What’s your attention span like?
Ride are probably the second best-known of the ‘original’ shoegaze bands, even if their music never really had a lot in common with with their Creation label-mates My Bloody Valentine. If you’re reading this blog, you probably already know that and you’re probably familiar with the huge array of great things that came out on Creation and its sub-labels in the eighties and nineties.
Ride broke up in 1996 after they tried and failed to be Oasis. So they made two essential shoegaze/dream pop albums at the beginning of the decade and then two forgettable tow-the-line Britpop albums that got lost amidst the higher-profile and, frankly, better work of bands like Blur and Pulp. ‘Leave It All Behind’ might’ve been a big hit for Ride, but shoegaze was only ever something on the fringes of the mainstream. So it’s not as though come 1994 they had a huge public profile to launch themselves from that might’ve advantaged them over the up-and-coming Britpop hype bands, many of whom, including Oasis, also were on Creation, which by this point was half-owned by Sony (thank MBV, and, allegedly, Alan McGee’s escalating coke habits, for almost bankrupting the label) and thus was no longer the true indie label that Ride had signed with in 1989.
I’ve always loved the intro to ‘Leave Them All Behind’. I first heard the song when I was eighteen or nineteen, which wasn’t that ago. The song came out the same year I was born, so you do the addition. I loved it before I could put a name to droney, driving, ethereal instrumentals. To me there was just stuff that sounded like that one Ride song. The dubby intro to ‘Time Machine’ was another of theirs I listened to religiously at the time, as was ‘Vapour Trail’, perhaps the cutest dream pop song I’ve ever heard to this day.
Of course, I had no idea who Michael Rother or Klaus Dinger were, and I thought Brian Eno was just Self-Righteous Sunglasses Dickhead’s producer stooge. So far from the truth. It took me a few years to find the kind of music that influenced the kind of music that Ride and other bands I liked at that age sometimes made (remember, Ride also made some fairly trite indie pop songs that probably cursed us, fifteen years later, with garbage like The Kooks). Which is what brings us to ‘Coming Up For Air’, the half-hour long result of somebody at Channel 4 getting Andy Bell, Mark Gardener, Laurence Colbert and Steve Queralt back together to jam in late 2001 for a segment of Pioneers, a documentary about Sonic Youth.
It might not be something you’ll want to listen to all the time, but I think it’s worth your while at least once. Alongside all the ’80s noise and post-punk vibes, I think the influences of Neu! and perhaps Eno as well are quite apparent here.