The Definitely Maybe sessions
What follows is an overview of the Definitely Maybe recording sessions, with some additional production credits and external links where possible. Please note that this section is a work-in-progress and may be subject to revision. The main sources for the dates cited below are Paolo Hewitt’s 1997 book Getting High: The Adventures of Oasis and Michael Krugman’s 1997 book Supersonic Supernova. I would highly recommend them both to anyone interested in the band’s early days. I have also quoted from an excellent article by Cliff Jones entitled ‘Diary of an LP: Definitely Maybe‘ which was published in the October 1, 1994 edition of Melody Maker and from Paul Mathur, Tony McCarroll, and Lee Henshaw’s books on the band.
Out of the Blue Studios, Manchester
Aside from the eight-track demo of Married with Children recorded at co-producer and live sound engineer Mark Coyle’s house, the earliest recording used on the album is the demo of Shakermaker, which band photographer Michael Spencer Jones confirms was recorded in October 1993 at Out of the Blue Studios in Manchester (quoted from private correspondence with the author). This recording was produced by Mark Coyle and Oasis and was later remixed by Owen Morris at Matrix Studios in May 1994 for the version heard on the album.
The song was later mastered by Owen Morris at Johnny Marr’s Clear Studios in Manchester, where a significant edit was made; following a successful attempt by The New Seekers to sue Oasis for their unlicensed use of the melody of their song I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony) the band were ordered to pay damages and were required to change the lyrics of Shakermaker’s second verse (‘I’d like to teach the world to sing/In perfect harmony/I’d like to buy the world a Coke/To keep it company’), which featured in a version of the song used in a 1971 television advert for Coca-Cola. In 2004 Noel Gallagher recalled the session in which those lines were re-recorded:
‘The only thing that’s not on the album is the verse with the ‘Coca-Cola’ line on it. Luckily enough we had an instrumental mix and me and Liam had to go to Johnny Marr’s [Clear Studios] in Manchester and…we were driving to the studio and Liam said ‘have you got a last verse?’ I didn’t have anything; not one fucking word did I have! And I said ‘no’. And he said ‘what are we going to sing when we get there?’ I said, ‘don’t worry about it man’. And we passed Sifter’s [a record shop frequented by Noel during his teens] and we stopped at the traffic lights outside…and [I] just sat in the back and wrote [‘Mr Sifter sold me songs/When I was just sixteen/Now he stops at traffic lights/But only when they’re green’]. So we went to Johnny’s studio; Liam sung it. It took about ten minutes. And that was that.’
The revised version of the song was released as a single on 13th June 1994. Its b-sides are likely to have been mastered by Chris Blair at Abbey Road Studios (an Abbey Road reference CD-R of the Shakermaker single dated 6 May 1994 with the initials ‘C.B.’ can be seen on the eil.com website). You can read more about Out of the Blue Studios, where Shakermaker was originally recorded, on the Manchester District Music Archive website.
Fans were reminded of Shakermaker’s indebtedness to the New Seekers when in 1996 the Oasis tribute band No Way Sis released an EP containing a cover of I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing in a style that closely approximated the overdriven guitars and dense wall of sound heard on songs like Cigarettes and Alcohol and Some Might Say. The lyrics on No Way Sis’s cover were slightly modified, however, in order to include a punning reference to a famous later Coca-Cola advertising campaign which claimed that ‘You can’t beat the real thing.’ The song became a top 40 hit, earning the band two appearances on the BBC’s Top of the Pops.
The Pink Museum Studio, Liverpool
17th – 20th December 1993
Oasis’s debut single Supersonic was recorded at The Pink Museum Studios in Liverpool on 19th December 1993 during a three-day session co-produced by Mark Coyle and the band. The session was engineered by Dave Scott. The band was also joined by The Real People’s Anthony Griffiths, who provided backing vocals on the song. Contributors to the documentary on the 10th anniversary DVD edition of Definitely Maybe state that the version heard on the album and single was the rough mix done on the day and that the song was never re-recorded.
Creation Records press officer Johnny Hopkins recalls that the band had planned on recording a new version of Bring It On Down for release as their debut single (Mathur, p. 49). However, it seems that this plan was changed when it was realised that the drum tracks for this song had not been recorded to Noel’s satisfaction (McCarroll, p. 124). The remainder of the Pink Museum sessions would be devoted to recording B-sides; these were soon discarded, however, when the band improvised an instrumental that Tony Griffiths thought had the makings of a hit record. He urged them to finish it as, in his view, it easily outclassed the other songs they had been working on:
‘They only had two songs, one which was an acoustic song and one which had a really dated Manchester indie sound, a really crap song it was. I couldn’t really believe they were recording these songs. But they were saying “they’re only B-sides”, so I had to point out that there’s no such thing any more as only B-sides. When you put on a CD you don’t have to physically turn the thing over, the songs just come on, so “B-sides” are very important. I told them the songs they were doing were a load of crap and said to Noel: “What was that thing you were jamming before? The one that sounded a bit like Neil Young?” And he said, “That one’s not finished.” I said, “Look, you’re paying £300 a day here to record a pile of shite you’re not going to be happy with, why don’t you do something really worthwhile, write a song, make a song out of it.” And that’s basically where Supersonic came from.’ (Griffiths, quoted in Henshaw, pp.29-30)
Dave Scott: ‘We had a very live set up – 57s, 414s and 58s on the guitars and loads of level to tape. Noel’s guitar sound is mostly room ambience’.
Mark Coyle: ‘They had this fuckin’ brilliant old custom EMI Neve desk in at the time. It was like the old Abbey Road desk, and the EQ section was amazing – huge knobs, chunky faders and everything but the 1028 EQ section was great.’ (Scott and Coyle, quoted in the 1 October 1994 edition of Melody Maker)
‘The version [of Supersonic] that’s on [Definitely Maybe] and on the single fades out, but originally that song went for fucking days, with lots of mad guitar, radio interference and all kinds of things. Perhaps we’ll release a full-length version one day.’ (Noel Gallagher on an unheard extended version of Supersonic, quoted in a 1994 interview for NME reprinted in the NME Oasis 1991 – 2009 Collectors edition magazine, p. 11).
Whilst the single and album versions of Supersonic use the same mix, they are mastered differently: the album version is brickwalled, whereas the single is not. Below is an image that shows the increased loudness and visual density of the song’s waveform on the album (bottom) compared to the single (top).
This difference may be because the single was cut before the album had been mastered. The single was released on 11th April 1994 before Morris had remixed the second recording of the album done at Sawmills Studios over the previous two months. (All subsequent singles from Definitely Maybe use the same mastering heard on the album for the title track). Commenting on mastering the album in the 2004 Channel 4 documentary There We Were, Now Here We Are: The Making of Oasis, Owen Morris explained that in ‘mastering it, I was the first person to make CDs be fucking on the red line constantly; there are no dynamics…it’s just full-on, all the fucking way. It was fucking great – it worked! In fucking jukeboxes round the country man, for that first fucking year, Oasis came on louder than everybody else.’
The Pink Museum Studios have changed ownership since Oasis recorded there and are now known as The Motor Museum Studios; you can find a overview of its history and current facilities here.
Gear used: Trident TSM 40 desk, Studer 24-track Dolby AM series, JBL monitoring, Urei 1176 Limiters, Trident parametric EQs, AMS and Lexicon PCM 70 reverbs.
On January 8th 1994 Oasis went to Monnow Valley Studio in Wales to record their debut album with producer Dave Batchelor. By most accounts the recordings did not live up to the band’s expectations, with Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthurs recalling in 2004 that, behind the scenes, they were in panic stations listening back to monitor mixes and thinking “this ain’t happening”.
Noel Gallagher: ‘The problems started almost from the beginning. It wasn’t with the band, apart from our drummer, who’s Ringo Starr incarnate and can’t keep time to save his fuckin’ life. Dave Batchelor was trying to be clever. We’re a rock n’ roll band and he was separating everything out, doing it clean and it was sounding too produced.’
Mark Coyle: ‘It was a simple case of conflicting ideas between producer and band. The band weren’t blameless, mind – they were using a lot of unfamiliar gear just because it was there…amps, preamps, gadgets and guitars that Johnny [Marr] had lent Noel. It ended up sounding like just A. N. Other indie band doing Oasis songs. Dave just wore everyone down to the point where the band clammed tight shut and the communication wasn’t happening. He had everyone set up in their own area, separated and out of eye contact and he lost the feel. After the first week, when it was obvious it wasn’t working, we moved everything into a smaller area of the studio and tried again.’
Dave Scott (recording engineer): ‘I knew it wasn’t working. Batchelor rubbed ’em up the wrong way and he wasn’t spending enough time on the sounds themselves. When Liam dared to suggest that what he was doing sounded crap he freaked out. With what went down that day he was lucky not to have his nose broken by the band.’
‘The set-up itself wasn’t that bad, though. We had a good selection of 57s and 58s on the kit, Noel’s WEM Dominator amp sounded fuckin’ great, which we miked with an AKG 414 close up and then another to capture the room. We also used the Marshall JCM 900, I recall. The bass was DI’d and the Ampeg amp was miked with a U47, and that went down really well. Bonehead was using my old Gibson SG, same one he’d used on Supersonic, and then his Epiphone semi. Noel was using his Epiphone Les Pauls and a few of Johnny Marr’s guitars, including a Flying V which he used on Slide Away, I think. Although Slide Away has Dave’s name on it on the production credits, I remember him trying to slow it right down. His original version sounded very bombastic, very Pink Floyd, like Comfortably Numb. Noel asked my opinion and I said they should play it at the speed they had when they first wrote it.’ (Gallagher, Scott, and Coyle, quoted in 1 October 1994 edition of Melody Maker)
Paul ‘Guigsy’ McGuigan: ‘We did take a long time, four weeks, and recorded [Definitely Maybe] three times. We couldn’t get it to sound right at first. What was being recorded didn’t sound like what we were playing. We started with Dave Batchelor as producer and he was trying to do things to our songs, change them totally, so he had to get sacked. Our live engineer, Mark Coyle, said, ‘You know what you sound like, you produce it!’ He was right, so we did it with Mark, and the single, when it came out, was right!’ (quoted on p. 13 of Bassist magazine, May 96).
Despite these problems, by January 23rd the recording was completed and the band entered the Olympic Studios in Barnes, London to mix the album. Four days into this session Batchelor was sacked and replaced with Mark Coyle, the band’s live sound engineer. Commenting in 2004, Oasis’s manager Marcus Russell said that the Monnow Valley Recordings ‘didn’t work out. It was pretty good, but it wasn’t hitting the ceiling in terms of everyone’s expectations. So, after a couple of weeks of deliberations, they decided to basically start it all again.’
A blunter assessment of these recordings was made by John Harris his 2003 book The Last Party: Britpop, Blair, and the Demise of English Rock, in which he argued that ‘the Batchelor tapes offer decisive proof that a group needs a little more than a stock of impressive songs to ascend to the intended heights. For the most part, Oasis sound like amateurs: Liam Gallagher’s vocals are flat and reedy; the guitars, later to be rebuilt into a roaring cacophony, seem uncomfortably slight. Were anyone to be played them with no knowledge of the authors’ identity, they might very well assume they were listening to a callow covers band.’ (Harris, p. 175).
First attempt at mixing the Monnow Valley tracks. Finished mixes included Bring It On Down. Sessions abandoned after four days.
Mark Coyle: ‘The sound was piss weak at the mix. The guitars in particular had all the life squashed out of them. When we’d done monitor mixes at Monnow, Dave was saying we could fix it all in the mix and I think we all knew it was a more fundamental problem than that.’
Noel Gallagher: ‘I was arsed. I knew it wasn’t right but I was that fed up with it all I’d begun not to care. I know that a song never comes out on tape the way it sounds in your head, but these mixes were so wide of the mark it was a fuckin’ joke. The demos were better.’
Marcus Russell: ‘I listened to the mixes and it was sonically weak, like it was recorded 40,000 leagues under the sea. Dave Batchelor had neutered the band. Bring It On Down, the first mix, was almost bled to death. I said to Alan McGee [Creation Records boss], ‘Fuck, we’ve got problems’. He agreed, so did Noel and on the 27th of February we abandoned the mix and went back to record the tracks again at Sawmills. Mark was perfect for the production, because he knew the band and their music from being their live engineer for so long.’ (Coyle, Gallagher, and Russell, quoted in 1st October 1994 edition of Melody Maker).
Johnny Hopkins: We literally spent a whole night listening to all these versions of Bring It On Down and each one was supposed to be different. By the end of the night, though, they’d all blurred into one. I think it was Alan who got it right when he said ‘Well, it’s not that any of them are more right than any of the others. They’re all wrong.’ We’d all got so close to the whole thing that we’d almost forgotten why we liked it in the first place. You’d take a step back, though, and you’d realize it just didn’t have that kind of energy that the demo and the live gigs had. It should have been better. (Hopkins, quoted in Mathur, p.50-51).
Alan McGee: [Oasis] went to Wales and they never really worked. I listened to it and it was scrapped. We scrapped 50 grand of the recording costs and then we started again. We were [mixing] it at Olympic and we had Bring It On Down. I wanted to come out with that single because it was so in your face and fuck you. Me and Noel thought ‘that’s the first single’ but we had Supersonic as a demo. Supersonic was a fucking demo! I remember coming down with like four or five gram and I was chopping them out and turning to Noel, charlied off my head, I went ‘What d’you reckon?’ And he just went ‘Let’s fucking put it out.’ And that was the start. (McGee, quoted in Hewitt, p.140).
Ultimately, the only recording from the Monnow Valley sessions to feature on the finished album was of Slide Away, which Owen Morris remixed from Batchelor’s multitrack recording at Matrix Studios, London in May 1994. The Olympic Studios closed on 30 January 2009. A tribute to them can be found on the Real Music Forum website.
Gear used: Trident Custom 80B with fader automation, Otari MTR 90 24-track AMs DMX, Yamaha Rev 1, Lexicon 480L PCM 70, Fairchild compression, Urei 176, Trident parametric EQs.
By February 1994 it had been decided to scrap the Batchelor recordings and to re-record the album at Sawmills Studios in Cornwall. This time the sessions were co-produced by Mark Coyle and Noel Gallagher and engineered by Anjali Dutt.
Mark Coyle: ‘Because I was their live sound engineer I knew we had to ‘capture’ this band rather than produce them.’
Noel Gallagher: ‘Talk about being isolated! Sawmills is miles from fuckin’ anywhere – you had to get there by boat when the tide was in. We needed to get away from Manchester, London, or Liverpool because of the distractions. We had all the tracks done and overdubbed inside ten days, just whacked through them every day until we had the right takes.’
Mark Coyle: ‘They had this amazing Trident console in there, an old series 80B (54-24-24) that had just the best EQ section ever, a load of those old Fairchild valve compressors and Neve limiters, and it just seemed to have a better vibe to it. My approach was to just set them up like they are when they rehearse or play live, where they can see each other, get that vibe going between them and power up.’
Noel Gallagher: ‘It was fuckin’ loud in there, no one had headphones on, we just blasted it out. I still have the ringing in my ears.’
Mark Coyle: ‘There was total bleed from tracks and you got guitar on the drum mics and drums on everything, but who the fuck cares? I’m a big fan of that approach, the big fat analogue sound they used to get on Small Faces or Beatles records. Most stuff went to tape with plenty of level, with a little EQ on the drums but essentially flat.’
Noel Gallagher: ‘Once the rhythm tracks were sorted I overdubbed all the guitar parts and had a laff. We just put loads on there cause the ideas just kept coming.’ (Gallagher and Coyle, quoted in the 1 October 1994 edition of Melody Maker)
Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthurs: There were loads of guitars. That was Noel’s favorite trick: get the drums, bass and rhythm guitar down, and then he’d cane it. ‘Less is more’ didn’t really work then.’ (Arthurs, quoted in Harris, p. 176).
Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthurs: ‘The Strat just wasn’t right for the Oasis sound – we needed that big, fat humbucker sound. I’ve really been using the Epiphone Riviera (one of the early 70s US models) for most of my time in Oasis just because it’s got the perfect blend of attack and body. Otherwise I’ve got an Epiphone Les Paul with a Bigsby fitted as a back-up. Don’t let anyone tell you this bollocks about ’em being inferior to the Gibsons. As a matter of fact, when we played Paris, they hired in a load of guitars and I went for a full-on cherry 335. I gave it a go but it just didn’t have the sound. In the studio I had a Gibson SG, a 70s one I think, but we also had a 335 12-string and a Rickenbacker knocking about. We didn’t use ’em much and I think for a lot of it I stuck with the Epiphones.’
Noel Gallagher: ‘I’ve got about 11 guitars and I don’t need em all cos I usually come back to the same old Epiphone in the end. It’s mainly Gibson-styled guitars at the moment. I’ve got a lot of Epiphones, either American or Japanese, cos I think the value for money is amazing.’
Jason Rhodes (guitar technician): ‘Noel has an Orange OA 120W reissue stack with the top rolled off and a Marshall 880 Valvestate for the split. Feeding them we have the Marshall JMP1 preamp that was on loan from Johnny [Marr]. The only effects are a Roland RE 201 Space Echo, one of the old tape delays. Everything is set on 11 as you can probably guess. While we were in New York he used a Marshall JCM 900 with two 4x12s and he’s thinking of changing over to that permanently. Bonehead uses a Marshall lead-bass 50 with a Marshall 2×12″ with no effects at all and plenty of gain. Paul McGuigan has a Hi-Watt 200 with a Fender Jazz although he’s just got a Telecaster type P-bass for the Crazy Horse vibe. In the studio the rigs were identical to the live situation, with the sole addition of Johnny Marr’s Vox AC30 for some of Noel’s guitar overdubs.’
The recording sessions started on 24 February 1994 were completed by early March, when they were taken to be mixed at Eden Studios in London. However, a late change of plan meant that this mix was not released.
Producers: Noel Gallagher & Mark Coyle. Engineer: Anjali Dutt. Assistant engineer: Simon Wall. Gear used: SSL 4060E with G series Onboard, Total Recall, Studer A800 24-track with Dolby 361s. Monitoring Quested 2X15s, AR 18s, Yamaha NS10s and Auratones. Lexicon 480L, AMS RMX 16 reverbs, Urei limiters, Drawmer gates and 1960 valve compression
Mark Coyle: ‘I don’t like SSLs much; I prefer a group of people around the faders working the desk and the sound of a good warm EQ section. SSLs make everything sound a bit weedy cause you lose quite a bit of signal in the EQ stage. The reason we went there was because Anjali [Dutt] knew it and had her favourite EQ with her from Battery Studios’.
Noel Gallagher: [When] we were mixing [Definitely Maybe] in London Alan [McGee] came down to listen to the mix of Rock ‘n’ Roll Star. Now, Rock ‘n’ Roll Star – it’s a fucking tune, right; [even] if you record it fuckin’ blowing into a trombone it’s a fucking tune. So, up it comes. It’s havin’ it, gets to the end bit, and it’s mad as fuck going “It’s just rock ‘n’ roll”, fades out into this fucking echo and reverb. And it stops…and Alan went “It’s fucking great man. But I tell you what – turn the hi-hat up in the second verse.” And it didn’t dawn on me what he’d said for about ten seconds. And I was like “Is that it? Is that all you’ve got to say – the hi-hat in the second verse?!” – but it’s alright in the first verse I take it? [Laughs] It was like A&Ring it for the sake of it, y’know. Like, “turn the bass drum down on 1 minute 33 – turn it up a little bit, but then turn it down after that.” I thought it was fucking mental. The hi-hat?! Who gives a fuck about the hi-hat in the second verse? What a load of shit. But the whole ethos of Creation was kind of you A&R yourself until you need advice. (Gallagher, quoted in Upside Down: The Creation Records Story).
Tony McCarroll: ‘When we finally heard the album mixed down…we were all a little deflated. Although it was good, there was something not quite right. Once again that ‘oomph’ was missing. When we played live, we blew people away. There was a distinctive roar that seemed impossible to recapture in a recording studio.’ (McCarroll, p.123).
Marcus Russell: ‘Some of the vocals were a little shaky but I knew the performances were essentially there, they just needed sorting out. That’s where Owen Morris came in. I knew him from his work with Johnny Marr and Electronic, and if anyone could sort it out he could.’ (Russell, quoted in Melody Maker, p.55).
Eden Studios closed in July 2007, but its website remains available as a resource for anyone interested in its history. The page on Studio 1 indicates that this was where this version of Definitely Maybe was mixed.
Sessions recorded on a TAC Magnum desk with Otari 24-track
Mark Coyle: ‘Shakermaker is the demo tarted up. It had such a brilliant feel we couldn’t think about doing it again. No gates and none of this limiting bollocks on there, just maximum sound to tape’. (Coyle, quoted in Melody Maker, p. 55)
Loco Studios, Matrix Studios, and Clear Studios
The final mix of Definitely Maybe was completed by producer Owen Morris. After re-recording the lead and backing vocals for Rock ‘n’ Roll Star he mixed both that song and Columbia at Loco Studios in South Wales. Whilst there he also mixed Digsy’s Dinner and an early version of Live Forever with an edited version of its lead guitar solo. Morris then re-recorded a number of Liam’s lead vocals in a studio in North Wales.
(Owen Morris remixes Rock ‘n’ Roll Star and Columbia)
Owen Morris: Those two mixes [Rock ‘n’ Roll Star and Columbia] are total Spector and Visconti rip-offs. I just got out the Phil Spector tape-delays and used Tony Visconti harmonizing tricks, and they’re like total hats-off to those two. [W]hen I mixed Rock ‘n’ Roll Star I dumped about half the guitars, arranged them differently and then put a Phil Spector-style tambourine on the snare drums. (Morris, quoted in Hewitt, p. 225).
Owen Morris: ‘I just remember a big fucking argument about Liam wanting bagpipes at the end of [Rock ‘n’ Roll Star]’ (Morris, quoted in Easter Egg on Definitely Maybe DVD).
Noel Gallagher: ‘Liam’s being fucking Liam…[asking] ‘When are we putting the fucking bagpipes on?’. ‘What d’you mean?’ ‘We fucking talked about it last night – it should have bagpipes coming in at the end’. We talked him out of bagpipes and then he said, ‘Well remember fucking Dick Dastardly and Muttley? Remember Stop the Pigeon?’ And he’s going ‘It should have a trumpet going [mimics fanfare] at the end!’ ‘So we’re not going to have a kazoo on it?’; ‘No, we’re not. Listen – you can have a fucking kazoo on it…in your fucking head!’ Kazoo, my arse.’ (Gallagher, quoted in Easter Egg on Definitely Maybe DVD)
Owen Morris: When we did [Slide Away] everyone was off their heads. I just turned everything up and it meant it got all distorted. It wasn’t like I thought, oh yeah, this is going to be an Oasis sound. [Noel] writes the songs and he says ‘I want it to sound like this’. I turn the knobs and all that but they’re his songs (Morris, quoted in Mathur, p. 52).
Matrix Studios, Fulham, London
2-5 May 1994
Owen Morris then remixed the remainder of the album (apart from Supersonic and Married with Children) in May 1994 at Matrix Studios in Fulham, London. He recalled these sessions in an interview for the Melody Maker a few months after the album’s release:
‘I just finished it all off really. I’d heard some of the monitor mixes of Monnow Valley stuff and it’s best described as pretty strange. The Sawmills mixes were very odd too, still trying to be too clever. Things were gated and tidied up; it was very un-Oasis. I mixed Rock ‘n’ Roll Star and Columbia one weekend, got Liam in to re-do the vocals and they loved it. We mixed the rest of the album in four days at Matrix!’
‘The biggest problem was the guitars. Noel would fill ten tracks with stuff all the way through. If you put all the faders up it was a real mess. But by this time the band were that fed up they couldn’t be arsed about which one to use, so I acted as producer and did it myself. I just got stoned and worked on arrangements. As you can tell from the album I go for the old Shel Talmy technique and compress the fuck out of everything. The most obvious example of that is Columbia. I put tape delays on the kits with a kind of Phil Spector or a Tony Visconti sound in mind. He had a great way of placing sounds, especially guitars. I ripped him off as much as I could, especially on Columbia.’
‘The actual set-up was pretty much the same for each track. In Loco there was an Amek Mozart and I hired in an Excel compressor and Mini Moog, which we used as a crude filter circuit. It takes off all the top so you just end up with a really fat bass sound. I used an A3 for a Leslie effect and a Lexicon to pitch change and basically shit-loads of compression on everything. The only real effects are imaging programs, stereo shifters and stuff to spread the guitars out. I ended up using a DSP 4000 on the vocals, and it sounded fuckin’ amazing. Myself and Liam actually took a weekend to re-do the vocals on five tracks – Cigarettes & Alcohol, Bring It On Down, Up in the Sky and a couple of others, using an old pencil-thin AKG that was apparently used on Sergeant Pepper. That mic was perfect because it had natural compression. His voice went flat to tape through the DBX 160. On Liam’s voice I put a little bit of anything that happened to be hanging about. There was very little EQing, though, except when I used the DSP 4000, because the anti-glitch program dulls the sound.’
‘The only real problems I had with the actual performances was the groove on the drums. The drumming was okay – he kind of starts then stops at the end of the song, but sometimes it lacked groove and he hasn’t got a great sounding drum kit. I used a lot of subliminal tape delays on a Revox, eighth delays to create movement. As for Bonehead’s rhythm tracks, he was brilliant on every single one! Unbelieveably tight and solid to the point where you didn’t worry about his stuff at all.’
‘Cigarettes & Alcohol was the last mix I did. I confess, I was that drunk and stoned at the end I just put the tape on and stuck the faders up, hence the noise.’
(Owen Morris, quoted in the October 1, 1994 edition of Melody Maker, p. 55)
Owen Morris: ‘The only thing I remember of interest about [Live Forever] was that officially that high bit wasn’t either Noel or Liam – it was actually me and Marcus [Russell, Oasis’s manager]. One for the trainspotters there. The Welsh choir came in.’ (Morris, quoted in Easter Egg on Definitely Maybe DVD).
The Windings, Wrexham
22 June 1994
(Sad Song recorded and mixed by Owen Morris)
The vinyl version of the album featured Sad Song, a track which (in the UK, at least) remained exclusive to that format until 2004, when it was included as a bonus on the 10th anniversary DVD edition of Definitely Maybe (albeit in a slightly different mix with additional backing vocals; thanks to schorman of the Live4ever Oasis forum for pointing this out).
Sad Song could be said to (indirectly!) owe its existence to the technological limitations of the medium onto which it was to be recorded: on vinyl there is a direct trade-off between run time and loudness – the louder the tracks are cut, the shorter the running time. As Definitely Maybe was initially planned to be a single LP, this meant that the album had to be mastered at a lower average level than the band wanted in order to include all eleven tracks.
The band were disappointed with the sound quality of this test pressing and it was decided to cut the album as a double LP in order to get round the problem. This meant that a new song had to be written in order to plug the gap: enter Sad Song.
‘When we cut the vinyl version of this album on a single disc, the grooves were so close together that it was really quiet. So we went back to the record company and said, “We can’t put the vinyl out like this”, and the way round it was to do a double album. But that meant we were a song short, so they said, “You’ll have to come up with another song by tonight.” I just thought, “Piece of piss!” So I went home, and I live on my own anyway, and the chords I came up with lent themselves to it being a sad song.’ (Noel Gallagher on the origins of Sad Song, quoted in a 1994 interview for NME reprinted in the NME Oasis 1991 – 2009 Collectors edition magazine, p. 11).
Owen Morris recalled in an interview for Melody Maker that the mics used to record Sad Song were an AKG 414 on the guitars with a B&K P48 on the room ambience, and a Nuemann U87 on vocals. The desk was an Amek Mozart and the reverb was a medium room reflection on a Lexicon PCM 70. The guitars used were Epiphone acoustics (Dreadnought 6 and 12-strings). Sad Song had its public début on 7th June 1994 when Noel played it in an acoustic version for Radio 1’s The Evening Session.
Clear Studios, Manchester
(Album mastered by Owen Morris)
Production on Definitely Maybe was finally completed when Morris mastered the album at Johnny Marr’s Clear Studios in Manchester. In 1996 Jonny Marr noted that (at that time) his only musical involvement with Oasis ‘was when they were mastering the first album and I said they should join a couple of tracks together when one stopped and the next started.’ [This seems likely to be either the transition from Rock ‘n’ Roll Star to Shakermaker or from Up in the Sky to Columbia – Ed.] (Marr, quoted in the Official Oasis Magazine, p.19). You can read more about how Owen Morris mixed and mastered the album in the interview on this page.
McCarroll, Tony. 2009. Oasis – The Truth. John Blake.