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Old 04-26-2010, 09:41 PM   #11 (permalink)
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RUSH

So, I decided to jump on the discography review bandwagon. I had a hard time deciding which band to start with, but then I saw "I Love You, Man" on TV again recently, saw Rush make an appearance, and knew my decision had been made. My favorite Canadian band, one of my favorite progressive rock acts, and one of the biggest influences on my own personal guitar playing, Rush just make really great music. They are also one of the most enduring bands in music. All three members can be considered virtuosos on their instruments, yet still make incredibly well crafted music as they all know when to give each other space and when it is time to shine.

For those that have the misfortune of not knowing Rush, they formed initially in 1968 and rotated members around until 1971 when they settled on guitarist Alex Lifeson, bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee, and drummer John Rutsey. They released one album with Rutsey, but he soon resigned due to health reasons and a distaste for touring. This could not have been more fortunate for the band as they soon recruited drum god Neil Peart, one of the greatest drummers of all time. With this lineup, Rush has lasted over 30 years and released 18 original albums, a covers album, and 8 live albums.

Considering Rush's wealth of material, I think I have plenty to work with. A discography this large can seem daunting to some, so I hope these reviews will help people who are curious to get into this amazing band as well as promote a discussion for other fans of Rush out there. So, if this has sparked any interest, read on!

Rush (1974) - REVIEWED (6.5/10)
Fly By Night (1975) - REVIEWED (7.5/10)
Caress of Steel (1975) - NOT REVIEWED
2112 (1976) - NOT REVIEWED
All the World's a Stage (Live) (1976) - NOT REVIEWED
A Farewell to Kings (1977) - NOT REVIEWED
Hemispheres (1978) - NOT REVIEWED
Permanent Waves (1980) - NOT REVIEWED
Moving Pictures (1981) - NOT REVIEWED
Exit...Stage Left (Live) (1981) - NOT REVIEWED
Signals (1982) - NOT REVIEWED
Grace Under Pressure (1984) - NOT REVIEWED
Grace Under Pressure Live (1984) - NOT REVIEWED
Power Windows (1985) - NOT REVIEWED
Hold Your Fire (1987) - NOT REVIEWED
Presto (1989) - NOT REVIEWED
A Show of Hands (Live) (1989) - NOT REVIEWED
Roll the Bones (1991) - NOT REVIEWED
Counterparts (1993) - NOT REVIEWED
Test For Echo (1996) - NOT REVIEWED
Different Stages (Live) (1998) - NOT REVIEWED
Vapor Trails (2002) - NOT REVIEWED
Rush in Rio (Live) (2003) - NOT REVIEWED
Feedback (2004) - NOT REVIEWED
Rush R30 (Live) (2005) - NOT REVIEWED
Snakes and Arrows (2007) - NOT REVIEWED
Snakes and Arrows Live (2008) - NOT REVIEWED
Excellent. Thank you. I look forward to reading the reviews.
Rush is pretty much essential to my existence.
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Old 04-27-2010, 03:35 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I love their lyrics...I don't find them too nonsensical. They usually cover some pretty cool issues. Are there any specific songs you are talking about?
I'm not sure, it just seems like sometimes there really isn't any deeper meaning - or it's way too clouded and vague to make out.

Nonetheless, I've enjoyed the reviews so far and yesterday dug out my Grace Under Pressure vinyl I totally forgot I bought (:/) for some listening.
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Old 04-28-2010, 07:14 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Caress of Steel (1975)


It's time to get progressive. After messing around with prog rock on “By-Tor and the Snow Dog” on their last album with positive results, they decide to go all out with “Caress of Steel”. Their hard rock stylings are still in full swing, but are slowly molding their own distinctive style (in other words, they have vastly improved over their debut). They also decide to ease the listener into the progressive side of things since the first 3 songs are your typical tried and true hard rock songs. These songs are not as strong as some found on “Fly By Night”, but are catchy in their own right. Honestly, they could have fit perfectly on that album. “Bastille Day” opens the album similarly to the way “Anthem” opened the last, “I Think I'm Going Bald” has a kind of ultra cheesy theme but still works in a weird way, and “Lakeside Park” has some pretty nice guitar work. Alas, those were just to warm you up for the next two epics “The Necromancer” and “The Fountain of Lamneth”.

Now, Rush has always been good at pop structured songs, and after a while return to that formula. However, I feel their prog epics have always been their most interesting work. If you were to look at the critical reception for “Caress of Steel”, you will find it was not received well. This was meant to be Rush's breakout album, but having turned their backs on straight ahead rock, a lot of their fans (and critics) didn't know what to think. Rush's supporting tour was subsequently referred to as the “Down the Tubes” tour. In this reviewer's humble opinion, however, this album could easily be held up with the finest of their prog albums.

Let's take a look at these two epic beauties. I'll refrain from going into their stories as half the fun is listening to the lyrics and figuring out what is going on by yourself. “The Necromancer” starts off very slow with some trippy guitar and spoken word vocals in the background. This segment is called “Into the Darkness” and it definitely sets a tone that Rush had yet to hit upon until this time. About a third of the way through, it kicks into high gear and rocks your face off with “Under the Shadow”. Then they switch gears again with “Return of the Prince”. This segment is still all about the rock, but changes the tone. All three parts are totally different, yet work together really well. The song never gets boring, in my opinion. This is one of their finest epic songs.

Then we get an even longer epic, “The Fountain Lamneth”. The first segment, “In the Valley” is really good. There is wonderful juxtaposition between heavy and soft. The next segment “Didacts and Narpets” is basically just an excuse to show off what Neil can do on the drums. He definitely knows his stuff, but it seems a little forced and is really the only weak part of the song. Luckily, it's only a minute before we get “No One At the Bridge”. It is another brilliant segment with some gentle appregiated chords from Alex. “Panacea” is an acoustic segment, but this is the point of the song where I start to feel that this is just bunch of different songs stuck together. It is pretty good, but points out one of my complaints with Rush's early progressive work. One segment would end, the next would begin with no real transition between. But hey, the music is good and they were learning. “Bacchus Plateau” picks up with the hard rock again and “The Fountain” revisits the theme of “In the Valley” to close out the song. Overall, a good song and definitely hints to their breakout epic “2112”, but due to the problems I mentioned, I prefer “The Necromancer”.

With each album Rush is slowly progressing to a style all their own. This album may have shocked current fans with their decision to go progressive, but that should not be a reason to ignore it. This is another album to visit after you are familiar with some of their other work, but it is a worthy addition to anyone's collection. This one gets a 7.5/10.



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Old 04-28-2010, 08:23 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Great reviews so far. I actually had no idea Rush did prog epics. This is making them far more interesting to me.
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Old 04-28-2010, 08:49 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Then you will enjoy the next review. 2112 is considered a classic by most prog fans, and is one of their best known records.
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Old 04-29-2010, 12:06 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Great thread idea, Duga.

Turns out that this summer Rush will be embarking on a US and Canadian tour where they will be playing the Moving Pictures album in it's entirety, as well as testing out new material for a forthcoming album. Should be good times.

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/;kw=[24942,129715]?RS_show_page=0

Hope that didn't take the wind out of you're thread's sails.
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Old 04-29-2010, 01:50 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Wow, that sounds freaking awesome. Rush is really impressive live...they can play 2-3 hour shows like it's nothing and they have been doing it for over 30 years. There are younger bands out there that don't play shows half that length.

And no, you didn't take the wind out of the thread's sails. I would actually like if people got to talking about them more.

So you heard it guys, comment away.
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Old 04-29-2010, 04:11 PM   #18 (permalink)
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That sounds pretty interesting. As I said before I've never been a huge Rush fan, but a chance to hear a live version of Moving Pictures and those "tests"? Might have to get some tickets.
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Old 04-30-2010, 07:48 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Ok, so I've been chomping at the bit to review 2112, so I managed to get this done before I go out and get drunk. Ladies and gentelmen,

2112 (1976)


Despite the poor reception for “Caress of Steel”, it was obvious Rush would gain some recognition at some point. They had so much obvious raw talent that it was bound to happen. Due to the failure of the last album, Rush's record label pressured them into staying away from concept based songs. However, Rush stuck to their guns and produced their first hit, “2112”. This would prove to be one of their iconic albums, and the starman logo found on the back cover art would become the Rush logo, which lasts even today.

With “2112”, Rush has yet to let go of their hard rock based songs. The general vibe is very much similar to their preceding releases, but it is obvious they are really getting their footing with the progressive direction they wanted to take. Alex's guitar playing is that much smoother, which is very much needed to compliment Geddy's chugging bass lines. Neil continues to shine as well. His drumming on the song “2112” never fails to inspire air drums whilst listening. This demon makes drumming sound incredibly easy. The image I have of Neil in my head is that Geddy and Alex present him with some music, he ponders for a moment, and says “Ok, got it...let's do this beast.” 10 seconds later everyone's minds are blown.

“2112” is quite an intense slice of progressiveness. The story is loosely based on Ayn Rand's book “Anthem”, and it is quite straightforward so I will let the listener check it out on their own. The first segment, “Overture”, sets the stage nicely with some ominous synth. The notes just kind of hang in the air, leaving you anticipating the music to come. What follows is some of the most intense riffwork ever to come out of the prog genre. The following segment, “The Temples of Syrinx”, follows the same theme, only slightly modified. These two segments are nothing short of perfect. “Discovery” is where things get a little sketchy to me. It just feels very out of place, despite the relevance to the story. The overall song is much better about the flow from one segment to the next, but Rush are still obviously working out the kinks. “Presentation” is another solid bit of music, but is really only interesting in how it moves the story along. The same goes for “Oracle” and “Soliloquy”. They are really good and fit nicely into the song, but definitely do not compare to the first two segments. “Grand Finale” is where it picks up again. This segment is incredibly intense and ends the song perfectly. Once it is all done, you will be quite amazed 20 minutes has just gone by.

The rest of the songs are more or less just backup for “2112”. Don't get me wrong, they really are some of the best pop structured songs Rush has produced up until this point, but after such a mammoth of a song like “2112”, it's really hard to impress much more. Although, “A Passage to Bangkok” is a really good song. I have a soft spot for any song about traveling around Asia testing out all the different strains of weed. Nicely done, Rush. The next 3 songs are honestly a bit forgettable, but Rush closes out the album with the stellar “Something For Nothing”. It has a driving riff that just gets me all pumped up.

This marks the end of a very specific Rush sound. Though they have obviously toyed around with progressive rock (duh), their sound has remained quite Zeppelin-esque. There will be no more of that from here on out. Though they remain rooted in hard rock, their next studio album welcomes a sound that is truly unique to Rush.

This album gets a solid 8/10 from me. You might be asking, “If this album is so iconic, why not a 9 or 10?” Well, the reason is because they still have issues with transitioning segments in their epics, and it was pretty obvious the other songs didn't get as much attention. The album as a whole isn't as good as it could have been. But hey, 8/10 is still good, and Rush is about to hit a string of albums that would prove these guys know exactly what they are doing. This would also be a fine starting point for someone who has never listened to Rush (as long as you enjoy prog epics). Thost who don't, wait a couple albums. Your time will come.





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Old 05-05-2010, 05:46 PM   #20 (permalink)
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All the World's a Stage (live) (1976)


So, Rush have definitely been able to hone their skills with the past 4 albums. After a hit like “2112”, it was time to show off their live chops. Rush have always been great live, which is a reputation they maintain even to this day. Rush's first live album, “All the World's a Stage”, begins a tradition of sorts where Rush releases a live record every 4 albums. They began releasing more live albums sporadically later in their career, but they have always maintained at least one every 4 albums. This is great for someone wanting to really track the progress they made, as you get to hear what Rush sounded like at each era of their existence. This particular album was recorded in Toronto's Massey Hall during a 3 night residency in 1976.

“All the World's a Stage” doesn't disappoint, as they collected a lot of the stronger tracks off their first 4 albums (including a near complete performance of “2112” - which is the only reason I am not upset they didn't include “The Necromancer” or “The Fountain of Lamneth”). It begins with the one-two punch of “Bastille Day” and “Anthem”, the two openers from “Caress of Steel” and “Fly By Night”, respectively. These are the first instances where it becomes obvious that Rush doesn't like to add extra performers to their act. It is solely the trinity of Peart, Lee, and Lifeson. They do a great job of staying true to their recordings, but it becomes apparent it is only the 3 of them when Lifeson breaks into his solos. It is impossible to have rhythm guitar and lead at the same time (obviously), so it is noticeably lacking at those moments. This might bother some people, but I think it actually adds to their appeal. I truly respect them for attempting to create as full a performance as possible while limiting the performance to strictly just the band itself.

The rest of the performances are stellar and lend themselves to a very entertaining live album. There are a few medleys thrown in to cover their debut material. Rush doesn't like neglecting any of their eras, so when it comes to performing songs off that album they usually throw them into medleys to avoid having to truly “perform” them. Very understandable. Another standard I use while judging live albums is whether or not they “feel live”. This really does. You can hear the crowd, there are a couple screw ups here and there, and the whole thing sounds...well...live. There is some great energy here.

The songs themselves are great, and having reviewed all the albums these songs come off of already, you know my opinion of them. Since each live album tends to mark the end of a Rush “era”, I will simply give it a score based on how I view the preceding era. This is the end of Rush's hard rock era, and following it is some of the best straight ahead progressive rock ever to come out of that time. I hereby rate the past era 8/10.

This performance isn't off the album, but this medley is on it and this is also from the same tour. It is very interesting to see Rush in their young days!
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