Oasis were already massive by the 1995 release of (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?. It was a done deal that this album was going to be big, but twenty two million copies worldwide was not supposed to happen. This was rock music not even flirting with mass mainstream appeal, it was a full on affair with tongues and everything (two number ones, two number twos, first week sales of almost 350’000) – a rock album that performed on a scale that our generation had never experienced before, and will never do so again.

It wasn’t even a slow burning build up, “Supersonic” lit the touch paper in ’93, spreading like wildfire, and by their third single, “Live Forever”, they were firmly planted in the upper reaches of the charts. The impression that they had lost their commercial appeal and whimpered out back in 2009 was clearly untrue; they were still regular inhabitants of the Top 10, and only failed to reach this position once (with 2008’s “I’m Outta Time”- penned by Liam, telling…that).

(WTS)MG? heralded the end of Definitely Maybe’s escapism and the wide eyed optimism of a band with nothing. In came the mega fame, the glamorous girlfriends, the big houses and the mountains of narcotics that led them to being negligent towards the quality of music on post …Morning Glory releases. “Stand By Me”, anyone?

There’s a typically Mancunian melancholy that is evident throughout. We thought it was all about going with the flow, “rolling with it”, but there’s a nostalgic air within these tracks that we may have missed at the time (augmented with obligatory strings – it was actually illegal for indie bands to record slow songs without some strings at the time). On “Hello” there’s “We live in the shadows and we had the chance and threw it away”, “Don’t Look Back in Anger” offers that classic parental scolding that resonated with every Northerner’s childhood memory: “Take that look up off your face” and even the celebratory “Champagne Supernova” laments those who are missing as Liam asks “Where we’re you while we were getting high?”

Placed alongside the feral fever of Definitely Maybe, (WTS)MG? sees their council estate swagger neutered by success. With the good, there came plenty of bad; the piss throwing at gigs, the jealousy fuelled hate towards Blur, the distasteful braggadocio of Liam Gallagher, the copying of this by their fans and of course, the avalanche of truly dreadful artists who all got their moment in the sun thanks to this album. Artists such as Cast, Robbie Williams and Embrace all took their cue from Oasis to give us an apparently authentic, heartfelt brand of rock, a dreadful blot on the 90’s UK music scene that is, of course, nothing to be thankful for but showed that for its perceived simplicity, it wasn’t as easy as it appeared to be.

“Don’t Look Back in Anger” and “Wonderwall” still have the ability to make grizzled men cry into their beer, whilst the track that resonated most with the ecstasy crowd, “Champagne Supernova”, showed their skill being able to reach out to music listeners who wouldn’t normally necessarily listen to songs with guitars. The sliding six-strings and reticent chorus of “Hey Now”, “Cast No Shadow”’s sweet dedication to Richard Ashcroft – who’d just split The Verve soon after the release of their best album, 1995’s A Northern Soul – the regrettably Gary Glitter referencing opening track “Hello” and even the cheesy pop of “She’s Electric” (as maligned as “Roll With It”) are unbeatable additions to their back catalogue. As the album plays, even now, it’s clear why so many people got involved, it may not be something you head towards when putting a record on these days but as a long player, like all the best albums, it plays like a greatest hits collection.

The rudimentary lyrical approach (sky/fly/high etc.) didn’t matter, because the strut of tracks like “Hello” was so damn big that they were just words – it didn’t mean much, literally. Noel Gallagher later stated the success of this album, which culminated in the huge gigs at Knebworth, should have been the point where Oasis stopped. Judging the patchy albums that followed, he has a good point; what followed didn’t exactly damage their reputation, but there’s a very valid reason why the likes of Heathen Chemistry is never mentioned alongside their first two albums.

The other two CDs of this triple set clearly shows off Gallagher’s hot streak. EP tracks such as the yearning “Rocking Chair” (far out shining its parent EP’s lead track, “Roll With It”), Noel’ s acoustic yearning on “Talk Tonight”, the Stevie Wonder “Uptight”-referencing “Step Out” (originally due to be included on the album until lawyer intervention), the dual vocals of both Liam and Noel on “Acquiesce” and huge “The Masterplan” all remain some of the band’s very best moments, despite the suspect coupling on the latter: “There’s four and twenty million doors, on life’s endless corridor”, still Gallagher s most cringe worthy lyric.

Simplicity is key here, that’s why every single busker in the country could be found singing at least four of the tracks here through the mid-Nineties. It’s why half a million people congregated at one of the gigs with the worst sound ever, why each release shot into the charts in the top three, and why the two Gallagher’s getting a haircut was front page news. These were songs that everybody could cling onto, and for those four or so minutes, the gutter was way outshined by stars.

8/10