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Ride arrived in 1990 with a neo-psychedelic wall of sound that relied on massive, trembling distortion in the vein of My Bloody Valentine but with a melodic sense that was simpler and more direct. Dubbed by the British music press as shoegazers for their shy disposition and concentration on guitar effects pedals, they nonetheless stood apart from their peers, primarily because of their keen sense of songcraft and dynamics. The Oxford quartet epitomized the designation throughout 1990, a prolific year during which they released three promising EPs and the widely praised full-length Nowhere, a number 11 U.K. hit. Ride quickly shed and distanced themselves from shoegaze with Going Blank Again (1992) and Carnival of Light (1994), Top Ten U.K. LPs that integrated elements of power pop and folk-rock while emphasizing the ringing harmonies of Andy Bell and Mark Gardener. They bowed out amid acrimony with Tarantula (1996) and worked separately on a multitude of projects across two decades. After some uncertain overtures, Ride fully reunited in the mid-2010s with touring and festival dates that led to Weather Diaries (2017) and This Is Not a Safe Place (2019), sharply defined recordings that returned the band to the upper reaches of the U.K. chart.
Based in Oxford, England, Ride consists of guitarists/vocalists Andy Bell and Mark Gardener, bassist Steve Queralt, and drummer Loz Colbert. Formed in 1988, while the musicians were in their late teens, they soon earned a dedicated following through blisteringly loud and highly energized live shows. Signed by Creation Records in 1989, they released their self-titled debut EP, led by "Chelsea Girl," the following January. Not only did British music critics praise the Ride EP, but it climbed into U.K. singles chart as well. The momentum intensified in April with Play (featuring "Like a Daydream") and in September with Fall (including "Taste"), both of which climbed into the low 30s. This all set up the October arrival of Nowhere, the group's first full-length. It peaked just outside the U.K. Top Ten, driven in part by its finale, the wistful ballad "Vapour Trail." No other band of Ride's generation developed as much within one calendar year.
After a fourth EP, Today Forever, Ride properly followed up with Going Blank Again in March 1992. First single and leadoff track "Leave Them All Behind" went into the Top Ten, as did the parent release on the corresponding album chart, but the band took an extended break following a frustrating promotional tour in the U.S., where their recordings -- like those of Creation labelmates My Bloody Valentine and Primal Scream -- had been licensed to the Warner-distributed Sire. Ride didn't re-emerge until June 1994 with Carnival of Light, which represented a major shift toward folk-rock conventions. More forebodingly, it separated Bell's songs from those of Gardener. Tensions between the songwriters regarding stylistic direction escalated throughout the recording sessions for the next album. Upon the completion of Tarantula in August 1995, Gardener left the band and Bell followed immediately afterward. Ride announced their disbandment in January 1996, and Tarantula, lacking a band to promote it, was released two months later.
The members drifted off to numerous projects the next couple decades. Bell formed Hurricane #1, later joined Oasis as the band's bassist, and with Oasis' Liam Gallagher moved on with Beady Eye. Gardener and Colbert were in the short-lived Animalhouse. More prominently, Colbert played with the Jesus and Mary Chain and Supergrass, while Gardener performed as a solo artist and released an album in 2005, then spent the next decade collaborating with a variety of artists. Bell, Gardener, Queralt, and Colbert did meet during this era, if only to be filmed while performing improvised material for a Channel 4 documentary on Sonic Youth.
In 2014, Ride fully reunited and booked a month-long world tour for the following year, including an appearance at the Primavera Sound Festival. The band also returned to the studio. Weather Diaries, their first album in 21 years, was released in 2017 via indie label Wichita Recordings. Produced by Erol Alkan and mixed by early associate Alan Moulder, the LP featured the singles "Charm Assault" and "Home Is a Feeling," and reached number 11 on the U.K. chart. In early 2018, Ride released the EP Tomorrow's Shore, a collection of four more tracks recorded during their Weather Diaries sessions. Continuing to work with Alkan, Moulder, and Wichita, they recorded a second post-reunion album, This Is Not a Safe Place, released in August 2019. It became their third Top Ten U.K. LP. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Andy Kellman
- Oxford, England
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