This album is a bit of a puzzle. It captures Ride, the stunning proto-shoegazer band of the early 90's, in the typical almost-live setting of the BBC music studios. The BBC sessions are great in that the band get the chance to maybe do a couple of takes, but that's about it. These might as well be live recordings (the final 3 tracks are indeed live).
So-here's the conundrum: as essentially live recordings, the songs here are much more direct and raw. They also are lacking that glossy sheen that was typical of much of Ride's studio work. This proves to be a huge benefit for the Going Blank Again tracks (Time of Her Time, Not Fazed, and especially Mouse Trap), which I think on the album lose some of their power with studio flourishes. Here, though, they are simply stunning. And, along with the Pale Saints cover, Sight of You, are the album highlights.
However, with the case of Dreams Burn Down and to some extent, Birdman (a distinctly different version than that found on Carnival of Light-none of the experimental studio overlays on the opening or mid-section), this proves to be somewhat of a drawback. The guitar lines on Dreams Burn Down simply don't have the beauty of the original version, and the wall of sound portions of the song and just plain weak here. As for Birdman-it's such a different performance, it's a bit of a surprise. The jangly rhythym guitar lines, though, seem to drone on forever, with no change in volume or texture. So while it's nice to hear the song presented a little more straight-forward, it could have been worked on a little, possibly.
With all that said-Waves is still highly enjoyable for a Ride fan. With the obvious change in style from shoegaze/noise-pop to psychedlic/60's pop just over halfway thru at Birdman, you can choose which portion of the album to listen to, since it all runs chronologically. While not much of a fan of the last two albums-presented here, some of the later songs have a bit more appeal. In particular, the schmaltzy I Don't Know Where It Come From is performed *without* the atrocious children's choir. Severance, a Dead Can Dance cover, is a subtle beauty. Sight of You is amazing-too bad it didn't make it ono an e.p. or something. And Perfect Time and All I Can See have significantly different arrangements than those found on the Smile collection.
All in all, a sure bet for Ride fans, but if new to the band, start out with either the Nowhere Import or the Going Blank Again import, then venture to Smile and this album of BBC gems.