Best tunes of 1990: #3 Ride “Vapour trail”

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“Vapour trail”, the number three song on this Best of 1990 list, marks the second appearance here by Ride, the other being “Chelsea girl” at number seventeen. In that other post, I espoused my love for the band and blathered on about their importance and their influence on other bands that followed.

Many fans might disagree with my rating “Vapour trail” higher than “Chelsea girl”, perhaps preferring the the earlier and more raw sound of the latter, but I stand by my choice. It is easily their most recognizable and popular tune for a reason. And even Andy Bell, who wrote this particular track, has been quoted as saying that this is the song of which he is most proud from that era. It closes (the original track list of) their debut album, “Nowhere” with a bang and an exclamation point. The funky drums that won’t quit and that string coda leads the listener reluctantly away from such an explosive mess of noise and begs for a click on the repeat button.

There has been lots of conjecture over the use of effects to create that sweet guitar line that pulls the whole song together but Bell has been adamant that it came about naturally. They achieved it by twinning twelve string Rickenbackers and you can almost picture Bell looking at Mark Gardener with a nod and a smile, free and easy, embodying the whole mood of the song. It’s eyes closed on the dance floor, not quite dancing but shuffling, and not a care in the world, except for the fear that the song might end. Unfortunately, it does but the ecstasy stays, fading slowly, that beautiful, shimmering C-sharp minor–B–A–E chord progression reverbering in your eardrums.

What’s that you say? You want to hear it again?

You’re welcome.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1990 list, click here.


Best tunes of 1990: #17 Ride “Chelsea girl”

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Ride. Yessss!!!!

I feel like I’ve loved these guys forever, even though I know it’s an impossibility. In the more than twenty years since I first laid ears on them, the music by this Oxford-based, four piece hasn’t strayed very far from my front of consciousness, at least their first two albums haven’t.

They formed in 1988 and caught the attention of Jim Reid (of Jesus and Mary Chain) via a demo tape they had recorded in bassist, Steve Querait’s bedroom, which, in due course, led to interest by Creation Records’ Alan McGee. Ride would go on to record four full-length albums for that label, as well as a mess of EPs and singles. They did really well commercially in their native England but not so much here in North America. Their legacy, however, grew immensely over the years and endures today. They never much liked the shoegaze label with which they were saddled but despite that, they have since become icons of the original wave of said genre from the early nineties and have had a massive influence on the bands of the second wave that started in the 2000s. So much so, that a reunion became inevitable and when it finally happened two years ago, I scored a ticket to their tour’s stop in Toronto. As you might guess, it was a brilliant show…

…But I digress…

“Chelsea girl”, along with “Drive blind”, were songs on that aforementioned demo and were re-recorded for the Ride’s self-titled, debut EP.  On the former (without discussing the latter), the guitars start out semi-clean, albeit heavily treated with effects pedals, and they follow the bouncing ball on an arpeggiating intro. But have no fear: they quickly fall down the rabbit hole, turning messy and heavy, just like molasses, and just as sweet. Hiding in weeds and peeking out at just the right moments are the lackadaisical vocal harmonies of Bell and Gardener, providing yet another sweet melody to the mix. But the real treat here, is the punishing drum onslaught displayed by Loz Colbert. I’ve always thought all four members of the band talented on the piece that they add to the beautiful puzzle but for me, “Chelsea girl” is the beaut that it is because of Colbert.

Turn it up as loud as your speakers can handle and you just might thank me for it.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1990 list, click here.