In the wake of Kurt Cobain’s 1994 death, one band rose to breathe some new life into the wounded music industry and challenge the prevalence of American grunge music. Oasis, a five-piece from Manchester, England, would soon change the course of rock-and-roll and popular music forever. And as you dive into the band’s discography, there are plenty of righteous tunes – a whole lot of them. But success wasn’t automatic, nor was it always easy-going.
Considering the band’s humble beginnings in 1991, a breakthrough record deal with indie label Creation in 1993, and performing record-setting live concerts at Knebworth Stadium in 1996, Oasis had gone everywhere and back on their way to the top of acclaimed and adored bands of their generation. Here, you can track the band’s highs and lows and gain a deeper appreciation of the music and the artists and human beings that created it.
Released: August 29, 1994
Oasis formed out of two chain events. First, four guys started a band called the Rain, kicked the original vocalist out, and asked a friend, Liam Gallagher, to audition for the role of vocalist. He joined the band and got everyone to agree to a name change. Oasis was born! They played a gig in August 1991 that would prove pivotal, as Liam’s older gigging brother, Noel, experienced with touring as a roadie, saw the band and wanted to join – but only if he would become their leader and songwriter. The band agreed and got to work.
The band quickly developed a style based on simplicity. But through that cohesiveness, the power of the songwriting became immediately transparent, and the songs themselves became enormous-sounding. Noel made the bassist and rhythm guitarist play simple root notes and barre chords, respectively. After performing live for about a year, they got scouted and eventually signed by indie label Creation Records. The music they were making was immediately connected with people.
They cut a demo and released a single, “Supersonic,” which struck number 31 on the charts, and their third single “Live Forever” cracked the top ten. They struggled to finish the record, but eventually, Definitely, Maybe got released, and within a week, it became a number one record.
- “Live Forever”
- “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”
- “Cigarettes and Alcohol”
- “Slide Away”
- “Married with Children”
(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?
Released: October 2, 1995
The second studio by Oasis album saw production handled by Owen Morris and the band’s guitarist and songwriter Noel Gallagher, who had a specific vision for the band. Whereas the debut album was more focused on straightforward rock and roll, this album got created in a deliberate attempt to evoke mass emotional appeal through balladry and anthemic hooks. To this end, the band added string arrangements, which stand in stark contrast to the band’s debut, which is considerably rawer. Here is the album that made Oasis a household name, and it gets widely credited with accelerating British indie music.
Although many critics panned the album as a regression from the band’s strong debut, over time, the album has consistently gotten regarded as one of the most vital albums from the nineties and of all time, especially given its status as one of the best-selling records of all time. The album broke sales records during its first week on the market, topped the UK Albums Chart, reached number four on the US Billboard chart, and won the 1996 Best British Album award.
(What’s the Story) Morning Glory? saw some controversial lineup shifts and retains a somewhat infamous status. “Don’t Look Back in Anger” sees Noel take lead vocal duties, which essentially deepened a rift in the band. But it’s one of the band’s best songs, and it’s easily their second most popular song. “Wonderwall” might be one of the most well-known songs in modern music nowadays. And even though it has received a ton of play, the immortal quality of the tune speaks for itself – it is definitively the band’s signature tune. Note the original drummer was replaced by Alan White during recording, though McCarroll does drum on one song, “Some Might Say.” It also remains one of the band’s most beloved singles.
- “Don’t Look Back in Anger”
- “Champagne Supernova”
- “Some Might Say”
- “Cast No Shadow”
- “She’s Electric”
Be Here Now
Released: August 21, 1997
Be Here Now somewhat marks the end of Oasis, even though the band would trudge forward with four more records for a decade longer. Still, the sessions saw frequent infighting brought on by unresolved sibling rivalries, artistic differences (notably Noel wanting to sing more and more), and a ton of drugs, all of which permanently injured the band. Owen Morris again co-produced the record, and he has stated the band only recorded the album for commercial reasons – not out of love for the craft. That, coupled with the increasingly over-produced nature of the LP (and its excessive run-time), has given the album a sour-tasting quality for many of Oasis’ hardcore fans.
Before the release, media speculation ran rampant as the band’s management company intentionally limited media access to the album’s production process. So, when the album’s lead single “D’You Know What I Mean?” dropped, everyone was curious, and nearly everyone picked up a copy. Ultimately, the anticipation of Be Here Now guaranteed worldwide commercial success, and it became the best-selling record of the year in Brittain.
It is the band’s third and last platinum-selling album in the United States and was certified 7x Platinum in their home country. Unlike the band’s previous album, reviews were positive for Be Here Now upon its release, and over the years, those reviews have flipped negative. Many critics note this album as the end of the Britpop boom. Despite all of the valid criticisms, Oasis fans can find a lot to enjoy in this record.
- “D’You Know What I Mean”
- “Stand By Me”
- “All Around the World”
- “Don’t Go Away”
- “The Girl in the Dirty Shirt”
- “Magic Pie”
Standing on the Shoulder of Giants
Released: February 28, 2000
Big Brother, Epic
The fourth studio album by Oasis was released under their new record label, Big Brother. But this milestone for the group did not come without struggle. Before the release of Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, Creation Records closed up shop. To make matters worse, Oasis lost two founding members (their bassist and guitarist – crucial to the band’s sound!) and their longtime co-producer, Owen Morris. A lot was about to change, namely the music. Part of that sonic shift encompassed more directly psychedelic influences, similar to Revolver-era Beatles, with instruments like the sitar and mellotron and recording techniques like sampling and backward guitars. The album, therefore, also shares a more electronic-tinged influence than its predecessors.
But there were some breakthrough moments captured on Standing on the Shoulder of Giants. For one, it is one of the fastest-selling albums in UK music history, currently holding double-platinum status. But it also represented the first instance Liam Gallagher contributed songwriting duties, a move which would continue for the remainder of the band’s career and has proved pivotal to his success as a solo artist.
The name of the album is a misquote of Sir Isaac Newton, as Noel saw the quote, which features plural shoulders, and scribbled it down for later, drunk. He appreciated the misquoted nature of it, however. And it does indeed give the album some charm! In addition to naming the record, Noel performed most of the instruments you hear on the final product. Alan White nevertheless performed drums throughout most of the album wherever sampling did not make it unnecessary.
The Gallagher brothers have opened up about their feelings about the record, especially given the lukewarm response by critics and fans, in addition to little better than mediocre album sales. Both have said they are proud of the songs and techniques on the record – some more than others. But Noel has since attempted to disown the album.
- “Go Let It Out”
- “Who Feels Love”
- “Where Did It All Go Wrong”
- “Sunday Morning Call”
Released July 1, 2002
Big Brother, Epic
The fifth studio album and second released under Big Brother saw more lineup changes. Specifically, drummer Alan White left shortly after the album got released, and the band gained permanent guitarist Gem Archer and bassist Andy Bell. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another! Another central aspect of this album is its songwriting credits. Unlike the band’s first three albums, where Noel dominated songwriting duties, he had helped with almost half of the songs on the finished product. Brother Liam produced three tracks, whereas the new members both contributed one tune.
One of the most significant sources of tension for this album – to no one’s surprise – originates from the already-tense relationship of the Gallagher brothers. After the band tracked instrumental parts, Liam took an excessive amount of time to record his vocals. Noel frequently blamed Liam’s drinking. Another setback took place, thanks to the advent of the internet: the album got leaked online before it got released. There were some silver linings, though: the older Gallagher brother found their newest record to be one of their best yet, and it debuted atop the UK charts, where it holds triple platinum certification.
Critics remain divided upon the release of Heathen Chemistry. The famously pretentious Pitchfork publication gave the album a 1.2/10 review, with their analysis only being a “damning” interview, whereas others viewed the band revived with newfound and much-needed energy.
- “The Hindu Times”
- “Stop Crying Your Heart Out”
- “Little by Little”
- “She is Love”
Don’t Believe The Truth
Released: May 30, 2005
Don’t Believe the Truth – is arguably the best album title since (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? – holds a special place in the Oasis discography. On paper, it is the band’s sixth full-length record, the third on their label Big Brother. It became a number one album in the UK and reached the 12th position in the United States, considered a major comeback after the band had fallen off from its titanic throne circa 1997.
It also saw the band perform in a far more democratic manner, with songwriting duties split right down the middle between all members. Music critics and fans grew overjoyed with the band’s return to grace and apparent reinvention because this album feels different from old Oasis while at the same time presenting so much of what made the band great in the past.
Ringo Starr’s son, Zak Starkey, played drums on all songs but one for the record, track two, “Mucky Fingers.” “Lyla” was recorded for the album specifically to become the lead single, and it is one of the band’s finest songs, especially during the late Oasis period.
- “The Importance of Being Idle”
- “Let There Be Love”
Dig Out Your Soul (2008)
Released: October 6, 2008
Dig Out Your Soul is the last official Oasis record, and ever since, fans and critics alike have been calling for a reunion. Although we are closer to one than ever before, it still looks dismal. Still, at least one could always revisit this bountiful record. The album showcases a stark return to hard rock and psychedelic textures, both of which you can find peppered throughout Oasis’ debut album, Definitely Maybe. Fans and critics alike, indeed, dug it. Heck, even the band was blown away by the material they recorded. It’s a shame the Gallagher brothers couldn’t get along.
Here, Oasis saw Dave Sardy returning to share production duties with the group’s primary songwriter. Noel wrote most of the songs, Liam wrote a few, and new members Gem Archer and Andy Bell contributed one apiece. It was once again recorded in Abbey Road Studios for the first time since Be Here Now. Collectors beware! Dig Out Your Soul got accompanied by a documentary that details the making of the record, which got included in a limited edition boxset for lucky fans.
- “The Shock of the Lightning”
- “I’m Outta Time”
- “Falling Down”
Oasis, a five-piece from Manchester, England, would change the course of rock-and-roll and popular music forever. And while success wasn’t automatic, nor was it always easy-going, Oasis had gone everywhere and back on their way to the top of acclaimed and adored bands of their generation. In all, Oasis was the change the music industry, and more specifically, the American grunge music genre, needed in the wake of Kurt Cobain’s 1994 death.