Itís been over eight years since his seminal shoegaze act Ride broke up, but just one listen to Ride frontman Mark Gardenerís new solo live album is enough to get you to break out the back catalog, all the while hoping for a reformation. Gardener toured the US earlier this year and his Big Apple show at the Knitting Factory has been recorded and released under the title of, uh, Live At The Knitting Factory, New York. Gardenerís voice may actually be better now than it was in Rideís heyday, as he has no bank of effects pedals to hide his vocals behind. The CD is a mix of new, yet-to-be released solo material and his take on Ride favorites. And, as itís live, you can hear all the banter, as he informs the crowd the show is being recorded and they should make a lot of noise, or when he dedicates the merely amazing ìVapour Trailî to ex-bandmate and current Oasis bass player Andy Bell. ìVapour Trailî isnít the only song that retains its majesty in a stripped down setting: ìChrome Waves,î ìTwisterellaî and ìLeave Them All Behindî are all among the tracks that have their shimmer and sheen removed to reveal pure pop brilliance. Even new material like ìBeautiful Ghostsî or ìSnow In Mexicoî further prove Gardenerís songwriting magic. At this point the album is only available in Japan and via UK mail order from Oxford Music, so if youíre a Ride fan from 1990 or just want to sort out why people are talking about this artist eight years after theyíve broken up, I highly recommend tracking down a copy.
JEREMY P. GOLDSTEIN