Monday, June 5th, 2006
Oh no, the eponymous post.
I contributed a post to a group blog thing that Mars Needs Guitars is assembling for “favourite shoegaze songs” and while I didn’t choose a Ride song, I did think that maybe it was a good time to talk a bit about their song that inspired this blog’s name and the band in general.
“Chrome Waves” appeared on 1992’s Going Blank Again – a record which does now and likely always will appear near the very top of my favourite albums of all-time list. It’s not, however, my favourite song from the album. Not even close, actually – that title goes to the supreme pop joy of “Twisterella”. It doesn’t even contain any of my favourite individual moments on the record. The fuzz bass of “Time Machine”, the hard tremolo guitar riff in “Cool Your Boots” (as well as the Withnail & I intro), the insane drumming in “Mouse Trap”, the pipe organ lead-in and synth lead-out of “OX4″… No, what “Chrome Waves” has is a great title. I just found the phrase incredibly evocative, like afternoon sun reflecting off a hundred windshields in a downtown traffic jam, locked in by a valley of steel and glass skyscrapers. Yes, that is actually what it says to me and that is why I chose the name. Because I want my site to conjure up the feeling of being stuck in traffic, preferably in the blistering heat. That, and the domain name was available. But not the .com, though I don’t think there’s anything there.
Here’s the original album version of the song – as I said, while it’s not my favourite track off GBA, that’s more a statement on the greatness of every other track on the record rather than a slight against the song itself. An alternate version of the song also appeared on the Leave Them All Behind EP but was curiously left off the Going Blank Again reissue from 2001, even though the other b-sides of the time were appended as bonses. And Mark Gardener, who has recently resurrected his musical career after taking a few years off, has made the song a staple of his live shows. Here’s a solo acoustic performance of said track at SxSW 2003, one of his first after coming out of retirement, and there’s many more to be found here. And if you don’t know Mark Gardener’s connection to the song, here’s a visual aid (courtesy of Brad, via this post).
And surprisingly for a band that’s been officially defunct for a decade, there’s Ride news to be had! They were featured on XFM’s Breakfast Show last week in a “Missing In Action” piece where she interviewed Mark about the going-ons with the individual band members. Alas, they have no archives. But some stuff Mark might have mentioned – besides his own new album These Beautiful Ghosts – is that drummer Loz Colbert is getting a new project of his own together in between drumming gigs for the likes of Supergrass and JAMC’s Jim Reid. You can check out his MySpace for some demos and to file under irony, one of the best drummers in the UK is – get ready for it – looking for a drummer for his band. Rimshot.
Also potentially good news is that Andy Bell is putting together his first proper solo record and is working with Kalle Gustafsson Jerneholm from The Soundtrack Of Our Lives to do so. I say “potentially” because Andy’s track record without Mark has not been good. Witness Tarantula and Hurricane #1, and I’ve not heard whatever he’s contributed to Oasis. He talks a bit about the record with radiosonic.it.
Wishing for reunions is usually a sign that one is getting old and when it happens is almost always a disappointment to some degree, but I actually have no doubt that Ride could pull it off. First, all four of them still get along – Mark and Andy both played separately and together at a festival in Stockholm in 2003 (see the above link to live Mark stuff for recordings) and second, they’ve already done it and proved the fire was still there. In 2001 the BBC enlisted the band to provide the soundtrack to a special they were doing on Sonic Youth. The resulting epic-length jam was recorded and portions of it released in 2002 as the Coming Up For Air EP. The centrepiece of the release, the appropriately named 30-minute-plus “Performance”, is a revelation. Completely unrehearsed and improvised, the musical chemistry between the four of them is still undeniable – they effortlessly and unconciously weave through all the styles and sounds that they covered in their too-brief career and make it all sound cohesive and natural. A perfect epilogue to the story – read more about it here and see/hear some sections of the jam below:
While the last few years have been good to Ride fans in terms of archival materials (best of, box set, BBC sessions), there had still been the promise of a Ride DVD for us to feast our eyeballs on. Alas, the footage that was meant to be the centrepiece of the collection – the band’s triumphant Reading 1992 performance – was lost by the company that recorded it and the whole project has been shelved. But all is not lost – thanks to the wonder of YouTube, all of Ride’s videos from the earliest EPs through Going Blank Again have been archived online. It’s like having a portion of the Ride DVD, except streaming and of dubious sound and video quality! Awesome!
Video: Ride – “Chelsea Girl” (YouTube)
Video: Ride – “Like A Daydream” (YouTube)
Video: Ride – “Taste” (YouTube)
Video: Ride – “Unfamiliar” (YouTube)
Video: Ride – “Sennen” (YouTube)
Video: Ride – “Today” (YouTube)
Video: Ride – “Vapour Trail” (YouTube)
Video: Ride – “Leave Them All Behind” (YouTube)
Video: Ride – “Twisterella” (YouTube)
Want more? Ticket 2 Ride has a complete Ride concert in Italy, circa 1992, available to download, there’s a fan-maintained MySpace and this isn’t the first Ride retrospective I’ve done but it’s certainly the most media-heavy. And I’m not done. The live “Like A Daydream” comes from the truly excellent Waves collection of BBC sessions here are three versions of “Vapour Trail”, which really is their signature song. The first is the original version off Nowhere, the second is taken from a 1991 gig at Wembley Stadium that was part of the Overdrive bootleg and the last is from one of the shows Andy and Mark did together in Stockholm circa 2003 (see above). Pure sonic perfection, every one.
Special thanks to the Ticket 2 Ride fansite for providing many of the materials and links used in putting this post together.
PS – Chris, if you still have those Ride and Play 12″s, I do still want to get those off you… Someday…
np – Ride / Nowhere