It was bound to happen, sooner or later. Every Oasis album ranked.
Everyone has that one band. The band who first made you view music as something important, something tangible. The best bands inspire the same sort of tribalism as a football club can. My life changed forever when my dad brought Definitely Maybe home when I was 8. Due to my parents eclectic musical tastes and the stuff that was in the charts at the time, my earliest musical memories consist of Bob Marley, Bruce Springsteen, Take That and Chris de Burge (still love ‘Spanish Train’). Whilst I always enjoyed listening to music, it wasn’t until I heard Definitely Maybe that it all began to make sense.
Nirvana may have made me into an unbearably gloomy teenager and Weezer taught me it’s ok to feel alone but Oasis started it all. Oasis were exciting, raw, and loud. Whether accusations of plagiarism are justified or not is irrelevant. Oasis turned me and thousands like me onto music for the first time. They were the last great rock ‘n’ roll band…
In researching this article I listened to all of Oasis’ albums back to back and it is astonishing how many moments of my life they have soundtracked. Almost every album takes me back to a place or a time and it was an emotional task but one that I thoroughly enjoyed. Here are the results:
8. Dig Out Your Soul (2008)
Key Track: The Shock Of The Lightning
What They Said: ‘I’d like to make an absolutely fucking colossal album. You know? Like literally two orchestras, stuff like that.’ – Noel Gallagher
The huge clamour for Oasis to get back together is somewhat puzzling as Dig Out Your Soul is by far their most chugging and predictable work. This is particularly disappointing as lead single ‘The Shock Of The Lightning’ is one of their best ever songs. Aside from album opener ‘Bag It Up’ and wistful ballad ‘Falling Down’, Dig Out Your Soul is a forgettable affair with Liam Gallagher’s Beatles obsession becoming particularly galling in the Oasis by numbers, overbearing ballad ‘I’m Outta Time’.
Certainly not a fitting end for such an unstoppable band.
7. Standing On The Shoulder of Giants (2000)
Key Track: Fuckin’ In The Bushes
What They Said: ‘We should have never made Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants I’d come to the end. At the time, I had no reason or desire to make music. I had no drive. We’d sold all these fucking records and there just seemed to be no point.’ – Noel Gallagher
Crap title. Crap artwork. ‘Little James’. Just three reasons why Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants should have been an absolute disaster. Curiously however, it features some of Oasis’ best songs as well as dross like ‘Roll It Over’ and ‘I Can See A Liar’. ‘Go Let It Out’ is one of Oasis’ best singles, ‘Fuckin’ In The Bushes’ is the perfect album opener and ‘Gas Panic!’ is perhaps their most underrated song.
Most famously though Oasis’ 4th album features Liam Gallagher’s first attempt at song writing and it truly is awful. Try and make it to the end. The album also suffers from the loss of founder members Bonehead and Guigsy. Oasis no longer felt like a gang.
6. Don’t Believe The Truth (2005)
Key Track: Let There Be Love
What They Said: ‘He’s a fucking great guy and he’s one of the best drummers I’ve ever met in my life, but his personal life is fucking chaos. In the end he fucked off and we haven’t seen him since’ – Noel Gallagher on the departure of drummer Alan White.
The recording of Don’t Believe The Truth was a difficult time for Oasis with Alan White leaving and the original recordings scrapped completely. It is surprising then that the resulting album is mostly excellent. Album opener ‘Turn Up The Sun’ is a life affirming stomp with a massive riff (and the only good song Andy Bell contributed to Oasis). ‘Mucky Fingers’ comes off more as a Velvet Underground homage than plain rip off and ‘Lyla’ is a suitably massive lead single. Elsewhere, ‘Love Like A Bomb’ is one of Liam Gallagher’s most sophisticated songs and ‘The Importance of Being Idle’ is another classic Oasis single.
The album dips towards the end with some forgettable tracks but ‘Let There Be Love’ is one of my favourite Oasis songs and one of the rare examples of Noel and Liam sharing lead vocal duties.
5. Heathen Chemistry (2002)
Key Track: Songbird
What They Said: ‘I was in France really just having a wonderful time. Just fucking went for a walk with my acoustic. Sat under the tree. Nice song and that. There was me and no one. I wrote it in about 10 minutes. So that’s that.’ – Liam Gallagher on ‘Songbird’.
If Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants achieved anything it was that it alleviated pressure on Oasis’ 5th album with expectations decidedly dulled compared with previous releases. This resulted in a more relaxed sound. Gone is the wild, cocaine inspired, experimentation of Be Here Now and the overblown, uninspired songs from Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants, replaced instead by a solid collection of tracks that falls just short of greatness.
‘The Hindu Times’ is the sequel to ‘Who Feels Love’ but better and ‘Force of Nature’ joins ‘Gas Panic!’ as one of the great underrated Oasis tracks. ‘Little by Little’ is a touch over the top but ‘Stop Crying Your Heart Out’, ‘Born On A Different Cloud’ and ‘She Is Love’ are all brilliant songs in their own different way.
It is on the Liam penned ‘Songbird’ that Heathen Chemistry peaks however. A simplistic but catchy burst of genius. Fair play to him for having another go after the catastrophe that was ‘Little James’.
4. (What’s The Story) Morning Glory (1995)
Key Track: Behave… you know what it is.
What They Said: ‘I can’t fucking stand that fucking song!’ – Liam Gallagher on Wonderwall
‘I personally think that Definitely Maybe is a far better album…’ – Noel Gallagher
‘The album is a triumph, full of bluster, bravado and surprising tenderness. Morning Glory capped a true golden age for Britpop’ – Rolling Stone
Whether you share the Gallagher brothers surprisingly negative opinion of (What’s The Story) Morning Glory or not, there is no denying that was absolutely huge. Oasis’ second album briefly made them the biggest band in the world and ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ and ‘Wonderwall’ have become two of the most famous songs ever written. But what of the rest of the album?
‘Hello’ is another to stake a claim as the most underrated Oasis song and whilst ‘Roll With It’ is probably the weakest single from the first two Oasis albums, it is still a tune. I can barely listen to ‘She’s Electric’ or ‘Champagne Supernova’ any more but the fact is that most people in Britain could probably sing along to every song on Morning Glory. It is a landmark, a behemoth and also the moment that wave subsided for Britpop. British music will never feel as vital and as important again. And the title track is mega.
3. Definitely Maybe (1994)
Key Track: Slide Away
What They Said: ‘You can’t have five singles off a début album’ – Noel Gallagher on why ‘Slide Away’ remained an album track.
I have spoken before (at great length) about the difference between best and favourite. Definitely Maybe is not only Oasis’ best album but it is also possibly the best début album ever released and in ‘Slide Away’ contains the best song to never be released as a single. It is the perfect mix of rock ‘n’ roll hedonism and working class culture. Album opener ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’ rocked the music scene and changed English music forever.
Evidenced by the fact that Noel Gallagher still plays ‘Digsy’s Dinner’ live, Definitely Maybe is an album that still captivates, more than 20 years on. ‘Supersonic’ and ‘Live Forever’ join ‘Slide Away’ as being firmly featured in Oasis’ ten best songs and that is without even mentioning the ‘national anthem’ (according to Noel), ‘Cigarettes And Alcohol’.
Oasis would spend a career trying to top their début album. They never managed it.
2. The Masterplan (1998)
Key Track: The Masterplan
What They Said: ‘I was really fucking proud of it and I still am. It’s everybody’s favourite B-side. I think it’s the best song I’ve ever written’ – Noel Gallagher on the title track from The Masterplan.
If some of the grandiose claims I have made about Oasis in this article are up for debate, one thing that isn’t is that Oasis are the greatest B-Sides band ever. And I do mean ever. So much so that their compilation of B-Sides The Masterplan is better than most bands actual albums. Including their own.
Not only is The Masterplan a great album but it has also endured better than any other Oasis album. Morning Glory was overplayed and Definitely Maybe sounds a little jaded now but the songs on The Masterplan truly showcase how much of a genius songwriter Noel Gallagher actually is. I have probably drunkenly sang along to this album more than any other and I can’t wait for the next opportunity to do so again.
1. Be Here Now (1997)
Key Track: Stand By Me
What They Said: ‘The sound of a bunch of guys, on coke, in the studio, not giving a fuck. All the songs are really long and all the lyrics are shit and for every millisecond Liam is not saying a word, there’s a fucking guitar riff in there. – Noel Gallagher
‘I love Be Here Now, I won’t have a bad word said about it’ – Liam Gallagher
This is where the best vs favourite debate rears it’s ugly head again. Of course Be Here Now isn’t Oasis’ best album. It features a song called ‘Magic Pie’ for Christ’s sake. But in many ways Be Here Now IS my childhood. It is holidays to Bridlington and endless games of football. It’s pocket money and pick ‘n’ mix. It’s endless summers and cartoons and warm cider and guitars and Fifa 97 and friendship and immortality. Be Here Now transports me to a place and time that no other album, book, film or anything else can. Not many bands can lay claim to that. Like I said… the last great rock ‘n’ roll band.