The last few years have been a curious ride for Ride. This was a band that bottomed out so spectacularly that Andy Bell’s ’00s gig as the bassist for Oasis was actually considered a step up. (At least two of those late-period Oasis records are better than Carnival of Light, anyway). However, its standing among shoegaze fans–especially American ones–has only grown with the passage of time. That largely has to do with Nowhere, the tremendous debut album that is now celebrating its 25th anniversary. Seen originally as a curious cash-grab of material that had already been released, the album is now held in the same lofty esteem as Loveless and is seen as one of shoegaze’s sacred texts. Listening to it now, though, Nowhere stands out even more in the ways that it isn’t a shoegaze record. There are elements of real rock ‘n’ roll in Nowhere, and those flourishes carry the album to entirely new another level.

To get what Ride was trying to accomplish in those early days, it’s important to note its particular focus on live performance. Anyone who has seen the band perform then or now can attest to its live power, but it even comes across in the studio. Ride wasn’t a studio noodler in the vein of Kevin Shields; one listen to the crashing drums of “Seagull” tells you that the band wanted to get a more immediate, visceral reaction from the listener. Even a dirge like the stomping “Dreams Burn Down” has more in common with the aggressive side of ‘60s psychedelia than it does with the airy dream-pop of Lush. Ride was evidence that shoegaze could have a backbone, and that’s present throughout Nowhere.

The real reason behind the lasting appeal of Nowhere lies in the songs, and that may have a bit to do with the decision to compile the album from the band’s previously-released EPs. Some may question whether we should consider Nowhere to even be a proper album, but if the Beatles and the Sex Pistols can do it, there’s no reason why Ride can’t. Given the timeless quality of songs like “In A Different Place” and “Vapour Trail”–the latter of which is the song every past and future shoegaze band wishes they had written–it’s hard to complain about the inclusion of old material, especially in the age of the stream.

As far as the tracklist goes, this new release of Nowhere is nearly identical to the 2011 reissue, which means the Today Forever EP is still included. The real draw is the DVD, which features a full performance from the band’s 1991 tour. The footage is a bit grainy, though there’s a professional hand controlling the cuts and the framing of some shots. Ride, of course, are how they always were live: really good at their worst and fucking incredible at their best. Playing in a haze of colored lights, the band—particularly guitarists Bell and Mark Gardener–is in rare form, alternating between squealing feedback (“Drive Blind,” “Unfamiliar”) and sweet, sun-drenched pop (“Like A Daydream”). Ride is the sort of band that desperately needed a document of their live performance, and this DVD certainly suffices.

Even now, it’s difficult to figure out exactly where it went wrong for Ride after this and the equally-good Going Blank Again. Granted, many shoegaze bands had a hard time doing anything other than shoegaze once Britpop appeared to sweep the fad away, but Ride clearly had more depth to their sound. Perhaps it was a case of too much, soon: when you start off as well as Ride did with Nowhere, it’s hard to go anywhere but down.

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