Oasis. The very word summons images of the rivalry with fellow Brit rockers Blur, the brotherly feuding, the eyebrows. From the mid 1990’s, they held the music industry in a clenched fist and refused to loosen. The release of debut album Definitely Maybe in 1994 helped light the fuse to a revival of British music, branded ‘the Britpop movement.’ As grunge music came to a grinding halt, Oasis offered a fresh, somewhat more optimistic sound. It was met with rave reviews. The critics lapped it up – Oasis were essentially an overnight success. From there, there really was no going back.
So where do you go next after you’ve released the fastest selling British debut album of all time? Oasis, of course, arrived at the obstacle of that notorious ‘difficult second album’. But what they created is what would ultimately define them. Where Definitely Maybe presented the rock and roll pipedreams of four working class Manchester lads determined to conquer the world, (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? saw them beating their musical chests knowing that the world was already theirs. The album justified the excessive self belief (bordering on arrogance) that the band so frequently radiated, and lived up to and exceeded the expectations of fans and critics alike.
At this point, Noel Gallagher’s songwriting was at its absolute peak; from the inimitable Wonderwall through to the poetic Cast No Shadow, Gallagher was penning the songs that acted as the soundtrack to a generation. These softer, more laid back tracks are in stark contrast to the cocaine fuelled Morning Glory, the happy-go-lucky and slightly comical She’s Electric and of course, there are the stadium anthems like Don’t Look Back In Anger and the raw edginess of Roll With It. With this many of the band’s most famous songs, anyone could be forgiven for thinking (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? was Oasis’ greatest hits album. For not one moment does it relent. From pounding wah-wah infested opener Hello to the seven minute Lennon-esque epic Champagne Supernova, the album is jam packed with the tracks that still form the backbone of the Oasis back catalogue.
Often criticized for being a ‘copycat’ album, What’s The Story simply parades its influences for all to see – throughout the album, you can hear echoes of T-Rex, The Rolling Stones and of course, The Beatles – yet Oasis refuse to let this infringe on their territory, claiming the distinctive overdriven lad rock sound as their own. While the band disintegrated, this, their most emphatic collection of recordings to date, has stood the test of time. Every track still sounds crisp, fresh out of the box. This remains Oasis’ crowning achievement – a true modern classic.