio 1 picked up the single and played it 19 times in the fortnight after its release.[7] The band's first commercial single "Supersonic" was released on 11 April 1994. The following week it debuted at number 31 on the British singles chart.[8] The single was followed by "Shakermaker" in June 1994, which debuted at number 11 and earned the group an appearance on Top of the Pops.[9]

Recording[edit]

Oasis booked Monnow Valley Studio, near Monmouth, in late 1993 to record their debut album. Their producer was Dave Batchelor, whom Noel Gallagher knew from his days working as a roadie for the Inspiral Carpets. The sessions were unsatisfactory. "It wasn't happening," Arthurs recalled. "He was the wrong person for the job ... We'd play in this great big room, buzzing to be in this studio, playing like we always played. He'd say, 'Come in and have a listen.' And we'd be like, 'That doesn't sound like it sounded in that room. What's that?' It was thin. Weak. Too clean."[10]

The sessions at Monnow Valley were costing £800 a day. As the sessions proved increasingly fruitless, the group began to panic. Arthurs said, "Noel was frantically on the phone to the management, going, 'This ain't working.' For it not to be happening was a bit frightening."[10] Batchelor was relieved of his duties, and Gallagher tried to make use of the music already recorded by taking the tapes to a number of London studios. Tim Abbot of Creation Records said while visiting the band in Chiswick, "McGee, Noel, me and various people had a great sesh, and we listened to it over and over again. And all I could think was, 'It ain't got the attack.' There was no immediacy."[11]

In January 1994, the group returned from an ill-fated trip to Amsterdam and set about re-recording the album at Sawmills Studio in Cornwall. This time the sessions were produced by Noel Gallagher and Mark Coyle. The group decided the only way to replicate their live sound on record was to record together without soundproofing between individual instruments. Over the tracks, Gallagher overdubbed numerous guitars. Arthurs said, "That was Noel's favourite trick: get the drums, bass and rhythm guitar down, and then he'd cane it. 'Less is more' didn't really work then."[11]

The results were still deemed unsatisfactory, and there was little chance of another attempt at recording the album. The recordings already made had to be used. In desperation, Creation's Marcus Russell contacted engineer-turned-producer Owen Morris, who had previously mixed the album's songs. "I just thought, 'They've messed up here,'" Morris recalled after hearing the Sawmills recordings. "I guessed at that stage Noel was completely fucked off. Marcus was like, 'You can do what you like – literally, whatever you want." Among the producer's first tasks was to strip away the layers of guitar overdubs Gallagher had added, although he noted that Gallagher's overdubs allowed him to construct the musical dynamics of songs such as "Columbia" and "Rock 'n Roll Star".[12]

Morris worked on mastering the album at Johnny Marr's studio in Manchester, and recalled that Marr was "appalled by how 'in your face' the whole thing was", and questioned Morris' mixing choices such as leaving the background noise at the beginning of "Cigarettes and Alcohol".[12] Inspired by Phil Spector's use of tape delay on the drums of John Lennon's "Instant Karma!", and Tony Visconti's use of the Eventide Harmonizer on the drums of David Bowie's Low, Morris added eighth-note tape delays on Tony McCarroll's drums, which lent additional groove to McCarroll's basic beats.[12] Tape delay was employed to double the drums of "Columbia", giving the song a faster rhythm, and tambourines were programmed on several songs to follow McCarroll's snare hits.[12] Morris also used a technique he had learned from Bernard Sumner while recording Electronic, routing the bass guitar through a Minimoog and using the filters to remove the high-end, a choice which he used to hide imprecise playing, and heavily compressed the final mix, to an extent he admitted was "more than would normally be considered 'professional'".[12]

Morris completed his final mix of the record on the bank holiday weekend in May. Music journalist John Harris noted, "The miracle was that music that had passed through so many hands sounded so dynamic: the guitar-heavy stew that Morris had inherited had been remoulded into something positively pile-driving."[11]

Cover art[edit]

The photograph on the front cover of the album was taken by rock photographer Michael Spencer Jones in guitarist Paul 'Bonehead' Arthurs' house.[13] The image was inspired by the cover of the Beatles' 1966 compilation LP A Collection of Beatles Oldies and, in the positioning of Liam Gallagher on the floor, by a visit Spencer Jones had made to the Egyptology section at Manchester Science Museum.[14]

The television is showing a scene from Sergio Leone's film The Good, the Bad and the Ugly with actors Eli Wallach and Antonio Casale, and a still of Gian Maria Volontè from another Leone film, A Fistful of Dollars, is visible on the television on the back cover.[15] A picture of footballer Rodney Marsh playing for Manchester City (the football team the Gallaghers support) is propped against the fireplace, and a poster of Burt Bacharach (one of Noel Gallagher's idols) is also shown leaning against the side of the sofa on the lower-left-hand side of the cover. Some writers believe that Oasis were trying to pay homage to the album cover of Pink Floyd's Ummagumma album by placing Bacharach's picture in the same prominent position used for the soundtrack of Vincente Minnelli's film Gigi on Ummagumma.[16]

Release and promotion[edit]

The release of Definitely Maybe was preceded by a third single, "Live Forever", which was released on 8 August 1994. "Live Forever" was the group's first top ten single. The continuing success of Oasis partially allowed Creation to ride out a period of tough financial straits. The label was still £2 million in debt, so Tim Abbot was given only £60,000 to promote the upcoming album. Abbot tried to determine how best to use his small budget. "I'd go back to the Midlands every couple of weeks," Abbot said, "and people I knew would say, 'Oasis are great. This is what we listen to.' And I'd be thinking, "Well, you lot don't buy singles. You don't read the NME. You don't read Q. How do we get the people to like you?'"[17] Abbot decided to place ads in publications that had never been approached by Creation before, such as football magazines, match programmes and UK dance music periodicals. Abbot's suspicions that Oasis would appeal to these non-traditional audiences were confirmed when the dance music magazine Mixmag, which usually ignored guitar-based music, gave Definitely Maybe a five-star review.[18]

Definitely Maybe was released on 29 August 1994.[19] The album sold 86,000 in its first week. On 4 September the album debuted at number one on the British charts. It outsold the second-highest album (The Three Tenors in Concert 1994, which had been favoured to be the chart-topper that week), by a factor of 50%. The first-week sales earned Definitely Maybe the record of the fastest-selling debut album in British history.[18]

"Cigarettes & Alcohol" was released as the fourth single from the album in October, peaking at number seven in the UK, then a career high for the band. Noel Gallagher said "Slide Away" was considered as a fifth single, but he ultimately refused, arguing, "You can't have five [singles] off a debut album."[20]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic5/5 stars[21]
Chicago Sun-Times3.5/4 stars[22]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music5/5 stars[23]
Mojo5/5 stars[24]
NME9/10[25]
Pitchfork8.8/10[26]
Q4/5 stars[27]
Rolling Stone4.5/5 stars[28]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide5/5 stars[29]
Select5/5[30]

The album received widespread critical acclaim along with commercial success, with many critics and listeners welcoming the album's fearless optimism, particularly in an era of rock which was dominated by American grunge which seemed at odds with the album,[31] while also praising Noel Gallagher's songwriting and melodic skills along with younger brother Liam's vocals. Keith Cameron of NME called Noel Gallagher "a pop craftsman in the classic tradition and a master of his trade" and believed that "the only equivocal thing about Definitely Maybe is its title. Everything else screams certainty", going on to say, "The fact is that too much heartfelt emotion, ingenious belief and patent songwriting savvy rushes through the debut Oasis album for it to be the work of a bunch of wind-up merchants... It's like opening your bedroom curtains one morning and discovering that some f—er's built the Taj Mahal in your back garden and then filled it with your favourite flavour of Angel Delight. Yeah, that good."[25] Melody Maker gave the album its star rating signifying a "bloody essential" purchase, and its critic Paul Lester said, "Of all the great new British pop groups, Oasis are the least playful, the least concerned with post-modern sleights of influence", and that for thousands of people, "Definitely Maybe is What the World's Been Waiting For, a record full of songs to live to, made by a gang of reckless northern reprobates who you can easily dream of joining". He concluded, "If you don't agree it offers a dozen opportunities to believe that 1994 is the best year ever for pop/rock music, then you're... wrong".[32]

Stuart Maconie of Q described Definitely Maybe as "an outrageously exciting rock/pop album... A rutting mess of glam, punk and psychedelia, you've heard it all before of course, but not since the Stone Roses debut have a young Lancastrian group carried themselves with such vigour and insouciance".[27] Vox's Mike Pattenden stated that "occasionally – and in this voracious, selfish, faddish industry it is only occasionally – something materialises that justifies the endless bullshit that represents its daily diet... The 11 songs that make up Definitely Maybe [...] lie shining like so much crystal-cut glass among the debris of the nation's hotel rooms".[33] In Mojo's original review of the album in 1994, Jim Irvin felt the record was "bloody close" to the "punch-yer-lights-out debut they'd intended. Certainly when put next to the flimsy, uncommitted music of most new British bands, Definitely Maybe spits feathers... Spunky, adolescent rock, vivifying and addictive".[34] Twenty years later, Danny Eccleston's review of the 2014 reissue stated, "There's nothing more exhilarating than the feeling that something great is about to happen. It's a force that courses, unmanageably, through Oasis' debut album even today... This is transcendental rock'n'roll music that celebrates the moment, not a moment."[24]

In the U.S. Rolling Stone included the album in its end-of-year round-up of 1994's most important records, with Paul Evans saying that "Liam Gallagher has God-given cool. And with his brother Noel supplying him with sumptuous rockers, it's easy to see why this quintet is next year's model. Heavier on guitar than Blur or Suede, they're the simpler, catchier outfit."[35] Reviewing the reissue of Definitely Maybe in Rolling Stone in 2014, Rob Sheffield said, "Twenty years on, Oasis' debut album remains one of the most gloriously loutish odes to cigarettes, alcohol and dumb guitar solos that the British Isles have ever coughed up".[28] Neil Strauss of The New York Times wrote of the songs; "On its own, each one sounds like a classic, rippling with hard guitar hooks, strong dance beats and memorable choruses."[36]

Legacy[edit]

In 1997, Definitely Maybe was named the 14th greatest album of all time in a 'Music of the Millennium' poll conducted by HMV, Channel 4, The Guardian and Classic FM.[37] In Channel 4's '100 Greatest Albums' countdown in 2005, the album was placed at number 6.[38] In 2006, NME placed the album third in a list of the greatest British albums ever, behind The Stone Roses' self-titled debut album and The Smiths' The Queen Is Dead.[39] In a 2006 British poll, run by NME and the book of British Hit Singles and Albums, Definitely Maybe was voted the best album of all time with The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band finishing second and Revolver third.[40] Q Magazine placed it at number five on their greatest albums of all-time list in 2006, and in that same year NME hailed it as the greatest album of all time.[5][41]

In a 2008 poll by Q and HMV in 2008, Definitely Maybe was ranked first on a list of the greatest British albums of all time.[41] The album was ranked number 42 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time. The American edition of Rolling Stone ranked the album at number 78 in its list of "The 100 Best Albums of the Nineties".[42] The German edition of Rolling Stone ranked the album at number 156 in its list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time".[43] At Acclaimed Music, a website which calculates the most favorably reviewed songs and albums, Definitely Maybe was listed as the 15th most critically acclaimed album of the 90s, as well as the 111th most critically acclaimed album of all time.[44] A study of the album by the writer Alex Niven was published in Bloomsbury's 33⅓ series.[45]

In July 2014, Guitar World ranked Definitely Maybe at number 19 in their "Superunknown: 50 Iconic Albums That Defined 1994" list.[46] The album was ranked at number 160 on Spin's "The 300 Best Albums of the Past 30 Years (1985–2014)" list.[47] In 2017, Pitchfork listed the album at number nine in its list "The 50 Best Britpop Albums".[48] On the other hand, Definitely Maybe was voted the fourth-most overrated album ever made in a 2005 BBC public poll.[49]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Noel Gallagher.

No.TitleLength
1."Rock 'n' Roll Star"5:23
2."Shakermaker"5:10
3."Live Forever"4:38
4."Up in the Sky"4:28
5."Columbia"6:17
6."Supersonic"4:44
7."Bring It on Down"4:17
8."Cigarettes & Alcohol"4:50
9."Digsy's Dinner"2:32
10."Slide Away"6:32
11."Married with Children"3:12
Bonus tracks

Vinyl version[edit]

All tracks written by Noel Gallagher.

Side one
No.TitleLength
1."Rock 'n' Roll Star"5:23
2."Shakermaker"5:10
3."Live Forever"4:38
Side two
No.TitleLength
1."Up in the Sky"4:28
2."Columbia"6:17
3."Sad Song"4:30
Side three
No.TitleLength
1."Supersonic"4:44
2."Bring It on Down"4:17
3."Cigarettes & Alcohol"4:50
Side four
No.TitleLength
1."Digsy's Dinner"2:32
2."Slide Away"6:32
3."Married with Children"3:12

Singles box set[edit]

Definitely Maybe
Definitely Maybe Singles box set cover.jpg
Box set by Oasis
Released4 November 1996
Recorded1993–1994
GenreRock, Britpop
Length87:38
LabelCreation
ProducerOasis, Mark Coyle, Owen Morris, Dave Batchelor
Oasis chronology
Definitely Maybe
(1996)
(What's the Story) Morning Glory?
(1996)

The Definitely Maybe box set was released on 4 November 1996, featuring four discs of singles, including B-sides, and one disc of interviews. The set charted at number 23 on the UK Singles Chart.[51]

All songs written by Noel Gallagher, except "I Am the Walrus" by Lennon–McCartney.

2014 reissue[edit]

As part of a promotional campaign entitled Chasing the Sun, the album was released on 19 May 2014, a deluxe edition featured the remastered original album packaged with two additional discs of material. Additionally, a limited edition reproduction of the band's original 1993 demo cassette was also made available to purchase.

DVD[edit]

Definitely Maybe was released on DVD in September 2004 to mark the tenth anniversary of its original release. It went triple platinum in the UK. The DVD featured an hour-long documentary about the recording of the album featuring interviews with the band and its associates. Also included was the album in its entirety, at 48 kHz, which included "Sad Song", which was originally only released on the UK vinyl version of the album and also on the Japanese CD edition. Other content included live and TV performances of the album's twelve tracks, and the promo videos to "Supersonic" (UK & US versions), "Shakermaker", "Live Forever" (UK & US versions), "Cigarettes & Alcohol" and "Rock 'n' Roll Star". A limited-edition release in the UK and Ireland included a bonus DVD containing more live footage and anecdotes.

There was also an accompanying made-for-TV documentary, entitled There We Were, Now Here We Are ... : The Making Of Oasis. This was broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK at 11:30pm on Friday, 3 September, three days before the release of the Definitely Maybe DVD. The programme combined existing and unused interview footage from the DVD documentary and focused on the origins of the band, and the four singles from Definitely Maybe. It also included a clip of "All Around the World" performed live at a rehearsal session in the Boardwalk in 1992, five years before it was eventually recorded and released on Be Here Now. The DVD received the NME award for Best Music DVD.[53] The DVD earned Gold status in Australia.[54]

Personnel[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]

References[edit]

  • Harris, John. Britpop!: Cool Britannia and the Spectacular Demise of English Rock. Da Capo Press, 2004. ISBN 0-306-81367-X

Notes[edit]

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  2. ^ Partridge, Kenneth (29 August 2014). "Oasis' 'Definitely Maybe' at 20: Classic Track-by-Track Album Review". Billboard. Archived from the original on 7 November 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
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  6. ^ Harris, p. 126
  7. ^ Harris, p. 132
  8. ^ Harris, p. 149
  9. ^ Harris, p. 167
  10. ^ a b Harris, p. 175
  11. ^ a b c Harris, p. 176
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  16. ^ Serene Dominic, Burt Bacharach, song by song: the ultimate Burt Bacharach reference for fans, pg. 298, Schirmer Trade Books (2003), ISBN 0-8256-7280-5
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External links[edit]