Ride – Nowhere: 25th Anniversary Edition

January 01, 1970

 (Rhino Handmade)

 

www.rhinohandmade.com;
(dist) www.lightintheattic.net

 

With the benefit of hindsight, it’s likely that Britain’s Ride, though in the late ‘80s and early
‘90s considered a major player on UK shoegaze scene, is destined for
footnote status when the longform history book of rock ‘n’ roll is penned. A
brief paragraph, at most.

 

Well, maybe. Maybe not. On the one hand, as energized and
tuneful as their material – parceled out over the course of a
seven-year/four-album career – was, only in England will you hear Ride nowadays
being cited as an influence or inspiration among young musicians. By contrast,
peers such as My Bloody Valentine, Happy Mondays and the Stone Roses are
consistently cited when period overviews are trotted out (in latter years, MBV
in particular has ascended to iconic levels among musos and hipsters across the
globe). None of the members of Ride ever achieved much of note outside the
confines of the band, either. Following a nasty breakup in early 1996,
guitarist Andy Bell formed the short-lived and underachieving Hurricane #1,
vocalist Mark Gardener pursued a spotty solo career, drummer Lawrence Colbert
became a percussionist for hire, and bass player Steve Queralt dipped his toes
in assorted projects before retiring from the business for good.

 

Still, as one of the Creation Records flagship acts back in
the day, and as a lead-in to Creation monoliths Oasis (which would recruit Bell as bassist some time
later, ironically enough), the Ride legend does loom large in certain areas.
Truth be told, with a quarter-century’s distance and the opportunity to explore
the group’s oeuvre at a distance, one quickly discerns flashes of musical
brilliance worthy of iPod playlist immortality.

 

In 2002 the Ignition label issued a solid greatest hits
collection, OX4_The Best of Ride,
while late last year Rhino Handmade stepped into the gap with a vastly expanded
“25th Anniversary Edition” of the group’s 1990 full-length debut Nowhere. Now, thanks to a recent
alliance between Handmade and fellow archival mavens Light In The Attic, that
two-disc Nowhere is enjoying wider
distribution (it was originally mail-order only from the Handmade website).
Boasting deluxe 6″ x 6 ½” hardback packaging with a holographic 3D cover plus a
stitched-in booklet crammed with lyrics, annotations, rare photos and
enthusiastic liners by noted critic (and self-avowed Ride fan) Jim DeRogatis,
this Nowhere, though somewhat pricey,
tweaks the inner collector in all of us while serving notice that the band is
well-worth a fresh appraisal.

 

Disc One comprises the original 11-song U.S. (Sire Records)
edition of Nowhere plus all the
proximate tracks from their then-current British and American EPs,  including the Today Forever EP recorded and released post-Nowhere. The sonic delights are myriad, from the thundering,
Swervedriver-esque “Seagull” and the kinetic, fuzz-strafed choogle of “Decay”
to the dreamy, 12-string powered “Paralysed” and the echoey janglepop of “Here
and Now.” Worth noting: the latter two tracks ably showcase the group’s firm
rooting in classic pop, something that frequently gets overlooked in
discussions of shoegaze bands’ obsessive reliance on distortion, reverb and
volume.

 

Meanwhile, Disc Two presents a concert from April 10, 1991,
at L.A.’s
storied Roxy Theatre. It finds the band reprising the bulk of the album –
“Seagull” in particular is a motherfucker of percussive muscle and fretboard
pyrotechnics, singer Gardener rising to the occasion with an impassioned vocal
belying most shoegazers’ tendency to mumble into the mic – along with a pair of
gems originally cut for their first EP, 1990’s Ride, the anthemic “Chelsea Girl” plus noise collage “Drive Blind.”
Fans who saw the group on that monthlong tour of the U.S. with opening act Lush in the
spring of ’91 no doubt still count themselves among the lucky ones, yours truly
included. Firing on all cylinders, flush with the twinned sense of excitement
and discovery as they sought to convert America to the cause, Ride came
across as charismatic musical ambassadors eager to prove themselves. Prior to
the tour I interviewed drummer Colbert for a concert preview, and he conveyed
his band’s collective buzz minus the typical Brit-band hubristic swagger when
he admitted that ever since he was a child he’d been “dreaming of driving
across the country” and seeing firsthand the unfolding landscape.

 

To fellow fans: If nothing else, the visceral thrill one
gets as the flanged-out opening chords of the original studio version “Vapour
Trail” cue up remains profound, memories of 20-year old mixtapes and sundry
psychedelia compilations zipping to and fro amongst the folds of the cranial
cortex. Listen for the closing moments, in which the sleek, warm hum of cellos
fold into the arrangement: here, Ride’s sonic intuition and grasp of psych’s
dynamic imperative is as impressive as any similarly-inclined outfit you’d care
to list. Short-lived tenure or not, the Oxford
band contributed its own wealth of vividly-hued stitches to the so-called grand
tapestry of rock.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Vapour
Trail,” “Here and Now,” “Seagull (live)” FRED MILLS

 

 

Leave a Reply