I had just turned twenty-one.
I was a student.
I was convinced that what had started as a couple of great albums by blur and Suede was now a full blown cultural phenomenom on a par with the Mods in the sixties.
I was entering the second year of my degree course at the “University” of Paisley.
All around me was a sea of beige.
I had heard them.
I had heard about them.
I knew that they thought they were the best band in the world.
I wasn’t sure.
I bought it more in hope than expectation.
By the time “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” had finished it had nearly finished me.
Before the next track could start I had lifted the needle and put it back to the start so that I could make sure.
After the second listen I was sure.
A pounding, driving, throbbing, bruising, visceral, violent, vibrating wail and howl of pure energy. The desperate cries of people who knew that they had a chance to be more than they could dream of, a chance to be the people they wanted to be and not the people they were meant to be, a chance to change everything and everyone…chances they were determined to take.
They were melody makers.
“Shakermaker” flowed over me…a soothing balm to help heal me from what had come before and while I enjoyed it and appreciated how it made me smile and sway it didn’t do what “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” had done and I had convinced myself as it closed that this was simply going to be a good album from a good band and that I could get back to my normal life once it had finished.
I wasn’t disappointed.
I was relieved.
The thought that anything else could match what had been contained in that song was almost too much for me to bear.
Then it happened.
“Maaaaaybe, I don’t really wanna know…” sneers into the canals of my ears and then further into the very core of me.
The cure for the nihilism and hopelessness of grunge and it’s awful “I Hate Myself…” manifesto.
“Nothing should be beyond hope” said Oscar Wilde “Life IS hope”.
Here, in one song, was all the hope that the hopeless could ever wish for.
I felt invincible as I listened.
My heart soaring.
My blood racing.
By the time it ended I was on my feet.
Even now, twenty-four years later, it has the ability to lift my spirits and bring light into the darkest corners.
As track followed track a pattern emerged.
Each song was the equal of every other.
Not a single song was anything other than a joy.
From the anthemic bliss of “Up in the Sky” and “Bring it on Down” to the silly and innocent charms of “Digsy’s Dinner” and “Married with Children” and on to the era defining “Supersonic” and “Cigarettes & Alcohol” this was more than an album, it was a statement of intent, a line in the sand and a call to arms. Ditch the music that was shiiiite and join the revolution.
Longer, weightier and more informed articles by very serious and earnest journalists will be penned about “Definitely Maybe” in the next few days, and next year on its twenty-fifth anniversary, but for people like me who were there at the time all that really matters is that it exists and that those songs cleansed the musical landscape of people who really didn’t like music and paved the way for kids on council estates across the country to start taking a pride in their appearance, walking with a bit of swagger and appreciating the joys of rock and roll.