"There was no need to twat us with the fooking guitar."
Fucking Hell. Eleven years, since Oasis knocked out their first album. Eleven years, the streets of my estate ringing and echoing with guitar chords and harsh vocals. Everyone was playing this. And when I mean everyone, I mean everyone
. Cars would cruise by playing it. Everyone's elder sibling had it. At any party, it was the first CD on and usually got repeat plays. I was twelve, and had hardly even a passing interest in music, but I bought the album because it was fucking unmissably great. You couldn't help but feel your nerves thrill to the guitar solos, tap your feet to the drumbeat and wail along to the lyrics.
Oasis combined everything great about Brit rock and roll from bands like the Who, the Jam, the Kinks, the Stone Roses, the Beatles and even T. fucking Rex. They were utterly British, and their first album had style, swagger and the talent to back it up. They rode the crest of the Britpop wave, but didn't get trapped and wipe out when the fad ended. They used guitars prominently, shockingly so compared to most bands at the time, and that was all it took to grab people's attention at first.
Ok, they were Mancs, but at least they weren't a bunch of fucking southerners like Blur.
The album opened up with a bit of a corker, Rock 'n' Roll Star, a torrent of guitars and drawn-out lyrics, a declaration of intent if there ever was one. Though they didn't have the sheer speed of some bands, Oasis had a relentless rhythm that had energy and pace that they could sustain, that they could hold in plateaus, sometimes for whole songs. The guitars never really back off, even at the end they wail and waver under Liam's vocals. They were the first guitar-heavy band in years.
Shakermaker was a step down in pace, slightly more spacey-sounding with a more melodic contribution from the guitars this time. Despite a simple, solid sound, it was overshadowed by Rock 'n' Roll Star and followed up by what many people think is the best track on the album. It's a competent song, but the more you listen to the album the more it sounds like filler. Perhaps it's just that the rest of the album is such a high standard? Shakermaker was released as a single, and singles sometimes don't sound as good in the context of an album.
"Gerroff us, you fookin puff."
Live Forever rolls to a start with thumping drums and subtle background guitar chords, soon lifted up by the soaring lyrics sung with the nasal howl that only Liam can do. I still think this track is slightly bigger than the band, slightly beyond their talents, but 'A' for effort and having the balls to try. It's the track you think of when you mention the album to people. The perfect guitar solo from Noel and his simple, understated lyrics make this a true anthem, the sort of song you always have to listen to right to the end, because it makes you feel so good.
Up in the Sky is slightly faster, ups the tempo, but is a step down in quality this time. It's got a rollicking intro guitar that doesn't let up throughout, with the drums being heftily whacked in the background but the nonsensical lyrics do let the song down a little. A prime specimen of their energy and how raw and new they were. It doesn't sound the same to me as it did more than a decade ago, it's still brash but it has the ring of arrogance rather than confidence. Good to drive fast to, though.
Columbia has an echoey feedback intro that eases you into a much bigger sound, into a resounding guitar, the drums keeping a snappy pace. Liam's singing is actually softer than on the other songs, the lyrics of which are quite direct. Sometimes Noel wanders into the Realms of Daftness when songwriting, but not here. Simple melody, easy riffs, plain lyrics. The whole is more than the sum of its parts.
One of the standout songs for me is Supersonic. It's not the best in terms of substance, the lyrics are sometimes plain odd, but it was a spot-on expression of who Oasis were and what they were doing. Dissatisfied with the status quo (not the band), they declared themselves and managed to slip a Beatles reference in during the process. Solid guitars with a lot of depth, it's the sort of song that makes me want to pick up my guitar, even now that I can't play.
Bring It On Down is a last wild careering flourish before the last four songs ease us down into silence. It's hard and fast and Liam screeches over the hammering drums and you can't help but feel your heart pick up a little, that little sympathetic twitch you get in your feet and fingers, that little head bop you do when you're really into the music.
"The fookin hernia they took out of us was this big!"
Cigarettes & Alcohol unapologetically nicks a whole riff from T. Rex and puts it to good use, with Liam yowling like the British Axl Rose, Manc accent really kicking in, lyrics about disenchantment and squealing guitar chords intertwining and though not eloquent by any means, the expression is unmistakable, the intent clear. Oasis are a bit miffed and things are going to change.
Digsy's Dinner is a wannabe-cheerful boppy little song you'd expect from another band entirely, complete with piss-take lyrics and tinkly little piano piece that you can't help but smile at, it's so unexpected.
Usually, when someone asks you about an album, you think of a favourite song on it too. It's not always what everyone else thinks is the best song, thank you personal taste, but that's the song you would have bought the album for. Slide Away, for me, is that song. Full of regret and loss and hope, this tune really
flies. It's by far my favourite on the whole album, the repeated refrain, constant towering guitars, lyrics full of desperation and sung with such belief.
A truly great song.
Married With Children is a soft, mainly acoustic offering, the lyrics sung much more clearly, though still plaintive and though it does have a certain charm, it's a nice note to go out on and nothing more.
All told, it's a pretty fucking good debut album. It's a pretty good album full stop, really. Fastest-selling debut album in the UK for a reason, and despite what the detractors say, Oasis never relied on hype as much as Blur did. They relied on their arsing about instead. Bettered by Morning Glory? Possibly, possibly. But Oasis and music in general were never the same after this album. They didn't single-handedly restart rock 'n' roll, but they did give it a kick right up the fucking arse.
As usual, once the hype has died down, and you look back a decade later, you see that the music is both less and more than what you thought it was, that it has changed, because you have, and so has your way of looking at things. It's the same CD, the same songs, but you can't perceive them as you once did, and any effort to will be pointless anyway. You're not the person you were ten years ago. Christ, you're not the person you were five minutes ago. Looking back at the markers of time you left, you're seeing a different side, a different face to when you left them. The things you bring and the things you take away are as different as you are. But there are some constants.
"It's just rock 'n' roll."