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1992's career peak....,
This review is from: Going Blank Again (Audio CD)
Following the succesful trio of e.p.'s and debut LP 'nowhere' in 1990, Ride had a quieter 1991 - releasing the 'Today Forever' e.p., touring some more (several tracks here were played on the TF-tour & their headlining slot at the Slough festival), and recording their second LP. Quite a lot happened in the interim - notably similar music made by peers such as The Boo Radleys, The Catherine Wheel, Chapterhouse, Curve, Moose, Pale Saints, Slowdive & Swervedriver and Kevin Shields' masterpiece 'Loveless'- perhaps the ultimate LP of this nature.
With co-producer Alan Moulder (who became the Smashing Pumpkins' own Butch Vig...)Ride set about extending their sound beyond the feedback-inflected music tagged 'shoegazing' by the music press (a.k.a. 'the scene that celebrates itself'!). There are a few songs here which are in the style of their earlier work - 'Time of Her Time' and 'Mouse Trap'- though they have a bit more sophistication than the prior work. It seems they'd perfected that formula and had to move elsewhere...
'Leave Them All Behind' was bizarrely Ride's biggest hit - at over eight minutes it was shown in truncated form on Top of the Pops. The opening keyboard drone prior to that pulsing bassline and psychedelic riffs suggest that Ride have done as the title suggests - left their peers behind (one effect of 'Going Blank Again' can be found in the work of the Boo Radleys, which shifted into a much more eclectic realm with 'Lazarus' and the classic 'Giant Steps' LP). 'Leave Them All Behind' is huge, all eight minutes are hypnotic - the final feedback sequence is hypnotic stuff and up there with MBV...
This version of 'Going Blank Again' comes with an improved sound and four bonus tracks - 'Grasshopper' from the 'Leave Them All Behind' (the alternate version of 'Chrome Waves' is left off) and 'Going Blank Again', 'Howard Hughes' and 'Stampede' from the 'Twisterella' single. All of these bonus tracks are excellent - hard to see why 'Going Blank Again' and 'Stampede' didn't make the LP proper. 'Grasshopper' is a 10-minute plus instrumental jam that relates to the side of Ride they celebrated on 'Coming Up for Air' a few years ago (an instrumental tribute to Sonic Youth worthy of a revered math-rock band like Mogwai or Explosions in the Sky). There are other songs related, as the 'OX4' box-set reveals - the feedback interlude of the live version of 'Drive Blind' was considered for inclusion (called 'Motorway Madness') as were several other tracks found on the 'Firing Blanks'-compilation: the dubby-instrumental 'King Bullshit' which was used as the intro on the 'GBA'-tour ('Prince Bullshit', a shorter version is found just before 'Time Machine') and the trio 'Everybody Knows', 'Blue' and 'Tongue Tied.' All of these tracks should be considered also - particularly the excellent 'Tongue Tied' - those songs and the ones on the LP suggest an extremely eclectic work that stands well alongside the similarly diverse 'I' by AR Kane and the aforementioned 'Giant Steps' by the Boo Radleys.
Second single 'Twisterella' is a jangly-guitar driven pop-song, which like 'Making Judy Smile' can be seen to predict what became Britpop. 'Twisterella' has a euphoric happy/sad vibe, and takes its title from a song featured in classic 60s film 'Billy Liar' - listen closely and you can hear the chorus of that song towards the end ("Look at Twisterella - she hasn't got a fella")- this is clearer on the live take of 'Twisterella' found on the box-set. 'Not Fazed' is more diverse - probably having more in common with baggy music than the shoegazers, a series of grooves with the usual crap lyrics from Andy Bell (GBA does not benefit from having a lyric sheet!). The opening riff appears to have been pilfered by PJ Harvey for 'This is Love' on 'Stories from the City...' incidentally!
The version of 'Chrome Waves' is superior to the take on the 'Leave Them All Behind'-single - adding 'Disintegration/Who's Next?' style keyboards to the sci-fi feeling lyrics. 'Cool Your Boots' takes its title from Bruce Robinson's 'Withnail and I' (a retort from Danny the Headhunter to Withnail)- the song opening with the same sample from the film ("Even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day!") that Orbital used on their classic 'Halycon' single found on the 'Brown Album.'
The final two tracks on the LP proper show Ride were much more diverse than given credit for - influences at the time appeared to include Primal Scream, Massive Attack, Butthole Surfers, New Order & the kind of retro music that eventually lead them to become a retro act. Following the brief 'Prince Bullshit' comes 'Time Machine', another sci-fi themed track that sounds like My Bloody Valentine playing New Order. The album concludes on the classic 'OX4', which deservedly made the compilation of the same name a few years ago. This has a great intro which lays the ground for the song capturing a certain period in Mark Gardener's life - Ride were very much about the moment and to me were kind of about youthful euphoria. They didn't need to try and be the Rolling Stones or make so many Dylan-references! - note that the cover of 'Going Blank Again' has a Dylan-reference - nodding to his dire LP 'Self Portrait'!
'Going Blank Again' has dated wonderfully, with 'nowhere' surprisingly getting in the top 40 of NME's 'Best British Albums' (above 'Park Life', 'Psycho Candy' & 'OK Computer'!!!)that should hopefully be appreciated. This should also mean the rest of Ride's back-catalogue is checked out - this LP perhaps their finest moment and certainly the peak of their career. 'Going Blank Again' certainly ranks alongside such early 90s albums as 'Screamadelica', 'Souvlaki', 'Giant Steps', 'Copper Blue', 'Suede', 'Modern Life is Rubbish' & 'Bandwagonesque.' Certainly transcended the shoegazing-tag and the quite funny Newman/Baddiel-gag from the Mary Whitehouse Experience...