Twenty-five years ago this week Oasis released Definitely Maybe, an album that’s been described as “seminal” and “visceral” more times than bad-boy brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher have used the F-word in interviews or smoked, back then anyway, packs of Benson & Hedges. The Oasis debut became the UK’s fastest-selling album (until 2006), sparked into life by three great singles, genuine rock’n’roll attitude and a campaign of belligerent band-baiting in interviews.
I bought Definitely Maybe sometime that month and – as a nice boy from Sussex at school in leafy Surrey – mad, bad, dangerous-to-know Mancunian Oasis were a thrill like nothing else. Music was tribal. Bands and their fans were gangs. People who liked Blur were dicks, people who liked Suede ponces and people who liked Pulp were artists – or something equally unforgivably fey. American music simply didn’t exist anymore for a 15-year-old in Britain.
The 41-year-old writing this is not as ashamed of that dumb partisanship as you might think. Music meant more because we had to buy it. Colours were nailed to masts. Sleeve notes pored over; lyrics, inflections, hairstyles and walks practised in mirrors. We used to swagger around the 16th-century quad at school flicking V-signs at each other, for God’s sake. Actually, that is embarrassing. But the point stands – and I miss this – we all like a bit of Taylor Swift and Stormzy and The Weeknd but what do we love and how do we show it? Tribalism’s awful, right? Right. And I miss it.