It has, until now, been one of the greatest injustices in modern rock’n’roll. Late 90s, there’s Mark Gardener, plugging away on the club circuit trying to get his solo career off the ground while Andy Bell has a pop at jumping on the Oasis bandwagon with the godawful Hurricane #1. Early 00s, Mark’s plugging away on the club circuit trying to keep his solo career afloat while Andy has a pop at jumping on the Oasis bandwagon by, well, joining Oasis. Late 00s, Mark’s plugging away on the club circuit trying to find where he dropped his solo career while Andy has a pop at cashing in on the Oasis split by – for fuck’s sake – joining Beady Eye. And all the while the shoegazing revival comes and goes, Slowdive get hailed as legends of the era and even MBV manage to get their arses in gear enough to release a third album. And still no Ride reunion…
Until today. It’s difficult to underestimate the influence of Ride on the early 90’s alternative scene. If MBV built the palace with ‘Isn’t Anything’ then Gardener, Bell, Laurence Colbert and Steve Queralt were the crowned princes that made it their own. It was Ride who first merged spectral guitar phase and baggy’s wah-wah with airy, acid-high vocal melodies to create shoegazing with their first three EPs in 1990, who perfected the art on debut album ‘Nowhere’ and then ramped it up to form cathedral-bursting, dictionary-defying sonic maelstroms on their 1992 masterpiece ‘Going Blank Again’. The wild, impossible noises they made have infected alternative music ever since, from ‘A Storm In Heaven’ and ‘Blur’ right up to the current psych wave. Okay, so they cocked it all up by turning their amps down and going country and got crushed beneath the mighty wheels of Britpop, but as this writer clawed his way through a mammoth Reading Festival crowd to get close enough for them to scorch his face off in 1992 they sounded truly monumental – the likes of ‘OX4’ were the sound of Comet 67P landing full-force on indie.
So why should we all be excited about the return of Ride? Here’s five good reasons:
1. You owe all of the best parts of your record collection to them
It was the success of Ride’s early EPs and debut album that gave Creation Records the money to fund their golden era. Without Ride we might not necessarily have had ‘Screamadelica’, ‘Bandwagonesque’, ‘Fuzzy Logic’, ‘Loveless’ and, oh yes, ‘Definitely Maybe’.
2. They’ll shoe you to within an inch of your life.
Thought the Slowdive reunion was a wondrous miasma of ethereal mist-visions ballooning into globulous fractals of sonic shadowcasting? Well imagine Slowdive taking too many Vietnam psycho drugs and dancing on your face in concrete clogs. That’s ‘Leave Them All Behind’.
3. Because ‘Twisterella’
The direct mid-point between Madchester and Britpop, 1992’s ‘Twisterella’ is a lost 90s classic combining the baggy clubland euphoria of James, Blur and The Stone Roses with the perfect pop sensibilities of Oasis and Pulp. And a shoo-in for the new setlists.
4. Because ‘Polar Bear’
If clouds could sing they’d sound like ‘Polar Bear’, the psychedelic scree-scape that defined the peak of the acid trip you always wanted to take: “She knew she was able to fly/Because when she came down/She had dust on her hands from the sky”.
5. Because if this goes well, we might get The Boo Radleys back next year.
Well, we can dream.