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  • Album Reviews |


    Smile 8 ( 1990 )
    Chelsea Girl / Drive Blind / All I Can See / Close My Eyes / Like A Daydream / Silver / Furthest Sense / Perfect Time

    Ah, all you knowing folk need a history lesson, don't you? Yeah, you know you want one really. Well, okay then! Following The Stone Roses disappearing, the UK indie/alternative scene suddenly didn't know what the hell to do or where to go. Enter a scene known as 'Shoegazing' a bunch of bands related purely by their common love of the mighty Jesus And The Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine. Bands who tended to not face the audience, and stare at their shoes during live concerts. Bands with all the charisma of a faceless piece of stone, but let's also remember that this little band here, Ride, were the first band to break Creation Records into the UK top 75 singles charts. The next Ride single broke the top 50, the following became Creation Records, some ten years running or so - first genuine hit single. That hit single isn't contained here, but a better single is. Ride gave Creation Records an impetus, an impetus that eventually produced Oasis. Ride were the better band. Ride made better records than Oasis. Andy Bell, Singer/Guitarist in Ride is now the Oasis bass player! How's that for funny goings on? Okay, so I'm rambling here. Ride also included a very solid rhythm section and a guy named Mark Gardener who in the early Ride days played second guitar and also sang most of the songs. He sang them in a tuneless, flat - emotionless way. Surrounded by a wall of My Bloody Valentine and Jesus And The Mary Chain influenced guitar and noise. There's also the hidden fact that Ride were huge Who fans, not an obvious thing to discover listening to this compilation of their first two EPs, but it's there. The drummer knows what to do. Nowhere close to the class or talent of Keith Moon, but it's there. The bass player in Ride was cool, and then you have these 'My Lady Friend' ( performed and written by David Crosby and The Byrds ) guitars. Plus effects pedals and feedback. That pretty much describes the early sound of Ride pretty damn well.

    So, what's here? Well, 'Chelsea Girl' has a rush of drums and guitars, 'Drive Blind' is pretty doomy and misery laden but it has a power in the performance - a section where this huge wall of noise appears, albeit a wall of noise rendered not quite so impressive due to cheap, murky production. We've got a few nice, b-side type songs with 'All I Can See', 'Close My Eyes', the slow, shivery 'Silver' and the pop structure of 'Furthest Sense' and 'Perfect Time'. All good songs, none special, but let's see here. I'm missing out something aren't I? Ah, yes! 'Like A Daydream' is simply magical and one of the finest songs produced in around twenty years of UK alternative/indie music. 1980-2000. Ride with 'Like A Daydream' produce a little piece of magic. The Byrds did 'Lady Friend' which wasn't perceived as one of their better singles. There is something about Ride writing and performing 'Like A Daydream', the chime of the interweaving guitars, that reminds me of 'Lady Friend' by The Byrds. Only Rides 'Like A Daydream' is better. And The Byrds are one of my favourite bands. And the middle section of 'Like A Daydream' includes a glorious pause, a moment of silence before the guitars go everywhere, oh so special melody amid a dark, murky sound and pummelling drums. I love the song to pieces. You should too.

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    Neal Grosvenor comrade_ronevsorg@excite.com
    I haven't heard that album yet, but I do have "Nowhere" and think It is really good. Maybe you'll review that one next since you enjoyed this one.

    Ben Pickard bpick99@hotmail.com
    Yeah I kind of miss those shoe-gazing days you know? Makes me ultra nostalgic! Ride were one of my favourite groups back then although I haven't listened to their albums in ages. "Drive Blind" was a great single. Love that guitar noise.

    Chris Conkling chris_conkling@yahoo.com
    Not too far off the mark here. I find Chelsea Girl to be rather fantastic, though. I mean, really, the first thing the world hears from a band, and it's THIS good? Pretty amazing. Also-Furthest Sense and Perfect Time are phenomenal too I think. Like a Daydream, like you say, is rather magical. Overall, the second ep's (songs 5-8) material is slightly stronger. All of this is slightly less focused than Nowhere, but nonetheless essential for Ride/shoegaze fans.

    GAZZA garyhess44@hotmail.com
    Not bad for a bunch of toffs trying to fuse sonic youth with the byrds .I think they started to believe their own press after a while though - which was fatal when you look back at how quickly their work deteriorated. The main problem i think is the harmonies and vocals were awful,droning and characterless even though the band is tight as f*ck . Andy bell?? youd never tire of punching his lights out . total knob . Unfortunately ride got increasingly worse with each album . "carnival of light" in particular is a shockingly weak record . "tarantula" should never have been released. But here and on parts of "nowhere" they sound quite inspired , sounding big enough to fill a cathedral . Fave track ? Either chelsea girl or drive blind .

    Vincent Jones ukpunk1@yahoo.com
    Like A Daydream is my all-time favorite from Ride. "Beneath", "Unfamiliar", "Dreams Burn Down" & "Taste" are also good songs.

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    Nowhere 9 ( 1990 )
    Seagull / Kaleidoscope / In A Different Place / Polar Bear / Dreams Burn Down / Decay / Paralysed / Vapour Trail

    There's a couple of things I need to say before I properly get started. LP and Cassette versions of this album included the eight songs listed above. The inner-inlay card/sleeve quotes lyrics from these eight songs. The early CD versions of this album also included three tracks from the third Ride EP and placed them after 'Vapour Trail'. These tracks included the pretty damn wonderful poppy 'Taste' which, when released as part of this third EP, reached the UK top twenty. So, why am I telling you this? The final three songs you find on any earlier CD copy aren't part of the album 'Nowhere' and weren't conceived as such. They should have been listed as bonus tracks, but weren't. To confuse matters yet further, the new CD issues of 'Nowhere' have four extra tracks still, listed as bonus tracks this time - the songs from the marvellous 'Today Forever' EP - more of which later. What is clear from all of this is that songs 1-8 are the album. Songs 9-11 aren't the album, but can be considered as such if you so wish, and songs 12-15, if your version has said songs, aren't the album at all - and shouldn't be considered as such! Me, i'm calling my 'Nowhere' songs 1 through to 8, the songs clearly intended to be album - when there is confusion as to whether songs 9-11 ever were, especially given that no lyrics are quoted from those songs and they are from all the songs 1 through to 8, and the fact that 'Vapour Trail' makes for a grand closing song! Happy?

    Right, 'Seagull' has a murky sound, as the entire album does - but the drums and the guitars really hit through. Two guitars, lots of drums and lyrics that contain the most obvious rhymes imaginable and lots of 'blank generation' cliches, but they work. The lyrics are background anyway, because the overall sound is key. A My Bloody Valentine influenced sound, that particular group being the father of 'Shoegazing'. Still, Ride offered something different, a little harder hitting music. The drums, the drums! Those guitars, these exclamation marks! The utterly rubbish but perfectly appropriate and actually sounding good lyrics!! You get the idea. Sometimes, things just work - a certain chemistry, and it's true that the four members of Ride were totally together at this stage. They manage to create a truly wonderful noise. I hesitate to use the word 'soundscape', but it seems appropriate. 'Kalidoscope' is a little more tuneful than 'Seagull', but 'Seagull' was great, don't get me wrong or anything! 'Kaleidoscope' is just this 'right' song to follow 'Seagull', this is a great album in terms of sequencing and flow, if your a person that cares about such things - cares about albums as possible works of art, instead of just a bunch of random songs to dip into from time to time. 'Nowhere' meant the world to me for a little while, you know? 'Nowhere' the album, not just 'Nowhere' the individual songs, plus bonus tracks, etc. 'In A Different Place' is truly beautiful. Very lovely indeed, and then the guitars hit, loud and layered, yet melodic - everything switches back to beauty. "Even if the rain falls down and all the skies turn cold" sings vocalist Mark Gardener, and that's about the best line Ride ever wrote! No, they were not Bob Dylan, but who cares? 'In A Different Place' is full of feeling, and makes the listener feel what they want to feel is appropriate, but the important thing is - it makes them feel.

    'Polar Bear' is a possible weak point - more effects on the guitars than melody or structure. Still, 'Dreams Burn Down', even with a wealth of effects on the guitars - sounds truly dark and magnificent. By the way, the eight songs that make up the original 'Nowhere' gives you an album lasting forty five minutes or so, just perfect. 'Decay' is dark and furious and reminds me of Joy Division in places. 'Paralysed' is a sentiment, a feel and a mood - it reaches you. Beautiful guitar patterns, beautiful sounds, yet 'Paralysed'? It's repeated and repeated, this title. Hypnotic guitars, everything round and round - a beautiful sound, slow, lovely and heartbreaking - it makes you feel something despite itself, despite less than wonderfully literate, genuinely meaningfull lyrics. 'Vapour Trail' includes a cello, and the meaningless phrase "You were a vapour trail, in the deep blue sky", followed by a spell of tuneless humming! So, that's bad then? Incorrect, it's fucking great - a chiming guitar sound, absolutely beautiful cello rising above the murky overall sound. Thing is, there is dark and shade all across 'Nowhere', but the overall feel is of optimism rising above this darkness. Beauty, and that of a band with a really good dynamic.

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    Fredrik Gierl°ff ultravix@gmx.net
    "Shoegazing they called this brief musical scene back then. Ride were head and shoulders above everybody else that was associated with the scene. " Well well... Don't forget My Bloody Valentine.. Loveless: On my Top10!!

    seany seantaylor1971@hotmail.co.uk
    I'm 36. Wife, 2 kids. Shoegazing days long gone. But as I listen to this album for the first time I can't wait for my 8 year old son to come to me and ask me my favourite albums of all time I will say with confidence that Nowhere was not only Seminal but should be held up there with the all time greatest musical achievements ever. This album does not just encapsulate teen angst it encapsulates life angst for every generation. It should be put on the national curriculum. Thanks for taking the time to post you site.

    Les Barbes Singapore
    Nowhere is classic album - a lot of people think that shoegaze is all a bit wishy-washy, like Slowdive...but Ride really showed how it could rock too. There are some interesting shoegaze reviews in haiku form on www.haikureviewer.com - the ones about Ride are pretty good. Cool site you have here, by the way!

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    Today Forever EP *****
    Unfamiliar / Sennen / Beneath / Today

    In 1990, if you take into account all of the songs from the EP's as well as 'Nowhere', Ride were doing some great stuff and releasing a lot of songs. Available now as a bonus track on 'Nowhere' is the likes of 'Here And Now' - a song with a fairly doomy atmosphere, but that layered Ride guitar sound. It all sounds very serious and it all sounds like something you could believe in. And that song was, in effect, a b-side. Fast forward to 1991, and something else happens, Ride move on. The only thing wrong with Ride in 1991 is the fact they recorded a four track EP instead of a full album. The sound is truly magnificent here - clearer production than 'Nowhere' but without losing any of the bands appeal. 'Unfamiliar' is the kind of serious, artistic song that the likes of 'Here And Now' were, but much improved. Around the time of this 'Today Forever' EP's original release, upon hearing it, I was about ready to proclaim Ride the greatest band on the planet. That's how good the songs here are. Well, i'm glancing back partly through rose-tinted nostalgic spectacles, but you know. Can't help that, and it doesn't matter. Buy 'Nowhere', the new re-issue. It contains the four songs from this EP amongst its bonus tracks. You can hear for yourself.

    'Sennen' is truly beautiful, god, I adore this. The guitars come in with a serious sounding in tone, 'jangle' sound. Then the bass rumbles around meaningfully - then the guitars go for a layered sound. The bass melody is key, and over a mintue passes before the vocals enter. And then, the vocals enter - and shivers go all up and down your spine. The lyrics sound suitably serious and alone and full of a shared loneliness. 'Sennen' is a beautiful song. 'Beneath' is a regular kind of Ride song of the period, but benefits over a number of songs that appeared on 'Nowhere' just through the improved, yet perfectly appropriate, production. Oh, yeah, fine Keith Moon inspired drum work all through 'Beneath' too, by the way. We close with the six and a half minute hypnotic drone of 'Today', and back in 1991, suddenly Ride seemed to be not just another band. It seemed to me that they'd suddenly become important. Shoegazing they called this brief musical scene back then. Ride were head and shoulders above everybody else that was associated with the scene.

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    sheer beauty. fond memories.

    Dunc duncan.murison@gmail.com
    With lyrics like 'why should it feel like a crime/if I want to be/with you all the time/why's it measured in hours/you should make your own time/you're welcome in mine' Polar Bear is one of the best things Ride did... IMHO, of course! Nowhere is tops... a must for all collections

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    Going Blank Again ( 1992 )
    Leave Them All Behind / Twisterella / Not Fazed / Chrome Waves / Mouse Trap / Time Of Her Time / Cool Your Boots / Making Judy Smile / Time Machine / OX4

    Ride go pop, Ride go glossy - there is a 'sheen' surrounding the sound of this album that wasn't there before, but that's not the main problem. Well, there isn't any huge problem bar the lyrics. The lyrics have changed, gone is the attractive doomy goth tone to be replaced by sunshine. But, very simple sunshine and lyrics that contain godawful rhymes ( eg, mind, inclined, yesterday, way, on, long, away, say - that's the first verse of 'Cool Your Boots' ), most of them the fault of Andy Bell. Andy Bell takes a more prominent role here. Suddenly, under the songs credits, instead of 'Written by Ride' it reads 'Lyrics by Andy' or 'Lyrics by Mark' and it was painfully clear, even if you didn't know what was going on at the time, that some kind of split or tension had occured between them. Ride were suddenly no longer quite as together as they were before. Still, it certainly isn't a major problem, although 'Cool Your Boots' certainly has such bad lyrics as to render the song virtually unlistenable. Still, we open with a glorious Ride moment, we open with the eight minute long, top twenty charting single, 'Leave Them All Behind'. The Who influence is again clear, back to a 'Who's Next' kind of thing. Still, Ride didn't sound all that much like The Who. Maybe like Jesus And The Mary Chain crossed with My Bloody Valentine doing a cover version of 'Baba O'Riley'. Actually, that sums up the sound of the magnificent 'Leave Them All Behind' extremely well. Nobody was scared, or worried - Ride had moved forwards once again. Listen to this fucker loud, that pays immense dividends. And who says 'indie' bands can't play? The playing all through 'Leave Them All Behind' is incredible.

    Following the exhausting epic 'Leave Them All Behind' is a deliriously happy, yet perfectly formed, pop song, courtesy of Mark. Under 'Leave Them All Behind' and 'Twisterella' is says 'Lyrics by Mark'. Mark wrote most of the lyrics on previous Ride material. He sang most of the songs, and his songs, if it's correct to call them that - were clearly far superior to Andy's efforts. Not that he didn't do good things too, don't get me wrong! Of 'Andy' songs, we get 'Not Fazed', with shit lyrics but a hugely fantastic guitar sound. We get the haunting 'Chrome Waves', one of the best songs he ever wrote. And so it goes on. Oh, 'Time Of Her Time', written by Andy, is one of the best Ride songs. The guitar sound sends you giddy, the lyrics are actually quite good and the vocals not too obtrusive, either. Oh yeah, Mark had a prettier voice than Andy. Following the eventual break-up of Ride, Andy would never sing again. He'd form a new band and get somebody else to sing for him. Then he joins Oasis, but all of this isn't really relevant to this album, so i'll stop now. The second half of this album is slightly inferior to the first half, but we do have 'Time Of Her Time', the wonderful 'Time Machine' and the closing seven minute long beautifully uplifting sentiments and hypnotism of 'OX4'. So, there you go. 'Going Blank Again', an album appropriately named given certain criticisms of the shoegazing bands that they had no personalities and nothing to say - but pretty darn great anyway.

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    Chris aether12@Yahoo.co.uk
    Worth buying for "Ox4" alone, but I'm curious Adrian - u like Ride & Cocteau Twins, how about My Bloody Valentine & Slowdive? Would love to read your review of "Souvlaki"!

    ashley gordon seagullstern@hotmail.com
    Genius album - the musicianship of Bell really comes to life with Gardner's dreaminess. To really get Ride, get the live Reading 92 live album. Quite fantastic.

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    Carnival Of Light 7 ( 1994 )
    Moonlight Medicine / 1000 Miles / From Time To Time / Natural Grace / Only Now / Birdman / Crown Of Creation / How Does It Feel To Feel? / Endless Road / Magical Spring / Rolling Thunder / I Don't Know Where It Comes From

    There wasn't even a pretence now. The first side of the album was written by Mark Gardener, the second by Andy Bell. Well, more or less. Ride's drummer Laurence Colbert also got to write a song, too. Things were indeed changing. For one, gone is the signature Ride guitar sound. Ride don't sound in the least bit like they used to on the guitar front, gone completely is that twin guitar, dream-noise assault. To be replaced by? Well, a little jangle, a little smooth relaxed indie pop guitar sound, a britpop guitar sound, if you will - although I hate that term. 'Carnival Of Light' was produced by legendary producer John Leckie ( XTC, Stone Roses, Radiohead, etc ) - so at least, it sounds good. The production is exemplary. It's a small shame then, that 'Carnival Of Light' is let down by its own inconsistency. The album was previewed by easily the worst Ride single ever, Andy Bell's 'The Birdman'. God only knows why they chose to release this as a single, maybe because the structure and feel of the song is reasonably ambitious. Perhaps because it was written by Andy Bell, who by now was exerting control in the face of a no longer interested as much Mark Gardener. Who knows? In any event, this 'atmospheric', largely instrumental track ( well, it may as well be, it'd be better if it didn't contain any of Mr Andy Bells legendarily simple lyrics ) falls flat on its face despite the enjoyable louder guitar sections of the song. It's very bitty, a few nice harmonies, a few nice guitar sections. An epic at six and a half minutes long, but not containing much melody-wise. Andy Bell? Just forget it. Look at what you did! You wrote 'Birdman', you wrote the two minute 'jazz' instrumental 'Rolling Thunder'. Okay, so it's not Jazz - but it smacks of something pretentious, and god, i've broken one of my own rules. I never, ever - wanted to use the word pretentious in a record review. Dammit.

    Other sins Andy Bells commits here is including a terrible series of rhymes ( own, alone, place, face, creation, relation, station, etc, etc ) during the far too sweet for its own good 'Crown Of Creation'. Still, it's not all bad for Andy Bell, now bass player for Oasis, don't forget! Oh, no - he does 'Magical Spring' which is the most 'Ride' sounding song here, the guitar sound here could pass 'Magical Spring' for a 'Going Blank Again' song anyway, even if not a 'Nowhere' song. The very closing 'I Don't Know Where It Comes From', like 'Crown Of Creation' is a little too sugary sweet, but this does work as a fine pop song. So, why a seven? Why, indeed. Well, Mark Gardener writes his own atmospheric, near seven minute long song with the opening 'Moonlight Medicine'. It sounds stunning, it has a purpose and a drive and doesn't meander like the very pointless flow of 'Birdman'. He ( Mark Gardener ) follows this by penning 'Moonlight Medicine', such a good melody, such a great little pattern. 'From Time To Time' is even better, sounds nothing like Ride of old, really - but works as one of their most accomplished and 'proper' writing efforts, ever. A real surprise arrives with 'Natural Grace', penned by the groups drummer. Stupidly ( well, perhaps not... ), it's better than nearly every Andy Bell penned song here. Why do I hate Andy Bell???? I don't, not at all. Just that as Ride dissolved during their final days, it became quite clear to me which member of the two creative forces in Ride must have been responsible for the drive and magic sparkle of the songs on 'Nowhere', for example. And, that guys name isn't Andy Bell. A-hem.

    Oh, one last thing before I go. Well, one last thing apart from mentioning the gorgeous feel of the Mark Gardener ballad 'Only Now', of course. The 'Birdman' single came with three b-sides, two of which better than any single song on the 'Carnival Of Light' album. So, get the new re-issue and you'll find yourself with the dreamy, guitar led 'Don't Let It Die' and the delirious brilliant pop of 'Let's Get Lost'. Track that version of the album down! If those two songs had replaced 'Birdman' and the truly terrible, seemingly pub rock sound of 'How Does It Feel To Feel?', maybe this album would have reached a grade as high as an '8'. As it is, it doesn't. I feel like giving it lower than a '7' even, but there is still some great stuff here. It's not here consistently, and most of the second side of the album is a real let-down, but overall, a '7' seems fair.

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    Nick Adam nadam@ruizlaw.com
    I agree with your review but, alas, not the conclusions. While Andy Bell's seizing of the creative reins did lead to Carnival's weaknesses and excesses, it was also he who drove the scope and sound of 'Nowhere'. He penned almost the entire album -Nowhere that is- alone. M Gardener was, at that point, just his guitar - strumming little buddy who could hold a note better vocally. I think the road from Smile to Carnival followed a logical journey that many of their fans, myself included, were on:ex smiths fans who discovered noise, and when that tired, delved into retro rock - uncharted territory for new wavers. Final note, my theory on the descending quality of Ride output: drug use coupled with running out of ideas. Now THAT is classic rock!

    paul buzzword72@yahoo.com
    One of my two favourite albums, but I skip over How Does It Feel and the instrumental one. My other favourite? Jesus and Mary Chain's Stoned and Dethroned - similarly decried by its own fans for being not like their usual stuff! I came to both albums not knowing anything of their previous efforts, so have judged them on merit.

    pm peanut_mynci@hotmail.com
    I think you've mixed up the scores for these last two albums. Carnival is by far the worst Ride album. The only way in which it succeeds is as a warning to other bands not to try to emulate your heroes too much. The lyrics are uniformly infantile - literally so on 'I don't care where it comes from' as is the playing on Moonlight Mile, which sounds like 12 year olds attempting Led Zep. Tarantula on the other hand, while throwaway, has some fantastic moments , including the delightful Dead Man, Burnin' (aka Love Spreads) Castle on the Hill and Starlite Motel. Btw anyone who wants to know more about the inside story of Ride would do well to read a nice, candid interview with the whole band here http://www.rideox4.net/

    gavin underwood underwoodgvn@aol.com
    Ride were the best band ever every song was a moment of bliss and every album was a joy from start to finish!!

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    Tarantula 4 ( 1996 )
    Black Nite Crash / Sushine-Nowhere To Run / Dead Man / Walk On Water / Deep Inside My Pocket / Mary Anne / Castle On The Hill / Gonna Be Alright / The Dawn Patrol / Ride The Wind / Burnin' / Starlight Motel

    One word. Okay, so two words. 'Oh Dear'. Still, never mind, eh? Strangely, and pointing towards the entire album being nothing but a contract filling affair - 'Tarantula' was released and deleted on the same day. It's available again now for you all to buy if you're silly enough to do so, thanks to the recent Ride reissue program. Anyway, Mark Gardener had clearly lost all interest in the band altogether by now. Nine of the twelve songs are solo Andy Bell compositions, Mark Gardener is responsible for only two songs here, the meandering and lost sounding 'Ride The Wind', and the truly forgettable 'Deep Inside My Pocket' which sounds all the world to me like an out-take from 'Carnival Of Light'. The best two songs on the album then are two of Andy Bells, which isn't a normal occurence, but then, as far as 'Tarantula' is concerned, he didn't exactly have much competition. One notable factor about 'Tarantula' is how raw and, well, 'cheap' the production and recording sounds. Truly, as if nobody could even be bothered anymore. Don't get me wrong, Ride at one point had developed into a very tight, impressive band, performance wise. So, even in these more loose surroundings, still manage to sound relatively impressive. Anyway, 'Black Nite Crash' is loose, raw and pounding. Great primitive drums in particular - suddenly the drummer awakens from his slumber and bashes the drums like he used to in the good old Ride days! 'Sunshine/Nowhere To Run' might just be the best song Andy Bell ever wrote, it's really really nice - melodically, it's very developed and interesting and the lyrics aren't at all embarrasing. Oh, and the lilting 'Walk On Water' is a nice song, although here, the raw, slightly distorted production sound doesn't really suit the song.

    Um, what else? Well, there isn't anything else. Just forget it. The rest of the album should never have been issued at all, and wouldn't have been if the name of the band wasn't Ride, a band who'd enjoyed two top tens albums in the UK, several charting singles - the first Creation Records act to achieve such feats. Creation hardly cared about Ride circa 1996 anyway, Oasis had hit by then. Everything changes and moves around.

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    laurent skowalski@xs4all.nl
    I agee on most of the review except "Deep inside my pocket" , in my opion, is the definite standout track. The heavy grinding and swirling organ groove, the song evolves around, is so addictive, i'd buy the record just for that tune.

    David Atkinson d.atkinson@maxfordham.com
    Yup, more mawkish Lyrics, and more wet rock hooks, but there are some gems within, especially sunshine/nowhere to run. Bell's guitar playing is something else too; the solo in Mary Anne is amazing. Noticed him playing bass with Oasis the other day, shame.

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    this page last updated 26/5/08

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