Upon its initial release, Definitely Maybe went straight to number one in the UK charts and at the time was the fastest selling debut album of all time. Along with their rivals, Blur, and their album Parklife, it helped spur the revitalisation of the British pop music in the nineties.
The album opens with Gallagher’s aspirations of being a “rock and roll star” and these dreams echo throughout the album. As with the majority of the band’s songs from this era, it was written by Noel Gallagher who claimed that along with ‘Live Forever’ and ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’ was one of only three songs in which he had something to say. To date it remains a fan favourite and was a popular closing track at the band’s gigs.
Third single ‘Live Forever’ was released just before the album’s release in 1994, and Gallagher wrote the song in 1991 inspired by The Rolling Stones’ ‘Shine A Light’. The song became instrumental in securing their record deal with Creation Records. It was Oasis’ first single to hit the UK top 10 and gain chart success in the US. The song has been labelled one of the greatest anthems of all time by NME and XFM.
Placed halfway through the album is the band’s first single ‘Supersonic’. Despite not having the chart successes of the following singles, it remains one of the fans and the bands favourite songs, most likely due to its iconic lyrical style: “I know a girl called Elsa, she’s into Alka Seltzer”. Despite the similarities to George Harrison’s ‘My Sweet Lord’, Gallagher states the solo was not a deliberate copy. To date it remains Noel Gallagher’s favourite Oasis single and is frequently played at shows during his solo career.
‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’ was the fourth single to be released from the album. It moves away from the psychedelic and softer stylings of the previous singles and portrays the rougher musical attitudes that would come to be associated with the band for years to come. The poignant lyrics tap into the common sentiment of western disenchantment which was common in the mid-1990s, and it sparked claims of being one of the greatest social statements made in the past 25 years by the band’s founder, Alan McGee. The album also featured less well known songs such as ‘Digsy’s Dinner’ inspired by the musician Peter ‘Digsy’ Deary, a good friend of Noel Gallagher. It was recently be suggested it was a “piss-take” of rival band Blur.
The album draws to a close with another iconic classic ‘Slide Away’. Despite being a fan favourite, it was rarely played at concerts. Gallagher wrote it about his girlfriend at the time and their stormy relationship.
The album closer ‘Married With Children’ is a much softer song compared with 10 preceeding tracks. Inspired by his relationship at the time and the US sitcom of the same name, Gallagher states the song is just about pettiness. Predominantly acoustic the song sounds as if it was an extra that had been tacked onto the end of the album after the closing of ‘Slide Away’.
Definitely Maybe didn’t set out to redefine rock & roll, but inhabit it. And it does so with style and swagger. There are few debut albums that so perfectly capture the mantra of the band and leave it embedded for a long while. Definitely Maybe captured the legacy that is Oasis in its 52 minutes and is an iconic album in the band’s turbulent success.
Definitely Maybe was released on 29 August, 1994 via Creation Records.