Oasis – Definitely Maybe: Deluxe Edition (Big Brother)


Oasis gets a lot of shit from critics – usually for being ignorant louts who steal from the most obvious elements of classic rock. Those charges aren’t completely unwarranted, but back before the band succumbed to their own coke-addled hubris and the general bloat of success, they were a lean and hungry band, best heard on Definitely Maybe, celebrated with this massive three-disc 20th anniversary edition. It’s an amazingly self-assured, borderline arrogant, debut for a young band, but behind all the infighting and boorish press-baiting was a tightly rehearsed cadre of music geeks, led by Noel Gallagher and his dual talents for big melodies and stadium rock accessibility. It’s a cliché, but Definitely Maybe really does play like a collection of singles (except the lighthearted piss-take of “Digsy’s Diner”) that nicked bits of T.Rex (“Cigarettes and Alcohol”), The Sex Pistols (“Bring It On Down”) and The Beatles (everything else) and added in a “live for tonight” vibe that resonated deeply with a hedonistic British youth culture that loved The Stone Roses, Primal Scream and The La’s a few years earlier and weren’t interested in grunge. You can pretty much throw a dart in the dark and hit a winner here, but my personal favorites are “Rock’n’Roll Star”, “Up In The Sky” and “Shakermaker” (with a vocal melody lifted from an old Coke commercial). These songs won’t make you any smarter, but they rock, and that’s good enough.

It wouldn’t be an anniversary reissue without some extras, and there’s plenty here, including remastered sound, new liner notes, period photos, and two discs of extra material. Disc 2 collects b-sides from the album’s four singles. Remember, this was an era when CD singles were big sellers and groups often recorded an album’s worth of b-sides for every album. These range in quality from pointless (a live cover of “I Am The Walrus”), to curiously atypical (“D’Yer Wanna Be A Spaceman”), to great (“Fade Away” probably should have been on the album). The third disc tacks on 17 previously unreleased songs, mostly live recordings, demos and acoustic renditions of album tracks. It’s an interesting companion piece, but not particularly essential or revelatory. The first two discs, however, are.

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Oasis – Dig Out Your Soul (Big Brother/Reprise Records)


Dig Out Your Soul, like everything else post-Morning Glory, probably won’t bring Oasis back to the dizzying world of pop stardom they inhabited in the mid-’90s. It is, however, another solid addition to their discography of British guitar-rock anthems. The album is a little more overtly psychedelic, with many songs built on layers of dense droning riffs coupled with Liam’s trademark sneer – especially evident on thumping Pretty Things-esque opener “Bag It Up” and the sitar-driven “To Be Where There’s Life”.  The band wisely tones down the arrogance too, replacing some of that youthful confidence with subtlety and texture. Perhaps the Gallagher brothers have grown up since the empty posturing of the old “Cigarettes and Alcohol” days, but they still haven’t outgrown their frustrating obsession with incorporating endless Beatles references in their work – love is described as a “Magical Mystery” on the otherwise stellar lead single “The Shock Of The Lightning”, and John Lennon’s voice is sampled on “I’m Outta Time”. The most inexplicable moment on Dig Out Your Soul, comes from bassist Andy Bell’s contribution “The Nature Of Reality” which is a turgid bore, considering how good he was in Ride. The album has its fair share of crap (closer “Soldier On” won’t end up on any future Best Ofs) – but don’t let that deter you. There’s still life in this old favorite.

Tracklisting:

  • Bag It Up
  • The Turning
  • Waiting For The Rapture
  • The Shock Of The Lightning
  • I’m Outta Time
  • (Get Off Your) High Horse Lady
  • Falling Down
  • To Be Where There’s Life
  • Ain’t Got Nothin’
  • The Nature Of Reality
  • Soldier On

Oasis – Lord Don’t Slow Me Down (Universal Records)


It’s been over a decade since Oasis’ commercial and creative peak, so a documentary from the group’s 2005/6 World Tour is a curious move – like documenting the Rolling Stones on The Steel Wheels tour. Still, watching the Gallagher brothers go through a litany of fistfights, drugs, alcohol, and slagging off other bands has always been fun, so why not film it? Oddly enough, director Baillie Walsh misses that side of the band in Lord Don’t Slow Me Down. Perhaps everyone behaved for the cameras, or maybe the band are growing up and would rather be known for music than tabloid fodder. Fair enough if that’s the case, but it’s hard to defend the merits of a film where nothing interesting happens. Instead, we follow them through a seemingly never-ending series of hotel rooms, buses, planes, banal questions from radio hosts, backstage dressing rooms, and stadium stages. It’s interesting to watch for Oasis’ fans (and judging from the size of the venues they play, there are still a ton of them out there), and the Gallagher brothers spew a few fine quotes, but as a tour documentary, it doesn’t go anywhere Radiohead’s Meeting People Is Easy didn’t already go in 1998. The second disc is a sixteen-song live set from a 2005 stadium gig in Manchester. The songs run the gamut from old hits to new album tracks, with a cover of The Who’s “My Generation” thrown in at the end. The band plays like a tight unit, and the crowd eats it all up with gusto, proving that, although they’ll probably never generate raw excitement like they did in the mid-90’s, Oasis are quite good at being a professional stadium-rock group.