Recently, I made a Ride compilation tape for a close friend of mine. On asking what they thought, she told me that after the first three songs her ears are hurt too much to carry on. A better endorsement of the music of this tragically under-rated band I can't think off. While it's true My Bloody Valentine were there before, it was Ride who took making guitars sound like chainsaws into the top 20 and kept Creation records going while Kevin Shields elected to blow half a mill on one album.
Most the 11 tracks here were the work of Andy Bell (despite the sleeve crediting the band). Remember, this was before the dullness of Hurricane #1 and becoming lackey to the Gallagher brothers. Then, he was a 19 year old with dreams of combining the sounds of the Beatles and vacuum cleaners. And sometimes, dreams can come true.
It all starts as it means to go on: Crashing of cymbals, bass rumbling the background, guitars making a hell of racket and the vocals of Bell and Mark Gardener. Seagull is pretty depressing stuff: "You make my life a waking dream, but we are dead." Then suddenly, it's the guitar pop of Kaleidoscope and it doesn't seem to make much sense. Who do these boys want to be? The Velvet Underground, the Mary Chain, the Beatles? All at once? By the end of track four, Polar Bear, those listening on earphones may already be in discomfort. Sadly for them, the only reprise comes past the halfway point on Vapour Trail, which doesn't feature any feedback crunching at all, being a rather sweet melodic Byrds-tinged number. Right at the end, we have the title track, and an apt ending. Over bleak sheets of guitar noise, Bell sadly notes "all that's left is you and me, and here we are: Nowhere". In retrospect, it's no surprise the movement Ride got lumped in with was called Shoegazing. However, Nowhere transcends the era, along with MBV's Isn't Anything and Loveless albums. And it's refreshing to note groups such as B.R.M.C. tipping their hand to Oxfords finest. Reissued last year, Nowhere also has the following years top 20 hit EP Today Forever stuck on at the end, notable for the inclusion of the highly melodic Senen and the fantastically melancholic Today. Which, as they say, makes it even more essential to own.
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