Best tunes of 1992: #1 Ride “Leave them all behind”

<< #2

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.


Vinyl love: Ride “This is not a safe place”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Ride
Album Title: This is not a safe place
Year released: 2019
Details: 2 x 12″ LP, 45 rpm, embossed lettering on cover

The skinny: “This new [album] finds Mark Gardener, Andy Bell, Loz Colbert, and Steve Queralt revelling in being back in a fully realized band. Yeah, there is more confidence and energy and a sense that they want to explore and experiment more with their sound. After five years back as a whole, this sounds like it’s the first time that Ride knows exactly who they want to be and it’s bursting out from all speakers.” These are some of the words I wrote about “This is not a safe place” when I presented it as my fourth favourite album from 2019. I also wrote about how I went out to one of my locals on the day it was released to purchase this fine copy, pressed to two slabs at 45 rpm. It sounds lovely and even more so with repeat spins. And yeah, that title is quite prescient with the times we are now living in, isn’t it?

Standout track: “Clouds of Saint Marie”


Best albums of 2019: #4 Ride “This is not a safe place”

Ride should need no introduction to any fan of the original wave of shoegaze and perhaps even to those fans of the bands that were influenced by them in the 2000s. “This is not a safe place” is the Oxford quartet’s sixth full-length and second since re-forming in 2014 after an 18 year hiatus.

I had approached the previous album, “Weather diaries”, warily and with plenty of trepidation. You never know how these things will work out, especially a band like Ride, who even in their short early days had two distinct periods of musical direction. Would they revisit their early, “shoegaze” sound that has kept their name coming up over and over again as such an influential group or would they continue down the road they seemed to be travelling when the group was rended by internal strife? Happily, it was more the former than the latter. And even more happily is that it wasn’t just a rehash of days gone by but the sound of a band tentatively dipping its toes back into the wave pool and finding the water just fine, spreading its water wings to surf out on the breakers with its years of diverse experiences.

In the two years since its release, I have regretted not purchasing “Weather diaries” for my vinyl collection so I decided with only slight hesitation to not make the same mistake for “This is not a safe place” when it was announced. I went out to one of my locals on release day and picked up a copy to spin later that night. After a couple go ‘rounds, I was pleased with my decision. This new one finds Mark Gardener, Andy Bell, Loz Colbert, and Steve Queralt revelling in being back in a fully realized band. Yeah, there is more confidence and energy and a sense that they want to explore and experiment more with their sound. After five years back as a whole, this sounds like it’s the first time that Ride knows exactly who they want to be and it’s bursting out from all speakers.

I had my favourites that first night but the favourites have multiplied with each listen to the point where I find it a task to point to a weak link on the album. My three picks for you are from among those early faves. Have a listen.

“Repetition”: Andy Bell was very proud of this second tune to be unveiled in advance of the album’s release, calling it perhaps the best song he’s ever written. As he says, it’s a great one for blasting, thumping bass and chunky drumming, the guitars roar and rumble and scream. Bell on lead here, meanwhile, seemingly sings about the lot of bands whose fans want the same thing over and over again. The energy is youthful exuberance and plenty of wash and drone and yet there’s something withdrawn and knowing about it. I could see having fun on the dancefloor with this one for sure.

“Clouds of Saint Marie”: In the days leading up to the album’s release, Ride unleashed this shining tune. Another Andy Bell penned tune, this one feels like a pop throwback to eighties indie. The guitars alternate between jangle and roar and the bass and drums just chug along. It could just be the title but there’s definitely a feeling here of floating high up in the atmosphere, watching over life down on the ground from a happy place far removed, keeping company with the bright sun. Bell whispers and sighs the beauty of love, letting it wash over all of us. So good.

“Jump jet”: “Jump jet” is like an explosion. It’s like the end of all things. The machine has failed and technology is crumbling and everything is coming to a disaster movie climax, the hero racing to save his or her family from the evil villain (or whatever menace, you pick). And Ride is performing the soundtrack to this final scene. The bass is driving, the drums are punishing, the synths are washing and pooling like dry ice fog, and of course, the guitars are firing above it all. It’s a song to play loud on your ear phones or speakers in your basement and just close your eyes to lose yourself for five minutes.

Check back next Tuesday for album #3. In the meantime, here are the previous albums in this list:

10. Chromatics “Closer to grey”
9. Elva “Winter sun”
8. The Twilight Sad “It won/t be like this all the time”
7. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds “Ghosteen”
6. The Soft Calvary “The Soft Calvary”
5. Orville Peck “Pony”

You can also check out my Best Albums page here if you’re interested in my other favourite albums lists.