Those first two Ride EPs are, I’d imagine, a well-played pair of favourites amongst much of this readership. The red rosed and yellow daffodiled covers conceal the thrilling sounds of a band at egg-hatching stage, fresh outta the rehearsal room, their fringes and long-sleeved t-shirts just as studied as the music they are aiming for – a sound forged, so the legend goes, when Andy Bell’s mum began hoovering the living room while he listened to The Beatles. It’s fantastically evocative of time and place; loud, uncontrollable, thrashed and bashed, but with the whiff of a melody bubbling under the Panzer attack of effect-heavy twin Rickenbackers and careering, pummelling backline.
The twin vocal duties are steeped in heady Byrdsian/Beach Boys ambitions and sometimes even, like on Like A Daydream, they almost get there. Mainly though, Mark and Andy are guitar players…and don’t they know it. Heavy on the fuzz, generous with the compression and wholly feral with their whiplashed approach to the wah-wah, their tunes are scorched and scarred, dragged backwards through the edge and laid to rest on vinyl forever.
Live, Ride was an even more thrilling prospect. The rhythm section was suddenly fantastic. I mean, who knew?! Laurence the drummer played a fairly standard kit, but his cymbal splashes, his star-of-the-show scattergunning Moonisms and Bonham-ish thumps and thuds fairly shook loose the fillings. Steve – one of two Our Price alumni to play bass in a successful indie rock act – (a prize will be in the post for the first person to suggest the other) – was locked into the groove, eyes focused on his pedal board, huge slabs of thunk emanating forth.
Somewhere at the back of the room in the Glasgow Mayfair was Alan McGee, giving off full-on McLaren/Warhol vibes, his arms folded, admiring his charges, appreciating the huge Glasgow audience that had shown up so early in his band’s career, his ginger Dylan whitefro and Raybans setting off the biker jacket ‘n stripy tee-shirt combo perfectly. My abiding memory of the gig was just how rammed it was and that I had to watch most of the show by standing on one of the in-built velvet wall seats, seeing the stage and band reflected back to front, like a trippy pop promo, in one of the Mayfair’s many mirrors. Mark Gardener was playing his Rickenbacker and coaxing all manner of wild distortion and chiming echoes through a bog standard Peavey practice amp. There was hope for us all.
Despite the froth and Proustian rushes triggered by those first two EPs, it’s the band’s fourth EP that I’ve returned to over the years. Today Forever bridged the gap between the band’s first two albums and distils perfectly all that was great about the band at this time. If you were being generous, you might even consider this less of a single (or an EP) and more of a mini album. Less noisy (in places), certainly more refined and considered, it flirts with proggy undertones (their next single, Leave Them All Behind, was an all-out prog assault, but that’s for another time) and benefits from the band’s unshakeable confidence that everything they approached would be spectacularly great. Each track is unique in its own way. Each track is as essential as the last.
Ride – Unfamiliar
The lead track Unfamiliar fades in on a wave of controlled guitar and is carried along by one of their best basslines, underpinning heavily-treated guitars and more of Laurence’s unpredictable drums. There’s a great bit, just before the vocals come in, when the beat drops to half tempo and the guitars, whacked out and dubby, suddenly conjure up images of Lee Perry and Black Ark. And, just as that notion hits you, here comes the vocal, submerged in sadness and melancholy, two voices singing about who knows what – that’s not important, it’s how it sounds that matters – and man, this sounds great! Smart arses point to Chelsea Girl and Leave Them All Behind as the high points in the group’s back catalogue. Smarter arses known it to be Unfamiliar. Every time.
Ride – Sennen
Just as you’re catching your breath from Unfamiliar‘s bruising and relentless yet ear-friendly assault, along comes Sennen. Named after Sennen Cove in Cornwall (and where the song’s video was filmed, I think) it’s built upon a lovely mesh of clean-chiming Cocteaus’ 12 strings and fuzzed-out riffage, topped off with more of those white boy indie rock vocals that make Home Counties girls called Emily and Rachel go weak at their stripy-tighted knees.
Sennen incorporates a lovely, subtle keyboard line that provides texture to the overload of overdubbed guitars. Since first hearing it, and on every play since, I’ve thought The Charlatans would do a great, Hammond-led version of this. There’s still time, Tim, there’s still time.
I heartily recommend pulling this record from your filing and giving it a fresh spin to what will be appreciative ears. It’s been playing an awful lot round here recently and so far no one has complained. In our house, that’s the mark of a good record, a very good record indeed.
6 thoughts on “Hoovering To The Beatles”
Colin Greenwood was the other Our Price employee
Ah – d’you know, I forgot about Colin! I was thinking of someone else. So there are (at least) 3 x former Our Pricers known for their bass skills.
Great stuff Craig, these early Ride EPs are so good- have weathered well as well.
Was it the bass player from Lush, Steve?
Yeah – none of it sounds dated in the slightest.
Gerry Love, Teenage Fanclub.
It seems as though there may be others. Niche market.
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