I’m currently down in San Francisco
actually) to see Ride
play. Ride, for those keeping score, were the best of a crop of bands known way back in the early 1990s as shoegazers
. Like most British
bands that survived into those dark years of the mid-1990s
, when a collective craze for slow motion guitar solos and untucked shirts overcome white Britannia, Ride too went horribly wrong (i.e. Britpop
) in the end before calling it a day in 1996. They only released one bad album (and it was awful) but then Andy Bell
formed Hurricane #1, a truly horrendous (way) sub-Seahorses
audition for Oasis
. Bell went on to play in Oasis and then that other Liam Gallagher
band who can’t have been all bad as they covered World of Twist
‘s “Sons of the Stage.”
This is all a roundabout way of saying that the prospect of a Ride reunion made me, understandably I think, rather nervous. They released a clutch of fantastic EPs, three great albums, and only one steaming, stinker — but it was their final album, and a direction Bell pursued with his following bands so would he insist that Tarantula haters like myself got it wrong and try to prove his point by subjecting audiences to “The Dawn Patrol”
and “Starlight Motel”
or worse, “Just Another Illusion”
? All of my fears were put to rest when I listened to them play a short set on KCRW
‘s “Morning Becomes Eclectic,”
which included five songs from their brilliant debut, Nowhere
, and its equally classic follow-up, Going Blank Again
. They sounded great. I meant to dust off my old Ride T-shirt with the mud stains and holes but perhaps wisely forgot (it’s really
Shoegazers were sometimes criticized for hiding their lack of songs behind walls of feedback… but listening to “Morning Becomes Eclectic” for the first time in fifteen years as I waited for Ride to play I was treated to a barrage of forgettable, tuneless, garblers in Native American headdresses singing whoa-oh-oh-y car insurance jingles (or at least that’s what it sounded like to me). You know, Coachellacore or the stuff that plays during Spotify ads when sensible users remove their earbuds. Ride, on the other hand, wrote some of the tightest (I’ll never use that word again to describe music, I promise) melodies, sang the pretties harmonies, channeled The Byrds, Love, and Buffalo Springfield, and then added a healthy squall of guitar noise that make me wonder why all the “nu-gazers” are so bland and limp (…oh yeah, Slowdive
Ride played at Coachella the other night, apparently. They’re playing at the Warfield
tonight. They’re playing in Pomona
at the Fox Theater
Now allow me to get all listicle
and give you the Top 13 Ride Songs:
I first heard this on WMNF in 1990 when a DJ played the entire record. I later taped the video onto a VHS cassette when it was played on City Limits (Much Music) and it inspired my brother to go into graphic design.
“Taste” — form the Fall EP (1990)
Sounds like a poppier My Bloody Valentine
, right? A pretty terrible video, though, although Mark’s hair inspired me to grow out my bowl. Also, I did a sketch of him four our high school literary journal — ha!
“All I Can See” — from the Ride EP (1989)
When the Smile compilation came out I played that record so much that it immediately conjures up the harsh winter of my freshman year in the dorm.
“Cool Your Boots” — from Going Blank Again (1992)
Going Blank Again was the first record I bought without having heard anything off of it. I was on a ski trip in Colorado and I didn’t even know Ride had a new album out so I had to grab it before I returned to rural Iowa, where I’d be screwed. I was not disappointed. Bonus points for Withnail & I samples.
“Crown of Creation” — from Carnival of Light (1994)
I’d suspected from the beginning that Ride were Byrds fans. Carnival of Light would seem to be pretty strong evidence for that suspicion. This song title comes from a Jefferson Airplane album, the album also included a Creation cover, and a photo of Andy Bell showed him wearing a Buffalo Springfield shirt. Still, 1968 was a much more forward looking year than 1995 would turn out to be.
“Twisterella” — from Going Blank Again
“Only Now” — from Carnival of Light
“1000 Miles” — from Carnival of Light
“Close My Eyes” — from the Ride EP
Bonus points for mentioning the band’s name in the song.
“Dreams Burn Down” — from the Fall EP
“Leave Them All Behind” — from Going Blank Again
“Like a Daydream” — from the Play EP (1990)
Long-sleeve T-shirts and early hints at Byrds love
“Sennen” — from Today Forever EP (1991)
It sounds completely like Robert Plant‘s “I’m in the Mood,” which is kind of amazing.
Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, listicles, or other 21st century variations of spam. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in Amoeblog, diaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art Museum, Form Follows Function, Los Angeles County Store, Skid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Magazine, LAist, Eastsider LA, Boing Boing,Los Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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