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Old 07-14-2014, 08:03 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Rush - Caress of Steel

From my blog:

Rush is iconic for being one of the most downplayed, experimental, and persistent bands in rock history. Recording 19 studio albums over more than 40 years, Rush was finally honored with a Rock Hall of Fame induction in 2013. They are known for their quirky attitude, original attire, their eclectic fan base, and experimental rock music that has influenced the likes of Coheed and Cambria, Billy Corgan, Dream Theater, and numerous more. From songs like “Tom Sawyer” to “Limelight” to “2112,” this Canadian trio has made a statement on rock history. Even with all they have accomplished, Rush has faced much criticism in their beginnings, much of it involved around their album “Caress of Steel.”

“Caress of Steel” is known as the album that nearly killed Rush. With problems such as production issues, style changes, and a promotional roller coaster, Rush heard much criticism during this time, which is still felt by listeners today. When discussing this album with others in the past, all I heard were negative remarks, which I quickly bought into. Basically skipping over this album, I would always listen from “Fly By Night,” then to “2112.” After some time, I decided to give this album a second chance, which I am glad I did.

Like “Meddle” is to “Dark Side of the Moon,” Rush could not have released “2112” without releasing “Caress of Steel” first. The opening track is a continuation of their bluesy old selves, influenced by bands like Led Zeppelin. The wild shriek of Geddy Lee, powerful drums of Neil Peart, and guitar doodling of Alex Lifeson are prominent in this song, and is easily the song that most fans relate to off this album. Following this song are two other shorter songs “I Think I’m Going Bald” and “Lakeside Park,” which I feel are also influenced by their two previous albums, but are less significant. As great as the first three tracks are, what I love the most about this album are the final two tracks, containing their most controversial songs “The Necromancer” and “The Fountain of Lamneth.”

So many considered the drastic shift in musical style from the first half of the album to the second to be detrimental to the band, and the reason why Rush almost fell apart. The first half is traditional Rush, a mix of blues, punk, classic rock, and even hints of classic metal. The second half, on the other hand, was considered entirely revolutionary during this time, and to some ahead of its time. Taking on a more progressive, psychedelic, and experimental approach, these two songs totaling over 30 minutes in length sound like a mixture of early Genesis, early Yes, and King Crimson. Known for biting off more than they can chew, Rush attempted the next “Close to the Edge,” using prolonged chord progressions, odd time signatures, and improvisation. Overall, I felt like Rush in their youth made an excellent attempt at progressive rock after taking this shot in the dark.

While both songs’ lyrics may be hard to understand (a topic that would take another post in itself to discuss), and are challenging to the listener in multiple ways, one can appreciate the musical knowledge behind the band. I love to listen to the chord progression and time signature changes in both “The Necromancer” and “The Fountain of Lamneth,” traits that are still lacking in some of the most popular and most knowledgeable of rock bands. Being based on two separate concepts or stories, I love the use of each instrument in helping tell the story. The slower sections reminds me of journeying across the land, while the harder and faster sections help me picture a battle scene, or an intense action sequence. Lee’s vocals are moving, especially in the beginning and end of “The Fountain of Lamneth,” which help the listener to understand the feelings behind the characters in each song. While to some these songs may be considered excessive, to hear these attributes coming out of kids from Canada is absolutely astounding. With the time and effort put into these songs, it is absolutely necessary for the length of the second half of the album to take over part of your day.

Although “Caress of Steel” may not be considered the best progressive rock album of all time, it definitely is looked upon as an influence to modern progressive rock and metal bands today. The use of instruments in telling the concept, the musical knowledge, the unique vocals, the bluesy guitar, and unbelievable drum work are reasons for listening to this album. I highly consider listening to this album for those who are fans of progressive rock, and are fans of bands like Led Zeppelin, Genesis, Yes, and other 70’s prog rockers. For fans of Rush already, I highly recommend giving this album another listen.
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Old 07-14-2014, 09:54 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k3no View Post
From my blog:

Rush is iconic for being one of the most downplayed, experimental, and persistent bands in rock history. Recording 19 studio albums over more than 40 years, Rush was finally honored with a Rock Hall of Fame induction in 2013. They are known for their quirky attitude, original attire, their eclectic fan base, and experimental rock music that has influenced the likes of Coheed and Cambria, Billy Corgan, Dream Theater, and numerous more. From songs like “Tom Sawyer” to “Limelight” to “2112,” this Canadian trio has made a statement on rock history. Even with all they have accomplished, Rush has faced much criticism in their beginnings, much of it involved around their album “Caress of Steel.”

“Caress of Steel” is known as the album that nearly killed Rush. With problems such as production issues, style changes, and a promotional roller coaster, Rush heard much criticism during this time, which is still felt by listeners today. When discussing this album with others in the past, all I heard were negative remarks, which I quickly bought into. Basically skipping over this album, I would always listen from “Fly By Night,” then to “2112.” After some time, I decided to give this album a second chance, which I am glad I did.

Like “Meddle” is to “Dark Side of the Moon,” Rush could not have released “2112” without releasing “Caress of Steel” first. The opening track is a continuation of their bluesy old selves, influenced by bands like Led Zeppelin. The wild shriek of Geddy Lee, powerful drums of Neil Peart, and guitar doodling of Alex Lifeson are prominent in this song, and is easily the song that most fans relate to off this album. Following this song are two other shorter songs “I Think I’m Going Bald” and “Lakeside Park,” which I feel are also influenced by their two previous albums, but are less significant. As great as the first three tracks are, what I love the most about this album are the final two tracks, containing their most controversial songs “The Necromancer” and “The Fountain of Lamneth.”

So many considered the drastic shift in musical style from the first half of the album to the second to be detrimental to the band, and the reason why Rush almost fell apart. The first half is traditional Rush, a mix of blues, punk, classic rock, and even hints of classic metal. The second half, on the other hand, was considered entirely revolutionary during this time, and to some ahead of its time. Taking on a more progressive, psychedelic, and experimental approach, these two songs totaling over 30 minutes in length sound like a mixture of early Genesis, early Yes, and King Crimson. Known for biting off more than they can chew, Rush attempted the next “Close to the Edge,” using prolonged chord progressions, odd time signatures, and improvisation. Overall, I felt like Rush in their youth made an excellent attempt at progressive rock after taking this shot in the dark.

While both songs’ lyrics may be hard to understand (a topic that would take another post in itself to discuss), and are challenging to the listener in multiple ways, one can appreciate the musical knowledge behind the band. I love to listen to the chord progression and time signature changes in both “The Necromancer” and “The Fountain of Lamneth,” traits that are still lacking in some of the most popular and most knowledgeable of rock bands. Being based on two separate concepts or stories, I love the use of each instrument in helping tell the story. The slower sections reminds me of journeying across the land, while the harder and faster sections help me picture a battle scene, or an intense action sequence. Lee’s vocals are moving, especially in the beginning and end of “The Fountain of Lamneth,” which help the listener to understand the feelings behind the characters in each song. While to some these songs may be considered excessive, to hear these attributes coming out of kids from Canada is absolutely astounding. With the time and effort put into these songs, it is absolutely necessary for the length of the second half of the album to take over part of your day.

Although “Caress of Steel” may not be considered the best progressive rock album of all time, it definitely is looked upon as an influence to modern progressive rock and metal bands today. The use of instruments in telling the concept, the musical knowledge, the unique vocals, the bluesy guitar, and unbelievable drum work are reasons for listening to this album. I highly consider listening to this album for those who are fans of progressive rock, and are fans of bands like Led Zeppelin, Genesis, Yes, and other 70’s prog rockers. For fans of Rush already, I highly recommend giving this album another listen.
Interesting review 'k3no'. I agree that 'Caress Of Steel' is a solid album although it definitely was a case of "too much, too soon" perhaps for the time. That said, both 'The Necromancer' and 'The Fountain Of Lamneth' are very ambitious considering how young they were when they wrote them. Ultimately though, I feel that they both missed the mark to a certain extent. Side one of '2112' corrected that the following year ( 1976). I think it was arguably better arranged and the story much more concise. On a five star ratings' system, I give 'Caress Of Steel' 2 and 1/2 to 3 stars. Definitely worth revisiting though! Thanks for the review! I love Rush!!
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Old 07-15-2014, 10:37 AM   #3 (permalink)
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A friend handed me "Archives" back in the 80's, and Caress quickly became my favorite out of the 3. Bastille Day to the final note on Lamneth spoke to me in a way that no other music I had heard before could ever achieve. I'd ditch school to stay home and listen to the Necromancer over and over again, and I'd air drum to the entire thing. Diadacts was the highlight of my personal performance. Then I picked up a guitar.

Great review btw.
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Old 07-18-2014, 04:47 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Personally I've always found the album to be one of the most unfocused albums in the band's whole discography, but then again it takes all sorts
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Old 08-03-2014, 09:35 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Obviously one of my favorite albums by Rush. It was a complete change up from the heavy metal/blues rock sound and style of the Rush before, with the addition of lyrics and drums by Neil Peart to the band.
I've always viewed the album Caress Of Steel as a prelude to their album 2112. You can't have one without the other. The single Necromancer is actually a three-part story in a one 10 minute song. Quite revolutionary an innovative during the time of its release back during the early 70s.
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Old 08-04-2014, 01:21 AM   #6 (permalink)
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A friend handed me "Archives" back in the 80's,
I just got Archives at a used Record store for 15$. Never has 15$ bought so much good music.
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