Ride – In concert at Town & Country Club, London – October 28, 1990. – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Perennial favorites Ride this weekend. Recorded in concert at Town & Country in London on October 28, 1990. Despite their objections, Ride became synonymous with the Shoegaze movement of the early 90s and became an influence to numerous bands both in the UK and US throughout the 90s.
Sady, the band broke up in 1996, but luckily reunited in 2014 and have just come out with a new album, This Is not A Safe Place, which was released in August of this year.
Ride released three EPs between January and September 1990, entitled Ride, Play and Fall. All three EPs made it into the UK top 75, with Play and Fall reaching the top 40. Ride’s top-75 placing was a first for Creation Records. The first two EPs were released together as Smile in the USA in July 1990 (and later released in the UK in 1992), while the Fall EP was incorporated into the CD version of their first album, Nowhere, released in October 1990. The band were often labelled as part of the “shoegazing” scene, but the band rejected this, Bell stating “my first reaction was like, this is another boring tag. These days…that’s pretty much still my reaction”. Gardener said of the band’s influences “We liked the noisy bands of the time. When we were at art college we went to see My Bloody Valentine, House of Love, Stone Roses and Sonic Youth. I think these all had a lot of influence on us in the early days as they were great gigs”.
The band recorded two sessions for John Peel’s BBC Radio 1 show in 1990, and their popularity with the show’s listeners saw them with three tracks in the Festive Fifty that year, with “Dreams Burn Down” and “Like a Daydream” at numbers 3 and 4 respectively, and “Taste” at number 25.
Nowhere was a critical and commercial success, reaching No. 11 in the UK, and the media dubbed Ride “The brightest hope” for 1991. Demand for new material was high, and the band recorded another EP, Today Forever, released in March 1991. The EP marked a change in direction for the group away from the noisier early style. Ride made their first international tour to Japan, Australia and France later on that year. Tickets for the performances in Japan sold out within minutes.
In February 1992 the band broke into the UK top 10 with “Leave Them All Behind”, and the following month saw the release of the band’s second album Going Blank Again. The strain within the band was already apparent, Bell stating “By the time the second album came out we were touring too much. We were tired. We then took time off, but it was too much time off”.
In 1996, and by the time their fourth album, Tarantula appeared, the band was beginning to self-destruct. Bell penned most of the songs while Gardener provided only one – the tension within the band leading to an inability to write meaningful musical pieces. Castle on the Hill, written by Bell, was a lament for the band’s situation and contains references to Gardener’s self-imposed exile from the group. Gardener walked out during the album’s mixing sessions, and the band announced their break-up shortly before its release in March 1996. The album was released and remained on sale for one week before being withdrawn. Critics and fans alike had panned the album (although the first single off the album, “Black Nite Crash”, was awarded “single of the week” by weekly music magazine Melody Maker). The album was described by AllMusic as “an abomination of ’70s/Lenny Kravitz clichés, full of third- and fourth-rate tunes and, ultimately, bad blood”, going on to say “the words are just plain awful throughout, not even worth printing”. Rolling Stone were more complimentary, stating “the album is saved from maudlin self-obsession because it’s rawer and rocks harder than anything else Ride have recorded”.
Since the break-up, both Bell and Gardener have been more reflective about the group’s disintegration, with Bell especially admitting his own part in the process.
On 19 November 2014 it was announced that Ride had reunited again for a series of tour dates in Europe and North America, in May and June 2015. On 10 and 17 April 2015 Ride performed at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, following a live performance broadcast by KCRW on 8 April 2015. The band appeared at different venues and festivals, in northern America and Europe, including Primavera Sound Festival, Melt! Festival etc. They also toured America with fellow shoegazers DIIV.
On 21 February 2017 Andy Bell and Mark Gardener were interviewed on BBC 6 Music by Steve Lamacq, followed by the premiere of “Charm Assault”, their first new single since 1996’s “Black Nite Crash”, and their first new song in 21 years. The next day, the band released another single, “Home Is a Feeling”.
On 23 March 2017 Ride announced their first new studio album in 21 years, Weather Diaries. The album was released on 16 June 2017. It made number 11 in the UK album charts and gained critical and fan approval upon its release, supported by a tour of Europe and North America across the summer and autumn of 2017. On 27 May 2018 they played a hometown gig, as first support to James, in Oxford’s South Parks, as part of the two-day “Common People” festival (the previous day had been in Southampton).
In March 2019 the band announced that their upcoming sixth studio album had already been finished, with the same producer as their previous album, Erol Alkan. The new album, called This Is Not a Safe Place, was released on 16 August 2019.
Dive back to 1990 for the next half-hour or so and be reminded what Ride and all the fuss were about.