In 1990, British rock was dying. By then, the glory days of the British invasion were long gone. Traditional rock music was wobbling on its last legs and late ?s American pop and grunge rock were preparing to knock it down once and for all. Popular bands like The Stone Roses and The Smiths went largely unnoticed by the rest of world. Britain began to dry up and descend into irrelevancy.
Then the nation found its Oasis. The Gallagher brothers of Manchester were no ordinary duo. Boisterous and ambitious, their musical confidence overtook the musical landscape like a storm. Their debut album, “Definitely Maybe,” was inspirational in countless ways. The hard-hitting, back-to-basics rock music brought energy and enthusiasm to a generation. The garage band mentality was rejuvenated, and guitars were back in business. Looking back on its release twenty years later, it is clear “Definitely Maybe” has cemented a position as one of the most influential albums in British history.
“Definitely Maybe,” named the fastest-selling British debut album of its day, contains no weak points. Opening track “Rock ‘N’ Roll Star” showcases the band’s desire to become superstars and is lyrically relatable to big-dreaming youth. The album then progresses to pack a punch with a stream of steamy guitar on “Supersonic,” “Columbia,” and “Bring It on Down.”
The band also reveals its lighthearted persona throughout the album. An example of this is heard on “Digsy’s Dinner,” which describes a couple getting together for tea and lasagna. Songs of this nature became a staple of the Brit-Pop movement.
Perhaps the strongest tracks are “Live Forever” and “Slide Away.” While sown together by very simple lyrics (“Did you even feel the pain of the morning rain?”), the songs are emotionally powerful. The guitar riff capping off “Live Forever” is the strongest of the album. In “Slide Away,” lead singer Liam Gallagher displays the finest vocal performance of his career.
The new era of English rock and roll can trace its roots back to Oasis and this triumphant debut album. Even though this year marks its twentieth anniversary, it continues to be an inspiration to rock revival artists everywhere.