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S.D.
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PostSubject: the RUSH discography thread   Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:03 pm

"they call me the working man, I guess that's what I am"

RUSH - (Moon Records/Mercury Records) - 1974

In 1974, Rush escaped from the relative obscurity of Toronto and added their own unique variation to the still-developing North American heavy rock scene. Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and John Rutsey self-financed the recording of the debut Rush album at two different studios in Toronto. They then formed their own label (Moon Records) and pressed 3500 copies of the album. The song Working Man was discovered by a Cleveland, Ohio DJ and garnered enough attention for Mercury Records to reissue the album worldwide.

The debut album was firmly influenced by the British hard rock scene (Led Zeppelin, Cream, Ten Years After, etc) but RUSH has it's own vibe as well. Lee & Lifeson used their prodigious technical skills to great effect, adding lots of nuance to a style of music often accused of being neanderthal in execution. By throwing in subtle elements of progressive rock they managed to elevate fairly basic songs like What You're Doing and Finding My Way into something just a little bit beyond...

One thing is for sure, the album is HEAVY. I have always loved the production on this album, with Geddy's bass standing equal to Lifeson in the mix. The interplay between the three is rock solid, every song really drives on this album, lots of energy and forward momentum to the arrangements.

Finding My Way, What You're Doing, Before & After and especially Working Man are classic Rush songs. Working Man is a monster song, a variation on the doom-blues groove that Sabbath was using with the added fun of a Cream-inspired extended guitar solo by Lifeson...in fact, it's the guitar solo to Working Man that made me get a Rush album in the first place. The most impressive tracks musically are the multi-layered Before & After with it's melodic introduction leading to full on Zep-inspired attack....and Here Again, which is a really nice mid-paced ballad with Lifeson's best playing on the album.



Rush were still not quite complete and were a little rough around the edges, but man does this record sound HUNGRY. That garage vibe to the album is what makes it so much fun to listen to...

John Rutsey would leave the band shortly before their first US tour. He was quickly replaced by Neil Peart, who would prove to be much more than just a "drummer" in the near future. Rush went on tour opening for Uriah Heep...but they wouldn't be a supporting act for long.



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PostSubject: Re: the RUSH discography thread   Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:03 pm

"our memories remind us, maybe road life's not so bad"

FLY BY NIGHT - (released Feb 15, 1975)

The first of two Rush albums to be released in 1975, Fly By Night is an energetic recording by a band fresh from the road. The addition of Neil Peart sped up the progression of the band and Fly By Night shows that growth starting in earnest. This would be the first album co-produced with Terry Brown who would remain associated with the band for most of the decade.

Peart's influence, both musically & lyrically is on display in classic album opener "Anthem". Where the debut album owed a great deal to Zep (and there are still moments of that here), Anthem is proof that Peart's technical facility enabled Rush to more fully intigrate progressive rock into their sound...the opening riff to Anthem is not unlike something Chris Squire would have written for Yes during this era. The track's heaviness keeps it firmly rooted in the early metal movement, but Rush was already showing signs that they had larger goals in mind.

Best I Can is a good straight-ahead rocker that sounds like a leftover from the debut album, Lifeson's performance sells this one.

Beneath, Between & Behind is an underrated Rush classic. Here the Zep influence is front and center, but the way they approach that influence is more nuanced than on the debut. Peart again adds extra punch to the proceedings, really driving Lifeson's guitar through the progression.

By-Tor & The Snow Dog is the first foray into an epic (albeit a tongue in cheek one). Basically a small song suite, rockin' beginning, spacey mid-section with killer Lifeson guitar solo and return to the opening groove. This song would remain a staple in their live sets through the Moving Pictures era and has returned to the lineup several times since then.

After the rather intense cycle of songs on side one, side two finds Rush in a more light hearted and melancholy mood, punctuated by lots of acoustic guitar.

Fly By Night is another classic early Rush song, memorable guitar riff and a nice personal lyric courtesy of Peart. This tune became a minor league AOR hit.

Making Memories is another criminally forgetten Rush song, a joyous acoustic driven number co-written by all three members while traveling to a gig. The sunny mood to this one is quite different from the somber roads they would soon travel. This is one of the best "car songs" ever....

Rivendell is the one true misstep on the album. The combination of Peart's rather treakly fantasy lyrics "elvin songs and endless nights) with Lifeson's classical fingerpicked guitar and Geddy's etheral vocal delivery ends up being laughable instead of "mysterious". They would try this kind of thing with better success on the next album.

The album closes with another Rush classic...In The End. Simply, a beautifully written tune. The opening acoustic riff sticks in your mind forever, then when the distortion kicks in it's even more majestic. Geddy gives one of his best performances here and Lifeson's guitar tone is astounding. This song became a frequent set-ender for Rush. One of my favorite songs from the early years.

All in all, Fly By Night is still a transitional album, but the picture was really coming into focus.


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PostSubject: Re: the RUSH discography thread   Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:04 pm

"I've lost a few more hairs, I think, I think I'm going bald"

CARESS OF STEEL (released September 1975)

"listening to Caress Of Steel now it sounds like we were really high when we recorded it." - Geddy Lee


1975 was a busy year for Rush, they were in a state of constant touring behind Fly By Night and were also under pressure by the label to deliver another record. Enlisting Terry Brown to co-produce again, they went back into the studio with the intent of creating a "statement record".

The resulting album, Caress of Steel, has been a state of constant debate by Rush fans ever since.

Opening with another Zep-esque assault in the form of Bastille Day, the record starts out with a bang. The main riff to Bastille is a real monster and one of my favorites from that era.

However, the momentum created by the opening track is sidetracked by 'I Think I'm Going Bald'....an attempt at humor that manages to completely miss the mark. This is the song that always stuck out on this record like a sore thumb, because it just doesn't fit the proceedings at all.

Lakeside Park was the leadoff single and continues in the vein of Fly By Night, a pleasant song that became a concert favorite. I prefer the live version on "All The World's A Stage" to the studio recording.

The Necromancer, here Rush continues to explore the possibilities of the mini-epic they began to toy around with on By-Tor. Another fantasy-tinged effort, this song is one of the most memorable on the album and contains some absolutely killer playing/arranging by the group. The only downside to this track is the poorly-recorded narraration...the goofy vocal effect distracts from the words and has always sounded muffled.

"The Fountain Of Lamneth" is a sidelong song suite, the first of three Rush would record over their early career. Fountain really functions more as separate songs tied together (the original cassette release messed up the track order, adding to this confusion). There are some great moments scattered thoughout this piece, especially the opening segments and the ballad "Panacea". However, in the grand scheme of things it really doesn't succeed as creating a unified statement. The hurried state of the recording sessions probably didn't help, it sounds like it could have used some more development time.

That actually kind of sums up my feelings about the entire album. It has always sounded to me like demo recordings that weren't quite finished, it's a little flat overall in the production and it just doesn't have the heft required to make it a complete success. A good album to be sure, but not the defining event the band was hoping for.

The album flopped upon release, there wasn't a single to rival either Working Man or Fly By Night and it was basically ignored by radio and the press. The record company was unhappy and the band thought their career was over. They called the tour for Caress Of Steel...the "going down the tubes tour". Alex Lifeson has stated in interviews that they were really shocked by the failure of Caress upon release, the band was extremely proud of it and thought they had really nailed it.

In a very short time, Rush would channel that frustration they felt into a real masterpiece....


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PostSubject: Re: the RUSH discography thread   Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:05 pm

ATTENTION ALL PLANETS OF THE SOLAR FEDERATION...WE HAVE ASSUMED CONTROL

2112 - (released April 1976)

Okay, 2112. Hard to come up with new things to say about this album. Pretty much everything about it is iconic. The album cover, the starman logo on the back, the music, etc. Suffice it to say that Rush finally achieved that statement album they had been seeking.

Before diving headfirst into the tracks, a brief thought on the creative leap Rush took between C.O.S. and 2112. Even though they had started to experiment with longer song structures, they were still at heart a improv/jam band. There was still a bit of looseness in the groove...2112 was the polar opposite (at least the title track). They shifted their focus towards polished precision, meticulously written out solos, etc. They definitely still jammed, but in well rehearsed fashion.

The title track is a sprawling 20 minute epic separated into movements, but unlike side two of C.O.S., this time it works as a unified whole. I still remember being absolutely BLOWN AWAY by Overture/Temples Of Syrinx when i first heard it...immediate fan...for life. I'm not going to jump into Ayn Rand inspired lyrical content, I'll leave that to someone else. But I will say that musically it's pretty much perfect, or as close as you can get to that. The mood shifts throughout the sections are very mature and miles ahead of their previous albums. By the time you get to the grand finale...WE HAVE ASSUMED CONTROL....you feel live you've just lived through an event.



onto side two

These days, this is the side I listen to most often, there are some prime Rush tracks that don't get discussed much on this puppy.

Passage To Bangkok is a rocking and humorous ode to traveling and toking. This was a crowd favorite throughout the rest of the 70's. I love this track! Listen closely for someone taking a "hit"; right before the guitar solo....

The Twilight Zone is an interesting track, a very unique concoction for Rush and one that I wish they had played live. The mixture of acoustic and electric guitars on here is very nice. *note* - it sounds to me like they would later revisist the intro melody on the song Chemistry from Signals.

Next up is one of the most underrated songs in the Rush discography, Lessons. This is an Alex Lifeson penned track and MAN what a great song. This song is ridiculously hook-filled, it should have been released as a single. Just a fantastic straight-ahead rocker.



Tears is Geddy Lee's solo contribution to that album. This track is usually considered the nadir of the album...it's never bothered me, one of my ex-girlfriends loved it...got her "in the mood"...so I let her play it as often as she wanted.

Something For Nothing is a COMPLETE CLASSIC. Flat out one of the most rockin' tunes they ever recorded. This could be the last true JAM track they would record during this era.



The record company had told them "no more epics" prior to the recording, they responded with the proverbial artistic middle finger and stuck to their guns. The public immediately responded to that honesty by giving Rush that hit they had been looking for. 2112 would get to 61 on the Billboard album charts and was the first Rush album to go Gold. By 1981 it had gone platinum.


Everyone should own a copy of this friggin' album, if you don't, be ashamed!


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PostSubject: Re: the RUSH discography thread   Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:06 pm


ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE - (released Sep 29, 1976)

Thankfully, the 70's trend of double-live albums provided Rush with the opportunity to release this monster. Recorded at Massey Hall (which was made famous on the album Jazz At Massey Hall) over the course of 3 days in June, this album captures Rush at their most primal.

The setlist does a nice job of summarizing their career up to this point, focusing on singles & choice album tracks from the 4 studio albums released thus far. Rush even indicated in the liner notes that this album "closed the first chapter on Rush".

Tracks like Anthem, Bastille Day, By Tor & Something For Nothing have an extra kick than their studio counterparts, just a hint of recklessness in the well orchestrated mayhem. A couple songs get their definitive reading on this album; What You're Doing is a great song on the debut album, but this live version smokes it. Same goes for Lakeside Park which always seemed a little tepid on the studio version, but comes to life on this album.

Probably my personal favorite track on the album is version of The End...that song was MADE to be played in arenas! Before the heavy part kicks in you can hear Geddy count down the intro with "one....two....buckle....my shoe".

The only bit of "controversy" surrounding this album is the abbreviated version of the 2112 suite. When I was younger this bothered me, but listening to the album again now the energy in the live performance makes up for the slightly shorter running time.

From this point on throughout the remainder of the 70's, Rush would strive for a more layered and polished sound, introducing more complex structures and instrumentation (adding keyboards to the sound on Farewell). But this album...this is pure ROCKIN' Rush! A must-have for Rush fanatics.

This was the first Rush album to crack the top 40 in the States and quickly went gold.

*note* - the original CD issue ommited the track What You're Doing, this was fixed on the remaster.


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PostSubject: Re: the RUSH discography thread   Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:06 pm


A FAREWELL TO KINGS (September 1977)

A Farewell To Kings marks the beginning of the second phase of Rush, as they lean more towards the progressive rock camp and leave the straight up hard rock/metal tunes behind. For many bands, this would prove to be a major stylistic shift...but for Rush, it just sounds like a logical progression from a band that were maturing by leaps and bounds on every release.

The flow of the record is similar to other Rush albums of the period, a couple epic tracks interspersed with shorter songs. The difference here is that Rush scored their first minor league radio success with "Closer To The Heart", a tune that would remain a concert staple on most of their tours.

The real heart and soul of this album lies in the track Xanadu. Inspired by the epic poem Kubla Khan, Xanadu is the most mature extended Rush composition to date and one of their most memorable. The introduction is a wonderful blend of atmospheric sounds (bells, guitar volume swells, synth effects), before kicking into high gear. The tune then barrels along through a myriad of time changes and shifts in mood, it's really an "experience"; in the best sense of the word. This song also contains some of Lifeson's most impressive guitar work to date, he was always an accomplished shredder, but this tune shows him as a master of tone and touch as well.

The other short songs on the album include the title track (which features a lovely classical guitar intro), the aforementioned Closer To The Heart and yet another over-baked ballad in Madrigal. It also contains one of the most underrated songs in Rush' early career....Cinderella Man.

Cinderella Man really doesn't sound like Rush, it's very different than their normal style...but it works beautifully. The lyrics (by Lee) are based on the Frank Capra film Mr. Deeds Goes To Town. A wonderful acoustic driven song, this is a tune that I would love to see them revisit one of these days.

The second epic is the album closing Cygnus X-1. Here Rush enters full-on sci-fi mode, telling the story of a trip through a black hole. Musically, this song is a punisher...the opening bass line is VERY memorable and sets up a nice groove before all hell breaks loose. This is actually one of the heaviest tunes they recorded during this era and features a balls out performance by Lee. This song would provide the story seed for the following album Hemispheres.

Farewell has always seemed like an underrated album to me, partially because of following in the footsteps of 2112. However, it's a great album that rewards repeated listening.


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PostSubject: Re: the RUSH discography thread   Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:07 pm

"There is unrest in the forest, there is trouble with the Trees..."

HEMISPHERES (released Oct 1978)

Rush closes out the 1970's with this release, sort of a sister album to 2112 in spirit. Like that record, side one is an extended song suite with side two containing individual tracks. Another iconic Hugh Syme album cover adds to the proceedings.

The only problem, is that at least in my opinion, the title track just doesn't completely gel on this one. 2112 was such a watershed album and side one on that record was so successful and influential, it might not have been the greatest idea to revisit this particular well.

Don't get me wrong, it's not terrible, but it just never seems to coalesce into a complete idea. There are some fantastic sections to the song and some great riffs here and there, but all in all it's not enough ideas to merit an 18 minute song. A couple standout segments are the opening instrumental, Lifeson's masterful solo and the closing acoustic segment "Sphere", which I've always loved.

Side two on the other hand....is KILLER!

Circumstances kicks things off. A relatively straight-ahead rocker, this song sounds like it could have been written a couple albums back. Regardless, it's the only real "single length" song on here and one of the final "rave up" tunes Rush would record.

The Trees is probably one of the most discussed songs in the entire Rush discography. Rush hit upon an instant classic here. No matter what you think the lyrics are really about, the music completely sells it. The moment the finger-picked acoustic guitar begins you're hooked. The great thing about this tune is that it's extremely complicated structurally, but you never get the feeling they are showing off, it all works to tell the story. I've always considered this to be a sister track to Xanadu in that regard.

Now the best tune on the album...

La Villa Strangiato
is a tour de force performance for Lifeson and is one of the best instrumental rock songs of all time. I can't even fathom how many times I've jammed this tune over the years, anytime I get in the mood to hear Rush this is one of the first songs I end up spinning. The guitar solo in this song is a masterpiece and one that I've studied for years...anytime I hear someone complain about Lifeson, I play this tune to shut them up. This song still appears in live sets to this day...there is a very humorous version of it on Rush in Rio.

As a whole, Hemispheres is a little lower down my list of favorite Rush albums, but it's still essential for The Trees & La Villa Strangiato. The album was another huge success and was their 4th gold album in a row.


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PostSubject: Re: the RUSH discography thread   Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:08 pm

"...for the words of the prophets were written on the studio wall, concert hall."

PERMANENT WAVES - (released Jan 1st, 1980)

Permanent Waves is a true watershed album for Rush, they successfully made the leap to a more commercially accessible sound while losing none of their creativity or compromising at all. It's truly amazing that only 6 years had elapsed since the release of the debut, because by the time P.W. came out they had matured into a completely unique band.

The unfortunate thing is this album is a little forgotten these days (aside from the two singles), probably due to the massive success of Moving Pictures a year later...it deserves to be revisited.

The Spirit of Radio is one of the most bizarre radio hits of all time. There are more time changes in the introduction than most songs have in their entirety. But Lifeson's guitar introduction is so memorable, it immediately hooks you into the song and it's all so effortless you can groove right along and not even notice how complex it is. This song has been a perennial concert favorite ever since.

Free Will was another minor league radio hit and it's another fantastic song. Lifeson again kicks off the proceedings with a signature guitar lick and another memorable riff. This track is a great example of how far their songwriting had improved in such a short time, here everything truly falls into place...Peart's lyrics, Geddy's interpretation of them, the arrangement. This also features one of my favorite Lifeson guitar solos...a complete MONSTER solo!

Jacob's Ladder
is the first "epic" on the album. Stylistically similar to the arrangments on Hemispheres and Kings, it's a multi-layered track that goes through several mood changes during it's 9 minute running time. Starting off as a bizarre march, it evolves into a slow, heavy, brooding number that captures the tone of Peart's lyrics perfectly. This song is criminally underrated.

Entre Nous
is a great little pop-rock tune, another good example of how the complexity of the arrangement is hidden by the overall groove. I've always loved the way it switches to acoustic guitars in the chorus. Another completely forgotten Rush song and one they thankfully added back into their setlist on the Snakes & Arrows tour.

Different Strings. Now, Rush ballads have always been a point of contention, but in this case it's a really great song. The reason this one works is the arrangement, there's a bit of a jazz vibe in the mid section...and it closes out with a killer groove (that is unfortunately cut short by a fadeout).

Natural Science
is yet another "lost classic" Rush song. This tune is a monster, the most progressive and intense piece on the album. Not many bands would attempt songs as different as Entre Nous and Natural Science on the same album...but Rush makes it all work as a seamless whole. This song was also revived on recent tours.

I don't think I really appreciated this album when I was younger, it's not as "immediate" as a record like 2112 or Moving Pictures...it takes a little while to sink in. All I know is that in the year 2009, it STILL sounds amazing.
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PostSubject: Re: the RUSH discography thread   Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:08 pm

"Exit the warrior, today's Tom Sawyer he gets high on you..."

MOVING PICTURES (released Mar 12, 1981)

Very simply, this is my favorite Rush album and a certified classic. I still remember hearing Tom Sawyer on the radio late one night and I became instantly obsessed. The DJ didn't say the name of the band so I called the station to find out what it was. I was 10 years old and had just become a Rush fan for life...

Alot of people had the same reaction I did to Tom Sawyer. There is something almost supernaturally catchy to that tune. It's actually heavy as hell, but sounds very commercial at the same time. A song that can appeal to numerous audiences...enough technical wizardry for the prog fans, enough melody for the AOR radio stations. After leading this direction on Permanent Waves, they finally hit the bullseye, the perfect combination they had been looking for. Tom Sawyer STILL sounds just as awesome now as it did in 1981, great songwriting doesn't date.

Red Barchetta was another fave tune as a kid, the whole sci-fi edge to the story clicked with my interest in writers like Richard Matheson and Ray Bradbury. One of Peart's best storyteller moments. Most of the songs on this album became concert favorites, this one was no different.

YYZ is basically the perfect rock instrumental and I played it TO DEATH for years and years. All of the bands prowess is on display, but unlike the countless attempts by others since...Rush had the songwriting chops to back up their instrumental chops. The version of this song on Rush In Rio is amazing, hearing the crowd sing the melody and even the guitar lines!

Limelight is another classic radio hit and kicks off with one of Lifeson's best riffs. Honestly, there's not much need to go into more detail, if you don't hear the greatness your not listening.

what a classic album side, huh?

Side Two kicks off with my personal favorite song, The Camera Eye. This is basically the last extended Rush song...and it's a whopper. This song both tips the hat to the future (the primarily synth driven segments) while still carrying on the tradition of heavy riffs alternating with acoustic parts. Every single second of this song is amazing, I've studied it for years, dissecting it...listened to it and tried to focus only on specific instruments...then focus only on the production, etc. No matter how many times I play it though, it always blows me away. Lifeson's guitar solo is genius and the bass Geddy lays down underneath it is some of his most kick ass playing.

Witch Hunt. I have always loved the creepy vibe of this song, Rush at it's darkest. Lifeson's guitar tone is just HUGE on this song and Peart really works in so many different layers to the arrangement. Another tune that was tailor made for the stage.

Vital Signs is an okay tune, but it's never had the same impact on me as the rest of the album. Nothing wrong with it, but not up to the same standards as the rest.

The album peaked at #3 on the Billboard charts and has surpassed quadruple platinum status.
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PostSubject: Re: the RUSH discography thread   Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:09 pm


Exit...Stage Left (released October 1981)

Between the 1976 live album All The World's A Stage and the 1981 release Exit...Stage Left, Rush had gone through a myriad of changes. So it made perfect sense to document the "second era" of Rush on a live recording. There are actually two different versions of this to discuss, the original 2-LP set and the video release, which are from different performances.

The LP set is compiled from a variety of performances on the Moving Pictures and Permanent Waves tours. I've never been a fan of this practice, I prefer live albums that are captured either in one night or a couple of nights, there's a personality to a live performance that gets lost when you compile different shows together.

The best part of the album are the tracks from the PW tour, this is songs 4-7 on the remastered CD release. It's especially nice to hear Beneath, Between & Behind performed again during the era and the live version of Jacob's Ladder is superb. My main complaint about this album is the production, it's rather lifeless, the guitar is too low in the mix throughout and there is too much separation in the instruments, it makes it sound like a studio recording. For this reason the original LP release of this album has never been one of my favorites...

...however...

...the video release is KILLER!!! Filmed at a single concert in Montreal the mood is captured much more effectively, plus the audio mix is superior to the LP version. The tracklist is different as well. It's not a complete concert, it was edited down to 60 minutes, but that still makes for a good representation of the Moving Pictures tour. The version of Xanadu on here is my favorite, it smokes the studio recording. Also nice is the ending medley of In The End/In The Mood/2112: Grand Finale.

All in all, I would consider the DVD to be an essential purchase by Rush fans...and the CD version is nice to own, if a tad sterile in places.
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PostSubject: Re: the RUSH discography thread   Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:09 pm

"he's not afraid of dying, he's more afraid of your lying..."


SIGNALS - (released Sep 4, 1982)

Signals seems to be one of the most consistently underrated Rush albums of their entire career, something that has always confused me considering the quality of the songwriting and performances. Those afraid of keyboards & synths tend to ignore this album out of hand...despite the fact that stylistically it's very similar to Moving Pictures.

Opening with Subdivisions (one of the best Rush songs of the 80s) it had me hooked from the very first time I heard it. Geddy's lush keyboard textures offer a comfortable pad for Lifeson & Peart to play over, Peart's performance on this song is especially noteworthy...it's obvious that he was listening to bands like The Police during this era and was able to integrate some of that groove into his playing. Something about this song is just plain magical, it's SO memorable, it sounded like a classic the instant it came out. The keyboards also allow Lifeson to explore different sonic territory than usual, no longer tied to specifically guitar riff based songs, he has the freedom to explore a more textural approach.

The Analog Kid has one of the most fun little riffs from this era, Geddy's bass sound here is enviable. The opening verse section is an uptempo straight ahead rocker, then it takes a gorgeous left turn into the orchestral-sounding chorus. Again the use of synths as a harmonic "pad" works to great effect here (a sound they would continue to expand upon). Lifeson's guitar solo is a monster, he found a way to keep that same intense fire but compress it into a smaller section of time.

Chemistry is another of my favorite Rush songs from this era, here the synth again creates a huge lush landscape for Lifeson's guitar to slash and burn over. One of the most interesting aspects to this era of Rush is that they were still throwing in lots of little prog-style bits without ever sacrificing the overall groove of the song. It's so well integrated that some people don't even notice it.

The Weapon is the album's masterpiece track, this was a tune Geddy concocted while playing around with sequencers and drum machines at home and later re-arranged for the band, it's basically Signals answer to The Camera Eye. Everything works perfectly on this song, another one of those "instant classics" like Subdivisions. Lifeson's solo on this tune is one of my all-time favorites.

Losing It is another neglected Rush "ballad", the use of electric violin is especially striking. A beautiful melody and another great Lifeson solo nails this one home.

Countdown was inspired by the band watching the Space Shuttle launch, an interesting idea to be sure...but this song has always felt like a bit of a throwaway tune to me.

The remaining two tracks are the more commercial offerings from the album and are usually the ones that inspire the most disdain from old school Rush fans. Digital Man fully embraces the bands fascination with The Police, however I have always loved this tune...despite the slight reggae vibe it totally rocks and was a concert favorite. New World Man ended up being an accidental hit single...and it's also the most forgettable tune on the entire album. I never liked this song...until I heard them resurrect it on one of their recent tours and it "finally" hit me.

Even with a couple so-so tracks, I still think Signals is a resounding success and a CLASSIC Rush album. Is this the same band that recorded 2112? No, but they didn't want to be either. Rush had the maturity and foresight to continue growing and exploring new sounds.

Signals was the end of their long-time relationship with Producer Terry Brown, him and the band had a falling out over the song Digital Man. Brown wanted the group to continue down the prog-rock path, but the band was 100% committed to their new sound and wouldn't budge. In the end it was probably the best decision...as their next album was yet another classic.
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PostSubject: Re: the RUSH discography thread   Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:10 pm


Grace Under Pressure (released Apr 12, 1984)

Grace Under Pressure seems to be one of the most misunderstood albums in Rush's discography. I know it confused me for years...it wasn't until fairly recently that this album's real impact hit me. I always enjoyed many songs from it, but never considered it a "classic". Now I do.

GUP is a natural extension to the sound Rush was exploring on Signals, but this time they self-produced the album and went even further in trying out new styles and sounds. At the time of this release I remember many people mentioning how "cold and calculated" the album sounded...maybe it does, but the sound of the record matches the lyrical contributions perfectly.

The album also coincided with the birth of MTV and I remember watching videos for Distant Early Warning and The Body Electric. The music has aged better than those videos...

This album contains a few of my favorite Rush tracks. Afterimage is a gorgeous song about loss, Red Sector A continues the creepy vibe of The Weapon and became a concert favorite. Between The Wheels is another fantastic Rush mini-epic and was the song I played the most from this album...it was brought back into the live set recently.

The Body Electric seems to have been completely forgotten over the years, which I don't understand because it's a great track...it never makes it onto compilations and who knows when they last played this song live. Red Lenses is another tune that I always wished they would play in concert, it's got such a great groove to it.

Listening to this album again I realize that I like all the songs on here, making it a more solid album than Signals in that regard. Rush really learned how to use the recording studio as an instrument on this album as the production is very layered and has an interesting vibe to it. This practice would backfire on them in the next couple years....

I guess I would consider this the last album of Rush' "classic" era...
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PostSubject: Re: the RUSH discography thread   Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:10 pm


POWER WINDOWS - (released Oct. 29, 1985)

Some albums are timeless, some are shackled to the time they were created, Power Windows falls into the latter category. If there was ever an album that summed up 1980's studio production excess, this one wouldn't be a bad choice. In essence the band was still basically on the same path as Grace Under Pressure...but whereas that album featured the band still creating the bulk of the music, Power Windows lumps on everything but the kitchen sink in an effort to sound "modern" and "epic"...and the result is that 25 years later it sounds archaic.

There are some good songs here, but you have to strain to hear them. Here's where the mistake happened....

Power Windows basic tracks were recorded very quickly to try and keep a spontaneous vibe to the performance...but then Peter Collins made the mistake of bringing in Andy Richards to add programming, keyboards & other assorted elements to the basic tracks. While I'm not going to lay ALL the blame on Richards, he does deserve his fair share...not a MINUTE of this album is allowed to just "happen", to just be guitar, bass & drums...every instant has to have all this additional "glitter" applied to it. Here's a good example.

The song "Marathon" starts out promising with an energetic beat and reallly kick ass bassline courtesy of Geddy. The problem begins during the chorus, as the keyboard layering begins to distract from the rest of the song, so all you hear is vocals and this constant "pad" underneath. Following a great mid-section the song completely derails when Richards adds a 25-piece vocal choir to the chorus...as soon as this starts I want to grab the disc and smash it against the wall. Promising song, murdered.

That pretty much sums up most of the record. Big Money has always been a good song, but man it's hard to listen to the original studio version of this anymore, all the drum triggers and garbage added to the top make me wince.

Then you have the added problem of Peart writing some of his most annoyingly preachy lyrics on here, Manhattan Project is just plain laughable and Mystic Rhythms, Marathon, Emotion Detector & Territories have their moments as well.

The only song the survives all this untarnished is Middletown Dreams. The first song written for the album, it sounds the least contrived and has the sparsest production. This is one of the few songs where Lifeson's guitar solo really jumps out, for the most part he's buried on this album. There's also a good solo in Emotion Detector, but the punishment of listening to that song is not worth the return.

I wish I could say this album was just a passing phase, it wasn't.

The album hit the Top Ten on the Billboard charts and went Platinum. I'm just glad I don't have to listen to it again anytime soon.



:lmao:
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PostSubject: Re: the RUSH discography thread   Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:11 pm


HOLD YOUR FIRE - (released Sep 8, 1987)

"it's just the age, it's just the stage, we disengage, we turn the page...."

That quote from the song Turn The Page actually does a pretty good job of summing up this album. Rush dives headlong into the late 80's by continuing the trend of HUGE studio production...however, it does work a little better on this album than PW.

I haven't listened to this album in so many years that I was sure I was going to hate it. As on Power Windows, time hasn't been kind to all the extra keyboards by Andy Richards...however, there is a little bit of a spark to a few of the songs here and some rather impressive pop songwriting chops scattered about.

The album starts off with Force Ten, an instant concert opener. This is one of the songs where the energy of the performance salvages it from under the layers of additional enhancement.

Time Stand Still is one of those argument-starter songs, some hate it and cry blasphemy...others kind of just enjoy it for the fluffy little pop tune it is. I've always liked Aimee Mann, so this one gets a moderate thumbs up from me.

The best song on the album however is Open Secrets. This track would fit beautifully on either Signals or Grace Under Pressure, the one unabashed success on the album. Everything works perfectly...Geddy's incredibly funky bassline, his nicely restrained vocal performance, Alex's shiny guitar lines and for once the added keyboards add instead of detract from the proceedings.

The aforementioned Turn The Page is a fun little tune, if a tad slight. Mission and Prime Mover are tolerable if uninspired.

However, the rest of the album is either pedestrian or so sickly sweet as to be puke inducing. I know that's harsh, but that's the only way I can think to describe songs like Second Nature, High Water, Tai Shan, etc. etc. BADLY misconceived pretentious twaddle.

Anyway, another album that in the grand scheme of Rush's output...could be forgotten and not overly missed.
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PostSubject: Re: the RUSH discography thread   Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:12 pm


A Show Of Hands (released Jan 1989)

1989 brings another live album that unfortunately suffers a similar fate to Exit...Stage Left. Instead of recording a single concert (or a couple nights), this album is culled together from 2 different tours and about 8 different cities. This inane practice was commonplace for live albums at the time....which is also why most of them suck.

Overall Rush sounds lazy on here. The newer songs get the more passionate treatment, while the older songs are handled rather sloppily. A couple songs benefit from the concert treatment, both Marathon and Turn The Page are more energetic than their studio counterparts. But nothing here is essential, all the older songs had already been released in far superior versions and the new songs (accompanied by backing tapes of the keyboard sounds from the studio albums) are basically identical to the studio versions thus making a live release irrelevant.

Most likely A Show Of Hands was a contractual obligation album, this would be the final release for Mercury before the band started recording for Atlantic.

Closing out the 1980's with A Show Of Hands is pretty depressing...entering the 1990's with Presto wasn't much better....to be continued...
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PostSubject: Re: the RUSH discography thread   Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:13 pm


Rush - Presto (released Nov 1989)

Even though this album came out at the very end of 1989, I feel like it's their first real record of the 90's as this album and Roll The Bones form a transitional link between the sequencer obsessed late 80's albums and the slow move back to guitar driven music later on.

The pre-release buzz about this album was that it was a "new chapter", the band had moved to Atlantic and were supposedly going back to their roots a little more. The initial single Show Don't Tell seemed to indicate that possibility...unfortunately, in the end we get one of the most confused and un-inspired albums in the entire Rush catalog.

That initial song is a pretty good one though, Show Don't Tell has a really great rhythmic groove to it, the guitar is still pretty buried but the tune has some life, including some killer bass work from Geddy. Then we get 3 songs in a row of utter tedium: Chain Lightning, The Pass & War Paint. These songs are enough to make a fan of Moving Pictures or 2112 weep uncontrollably. Not because they are "mellow", but because they are BORING AS HELL. Neil Peart's lyrics are at their absolute worst during this era. One dimensional, preachy and hackneyed, completely unconvincing. The album's focus on Geddy's vocals only intensifies this problem, making these songs almost unlistenable.

Scars (while not a typcial Rush song), does manage to finally jolt things back to life to a degree. Geddy's ultra-funky bassline and the tribal drum groove drive this puppy along and for the first time on the album, it sounds like a band playing together.

The title track is pretty good, it was really nice to hear an acoustic guitar track from Rush at this point, that by itself made it refreshing. However, Peart's "if I could wave my magic wand" lyrics prompt the gag reflex a little too easily.

Superconductor is the worst Rush song of all-time. Period.

Anagram (for Mongo) - nice Blazing Saddles joke - this track is the most interesting musically on the record. It's not a complete success, but there are some nice musical wrinkles scattered throughout that at least reference an inkling of progressive music.

The remaining tracks fall into the same overwrought yet dull category that unfortunately sums up the overall feel of the album. An album that plays it so completely and utterly safe that it basically neuters itself into oblivion.
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PostSubject: Re: the RUSH discography thread   Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:13 pm


ROLL THE BONES - (released Sep 1991)

Roll The Bones found Rush loosening up just a tad in the arrangement department, allowing a little bit of energy to creep back into the mix. They were still holding on pretty tightly to the walls of synthesizers and splashy studio effects, but the guitar was starting to make a comeback that would eventually happen on the next record.

Dreamline kicks off the proceedings with a memorable little riff and good vocal line, for the first time in goodness knows how long...they actually sound like they could be having a little fun...they were SO dead serious throughout the 80's, it's nice to have that little spark back. This song became quite popular and I heard it on the radio constantly when the album came out.

Bravado is the most memorable song on the album and I think one of the best songs they recorded in the 90's. For once Peart's lyrics ring true, Geddy gets the vocals just right and Lifeson REALLY shines. It's a beautiful song. The version on Rush In Rio is even better.

Unfortunately the nice beginning is derailed by the ill-conceived disaster that is the title track. What possessed Rush to include a "oh my goodness they are SO white" rap section into this tune is beyond me. I was never able to take this tune seriously and I really wish they would lose the master tapes to it and burn every existing copy.

The downward spiral continues with the juvenile sounding Face Up, which is in the same dumbed-down mode as Superconductor from Presto. It's painfully obvious that Rush was having a bit of an identity crisis here and were really searching out for some kind of solid footing.

Things finally pick back up again with a rarity, a Rush instrumental. Where's My Thing? is basically a lark, but it's so much fun it doesn't matter. It's Rush' version of a funky fusion number, it's a cool track with some killer bass work by Geddy...it's hampered only by the godawful added keyboard layering.

The Big Wheel is one of the more adventurous tracks on the album and is almost a complete success. There are some actual guitar riffs in this song and again, the feel is fairly loose. The only problem is that it seems a little stitched together, not all the pieces flow organically into each other.

Peart's tendency towards pompous "important" lyrics make an unfortunate return on Heresy, the lyrics being so terrible I cannot even listen to this tune.

My second favorite song on the album is Ghost Of A Chance, easily one of their best "pop" tunes. What sets it apart is the arrangement which is very intricate without getting in the way of the mood of the tune. There are some definite hints of prog here and there...the chord progression under the chorus is especially nice. A really lovely song and Lifeson delivers another beatiful solo.

Neurotica shows some promise at the beginning, but is sunk by a ridiculous chorus that is just annoying enough to stick in your head until you want to jump in front of a bus.

You Bet Your Life ends the album with a resounding thud, just plain awful songwriting.

In the end, a few songs are an improvement over Presto, but this album is still pretty much DOA.

This was Rush' first album to crack the Top 5 since Moving Pictures and would go double platinum.
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PostSubject: Re: the RUSH discography thread   Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:13 pm


COUNTERPARTS (released Oct 19, 1993)

Roll The Bones had hinted at a possible return to a more stripped down sound, without really going in that direction. It was more of a tease than anything, leaving quite a few of us Rush fans wishing they had just gone for it. In addition, since the release of RTB the music world had changed dramatically...it was time for a major focus shift before Rush was left completely on the outside looking in.

So, how did they respond? They recorded a kick-ass rock record.

This could be the first Rush album since Moving Pictures that you could actually use the adjective "fun" to describe some of it. All of a sudden, in just the opening introduction to Animate...you can hear a looseness, a playfulness that had been completely lacking for the majority of the past decade or longer. The arrangement was insteresting as well, even though I wouldn't go as far as to describe it as progressive, it is more lively than anything since Grace Under Pressure. The other defining characteristic of Animate is the Guitar, yes, there is an actual guitar on this song. You can hear some sparse keyboard in the background, but it is firmly in the background. All of sudden Rush sounds like an actual band again.

Stick It Out was the first single and has been a bit of an arguing point ever since. I loved it, it was heavy, darkly funky and again...fun. I didn't even think it was possible for Rush to record a track like this anymore. I remember most of my friends just loving it, finally a Rush song that JAMS again. Now, the alternate viewpoint is that Rush was trying to jump on the bandwagon of the current rock music scene...tuning to Drop D, etc. But in the end, who really cares? Sure, maybe it was a calculated move, but it worked.

Cut To The Chase is another excellent straight ahead rocker. The buildup from the pseudo-funky intro in to full blown rock riffage is a fantastic dynamic. The crystal clear mix of this record helps accentuate the arrangment, you can hear every little fill, cymbal crash and the slap of the strings on Geddy's bass. Again, I'm struck by the sound of an ACTUAL BAND when listening to this track.

The great vibe of the first 3 tracks is momentarily sidetracked by Nobody's Hero another ridiculously sappy Peart ballad with nauseating lyrics. skip.

Things get wonderfully back on track with Between Sun & Moon. This song is easily one of the best Rush tunes from the entire decade. A breezy rocker with an uber catchy chorus, this one sticks in my head for days. I love Lifeson's stripped down, bluesy solo on this tune.

Alien Shore and The Speed Of Love are both very enjoyable modern-sounding rock tracks, maybe not quite as memorable as some of the other songs, but still fitting the overall mood of the album.

Double Agent brings Rush about as close to progressive as they had come since Grace Under Pressure. While the song doesn't completelly work (the voiceover narrative sounds interesting the first time you hear it, but it's a tad annoying on repeated listenings), it's great to hear Rush play around with rhythmic shifts of this nature again. The entire album comes across as Rush trying to regain their identity through experimentation, which is admirable for a band this far into their career. Lifeson has another great little angst-driven solo on here.

The trend of Rush instrumentals continues with Leave The Thing Alone. Interestingly, the most electronic of all the songs on the album. The real joy of this song is hearing the interplay between Geddy & Neil, they really nail a great groove throughout...Geddy even gets a short little jazzy break. This song ended up on rock radio stations from time to time during the era. Alex takes another gorgeous solo.

The album kind of limps to a close with Cold Fire and Everyday Glory. The former track has some nice moments but does sound a little too "modern rock calculated" while the latter is another in the tradition of snooze inducers that populated albums like Presto.

BUT! Overall, this is a really kick ass Rush album, the only one from the 1990's that I can honestly recommend with very few reservations. The album sold very well, it debuted at #2 on the Billboard Album charts (their highest charting position ever) and went platinum. The tour was also very popular.
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PostSubject: Re: the RUSH discography thread   Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:14 pm


TEST FOR ECHO (released Sep 10, 1996)

Test For Echo came out during the "dark years" of the late 90's, probably the most depressing era of music in my lifetime. This was the era where I became so disenchanted with everything rock and/or metal that I ran in the opposite direction and converted myself into a jazz geek.

So it was very refreshing to hear that meaty opening riff from DRIVEN on the radio, it felt like a small life raft to cling to in an empty and utterly motionless sea. That riff inspired me enough to use it for a class project in college, I made a fake radio voiceover commercial about "the return of Rush", I got an A.

The stripped down direction that Counterparts started completes it's cycle here, this is primarily a guitar/bass/drums record. The production mirrors this change, doing away with the majority of the extra "polish" that had plagued Rush albums since Power Windows. It's a great sounding record, Geddy's bass is especially noteworthy. This was also Peart's first album after taking jazz drum lessons. He had been lambasted by every jazz critic on the planet for his Buddy Rich tribute album, so in response he went "back to school", including changing the way he holds his sticks to "traditional grip". Honestly, I've never really noticed any difference...although the drums on Echo are less overtly flashy than previous albums.

Songs like Test For Echo, Limbo and Time & Motion show a renewed interest in some progressive rock flavorings in the arrangements. Time & Motion is especially impressive, balancing heavy riff sections with a wonderful jazzy sensibility in the mid-section. These tracks to me sound like a band who is really starting to find their feet again.

This album also contains one of the best Rush "singles" from the 90's. Half The World is a memorable song with a wonderfully catchy chorus. In a better world a song like this would be a hit single. Tracks like Driven and Virtuality continue the flirtation with "alternative" sounds, it works great on the former but the latter is partially derailed by a goofy chorus about "net boy, net girl". Peart's lyrics absolutely destroy some of these songs, Dog Years being a prime example.

Overall this album holds up quite well, the stripped down production helps it from sounding as dated as albums like Presto and Hold Your Fire. Unfortunately, the band would be unable to build on the foundation laid here as a string of tragedies in Peart's personal life would keep the group out of the studio for the next 5 years.

TFO peaked at #5 on the Billboard charts and was certified Gold.
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PostSubject: Re: the RUSH discography thread   Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:14 pm

*note* - since there has been a plethora of live albums, DVDs, Collections and other assorted Rush paraphernalia that has been released in the past 10 years, I'm going to cover all of those in one post at the end of the thread.


VAPOR TRAILS (released March 29, 2002)

After an extended hiatus in respect to Neil, Rush began discussing the possibility of recording another album. After the initial meeting Lifeson said he would do it on 2 conditions: no keyboards, no guitar solos. Geddy agreed and the duo started working on new material. Instead of writing separately as they had done for years, they decided to just jam ideas and record them into a computer. These jams were later assembled into actual songs by Geddy and were then passed onto Neil for lyrics. In this manner they spent about a year assembling the album.

I breathed a big sigh of relief when word of a new Rush album started brewing. When the album finally dropped it was worth the 6 year wait...and then some. Thankfully, the brakes were released and Rush allowed themselves to be RUSH again. That spark of "badass" had finally returned and the jams flowed.

One Little Victory is basically a mission statement song. Peart's ridiculous drum intro lets you know that restraint has been left behind. The rest of the song is equally over the top. Geddy applies layer upon layer of frenzied vocal tracks, creating a slightly insane choir...while Lifeson chugs away on his Paul Reed Smith guitar, getting tons of tone with minimal effects. (there IS a guitar solo in this tune also, in a way).

Ceiling Unlimited is a brilliant Rush song, period. This was the tune that got me excited about Rush again. Everything about this song works...a great arrangment, a memorable chorus and a balls out rocking mid section...most definitely a Rush tune.

Ghostrider is a nice tune where Neil opens up a little bit about his healing process. Not one of my favorites from the album, not a bad song.

Peaceable Kingdom is one of the heavier tracks, befitting the post terrorist attack subject matter. Another nice arrangment with a memorably plaintive chorus balancing out the more intense sections.

The Stars Look Down and How It Is are both "okay' tracks, some nice moments, nothing earth shattering.

The next three tracks are all killer however....

The title track is a beautiful song, it's definitely got a prog vibe to it while never showing off.

Secret Touch is easily the catchiest Rush song in ages and should have been the leadoff single. Plus the guitar work in this tune is MEAN!

Earthshine is the slow, heavy track...almost like a sequel to Witch Hunt in spirit, Lifeson's simple doomy riff sets the perfect mood. This song has been a staple of their live shows ever since.

Sweet Miracle does absolutely nothing for me...Nocturne is an improvement, but this is the one song that seems to go overboard into pomposity.

then all of a sudden here comes Freeze storming out of the gate with a very King Crimson-esque riff...one of those "throw down the gauntlet" type of songs, another total kick ass tune. Rush hadn't really played anything quite like this since Permanent Waves era.

Out Of The Cradle is a fun little straight-ahead rocker, ending the album on a bright note.

In conclusion, I love this record. Now, it does suffer from some sonic imperfections because of "brickwalled" mastering techniques, but with material this good I let that pass. Even with a few throwaway tracks, the album is so long it still feels solid. As far as I'm concerned, it was the best album since Grace Under Pressure.

The album did okay in the States, sold better in Canada and Europe. The tour however was a big success and one of the shows would be recorded for a fantastic film (to be covered later).

*new mixes of Secret Touch and Earthshine were premiered on the Retrospective 3 collection. The band was so happy with the results that a planned remaster is in the works. *


Last edited by Detuned on Fri Jul 16, 2010 12:26 am; edited 3 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: the RUSH discography thread   Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:15 pm


FEEDBACK (released June 29, 2004)

To celebrate 30 years of their recording career, Rush decided to let their hair down and have some fun. They picked 8 songs that helped influence their early musical careers and recorded quick, dirty and energetic versions for this EP. While the pessimistic outlook would be the EP was an "excuse to tour", I see it as a welcome glimpse into the background of a group who developed their own sound so long ago...that you tend to forget what influenced that sound in the first place.

Going by the song choices, the mid 60's were the catalyst that spurred these guys on their quest.

A strutting, wailing version of Summertime Blues kicks off the proceedings. Alex Lifeson plays a little tribute to "Foxy Lady" in the intro before the song kicks into full gear. The arrangement is basically the version that The Who played on the Live At Leeds album (with a little bit of Blue Cheer's proto-doom stomp thrown in). Lifeson's guitar sound flat out roars.

Heart Full Of Soul is a very pleasant song selection, Geddy proving he has the vocal chops to pull off this Yardbirds gem. Again the guitar really stands out here, Alex gets the chance to layer some acoustic and electric tones to great effect and captures the vibe of the original recording perfectly. Geddy gets the overall nod for his passionate performance.

The first of two Buffalo Springfield covers follows next. Stephen Stills' "For What It's Worth" may seem like an odd choice at first, hearing a Canadian band play this San Fran hippie classic...but they pull it off with the sophistication of the arrangement. Lifeson weaves in all kinds of psychedelic guitar flourishes and Geddy's layered vocals provide a modern sound to the proceedings.

The Seeker is pretty much a straight-forward rendition of the classic single by The Who. Even though it's a rocker, Rush doesn't quite have the rhythmic drive to really sell this one accurately. It's a perfectly acceptable version, but Geddy is no Roger Daltrey and thus much of the venom in the lyrics is lost. This version is okay, but the original Who single sounds like it's going to kill your Mother.

Mr Soul is our second Buffalo Springfield cover, courtesy of Neil Young. This one scores a home run! By slowing down the tempo and concentrating on the underlying dirge-like riff, Rush transforms this into a foreboding little nightmare ditty. Alex painstakingly achieves the exact same guitar tones used for the variety of short solos (covering both parts played by Young & Stills). This tune is so awesome it should be permanently added to Rush' setlist for the rest of their career.

Probably the most left-field cut of the bunch, Love's Seven And Seven Is is taken at a frantic breakneck tempo, with Peart delivering a text book lesson in how to play the snare. This song veers the farthest from the original source, but the performance is so passionate and fun that it doesn't matter.

We return to The Yardbirds for a little Jeff Beck worship on Shapes Of Things. Geddy's vocal is a little too pedestrian on this one, not quite delivering the desired reaction. Lifeson's kick ass performance salvages it.

The album ends in slamming fashion with a fantastic spin through Cream's version of Crossroads. Listening to this tune, you can imagine what a treat it would have been to see Alex and Geddy in a garage somewhere jamming this. The guitar solo section is just SICK, with Geddy's underlying bass line just as impressive and badass as Alex's solo. It's like temporarily time traveling back to 1974 and seeing these dudes in some dive bar...oh how awesome that would have been!

Overall, maybe just a footnote in Rush' discography...but one that proves these guys still know how to have fun and play kick ass r'n'r 30 years down the road...
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PostSubject: Re: the RUSH discography thread   Thu Jul 15, 2010 8:15 pm


SNAKES & ARROWS (released May 1, 2007)

The recording of the Feedback EP and the R30 tour seems to have energized Rush into a particularly strong songwriting mode; because for the most part, Snakes & Arrows is an impressive listen. This album is actually the most "progressive" Rush had recorded since the Permanent Waves era...tempered with the pop-sense they have accumulated over the years. The secret weapon to this album is how quickly it was recorded; 5 weeks total (it took the band over a year to record Vapor Trails). That spontaneity is apparent in the final product.

The album kicks off in stellar fashion with "Far Cry". While I'm not usually a huge fan of Peart's lyrics, this song is excellent. The vocal layering heard on Vapor Trails is still in evidence, though it's been more fully integrated into the overall sound. I love the doubling of electric & acoustic guitars on this song, complementing a great driving riff.

"Armor & Sword" immediately entered classic status as far as I'm concerned. The introduction is a nice little homage to King Crimson (circa Larks era) and then develops into a beautiful, ever-shifting arrangement. This song is a textbook example of the breadth of styles this band can tackle. Easily my favorite song on the album.

"Workin' Them Angels" is a meaty mid-tempo rocker with a memorable chorus, ready made for arenas.

While earlier I complimented Peart's lyrics in this very same thread...they drop the next song "A Larger Bowl" into a much lesser category. A shame really, it's a nice little melodic rocker...but the whole "such alot of pain on the earth" schtick sinks it fast.

"Spindrift" is a bizarre little number with a nice undercurrent of menace running throughout (helped along by some dissonant note choices in Geddy's bass part). The end result doesn't quite add up to a really memorable song though;; but it's an interesting experiment.

The first of the album's three instrumental tracks is up next. "The Main Monkey Business" is unfortunately quite dull until around the 2:30 mark, then picks up for the guitar solo section...with a little trimming it would be a good track.

We continue down the "unfortunate" path for our next song...if the band actually stuck with the bluesy Cream-riff that opens "The Way The Wind Blows"...it could have been killer. Unfortunately, it quickly becomes apparent that it was essentially a "joke beginning" to a fairly mediocre track. Peart again steps to the front with some insanely gag-reflex inducing lyrics...blech.

FINALLY...past the rough patch.

"Hope" is a stunning acoustic guitar number from Lifeson. Ever since Broon's Bane on Exit...Stage Left I had been waiting for a proper acoustic number...it only took 26 years. It was worth the wait...I find it impossible to listen to this song only once, I HAVE to back it up and play it again.

"Faithless" returns us to the progressive vein of Armor & Sword. The first time I heard this song I just didn't quite "get" the arrangement, it seemed very odd (especially during the first 1:30)...but when that Mellotron & acoustic guitar introduce the chorus section I realized that it's essentially a variation on Floyd's "dark/light" (think Comfortably Numb) vibe. This song also contains one of Lifeson's most impressive solo of the album.

"Bravest Face" is another killer little offbeat track. Here the band lets it's hair down and has a little fun. Geddy gets his best cynical sneer going for the verse sections (with Lifeson adding colorful musical commentary) and then gets "epic" for the chorus section. Overall, Geddy is in truly impressive voice on this album. Lifeson at his absolute bluesiest is the icing on the cake.

"Good News First" is quite similar to Spindrift in tone, it's also equally as schizophrenic, so ends up falling a little flat overall.

"Magnificent Narcissism" is the instrumental that Rush fans have been waiting for since YYZ. Here they just show off the chops and have a BLAST! This song kills.

"We Hold On" is a killer track that somehow got stuck ALL the way at the end of this 62 minute album. If you swapped this song for Spindrift the album would flow much better.

In conclusion, the only downside to this album is that it's about 10 minutes too long. Snakes & Arrows debuted at #3 on the Billboard charts. The obligatory live album followed...
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PostSubject: Re: the RUSH discography thread   Thu Jul 15, 2010 11:08 pm

You really should take these Sabbath and Rush reviews and put up a website or something. Your insight is wonderful. You write better than alot of authors I have read.
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S.D.
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PostSubject: Re: the RUSH discography thread   Sat Jul 17, 2010 3:02 am

Thanks man, that could be the best compliment I've ever received for any of my artistic endeavors.

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PostSubject: Re: the RUSH discography thread   Mon Jul 19, 2010 9:49 pm

Great work on the Rush discog Shawn. It makes me want to revisit the ones I ignore and crank out the ones I dig. Fave Rush is Caress Of Steel.
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