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'Ride' and 'Play' collected
on 8 March 2006
'Smile' was originally released in 1991 on import, collecting together Ride's first two e.p.'s released on Creation records in 1990 - 'Ride' and 'Play.'
These were both fantastic e.p.'s - a format that was destroyed in this country when the BPI hit on the notion of three-track singles in the late 90s (...I wonder why singles sales have reduced???). The 'Ride' e.p. opens with 'Chelsea Girl', a bursting pop-thrash that collides early House of Love with the feedback excess of My Bloody Valentine - the title I assume nods to the Nico album of the same name? Next up is one of Ride's greatest songs and a live favourite - 'Drive Blind' - which sounds like a collision of 'Autobahn' (lyrically), Black Sabbath, 'Pictures of Matchstick Men' and Sonic Youth. The feedback section in the middle got extended more and more as live shows went on resulting in the 'Motorway Madness' sequence that almost appeared on 'Going Blank Again.'
'All I Can See' again recalls the early work of the House of Love, perhaps with a hint of Echo & the Bunnymen's 'Heaven Up Here'? The 'Ride' e.p. and first half of 'Smile' concluding on 'Close My Eyes', a song that was dropped at some point in 1990 but found itself resurrected for the Reading 1992 set (see the 'OX4' box-set) and at Ride's Royal Albert Hall concert circa 'Carnival of Light.' 'Close My Eyes' is a gorgeous song, one to comedown from after partying ("Last night I had such a good time...but there's a price to pay") - a soundtrack to those teen years where things become wild and you feel slightly immortal. As naively lovely as Beat Happening's 'Indian Summer' & something of a mantra as Andy Bell and Mark Gardener repeat "...to close my eyes..." as the band fire up a storm. They really ought to reform and play material like this rather than the so-so retro of the last two albums!!!
'Play' was released in Spring of 1990, creating a music press buzz around them - both 'Play' and 'Ride' had iconic, anonymous covers that were a feature of the band until 1994. Opener 'Like a Daydream' feels like a collision of The Byrds and mid-80s Husker Du - coming from a similar place that the Du's covers of 'Eight Miles High' and 'Ticket to Ride' came from (alongside Du-originals like 'Green Eyes', 'Makes No Sense At All' & 'Games'). 'Like a Daydream' is one of Ride's great pop songs alongside 'Chelsea Girl', 'Taste', 'Vapour Trail', 'Making Judy Smile' & 'Twisterella.' Next up is 'Silver', which some considered the worst track on the e.p.- some may have thought 'I'm Fine Thanks' or 'Smile' (found on the box-set) should have been included instead. I always liked it - a Mary Chain-style dirge that is attempting to be subtle - which is something hard to do with feedback! I'm sure out of it the track 'nowhere' was birthed - as that explores a similar sonic terrain...
'furthest sense' brings life back to the e.p. (perhaps 'silver' is wrong cos it's not very spring-like - maybe should have been swapped with 'fall's 'here and now'? Minor detail I know!!) prior to the feedback drenched thrash 'Perfect Time' which vanished from Ride's live-set after 1990 to be resurrected alongside a shorter 'Drive Blind' for their Brixton Academy set that made it on video.
'Smile' is an excellent compilation of those two vital e.p.s Ride released prior to the 'Fall' and 'Nowhere' releases - perhaps it should be reissued with 'I'm Fine Thanks', 'Smile' and their covers of 'Eight Miles High' & 'European Son' included?