This week sees the reissue of Oasis' all-conquering sophomore album, so we give you the rundown on what you can expect from the reissue and pick out 10 of their best b-sides...
May this year marked the 20th anniversary of Definitely Maybe, the 1994 debut album from Manchester’s most famous pair of feuding brothers and their band, Oasis.
In the context of a music scene dominated by post-Nirvana grunge bands and London art school Britpop types, Oasis were a breath of fresh air for many. Definitely Maybe was seen as a sort of working class antidote to the likes of Suede and The Auters, capturing the zeitgeist of an era identifiable by lad mags a new found renaissance for the ‘British Invasion’ bands of the 60s. Drawing comparisons to The Beatles (the haircuts), The Kinks (the rowing brothers) and The Stone Roses (just because they’re from Manchester), the band shot to fame with their album being heralded as one of the greatest debuts from any British band in a generation, propelled by the prolific songwriting talents of Noel Gallagher. Including the anthemic ‘Live Forever’ and the T-Rex influenced ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’, Definitely Maybe set the tone for one of the most successful British bands of the 90s.
Their follow-up, (What's The Story) Morning Glory?, transformed Oasis from young upstartes to bona fide mainstream rock stars, becoming one of the most ubiqutous records of the decade. There was a period in the mid-1990s when you literally couldn't walk into a pub in some places without hearing this album blaring out of the speakers, and songs like 'Wonderwall', 'Don't Look Back In Anger' and 'Champagne Supernova' all but became unofficial national anthems.
This week a reissued version is available and, as with Definitely Maybe, there are a range of formats on offer, from a standard edition single CD featuring a remastered version of the abum, right through to the all-singing, all-dancing boxset which includes a selection of goodies such as a hardback book, a replica promo casette, 180g vinyl and bonus discs containing a selection of rarities, live versions and b-sides. And, for those who remember, b-sides are something Oasis were always pretty darn good at.
To celebrate the occasion, we’ve picked our 10 favourites…
Click on the links in the text below to find the albums each single was taken from on our download store
10. (I Got) The Fever
A b-side to 1997 single 'Stand By Me', taken from the band’s third album Be Here Now, it perhaps should have been a contender for an album track at least, but sadly it was relegated to b-side status. It’s difficult to see why this was seen as less appropriate for the album than something like ‘All Around The World’, but there we are.
9. The Masterplan
The title track for the band’s own collection of b-sides released in 1998, 'The Masterplan' features Noel on vocals and a lush string arrangement that show Oasis were about more than just turning the guitar amplifiers up to 11. Originally though, the song appeared as a b-side to 'Wonderwall', taken from (What's the Story) Morning Glory?
8. Talk Tonight
A gorgeous little acoustic ditty voiced by Noel that originally appeared as a b-side to 'Some Might Say' from (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, ‘Talk Tonight’ is as stripped back as Oasis get, just guitars, voice and a little Fender Rhodes piano tinkling away in the background. To put it simply, we love it.
7. Fade Away
Although a stripped back acoustic version of this song featured on 1995’s HELP album, a fundraising exercise for children affected by the situation in Bosnia organised by the charity Warchild, we’ve gone for the version that featured on ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ from Definitely Maybe. Faster, fully electrified and, unlike the HELP version, voiced by Liam, it’s an absolute cracker.
6. The Swamp Song
A rare instrumental track that sounds like Canned Heat meets Black Sabbath, fans of (What's the Story) Morning Glory? will remember the excerpts of this track that fade in and out preceding 'Some Might Say' and the album’s closing track 'Champagne Supernova', but a live version of the track was included in full as a b-side to ‘Wonderwall’.
Another track included on the b-side of ‘Some Might Say’, this was released prior to (What's the Story) Morning Glory? and included a tantalising glimpse of the album’s title track playing in the background at the beginning of the song. Voiced jointly by Liam, who takes the verses, and Noel on the chorus, it’s one of our favourites.
4. Half The World Away
Originally a b-side to ‘Whatever’, a single released between Definitely Maybe and its all-conquering follow-up, ‘Half The World Away’ took on a life of its own and is perhaps better known these days as the theme music to Caroline Aherne’s BAFTA-winning sitcom The Royle Family.
3. Idler’s Dream
A b-side to 'The Hindu Times', taken from 2005's Heathen Chemistry, this often-overlooked song features some great fuzzed-up guitars and sounds a lot more punk rock than you would normally expect from Oasis, which is no bad thing as far as we’re concerned. An under-appreciated gem.
2. Step Out
Another track voiced by Noel, who cheekily lifted the chorus melody from Stevie Wonder’s ‘Uptight’, ‘Step Out’ was a b-side to their anthemic single ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’. Originally intended for inclusion on (What's the Story)..., it was pulled from the album after Stevie Wonder demanded 10% of the royalties. Quite rightly, to be fair…
1. I Am The Walrus
OK, this is obviously a cover version of a song by The Beatles, but the live version recorded at the Glasgow Cathouse that was included on the b-side to 'Cigarettes and Alcohol' was always a live favourite, often used to close their shows with Liam wandering off when his vocals were done with and leaving the rest of the band to jam around the song’s cyclical, descending chord progression until… well, until they got bored, basically.