Thursday, April 17, 2008

We Haven't Done This For A While So It Might Be A Bit Weird

Ride - I Wanna Be Your Dog (Live)

I’ve been hunting high and low for this track for years, and am delighted to have finally tracked it down. I can remember my brother going to see Ride live in Oxford (Jericho Tavern, I think, a secret gig from 1991) and writing me a letter saying how fantastic they were, especially a mental cover of the Stooges’ ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ which they occasionally used to drop into their early live sets, and resurrected for that one night only. I was obscenely jealous – not only am I Ride’s biggest fan, but ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ is one of my favourite songs ever. That three-chord riff sends me bonkers and makes me want to go and smash shit up. Even now… So that combination of favourite band and favourite track with a little bit of brotherly envy lobbed into the mix means that I have always been gutted that I never saw them play it live, despite seeing them a few times. Being able to finally listen to it is perhaps a poor compromise, but it’ll do me for now. At least until they reform and I force them (at gunpoint if I have to) to play this for their encore. It’s only really worth listening to extremely loud, as it’s not the best recording. I think it’s Andy giving his vocal chords a proper Iggy-style workout, and at the end it dissolves into a right old mess. But I love it, and I’m sure my bro will too.

Ride - Eight Miles High
Ride - The Model
Ride - I Don't Want To Be A Soldier (Live)
Ride - Tomorrow Never Knows (Live)
Ride - Union City Blue

Ride recorded some really excellent cover versions throughout their career, almost enough to make a whole album. They recorded ‘Eight Miles High’ for an Imaginary Records compilation, ‘Through the Looking Glass’, in 1990. The Byrds were a huge influence on Ride, so this is a pretty faithful rendition really, with some additional squalling guitar noise. In some ways, their cover of Kraftwerk’s ‘The Model’ (for ‘Ruby Trax’, an album of covers to celebrate the NME’s 40th birthday) while brilliant, now feels like a missed opportunity. At the time, it was a novelty – Ride go synthpop! – but listening to it now, it’s a note for note reconstruction with only Mark’s vocal setting it apart from the original. Imagine how much more interesting it would have been if they’d tackled it as a four-piece guitar band. I guess it could have been dreadful, but I think the best covers the band did were when they stamped their identity onto a song. Take their fantastic version of John Lennon’s ‘I Don’t Want To Be A Solider’, recorded live at the Reading Festival in 1992. As Simon Cowell would say, they definitely “make the song their own”, with a lovely chunky Stevie Q bassline, and some fabulous guitar mangling from Andy and Mark. Love it. Perhaps not quite as good, but worth a listen anyway, is their cover of the Beatles’ psychedelic masterpiece ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’. This was the song they used to climax all their early live sets in 1989 when they first started seriously gigging. Loz does a fine job on the best drums Ringo ever played, and it ends in a thrashing blaze of distorted riffing. Last, but by no means least, Ride covered Blondie’s ‘Union City Blue’, with Alex from Motorcycle Boy on vocals under the cunning pseudonym, Motorcycle Ride. It was originally given away on a cassette in ridiculously small quantities after a gig in 1989, but in 1993, Fierce Records in Swansea rescued it from obscurity and released it on a 7”. They don’t really mess around with the original too much, but it’s a lovely, lovely slice of dreamy guitar pop.

Marvellous Ride fansite
Ride MySpace
Official Ride website with links to buy their catalogue digitally