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Reissue of classic 1990 album...,
This review is from: Nowhere (Audio CD)
Despite the fact the Shoegazing-tag & Baddiel/Newman/student association Ride were a great band up to 'Going Blank Again' - the great return with 'Carnival of Light' didn't happen and it seemed everything that was great about Ride had been lost in the dilution (the same thing happened to Primal Scream & Stone Roses with 'Give Out...' & 'The Second Coming' respectively). Go back a few years and you'll find some relatively naive teens from Oxford releasing those intitial e.p.'s on Creation: 'Ride' (just 1990 - Snub TV memorably showed 'Drive Blind' before its release) & 'Play' (1990 - both collected on 'Smile')- here was a band like Artic Monkeys or Joy Division (the latter I'm thinking of live rather than produced by Martin Hannett) who were hardly the greatest musicians. There was an energy to the early work of Ride, feeling like a inversion of Joy Division - the feedback and woe having the distinct feel of post the summer of love and post-MBV. The markers for Ride's early material, whether they were aware of it or not, appear to have been My Bloody Valentine, Loop, Sonic Youth, 'Sound of Confusion'-Spacemen 3, Dinosaur Jr., The Byrds, Husker Du's covers of 'Ticket to Ride' & 'Eight Miles High', 'Heaven Up Here'-Bunnymen, The House of Love, The Mary Chain & early Primal Scream ('Sonic Flower Groove' say...)The late Eighties found rock music in its most inventive state - 'Isn't Anything', 'Daydream Nation', 'You're Living All Over Me', '69', 'Playing with Fire', 'Surfer Rosa', 'Locust Abortion Technician', 'Bleach', 'The Young Gods' & 'Fade Out' all pushed guitar music in wild directions - something largely absent since. Ride played pop songs in a Byrds/Husker Du-style but were imbued with the sonics of the era. Against media acclaim, accusations of hype and a feeling they'd hit the big time by puncturing the top 50 with 'Play' (a big deal back then) they set about recorded that classic debut. 'Nowhere' is it.
This reissue, with a slightly different cover, now lists the three tracks from September 1990's 'Fall' e.p. in the main tracklisting and adds 1991's 'Today Forever' e.p. which was summarised the early sound of Ride before they experimented more on 1992's 'Going Blank Again' (which had elements of dub, ambient, spacerock, prog, Britpop, power-pop & the like...)
Opening with live favourite 'seagull', 'Nowhere' bursts into life - it sounds like early Dinosaur Jr. playing Buffalo Springfield's 'Burned', while having an infinite end where the drones go into overload.'Kaleidoscope'has a feeling of light/dark, the lyrics being suitably vague it could be about coming together or falling apart - a bittersweet feeling between Morrissey-mopery and lovedupness.The title is in many ways the quintiessential shoegazing title! 'In a Different Place' changes the tone, a huge ballad with those epic power chords - the dub-version found on the 'OX4' box-set is worth a listen despite not having vocals. 'polar Bear' is up next, another huge track that builds around Loz Colbert's spleenshattering drumming - this was the opener for the 'Nowhere' tour that followed and a song Ride ditched too soon.
'dreams Burn Down' is up next, originally released on the 'Fall'e.p. like 'seagull' and 'vapour Trail' it stuck out in their live shows of 1990. The drums are very Zep here, very 'When the Levee Breaks' as the rest of the band fire up a beautiful noise over it - Mark Gardener's lyrics point to something between energy and ennui - though "we fill up the gaps into our empty little lives" is pure existentialism (The Cure's 'Disintegration' might have been an influence on such lyrics!). The wonderful drones that follow the "dreams burn down...everytime" line take the feedback section of 'You Made Me Realise' and place it somewhere near pop.
The LP gets darker with the double whammy of 'decay' & 'paralysed' - the former is desperate and a bit gothic, sounding like the missing link between 'Scream'-Banshees and Interpol. 'paralysed' meanwhile finds Andy Bell offering one of the most ambitious tracks here, predicting the progtastic directions of later tracks such as 'Leave Them All Behind', 'Chrome Waves','Birdman' & 'At the End of the Universe' - of course it gives way to huge feedback by the end...as it had to! The album proper concludes on 'vapour trail', the single that should have been - one of Ride's finest songs it captures a moment (& takes you back to several). The kind of song that needs to be played on a summer's day...happy Proustian stuff! The cello is a great touch too - await the tribute LP by Michael Nyman...
'Nowhere' is now extended with the 'Fall'-tracks - lead-track and top 40 hit 'taste' (as with 'like a daydream' & 'chelsea girl' this is the Byrds post-MBV), 'here and now' (which builds around some harmonica), & 'nowhere' - which is Ride's darkest song offering up a wall of drones'n'feedback that feel like the ocean after a tsunami (...or just before?). It's like 'Metal Machine Music', but with a song! 'today forever' was released in the Spring of the following year (with a quite silly accompanying video-single which had all four tracks represented by some of the most boring promos in history!). Lead track 'unfamiliar' is a lot more melancholy and trying not to be pop - part of it would be re-cycled in 1994's 'From Time to Time' (which is probably a better song); 'beneath' is the other stock Ride track that just sounds like...(you guessed it) Ride. The other two tracks are more interesting - the gorgeous 'sennen' which explores more acoustic climes (& has been taken as a moniker for a second wave of shoegazing band of the same name!) & 'today' which is closer to Kevin Shields' 'don't ask why'...
'Nowhere' still sounds great and surprisingly was voted #37 in a recent poll of Greatest British Albums of All Time in the NME. This is quite surprising when Ride seem a bit forgotten and Mark Gardener's solo album has been generally ignored - clearly the NME have some shoegazers on staff! The fact that this LP came above 'Psychocandy','Park Life', 'Kid A' (& many great albums the NME forgot about) suggests that its finally being valued/revalued. An excellent reissue that sounds much better than my worn 1990-original, a compulsory purchase alongside 'Smile' and 'Going Blank Again' (the others have their moments...). In time this will become as prescient on lists such as over-rated peers like 'The LAs' and 'The Stone Roses'...