It was five years ago today: The first album from Oasis
Sunday 22 August 1999
The band's formation and rise to prominence is something of a music-business legend. Liam Gallagher, inspired by the sulky swagger of the Stone Roses' Ian Brown, joined Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs, Paul "Guigsy" McGuigan and Tony McCarroll in a band in 1991. Liam's big brother, a roadie with the Inspiral Carpets, came back from a tour and saw them play. Noel, inspired by the guitar greatness of Johnny Marr, took over, wrote their songs and bought their gear.
In May 1993, Alan McGee, Creation supremo, saw the band threaten to smash up King Tut's in Glasgow if they didn't get to play; when they did, it was a blistering set. He signed them on the spot. Two singles - "Supersonic" and "Shakermaker" - appeared in the charts in early 1994, and the band quickly built up a next-big-thing reputation on the live circuit.
By the time "Live Forever" went in at No 10 in August, the band had also built up a tabloid-friendly reputation for drinking, drug-taking and hotel-trashing. Liam and Noel swore at and fought with each other, more often than not mid-gig.
But the critics knew this was part of the package. "It's their much- vaunted 'attitude' that has bolstered Oasis with the confidence to make [Definitely Maybe]," said NME. The album's 12 songs shone "like so much crystal cut-glass among the debris of the nation's hotel rooms," said Vox. "The sale able sibling hatred ... obscures their collective gift: superheated, brazen guitar married to wonderfully daft and striking lyrics delivered with guttersnipe self-possession" (Q). Melody Maker placed the album at "the exact point where pop meets rock, Revolver meets Exile on Main Street, the lightness of the Roses meets the heaviness of the Mondays".
Even the broadsheets forgave the arrogance and blatant influences: "As an uncomplicated celebration of youthful brio, this ... takes some beating" (Times); "A classic, world-beating guitar band" (Independent); "Pretty good" (Telegraph).
Definitely Maybe was the fastest-selling debut ever, and beat the heavily promoted Three Tenors to No 1. Since then, the band have rarely been out of the news: Liam and Noel's rows with Blur and other Britpoppers; Liam and Noel's rows with each other; Liam's rows with photographers, punters and Patsy Kensit; Noel's rows with other artists' copyright lawyers.
But their commercial clout is undisputed. (What's the Story) Morning Glory? (1995) broke the band in the US and the release of the big-budget Be Here Now (1997) caused queues outside record stores here. Both albums were multi-million sellers. In 1996, 250,000 tickets for two Knebworth concerts sold out in eight hours - but there were subsequent complaints about the shows' organisation and overcrowding. Another ticket-buying frenzy preceded their Earl's Court shows in 1997.
Since then, the band have disappeared - musically, at least - and Bonehead left last week. Their fourth album is now being remixed, but the indulgence of the music press has ceased. Next year, the public will have the final say.
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