A brilliant study of Oasis' debut album, highlighting the band's massive cultural impact and the raw, positive power of those early songs.
Writing in Manchester in the years 1992-93, in a context in which the depression of social marginalisation was palliated by a culture of radical hedonism and belligerence, Noel Gallagher composed a series of songs that distilled the spirit of the age far better than the more usually celebrated Kurt Cobain. Gallagher's lyrics on Definitely Maybe offered a message of affirmation and hope that was couched in language of remarkable clarity and directness. As Gallagher would later put it, Cobain had everything, and was miserable about it. And we had fuck-all, and I still thought that getting up in the morning was the greatest fucking thing ever, because you didn't know where you'd end up at night.
In an era in which deconstructive cynicism was threatening the very existence of the counterculture and the mainstream Left, Oasis offered a radical, anomalous vision of positivity. And the fact this was indisputably a working-class vision founded in solidarity and fraternity was incredibly important. To a post-Thatcherite Britain that had just undergone the most debilitating period of social upheaval in a century, Gallagher ventriloquised slogans of burning communitarian optimism through the mouth of his brother Liam and the playing of the other Oasis everymen, Paul McGuigan, Paul Arthurs, and Tony McCarroll. The sheer elemental energy of Gallagher's idealism was breathtaking.
Alex Niven charts the astonishing rise of Oasis in 1993 and 1994 and celebrates the life-affirming, communal force of songs such as Live Forever, Supersonic, and Cigarettes & Alcohol, and in doing so, he seeks to reposition Oasis in relation to their Britpop peers.
About the Author
Alex Niven was a founding member of the Mercury Prize-nominated band Everything Everything. He is currently working on his PhD at Oxford University, and is the author of Folk Opposition (2011).
As well as an accomplished assessment of an underrated album from an overrated band, the book is a salutary example of how to interpret politics through culture, and culture through politics. -- Rhian E Jones Los Angeles Review of Books It is a credible thesis, borne out by the history of the band and its music ... As Niven argues in his introduction, literature on Oasis has thus far tended to treat its subject either fawningly or dismissively, not critically. Niven's book plugs that gap. -- Joseph Charlton Times Literary Supplement The 33 1/3 series is a unique opportunity for writers to take a single album, examine it in greater depth ... It's set a very high standard which Niven more than meets here, offering a smorgasbord for thought for Oasis scholars and watchers. He leaves no song unturned, subjecting each to the sort of breakdown and appreciative analysis they've rarely enjoyed, his scrutiny yielding fresh insights .. I'd recommend this book to anyone but the person I'd recommend it to above all is Noel Gallagher. -- David Stubbs Review31 Niven is right to identify Oasis as the most culturally central, and in that sense the most important, voice of the period. -- Harry Stopes The Oxonian Review Niven does a remarkable job summing up what made Oasis so special in that moment - while also hinting at the demise that would follow. It's a fantastic book, and if you care about Oasis, you should read it. Stereogum I still respect the amount of research beyond the band itself that had to go into writing this book. Knowing the climate in which Oasis was created is as necessary as the songs when one wants to talk about the importance of the band. On that, I am with [Niven] ... [This book] gave me a lot to think about, and the discussion and study of Oasis is one of my favorite subjects. -- Sara Habein Perspehone Magazine [Niven's] documenting an era that was considerably well-documented - this was the last great gasp of the music newsweeklies, after all - but he's uncovering necessary truths that were hidden in plain sight and need to be remembered. Reading this 33 1/3, all the nostalgia surrounding the 20th anniversary of Britpop fades and all the exciting turmoil of that fleeting time comes into sharp relief. -- Stephen Thomas Erlewine Stephen Thomas Erlewine's blog I've often said that the goal of a 33-1/3 book is to get the reader to enjoy and appreciate the album more after reading the book. Niven agrees, as from the first paragraph he makes clear that this is what he set out to do. By this measure, Oasis' Definitely Maybe (the book) is a wild success ... [It] is a great addition to the 33-1/3 canon. 2bit Monkey blog Sometimes it can be invigorating and even instructive to disagree with an author. Reading Alex Niven's spirited defense of Oasis' 1994 debut, Definitely Maybe, there were moments when I shook my head and devised mental rebuttals against, for instance, his comparison of the band's pop-history scavenging with hip-hop sampling. And yet, he makes his arguments with such insight that for a while I did come to think of Oasis as a bunch of leftist revolutionaries reconceiving pop music as a vehicle for working-class liberation. -- Stephen M. Deusner Pitchfork
Series: 33 1/3
Number Of Pages: 144
Published: 3rd July 2014
Publisher: Continuum Publishing Corporation
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 16.5 x 12.1 x 1.4
Weight (kg): 0.14
Edition Number: 1