My first memory of knowingly hearing the band Ride was John Peel (Google him, kids) playing Vapour Trail on a Saturday night sometime in the winter of 1990 (if memory serves). I was taping the show (as you did back then, onto a TDK C90: Google it, kids), the tape stretched to breaking point over the following days, Vapour Trail on heavy rotation.
Something in the sound – that sense of longing, for what I still don’t know – clicked with the same sense inside of me. The tune was a cracker too.
From there I delved deeper into the Ride experience. Those early E.P.s, tracks like Close My Eyes and Like a Daydream, mixing floppy-fringed, soppy arty-boy vocal harmonies and macho-punky, machine-gun drums and walls of guitar noise.
I liked their look too. I was (still am) a lanky thing and bands like Ride made it cool to be skinny, to not be a swaggering, beerish bloke. My mum used to cut my hair back then and it was soon modelled on a pic of Andy Bell (Ride singer and guitarist) torn from the Melody Maker.
Fast forward almost thirty (fuck!) years and Ride are back. I was nervous when I heard they’d be recording new material. To me their old stuff is untouchable, my memories golden, not to be messed with. What if they did a Stone Roses and returned with a plodding, playground-poetry pastiche of their once great selves?
Well, this isn’t an ode to leaving well alone. The Weather Diaries is a perfect distillation of all that was good about Ride: those amazing harmonies, Nowhere’s guitars, Going Blank Again’s sonic cathedral, the Birds-beauty of Carnival of Light. It’s a continuation, a natural progression, picking up where they left off and a leap forward. (I also like that it’s infused with a spirit of now, with a prescient anger aimed at the current state of politics: “a face of reason equals treason”.)
To me, The Weather Diaries sounds like the great lost album of my youth and my future combined, and I’m glad, after all these years, that it’s been unearthed.
Perhaps it’s time to dig out my mum’s scissors and that old pic of Andy? Maybe not. Some things are best left behind.