Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Celebrating Ride's near-perfect synthesis of melody and guitar bedlam Nowhere on its 25th birthday


Release date: 13 November 2015
Ride Nowhere 25
11 November 2015, 11:30 Written by Matt Tomiak
Is the past always a foreign country?

The scene-setting opening montage that launched Shane Meadows’ celebrated TV drama This Is England ’90 earlier this autumn featured grainy archive footage of events such as the London Poll Tax Riots, the First Gulf War and Gazza’s tears at the World Cup in Italy. It seemed to position the emergence of the last decade of the twentieth century as another world entirely. Yet a generation later, here is one British cultural remnant which couldn’t feel any better preserved: Nowhere - now expanded to mark its twenty-fifth year – is Oxford shoegaze pioneers Ride’s near-perfect synthesis of melody and guitar-driven bedlam, originally released in October 1990 on the commercially burgeoning Creation label.

A fresh-faced quartet of former school pals, singer/guitarist Mark Gardener, guitarist Andy Bell, bassist Steve Queralt and drummer Loz Colbert were swiftly established as UK music press darlings at the dawning of the nineties in the wake of three well-received EPs whilst barely out of their teens. As Colbert notes in his introductory essay here, “Nowhere was a difficult album to make: not because of technical difficulties, or problems with creativity, or strained relationships, but because we were just growing up.” Despite their rawness, Ride scored three inclusions in John Peel’s Festive Fifty ‘90 list, and along with the Inspiral Carpets, the Happy Mondays and (oddly enough) Blur, the band even garnered a bolshie young Noel Gallagher’s approval in early interviews.

1990 represented something of an alternative rock annus mirabilis on both sides of the Atlantic, with other significant releases including The La’s, Violator, Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches, Ritual De Lo Habitual, Goo and Loveless. But via its ear-splitting buzzsaw guitars, haunting tunes and lovelorn lyrics, the extraordinary Nowhere retains a degree of inscrutable magnificence of its very own. This deluxe 25th anniversary edition – which includes a 36 page hardback book featuring transcribed fan Q&A highlights, archive promotional photographs, the Today Forever EP in full and a live DVD of a show at London’s Town & Country Club from March 1991 - will undoubtedly prove a real treat for fans.

For a band so entwined with the ever-vexed tag of “shoegazing” – a genre stereotypically dominated by overwhelming fugs of effects pedal and/or incomprehensible, gossamer vocals - there’s ample light and shade across this record. Opener “Seagull” fixes up 60s jangle pop with a remorseless ferocity. “In a Different Place” and “Paralysed” repurpose the Pixies’ LoudQUIETloud dynamic to monumental impact. Colbert’s astounding powerhouse performance behind the drum kit on “Polar Bear” and “Dreams Burn Down” is worthy of particular mention too. But the album’s crowning glory may in fact be its purest pop offering: the string-laden swoon of “Vapour Trail”, the utterly charming final track on the original eight song version of Nowhere. This song’s genesis may have been a mere happy accident; according to an interview in the liner notes, Bell claims Gardener “literally forced” him to sing the lead vocal. It finds Ride operating in unabashed full-blown romantic mode, and provides exquisite proof they could pull off subtle just well as they could administer sledgehammer. The aforementioned Noel Gallagher (Bell’s future bandmate in Oasis’ post-Britpop incarnation) was clearly paying close attention, as the arrangements utilized on his band’s Christmas ’94 hit “Whatever” attests.

“When I listen to The Stone Roses’ debut album it definitely sounds ‘of its time’, but also timeless. I feel the same way about Nowhere” writes Bell in response to an enquiry about his legacy. Both Ride’s long-term admirers, and those discovering this album for the very first time, will surely be inclined to agree.

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