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Firstly - apologies for the absence - it's a long story!
I had a shufty through the reviews and I note that this shoegazing standard hasn't been reviewed. Well - I have to remedy that!
A BIT OF BACKGROUND
This CD was released originally in 1992 and re-issued with some bonus tracks in 2001
I was a final year student at this time of original release, and the prevailing Indie trends were (at least as I remember them)
- Shoegazing (e.g. Ride)
- Crusty (e.g. The Levellers)
- American Grunge (e.g Nirvana)
- Proto Britpop (e.g. early Blur)
I was (still am?) in the former camp. Anyway - I'd seen Ride play with Verve in support at the Sheffield Octagon in about 1992 (before they had to add the "The" before "Verve" after being threatened with legal action by the record label of the same name). The thing that most stands out in my mind about the gig, aside from Verve lead singer Richard Ashcroft mooning like a lunatic in front of a half interested DM'd crowd (Verve weren't that well known at the time), was a disturbing film being shown against the background of the stage before Ride came on. I can't remember exactly what was disturbing about it, so if anyone saw that tour please remind me!
This was Ride's 2nd album, after the feedback heavy "Nowhere". Ride were signed to Creation Records, just before My Bloody Valentine had bankrupted them and ended them as an independent entity. It was hoped this would be the record to really put them on the map and maybe even break through to the mainstream. At that time, success to an Indie band would be getting in the top 40, and there weren't any internet campaigns or TV ads to promote them. Mainly because there wasn't an internet as such (I remember sending an email for the first time a couple of years before to a friend in another university and then worrying about the rumours that we could be charged a big fee for this!)
Ride were posh - no doubt about it (says he who now lives in Guildford!). Well for me anyway, as a Northerner. They came from Oxford. They were middle class. They were fey. And yet I liked them, when common sense and tribalism should have welded me to The Happy Mondays and the Stone Roses. This actually polarised me in the opposite direction; I am from near Manchester and being constantly told how cool the place was annoyed me. Don't listen to anyone - in 1990 Manchester was a dump. Friendly - but a dump. But the chips and gravy was great.
AND NOW TO THE MAIN EVENT
The album starts with the hit "Leave Them All Behind". This got to number 14 in the charts which was pretty damn impressive at a time when people still bought those 7" plastic discs. This track is about 8 minutes long and in my opinion represents the best of shoegazing - the fed back distortion guitar sounds, paired with a bit of wah-wah and thumping bass, with a wailed lyric.
Next up is the straight in at number 36 in the singles chart "Twisterella", more poppy with less feedback and more jangly guitars. I think this is a great pop/indie song that sounds great even now. I found the video to this on YouTube and it's a bit embarrassing, like watching your parents dance at a wedding, but nontheless brings back some good memories of the fashions, style and the decidedly dodgy dancing.
"Not Fazed" is standard fare, more of the "ahhhhhhhh, ahhh-ahhh-ahhh" shoegazer lament with the somewhat bizarre lyric "I won't be a monkey in anyone's zoo". Back to that feedback, jangly template.
The sublime "Chrome Waves" might have closed side 1 of the vinyl LP, but I confess to having a tape of this done by a mate, so I'm not sure. This is a mellow great track; kicking in with acoustic guitar, and building up to a synth backtrack overlaid with Mark Gardiner's wailed, trite-yet-compelling lyric "I'll meet you on the way down".
"Mouse Trap" is more upbeat, jarring guitar and kicking bass and crashing drums. There is no getting away from "ahhh-ahhh-ahhh" melodies but this all complements very well.
"Time Of Her Time" is the first time Andy Bells gets to be in any way showy in his guitar, with a nice wailing riff, with yet more driving bass, kickass drumming and Mark forlornly singing as if his posh parents had turned down his request for more pocket money.
"Cool Your Boots" is more "ahh ahh"ing, with more cymbal work and distorted guitar, another driving, shoegazing epic.
"Making Judy Smiles" starts nicely with a cool bass riff, then into a tight groove, owing less to feedback and more to funky guitar. A quite poppy effort.
Just before "Time Machine" a mystery track lasts just over a minute. I think the intent was to be all moody but it falls a little bit flat in my opinion, bass and synth conspiring to sound nothing out of the ordinary.
"Time Machine" itself is quite funky, a bit of acoustic guitar and twangy bass, held together by steady drumming. A harmonised vocal (Mark & Andy?) sounds quite pleasing over the top of this.
"OX4" is, I assume, a postcode. Did E17 steal the idea from Ride? I love this track. It's another epic; starting off with spacy guitar riffing and cymbal work, then gradually progressing with thumping bass and drums, then a little bit of guitar riffing, then more riffing and then Mark is off, "Never been so far away", followed by much driving bass and laid back drumming.
Sad to say I have the original CD so I can't comment on the bonus tracks from the 2001 version - sorry folks!
1. "Leave Them All Behind"
3. "Not Fazed"
4. "Chrome Waves"
5. "Mouse Trap"
6. "Time Of Her Time"
7. "Cool Your Boots"
8. "Making Judy Smile"
9. "Time Machine"
The album was re-released on 24 September 2001 and featured the following bonus tracks taken from the "Leave Them All Behind" (track 4) and "Twisterella" (tracks 1-3) singles:
1. "Going Blank Again"
2. "Howard Hughes"
Anyone who goes "ahh-ahh-ahh" for a start. The feedback distortion sound is used, albeit in a lo-fi manner, by the likes of The White Stripes. They owed something themselves to psychedelia and feedback gurus such as Sonic Youth.
I would recommend this album to today's Indie kids if they want to hear something slightly different. This sort of sound might be a little self-indulgent for some but I think it's up there with any Indie of today.
Andy Bell now plays bass in Oasis, and his role in Oxford's finest is all but forgotten by those fans following the Manc degenerates. Anyone remembering Mark Gardiner and his long flowing dark locks will be shocked to see him as a crop top peroxide blonde. He is a solo artist, and apparently his acoustic rendition of "Chrome Waves" at his gigs is corking. Drummer Loz Colbert also still plays and bass guitarist Steve Queralt is something of an enigma, insofar as I couldn't find what he is doing these days. The best I can come up with is a quote from Mark "Steve's an international man of mystery. Not sure what he's up to."
The four have been co-operating on and off with the re-releases, best ofs and boxsets. They appear to have patched up whatever differences they had, and are adamant no reunion is on the cards. And I should hope not either.
Hope you enjoy reading this as much I as I have writing it!
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Leave Them All Behind
3 Not Fazed
4 Chrome Waves
6 Time Of Her Time
7 Cool Your Boots
8 Making Jody Smile
9 Time Machine