Saturday, January 24, 2009

"Definitely, Maybe" - Great LPs of My Lifetime (First In A Series)

Days like today remind me of my discovery of Oasis. Rain coming in sideways, dreary January mornings walking to the bus stop and then on to the studio with an uphill mush. The music on my walkman propelling my legs made by five lads from Manchester, England.

It was the beginning of 1995. I had little exposure to British pop to that point. I knew Blur's campy Girls & Boys; Elastica's booming Connection was all over modern rock radio. But that was about it. Then one night, I was in the Tower Records on Ventura when I spotted a magazine called MOJO. The headline was "The Band You've Always Wanted." Really? A few days later, I trotted into Hollywood to seek out this band's debut CD.

For Christmas, I received a gift certificate to Blockbuster. They were pioneering the try before you buy model that eventually ran them out of business. It was my first time, so I sheepishly asked the attendant to listen to a disc called Definitely, Maybe. From the opening wall of guitars on Rock'N'Roll Star I was hooked. I didn't even need to hear the rest of the album. I got it and was back at my Hollywood hovel in minutes with the album cranked up. The next day I went to a newsstand and bought every British music mag I could lay hands on, including MOJO. BritPop became my crack for the next 3 years.

This past week, I put together a new play list of BritPop favorites. Oasis figures heavily. They became all I wanted to listen to in early '95. I only caught the music video for Live Forever once, but I would play it in my apartment constantly. Its chorus, "You and I are gonna live forever," became a mantra for me. A few days later, I shelled out $9 for an import CD single of Oasis' non-LP single Whatever. Wow. It was as if the Beatles had been reborn. I proceeded to buy up import single after import single to get all of the B-Sides. All in the span of two weeks.

The rain came down, I was making little money. It was a lonely time, but I had Oasis to amp me up. Then I saw the LA Weekly: Oasis were coming to town. I was late on the jump. Tickets had started at $10.67 (the show was sponsored by KROQ, the cost of the tickets being their location on the FM dial), but I missed out. I went to a broker and paid a whopping $35 for a standing room ticket. But what standing room. I was right next to the stage the whole night. Kicked in the head, pushed, jolted, bopped. Whatever. The show was glorious. They stoically tore through 95% of their album. Cigarettes and Alcohol still rings through my mind as I think about it. Oasis finished the set with I Am The Walrus. Ha ha. The nerve! They had it and have never lost it.

I lingered around the Palace's dance floor after the show, soaking up the atmosphere. From behind the stage emerged this shorter fellow with a Beatle Mop Top. It was lead guitarist, Noel Gallagher. I walked right up and introduced myself and told him how amazing the band and the CD were. He was very kind and seemed genuinely humbled by my compliment. He said "Thanks, nice to meet you, etc," and then was off for the bar.

Noel and his brother Liam have gotten bad raps over the years for being unapproachable, boorish, untalented... Whatever. I will always rank Noel among the coolest of my peers. Things came full-circle, in 2006, when I got to record at Monnow Valley Studio in Wales where Oasis had their first sessions for Definitely, Maybe.

Definitely, Maybe continually shows up on Top 100 lists. I'm not sure where it stands for myself but certainly within the Top 50. The CD is still as fresh and exciting as when I first heard it. So of it's time: Cool Britannia.

They paved the way to my taste for new and established UK acts like Supergrass and Pulp and the Austin Powers phenomenon. With their very personal battle with Blur, they competed to put out superlative records on a regular basis. It was exciting to visit record stores back then to hear what would come out of England next. Yes, for a long time, Oasis were the "Band I Always Wanted."



Blogger George said...

Maybe Definitely, but Cigarettes and Alcohol are two of the guiltiest of guilty pleasures... ummmm, let me rephrase that. Yes, that is one bad-arse tune! The band I was waiting for? Perty close.

-Numero Dos

6:41 PM, January 27, 2009  

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