When five lads from Manchester took on the world with their seminal debut album Definitely Maybe, nobody could have known that the album would kick off a legendary career like Oasis have had. Except, maybe, Oasis themselves.
Fronted by Liam and Noel Gallagher, the album the brothers alongside Paul Arthurs and the rest of the band produced is one of the finest British rock ‘n’ roll has ever seen. A generation-defining album the likes of which we have hardly seen since. Celebrate the album with our definitive ranking.
There’s not much more to say about Oasis’ stonking debut record that hasn’t already been said alongside a faux-Manc accent and a Liam Gallagher impression. There are few albums that define an entire generation but Definitely Maybe wasn’t just a good album, the record and Oasis changed the way people spoke, what they listened to, who they listened to and what they looked like.
The album is 11 tracks of Britpop magic that speaks of the British Gen-X. While America was knee-deep in grunge, the British public were taking a look back to their rock ‘n’ roll heritage and bringing it into the modern world.
Oasis’ Definitiely Maybe ranked:
11. ‘Digsy’s Dinner’
A throwaway song if ever you’ve heard one, the track was actually written about going over to a friend’s house for some lasagna. It’s an obvious joke song and shouldn’t be taken with a pinch of salt.
It’s largely thought of as one of the only real missteps on the album which on a record with 11 tracks is no mean feat.
There’s something starry-eyed and kaleidoscopic about ‘Shakermaker’ which will undoubtedly see fans upset at its lowly inclusion. However, the song is, in regards to the rest of the record, not only a different pace but a bit flimsy.
Of course some of the guitar work is purely biblical but as one of the few mellow moments on the album it works as a nice reprieve when listening through.
9. ‘Up in the Sky’
The Gallagher brothers have often shared their love of The Stone Roses and with Liam Gallagher even calling their album the one record that changed his life. There’s more than a flavour of Ian Brown and the boys in this one.
The song is a joyful blend of heavy hitting Oasis power and the softer more melodic tunes of what is to come.
8. ‘Married with Children’
Living with a girlfriend who hates music is a pretty good reason not to have a girlfriend, but Noel Gallagher channelled that frustration into his music and wrote ‘Married With Children’. Another tongue-in-cheek track, the song explore the bitter life they would lead.
Parodying the annoying habits of one another the song resolves in a simple message of love triumphing overall. Though the irony of it all being in a song suggests Noel wasn’t really that bothered.
7. ‘Bring it on Down’
One song which speaks to the band’s connection with Britain’s working man is ‘Bring it on Down’ a track which revels in the serial retail developments of the working class. There’s something poetic about the group’s description of a world they would soon be propelled out of.
The saying used to go that Oasis was the sound of the council estate singing its heart out. The reason the residents picked up a human sheet was that they knew Liam and Noel were one of them and it was songs like this that proved it.
6. ‘Slide Away’
Chances are if you’re a diehard Oasis fan, seeing ‘Slide Away’ in the sixth position will be a point of contention. The track has gained popularity over recent years with many pointing to it as the softer moments of the band’s soul mixed effortlessly with its rougher edges.
A love song at heart, the track remains upbeat and has provided many friends and families with a boozy final sing-song. The track ends as a battle for the spotlight as Noel’s guitar and Liam’s vocal fight it out.
5. ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’
Speaking of boozy nights, we’d bet there hasn’t been a single Friday night in Britain where this song hasn’t been put on full blast and been accompanied by a drunken choir of rowdy lads.
While that image has quite rightly put many off the song, it’s hard to ignore it as a beer-spilling barnstormer. It’s an image of a working-class culture that isn’t just crystalline in its conception but authenticity too. You knew as soon as you saw the band perform the song that they had lived every word of it.
Not only a song which includes Liam Gallagher’s favourite lyrics of all time, but arguably the track that launched the group’s career into the stratosphere. Before ‘Supersonic’, the first of five singles from the album to be released, nobody knew the Gallaghers, afterwards, Oasis were the only band of the moment.
There’s an undeniable rousing quality to the track which has elevated it over the years into an unofficial national anthem of late-night takeaways. Everything that made Oasis a behemoth in rock is here; swagger, a sneer and the unshakeable notion that they were already superstars.
If you’re ever having to defend your love of the Mancunian legends from a barrage of lad-rock accusations then you just need to point to this criminally underrated masterpiece as proof of their underlying talent. Oasis are often seen as the louts of rock but songs like ‘Columbia’ show the intelligence behind their music.
One of the more textured moments of the album, Liam’s vocal is restrained and altogether more powerful because of it. There’s a fresh edge to this song in its Britpop surroundings and should always be revered as one of Oasis’ best.
2. ‘Rock n Roll Star’
If there’s one thing you can never levy at Liam Gallagher is that he doesn’t believe the words he sings. Gallagher, more so than any other rock star in modern memory, belives in his own ability and when he sings ‘Rock n Roll Star’ you know there’s authenticity in every single note.
Gallagher’s vocal is impeccable and also allows us the first real taste of his accentuated vowel annunciation as he delivers the word “Sunshiiieene” as nobody had ever done before him. While other artists may have opened their debut album about the journey to the top, Oasis proclaimed they were already rock stars. They didn’t need your approval.
1. ‘Live Forever’
Not only the best song on the album but arguably the best Oasis track of all time. ‘Live Forever’ might not be Noel’s favourite, he once said: “People said to me after ‘Live Forever’, ‘Where are you gonna go after that?’ And I was like, I don’t think it’s that good. I think it’s a fucking good song, but I think I can do better.” But there’s no doubt that it is an anthem.
The song was one of the foundation stones laid at the altar of Britpop and helped to define a generation of mid-90s kids who were looking for an identity. Oasis, above all else, made it cool to be British again. With songs like ‘Live Forever’, they reminded the public that with a decent tune and the right attitude you can change a whole lot.