Oasis released their first single, 'Supersonic', 20 years ago today. Bill Borrows looks back in admiration at two decades spent in the company of the Gallaghers.
As Kurt Cobain's lukewarm corpse awaited discovery at 171 Lake Washington Boulevard, Oasis played live on Radio One for the first time. Three days later, his body had been found, and the team behind the launch issue of new magazine Loaded were engaged in frantic phone calls to the printer in an attempt to pull a story lamenting Cobain’s inability to behave like a real rock star and commit suicide properly.
‘Supersonic’, the first Oasis single, was released three days later and the defining magazine of the 90s hit the shelves (minus the Cobain piece) two days after that. Blur’s relentless and catchy ‘Girls and Boys’ was everywhere and in a couple of months the soon-to-be rechristened New Labour Party would elect a youthful leader to challenge the tired, sleazy, divided Tory government (if we knew then what we know now etc…).
Quite obviously something was afoot in the land. It felt like change.
Cobain had sung, ‘I Hate Myself And I Want To Die’ but less less than a year later everybody had already "sniffed it up a cane on a ‘Supersonic train" and now wanted to ‘Live Forever.’ Oasis had asked the question: ‘Isn’t everybody else sick and f****** tired of being miserable?’ The genius, whether by accident or design, was to answer it themselves two singles later.
"Maybe I just want to fly/ I want to live/ I don't want to die/ Maybe I just want to breathe/ Maybe I just don't believe," demanded Liam and, out-staring his brother’s words, "I want to live forever." Even the NME, still in their tear-stained Nirvana t-shirts and skinny-fit black jeans, found time to conclude, "Basically, what thus far looked like obnoxious Manc arrogance suddenly looks like sheer effortlessness. A terrific record." Yeah. Terrific. Thanks for catching with up the mood of the nation.
The mainstream media were not far behind, ‘Definitely Maybe’ became the fastest selling debut album in UK history and soon everybody was sprinkling cocaine on their cornflakes. Oasis and the brothers Gallagher were suddenly household names and just as likely to turn up on the front of the Daily Mirror as in the pages of the music press. Watching their lives from the outside became a national sport.
"When we started off," explained Noel, "we wanted the girls, the cocaine, the fur coats. It wasn't like it was an act. It was almost like working-class people winning the pools. We went bananas." Everybody lapped it up. The music was on the money (they couldn’t have got away with it otherwise) but more importantly their attitude chimed with the times. It was during this period that Liam stole the rights to the two finger salute from Kes. He still owns them today.
This is not the Oasis story - that remains to be written - but over the next twenty years entertaining interludes between number one albums, landmark gigs and the best guitar music for a generation would include: Fights between the brothers; cocaine; Liam shagging and marrying famous women; fights between the brothers; cancelled gigs; slagging each other off; divorces; cocaine; fights with photographers and bouncers; band break-ups; cocaine; band make-ups; slagging off every band around (particularly middle class outfits like Blur); cocaine; and, fights between the brothers.
They also gave a great quote. Whether it was Noel declaring his manifesto ("Smoke where you want, drink what you want, whenever you want. Get the age of consent down. Legalize drugs. Kill all the people who like grunge music. Kill all surfboarders. Melt the snow. Anybody who wears a cowboy hat should get the electric chair") or Liam explaining what he would be doing for on Christmas Day ("The usual. I'll be sitting there all day getting wankered. Probably eating loads of fucking food and all that. What are the kids after this year? What do you think? Loads of fucking toys") it was always memorable.
The second album, ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’ went straight to number one in the UK in October 1995, peaked at number four in the States and then it really went ‘Champagne Supernova’. But the "sheer effortlessness" of their ascent began twenty years ago today. Oasis, the band, might be in storage somewhere, but the brothers are still box-office, still feuding, still walking tall and still talking back. It has been rock n’ roll from the start. The only ingredient missing? A death in the band. But then, as they were so keen to point out at the start, they always wanted to live forever.
Check out the current collection and offers from Pretty Green here.