Two decades after Definitely Maybe was released, kick-starting a tidal wave in British music and popular culture, Oasis’ seminal debut album has been remastered...
Given how radically different British popular culture was 20 years ago, it’s difficult to comprehend the impact Oasis had.
At their 1997 commercial peak, the Manchester five-piece’s third album Be Here Now, sold an astonishing 696,000 copies in its first week of release.
Factor in that the Rolls Royce-fronted album didn’t appear on shop shelves until the Thursday of that week, not the traditional Monday, and it seems almost otherworldly.
For comparison, the biggest-selling album in the UK during 2013, One Direction’s Midnight Memories, sold 20,000 fewer copies than that all year.
The band’s single releases made prime-time news bulletins and 2.5million people tried to get tickets for their two gigs at Knebworth (events which broke attendance records).
The band’s original guitarist, Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthurs, left the band in 1999 during the recording of their fourth album, seemingly burned out by their hedonistic lifestyle, to dedicate his time to his family.
“I wouldn’t say I missed it,” he says. “It’s hard to explain. Leaving the band wasn’t a decision I came to overnight, I thought about it for ages.
“I was Oasis and Oasis was me when I was in that band. It was everything to me, I lived and breathed it.
“It was still in me two years later. It’s hard to explain, but it took a few years to get back to being me. The old me.
“The main thing is I experienced it. From the beginning through to the massive heights.”
The beginning he talks of goes back to the early Nineties, a different line-up, empty gigs at Manchester’s Boardwalk and the rest of it.
The beginning most people know about, however, came in 1994, with a debut album that put Oasis straight on the map, Definitely Maybe.
It turns 20 this year and, to mark the occasion, has been digitally remastered and repackaged ready for re-release.
Frontman Liam Gallagher might have questioned why it’s happening.
But, considering Gallagher has an ongoing paternity case on his hands and recently got divorced, maybe he’ll change his tune when the money comes rolling in...
Bonehead heard about the plan to reissue the album around Christmas time.
“As soon as the remastered tapes arrived at my house, I sat down and went through them,” he says. “It was probably the first time in years that I’d listened to the album from start to finish and it really brought tons of memories and feelings back.”
As well as the remastered 11-track record, the deluxe 3-CD version of the album comes with assorted rarities, alternate demos, B-sides and live recordings.
Another thing that brought back memories was the recent exhibition, Chasing The Sun, which took place in April in London.
It featured hundreds of items from Oasis’ early days, including guitars, unseen photographs, not to mention a full-size replica of Bonehead’s former front room, known to millions as the room the band are posing in on Definitely Maybe’s cover.
He hopes the exhibition will be taken on tour around the country so fans from all over will get the chance to see the artefacts and recreate that famous sleeve.
Wigan photographer Brian Cannon designed the band picture which adorns the front of the album, and they have teamed up again on the reissue, which comes in a lavish limited-edition boxset which comes with a 56-page hardback book.
Brian, 47, said: “It was wonderful to work with Noel Gallagher again and it came as a complete bolt out of the blue.
“Nobody knew about the reissue but I got an email last October asking if I would be interested, and it took me about one nanosecond to think about it.
“I came at it from a fan’s point of view, asking what I would like to see, and decided it should be things that have never been seen before.
“The front and back images are identical, because you just can’t change that, but there is a very slight difference between them ”
Brian produced the original artwork with photographer Michael Spencer-Jones, one of a string of album sleeve collaborations in the 1990s, notably The Verve’s A Storm In Heaven, which used pictures of both Birkdale Cemetery and Formby beach.