18 May 2014

Bonehead: Definitely Maybe Is Oasis' Finest Hour

It remains the iconic Oasis album, and 20 years after it first topped the British pop charts Definitely Maybe is being celebrated with a remastered release featuring rare material from the band’s early days.

Two decades on, founder member Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthurs exclusively told the MEN that the album remains the band’s finest hour. He said: “I think lyrically it just captured everyone’s imagination, and they’re songs you can only write once - about wanting to be a rock ‘n’ roll star and live a different life.

“It’s a bit lyrically bizarre in places, and it might not be our most musical album, but I do think it’s our best body of work.”

“Did I believe we were going to get quite that big? Probably not - the album went Top 10 and as it fizzled out I probably thought, ‘Well, you know what, we did what we did there and didn’t we do it well?’. Then you fast forward two years and you’re at Knebworth.”

Definitely Maybe album cover  

The 20th anniversary edition of Definitely Maybe is released on CD, digital download and deluxe 12-inch vinyl and includes rare demos such as an acoustic take of Live Forever from a session in Paris and a version of Half The World Away recorded in Noel Gallagher’s Tokyo hotel room.

In 1994, Definitely Maybe stole the title of fastest selling debut record and ushered in a new era for Manchester music, heralding the start of the Britpop movement alongside Blur, Suede and Pulp. It has gone on to sell over eight million copies around the world.

Signed by Creation Records’ founder Alan McGee, Oasis struggled at first to capture the sound they’d perfected during rehearsals at Manchester’s Boardwalk club with first choice producer Dave Bachelor. “We expected to go in, on a count of four press record, and then we’ve got a record,” Bonehead recalls.

“That wasn’t the case, obviously; you’re living in a recording studio 24/7 with a producer. It just didn’t work - we had the wrong guy for the record, he wanted to do 32 takes of something until he was happy with it. Every time we played it back through the speakers it just didn’t sound right.

“We spoke to Creation and they said they’d spend money on it, and why didn’t we get in Mark Coyle? Eventually we went to his studio in Cornwall, everyone getting together in the studio making eye-contact, pressed record and that’s it - you’ve got it.”

The album made them stadium superstars, resulting in shows at Knebworth and Manchester City’s former ground at Maine Road within two years. “We were cocky, we were arrogant, we had a lot of self belief - which a band has to have,” Bonehead explains.

“When you’ve got a guy like Liam on stage and a guy like Noel writing your music and your words, then that’s going to give you confidence no end, isn’t it?

“Did I believe we were going to get quite that big? Probably not - the album went Top 10 and as it fizzled out I probably thought, ‘Well, you know what, we did what we did there and didn’t we do it well?’. Then you fast forward two years and you’re at Knebworth.”

Bonehead, who left the band in 1999 and is currently working on an album for new project Phoneys And The Freaks with young vocalist Alex Lipinski, denies Oasis have discussed the possibility of a reunion of the original line up to mark the anniversary.

“I’d love to see the band together playing that album again - of course I’d love to,” he says, “and the interesting thing is I can walk down the street and talk to 15-year-old kids who are massively into Oasis and they’ve heard it in their parents’ collections.

“I met up with Noel at a High Flying Birds gig up in Glasgow and he said the weirdest thing is looking at the audience - ‘The first five rows are 15-year-old girls and boys, they weren’t even born Bonehead! But they’re singing along to Wonderwall’.

“Half of these people weren’t around when Oasis were together - but would that warrant a reunion? I don’t know. There’s a moment for a reunion; no one wants to see old guys being wheeled on stage, or see them back on stage for the wrong reasons because they’ve been offered a million dollars.

“We all went to the Roses reunion which was incredible, and that did bring it all back. But an Oasis one - I don’t know, we’ve not spoken about it.”


I’d photographed Oasis and seen them live several times by the time I received a copy of the album from Creation - so I was familiar with the songs. The first time I heard it was on an early promo cassette! My initial thought was how exuberant and mature it was.

With the first two albums the whole of England became ‘Oasisworld’. Every bar, restaurant and shop played them on heavy rotation. It was the soundtrack to our lives. Whichever pub we used to go to before every Man City game, City fans would put the whole album on the jukebox...

I don’t listen to it very often - except when I get in my daughter Ella’s car. They were her absolute favourite band. And still are; I sometimes feel they’re the only two albums she owns.


I was 16 in the summer of 1994 and I remember going to Way Ahead record shop in the Victoria Quarter in Leeds to buy Definitely Maybe on the day of release. I bought the gatefold vinyl as it was limited edition. The cover was warped from the day I got it so maybe it was a ‘special’ first batch!

The album changed a lot for me. Kurt Cobain died in early April 1994 and Supersonic came out a matter of days later. That spring and summer, my friend Pete Hiley and I switched from playing bad covers of Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins songs to bad covers of each Oasis single and b-sides, as they were released.

I remember coming back from town on the Monday and going straight to his house to put the needle on Definitely Maybe. The sound was exciting. Loud, but in a different way to Nevermind or Siamese Dream. The wall of noise was immense. We played it A LOT.

I started buying Ben Sherman and Fred Perry shirts, got more into The Beatles, Kinks, Stones and a whole world of music from the 1960s that I hadn’t paid attention to beforehand. All for the better. Obviously I got the standard-issue indie haircut too. My sideys never flicked out quite like Liam’s though...

I never skip past a track from the album if it comes on shuffle and I probably listen to the album every few months. Usually when driving, or a bit ****** off and I just wanna play something loud. Cloudburst is one of my favourite b-sides from the era too. That gets a regular playing.


I was given my copy of Definitely Maybe by the band - I’d seen them quite early on supporting someone at The Boardwalk. I can’t remember who but even from the earliest gigs you could tell they were going to be massive.

Mark (Collins, Charlatans’ guitarist) bought a guitar from Noel before they had a record out (a blue Fender Jaguar that he still owns) and we recorded in the same studios as them and saw them at festivals when we were both on the bill.

We were pretty excited to hear Definitely Maybe and I think it was Bonehead that gave us one of the promo copies. I remember talking to Noel at Knebworth and we couldn’t quite believe that it had only been two years since they got the first copies of their debut album.

Definitely Maybe had a pretty huge impact on the whole of the music world. Before that The Charlatans were counted in with the baggy bands like Happy Mondays but that album kind of brought back some forgotten elements of guitar based rock ‘n’ roll - people definitely counted us in with them and that album ushered in the whole Britpop thing.

They didn’t necessarily change the way we did anything but Definitely Maybe brought the spotlight onto British bands from all around the world. Grunge had really taken a hold before then and it had all gone a bit checked shirt.


You could have picked a lot of rock albums that I wouldn’t have been able to talk about but Definitely Maybe did transcend a lot of genres and styles.

When it came out, I was DJing electronic music, funk, soul and hip-hop. The first bands I was into were the Stone Roses, The Pixies and the Happy Mondays, but at that time Oasis would have been the one band I was listening to all the time.

There are so many amazing singles on Definitely Maybe. I’ve got it on double gatefold vinyl and it’s still in the regular record collection that I take out. I spent the evening with Noel at Glastonbury last year watching Disclosure and seeing him embracing new music. At the time, people stereotyped Oasis as laddy, football types, but they’re intelligent guys who’ve written a great amount of brilliant songs - on that album and since.

Source: www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk

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