Friday, January 30, 2004

...not that I had anything earth-shattering to say about Ride. I just want to add my voice to those who have realized that the hype is not to be believed, and that Carnival of Light is, in a way, a great lost Brit-pop album.

My guesses as to the reasons for its bad reputation are 1. Ride's shoegazing audience didn't want to hear a jangly 60's sounding album regardless of how good it was and 2. since the band were busy fighting, they decided that the cause of their unhappiness was their current album and 3. just as the English like to suddenly declare unknown bands to be the most important historical development since the Moldy Peaches, they also like to arbitrarily decide that perfectly decent records are "utter rubbish." I think they may just like to say the phrase "utter rubbish" from time to is kind of fun.

I was never a huge Ride fan...I've never really been able to get very enthusiastic about any of the shoegazers. I was indifferent to their first album, and enjoyed Going Blank Again without getting too excited. But a year or so ago I happened to pick up a compilation of videos that included Ride's I Don't Know Where It Comes From (I bought the comp because it had my old housemate's band, Soul Coughing, on it and I wanted to see what he was like as a rock star) and decided to investigate further -- if you haven't seen the video, lets just say that in it Ride look an awful lot like a Byrds tribute band (despite the fact that they're ripping off a Rolling Stones song). The video leaves out the children's chorus, btw. Some people seem to find that part cheesy...I see what they're saying, but I like the way that it makes the You Can't Always Get What You Want reference more overt.

All of the Ride albums were reissued a few years back with bonus tracks, which is nice. Even nicer, they have a box set that comes with a worthwhile rarities disc, and last year their BBC Sessions came out. Here's Crown of Creation, also a Carnival of Light track, from that.

Mark Gardener, one of Ride's two main writers, toured a bit last year and a few of those concerts can be found on the net. I'm not going to post anything, because it's just solo acoustic which is nice but not essential. It's worth hearing just to see how happy he sounds to be playing again, which is very sweet. He also released a few solo tracks with Goldrush last year. All in all, there's a lot of product floating around, and it seems like the band *might* be ripe for some sort of re-evaluation. I'm not the first person to suggest this, and hopefully I won't be the last.

One more track from Carnival: when I saw that they were covering How Does It Feel I wasn't expecting much (Allmusic strangely, calls this "hackneyed," but they seem to be subscribing to the original "stylistic mistake" view of the record). Actually, Ride do a pretty fantastic job, especially where the guitar noises are concerned, and since the Creation were pretty low-profile in the US (at least prior to the Rushmore soundtrack) I don't see a problem.

Summary: UK fans have probably already had a chance to make up their own minds about all of this, but Ride weren't as well known over here, and I think it's very possible that Carnival of Light has flown under the radar of a lot of people who might like it. There's one song on it, Only Now, that I can especially see appealing to fans of Blur's big melodic epics from the days before they discovered Pavement and William Orbit.

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