Definitely Maybe was the debut album from Britpop band Oasis, released in August 1994 by Creation Records and distributed by Sony and Columbia Records. The album totals fifty five minutes and forty five seconds in length over eleven tracks and was produced by David Batchelor and Oasis; all songs were written by some permutation of the members of the group as well, usually either by Liam Gallagher or Noel Gallagher.
This album is largely responsible, along with Blur's album Parklife and Pulp's His 'N' Hers, for setting fire to the Britpop boom. It was released after two earlier singles by Oasis lit up the pop charts in the United Kingdom earlier in 1994, Supersonic and Shakermaker. Released simultaneously with the huge single Live Forever, this album shot straight to the top of the British album charts in August of 1994 upon its release, marking that a real revolution in pop music in Britain was occurring.
Many people would argue that this is the band's best album and it is definitely their hardest rocking one. Most American fans identify Oasis with their huge second album, (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, but this is the much harder rocking sound of a younger, fresher, and perhaps better Oasis. This album occupies a strange niche where boogie, glam and neo-psychedelia fuse together into a new pop-rock sound. The sound comes off like a mix of T Rex and the Stone Roses, fresh and vibrant and rocking even today.
Rock 'N Roll Star (5:22) leads off the album with a hard rocking number full of brash arrogance, great melody, and wonderful guitarwork. It's a sound of a young band prematurely cocky, but with the musicianship to back themselves up. It comes off like a charm and opens the album fantastically.
The second song was also the group's second single. Shakermaker (5:08) is a nice little psychedelic rocker, definitely an interesting choice for a single. Like any good single, though, it's inherently catchy and the middle portion and exit of the song with the distorted "Shake along with me" vocal line delivered by Liam Gallagher is just good stuff. Interestingly enough, the melody is only a minor adaptation of the classic I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing.
Live Forever (4:36), the third single, might be the best individual song that Oasis ever made. Think Champagne Supernova except it rocks a bit harder and isn't as laden with Beatles worship, but this song is so good that it can't be summed up so easily. Nevertheless, this was the first Oasis song I ever heard; I remember hearing it one morning in late 1994 and thinking "Who is that? I've got to get their album!" Unfortunately, I wouldn't make the connection for another couple years, but after hearing the wonderful psychedelic pop-rock of this album, I'm glad that I eventually did.
Up In The Sky] (4:28) shows off the melodic talent of the group very well. It's a bit less of a rocker than some of the earlier and later tracks, turning down the tempo a bit; it's more along the style of Some Might Say (my favorite Oasis track for personal reasons). Very nice.
Of course, the follower is complete guitar rock. Columbia (6:17) is just a straight-up guitar-heavy rock song; although the melody is solid, it just sort of comes off as filler and not up to the standards of the rest of the album.
Supersonic (4:43), the group's first single. It's another good song, reminiscent of a harder rocking version of the group's later She's Electric. This song demonstrates once again how much harder rocking this album is as compared to their bigger, later album (What's the Story) Morning Glory?.
Bring It On Down (4:17) is probably the hardest rocking track that the group has ever done; the guitars come hard and fast here. It's still a damn good track with a catchy melody, even though it's sort of outside what you might expect from Oasis if you're mostly familiar with their later work. The vocal distortion part is really good; they have a good grasp on what works and what doesn't in terms of using such techniques.
Cigarettes & Alcohol (4:49) is the second Oasis song I heard, played on a college radio station in the fall of 1996. The classic-rock style guitars and fuzz to open the track are perhaps the best part; some rave about the lyrics but this one works for me because of the distinctive, catchy, and wonderfully constructed melody.
The tenth track, Digsy's Diner (2:32) is widely considered to be the weakest track on the album and I can't help but agree. It just feels out of place with the rest of the songs for some reason; inherently weaker. Thankfully, it's the shortest song on the album, and it leads into a wonderful two song closer.
Thankfully, another killer track comes up next. Slide Away (6:32) is a great rocking love song. Everything just fits together here so tightly and yet it feels off-the-cuff as well; really a tribute to the great songwriting. Liam's vocals are wonderfully on key here, perhaps his best vocal performance with the group. It also has an amazing finish, something Oasis has repeatedly shown that they know how to do; nearly breathtaking and long... but not too long. Not as amazingly great as "Live Forever", but a damn good track.
The closer feels completely like a tacked-on coda, like Her Majesty at the end of Abbey Road. That doesn't mean Married With Children (3:11) isn't a good song; it's just that the wonderful close to Slide Away seems a much more appropriate album finisher. It's the mellowest song on the disc by far, featuring acoustic guitar and very sedate lyrics. An interesting way to finish the disc.
This is an excellent album, probably the best the group has ever done. It is their hardest rocking album by far as well, and one that's well worth picking up if you enjoy a good mix of rock and pop. Other recommendations include The Stone Roses self-titled album, His 'N' Hers by Pulp, anything by Suede, and the group's own follow up, (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, all in the same vein and worth listening to. But this may be the gem of the batch.