#5. Ride – Chelsea Girl (1990)
There’s no precise methodology to any of this. No complex algorithm, no scoring matrix where the merits of this song or that track are extrapolated, dissected, then reassembled against a backdrop of fifty favourite tunes.
Thus it’s a given that the attraction of certain tracks owes as much to context, to time and place. It isn’t that the song in question fails to appeal on its own merits – it’s a wonderful piece of driving, textured noise – but rather that the goodness is enhanced by the personal (which ultimately is what I write about; it’s not necessarily the music, but the potency of synaptic reaction such sound delivers).
‘Chelsea Girl’ is the opening track on Ride’s eponymous début EP, a four-tracker released in early 1990, and I bought it on release, beguiled by immediacy, by its discordant momentum. The opening guitar riff, an enticing motif at the centre of the track, but buried under so much distortion as to constantly intrigue.
But it’s more than just that. I bought a stupid number of records in ’88, ’89, ’90. A musical education, or perhaps compensation for the fact that girls thought I was a little weird (they probably still do, but that’s a story for a different day) … but that first Ride EP pretty much dictated the direction my musical predilections have followed ever since. This was an era before the discovery of My Bloody Valentine. Before the Jesus & Mary Chain or even the Velvet Underground had lit up my radar, and although Ride have been criticised as merely scenesters, practitioners of a generic shoegaze (a critique that’s easier to accept when considering the band’s career trajectory as a whole, what with the repositioning towards a baser, commercial approach when Britpop sadly arrived), this is a record that revels in its own intensity, that speaks with a fluency I can fully understand.
Ride / Chelsea Girl