Tarantula – Ride
Mary Anne – Ride (1996, Creation Records)
Before I start, this is a series that is inspired by reading about the Goliath Bird Eating Tarantula. I was so impressed with the fact that there is a spider that can measure up to around 30cm in length and can weight 170grams that I wanted to write about it and somehow crowbar something musical into that.
That, folks, is why I am sitting in the lounge at nearly midnight on a Tuesday listening to the fourth studio album by Ride. An album I genuinely haven’t listened to in around 17 years and even then I think I might have switched it off after track six, because back then in 2005 I thought this record was garbage. It was a record that should have come with a stamp on it saying “Nowhere near good enough”.
So inspired am I by the brilliance of giant tarantulas that I have now convinced myself that I should reacquaint myself with the fourth (and at the time, final) studio album by Ride and that is how this series came to light. It made more sense in my head if I am honest. It’s also the only record I can think of with the word ‘Tarantula’ in the title.
By the time ‘Tarantula’ came out in 1996, Ride had already split up. Gardener and Bell, the two main songwriters in the band were barely speaking and certainly getting them into a studio was proving difficult. The album eventually got itself recorded, and it was released somewhat under a cloud, very little press, very little publicity, obviously no tours or promotional stuff. It was largely panned by the media. The Melody Maker called it, rather wonderfully “The Eight Legged Snooze Machine”. Creation sensing problems, deleted it a week after it was released and literally no one cared, least of all Ride.
But how bad was it?
Well, if the truth be told, pretty bad. I’ve just listened to it all the way through, trust me on this. Oasis lite indie pop at best and I don’t mean good Oasis either, I mean ‘Standing on the Shoulder of Giants’ era Oasis. Not good. Lyrically it’s woeful, because Mark Gardener had pretty much lost all interest in writing songs for Ride by then and Andy Bell just wasn’t the songwriter he clearly thought he was. Bell wrote nine of the tracks on here, and that really shows. I’ve just thrown a bunch of magnetic letters at a fridge and I think I could turn that into a more meaningful verse than anything on ‘Tarantula’.
Sunshine/Nowhere To Run – Ride (1996, Creation Records)
I was wrong, musically, it doesn’t sound like bad Oasis. It’s worse, it sounds like Heavy Stereo. To put how far removed from the sound Ride (nearly) perfected in the early nineties, if you imagine a map of the UK, ‘Nowhere’ would be where Devon is (best obviously), ‘Tarantula’ is that rundown estate full of crack dealers just outside Croydon. That’s how close it is.
Walk On Water – Ride (1996, Creation Records)
Its not completely terrible though. ‘Black Nite Crash’ the lead single is, to be honest, one of Ride’s finest singles. All crashing guitars, angry, sarky lyrics and thumping drums. Drums that haven’t been heard on a Ride record since ‘Dreams Burn Down’ at the very least. So that’s good.
Black Nite Crash – Ride (1996, Creation Records)