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December 28, 2007



It would be wrong to let this post go by without comment. I can't even hear the track, from where I am now, but fortunately I don't need to; it is all in my head.

I thought probably awkward was promising when I saw it talking about 'Marie Claire' and A Lover's Discourse, but Molly Ringwald and 'Vapour Trail' in quick succession is setting the bar too high for the rest of the internet. What next: you reveal Fredric Jameson's personal recipe for cajun meatballs? You feature a clip of Lloyd Cole reading aloud from 'Lestrygonians'?

All that said, the world's acclaim for 'Vapour Trail' has occasionally seemed just a little excessive to me, in relation to the rest of Ride's material at the time - I can't help thinking that the last flourish of solo'd strings had a lot to do with distinguishing the track in people's minds, from all the sheer guitar numbers. It is odd, also, that a vapour trail in real life is apt to be a very bad, dangerous thing - a sign of that thing we are always being told about: a flight which will do as much environmental damage as heating your property for a year. Yet the ubiquity of vapour trails out there in the spring skies is also part of the track's charm, for I can hardly see one without thinking (foolishly, fondly, adolescently) of this song.

I guess something that is likeable and compelling about it is the stop-start format: the way they pull in the reins at the end of each chorus, and that big open-stringed C+m starts again -- and the immensity of the rhythm section which is held back till after the first line ('then you fa'ade awa'ay').

The original lyric sheet includes a few words of each song, and ends 'la la la la la'.

Why, though, is there a video for this record anyway? I didn't know it was ever a 45.

h-p n-f

oh hat, thank you. this song brings it all back - spring before leaving home, looking for the guy wearing the ride/lush tour t-shirt at the latin state competitions, and so on. but but but well what about 'leave them all behind'. best memories, playing it with you!! the big stadium intro, the over indulgent wah wah thing, the tiny bit of anger, the rising and falling aaaaaah aaaaaaah's at the end... and that guitarrita. who could resist?


jb: the strings outro sets the song apart from the bulk of the ride catalogue, but i suppose if you're gonna have a singular strings outro, you'd be hard pressed to find a better one out there. name one lass who *didn't* swoon at that back in 1990/91.

h-p n-f!! re: LTAB -- man, that brings back memories, indeed! were we sitting in your attic room, switching between this and oasis? also: do you remember the time i played felt for you, and you asked if it was led zeppelin?!


I could name many, many lasses who did not swoon at that in 1990-1, and a lot who never even knew of Ride's existence, but you would not have heard of them. I'm afraid you moved in more exalted circles than me.

I like LATB a lot - but it's a dumb record. 3 chords, 8 minutes or whatever, sheer indulgence. What is impressive about it is how many variations they manage to play on that very basic structure. There is one quite delicate section about 5-6 minutes in with this flangey lead guitar over acoustics, that always impresses me. I mean, the number *is* pure shoegazing attitude in one sense - but it's also a bit too idiotic to be the best thing Ride ever did. And it catches them starting to tip from the kind of post-jangle shoegaze sound into what did for them: ROCK, with all its trimmings. (The fact that the intro was perhaps a reference to 'Baba O'Riley' is an example of that, actually.)

h-p n-f

i agree with all this, and by no means meant to eclipse the vapour trail - but i guess one look at ht's face as ltab gets its speed (and her heavy metal fingers waving in the air) is all you'd need for proof of the dumb track's subtle genius. key for my memories of these songs is that i heard vapour trail before ever touching british soil, without any irony, and it sort of left me in awe, more than any of the other shoegazey songs other people gush on and on about. ltab came into my life later, as a completely pleasurable inside joke. we like to think of our musical tastes as having evolved since those days but some of us still (sometimes) argue with ourselves about which of the ridiculous parts we'd like to play in the muppets version - drums for the unbelievable number of fills. the flangey guitarrita part discussed above for its lovely childish simplicity. the lower vocal harmonies? adios amigos, happy new year!

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  • If Ayn Rand and Walter Benjamin got in a cage fight and then made up over foie gras, single malt scotch and indie pop, you'd have the delightful adventures of "That Was Probably Awkward." Plus or minus the single malt and foie gras, depending on the week's finances. But always the indie pop. Sad, stirring indie pop. And a decent happy hour.

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