Number one equals “Leave them all behind”. Hands down. This is my favourite song of 1992. And it is also my favourite Ride song. How can you argue with eight plus minutes of pure joy and ecstasy?
Ride’s sophomore album, “Going blank again”, was my introduction to the Oxford quartet of Mark Gardner, Andy Bell, Loz Colbert, and Steve Queralt. I first heard it probably a year, or maybe, a year and half after it was released. My friend Tim gave me a cassette dubbed copy on one of our common trips back to our hometown of Bowmanville from our respective universities.
I was living off campus while attending York University that year, just north of the city of Toronto, in a basement apartment in Vaughan. I didn’t have a lot of money to spend, barely enough for rent and groceries, so much of my time outside of class was spent just hanging around the apartment. I didn’t have a computer (the internet wasn’t really a thing yet anyway) and only the most basic of cable packages, but I did have my music. I spent a lot of time making and remaking mixed tapes, using music from other cassettes or my still rather small CD collection. A good many of those mixes contained songs from “Going blank again” and I’d wager that “Leave them all behind” was on more than a couple of these.
It is the opening track and the first single off “Going blank again” and where the rest of the songs on the album signal an easing away from the shoegaze fold for Ride, this one is pretty much textbook. As I mentioned at the outset, “Leave them all behind” is a shade more than eight minutes. The alien orb opening – reverb and sirens and flashing lights – gives way to an explosion of drums, roaring guitars and Steve Queralt’s muscular bass. Mark Gardner and Andy Bell sing as one, not harmonized, not foiled, but like two laser beams from two different sources focused on the same target. The words they form don’t really matter as much as the melody produced. It adds another crashing against the ordered chaos, the cacophony, like a sonic onion, from which many layers peeled away reveal yet more layers.
Indeed, “Leave them all behind” is not a song to which you listen, but one that is to be felt, touched, and experienced. You close your eyelids and you can see it there in the darkness. And when it devolves into senseless noise at the end, it just makes perfect sense.
It is the only song that could have been number one on this list. So let’s play it again.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 1992 list, click here.