So here’s where the Britpop phenomenon really all began: with a flourish of distorted guitar and Liam Gallagher snarling: “I live my life in the city/There’s no easy way out”.
What’s most striking, revisiting the Manchester quintet’s defining album 20 years on, is just how animated and alive the band sound, thanks in no small part, as the two bonus discs with this anniversary edition reveal, to the considerable production and mixing skills of Mark Coyle and Owen Morris.
Compare the album versions of Columbia or Cigarettes & Alcohol to the slightly plodding demos (in the case of the latter song, heavily indebted to T.Rex) and you’ll appreciate the dynamism and depth that Coyle and Morris injected into the later recordings.
Much was made at the time of Oasis’s fondness for the Fab Four; perhaps overlooked was the influence of Neil Young on Noel Gallagher’s often venomous guitar playing.
As Noel Gallagher observes in the sleeve notes, there’s a consistent lyrical theme about escaping their surroundings, nowhere better stated than in the soaring Live Forever and the more reflective Half The World Away, which became the signature tune to Caroline Aherne and Craig Cash’s sublime television sitcom The Royle Family.
Diehards will cherish rarities such as I Will Believe and a strings-only arrangement of Whatever, the song that first propelled Oasis into the top three of UK singles charts.
There are also copious live versions of songs from the album recorded in Glasgow, Paris, Tokyo and Manchester Academy.
As such this is an exhaustive collection. Newcomers may wish to start with the standard single disc but for those who want the complete picture of Oasis as it all took off for the lads from Burnage, this is as good as it gets.