I began getting into Rush in the 70's because a friend's teenage brother was heavily into them. Of course at that time, Kiss and Aerosmith were my main fascinations, so it wasn't until "Moving Pictures" that I started getting into them more heavily. Always wondered it Geddy Lee had a secret oxygen mask hidden somewhere that would continually feed him helium instead of air. Hmm...
Rush (Mercury) 1974
1. "Finding My Way"
The only Rush album to not feature extraordinary drummer Neil Peart, so it goes without saying that this is more of a straight forward 70's heavy metal album. "Working Man" is one of the few that stands the test of time well.
Rush - Caress of Steel (Mercury) 1975
To many, 2112 is the ultimate Rush album. Regardless of where Rush fans place this in their list of favorites, "2112" stands as one of the great albums of the 1970's prog-rock era. It the epic, twenty minute long title track were the only song on the CD, it would still be a great album. This song is a rock opera of sorts that is inspired by Ayn Rand's "Anthem". If I hadn't been doing a bit of homework for this review, quite frankly, I never would have known this. The topic of the song has always taken a back seat to the music itself. As a matter of fact, I owed this on vinyl in the 70's, on cassette in the 80's and now on CD and it wasn't until recently that I even knew this bit of information about the storyline. The song takes the listener through many different emotions and textures. It contains everything from moody, acoustic pieces ("Oracle") to early heavy metal ("The Temples of Syrinx"). Back when I had this one CD, this epic track took up all of side one of the record and would quite often be the only part I would play. However, that is not to say the rest of the CD isn't good. As a matter of fact, track two, "A Passage to Bangkok" is one of the band's best known tracks. I've read countless reviews and heard many people cap on Geddy Lee's vocals. Personally, I've always like Lee's charismatic, expressive and defining vocals and felt they worked well for the band. "2112" is a great album by an innovative power trio and the title cut is an epic progressive rock masterwork. This is a classic album in every sense of the word.
My mom bought me this "gold disc edition" for my birthday one year. It's been remastered and according to reviews I read sounds superior to the original CD release. OK, since I have nothing to compare it to, I'll give 'em that.
An awesome live offering that proves that Rush are just as proficient on the stage as they were in the studio. I love the heavier sound and the energy captured on tape. "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" has to be one of the heaviest progressive rock songs to come out of the 70's.
I have the "master series" that includes "What You're Doing," a song originally deleted from the CD version for some strange reason.
Rush - A Farewell to Kings (Mercury) 1977
1. "A Farewell to
This was the first Rush album I had ever heard. I was just a grade school kid, but I remember I thought the cover was ultra cool at the time. Still think it's a cool cover. The music on this disc is nothing short of fantastic. Rush are really engaging in fantasy themes now. If this were the only album Rush ever released, I still would think they were one of the greatest band's ever.
Rush - Hemispheres (Mercury) 1978
Cygnus X-1 Book II" (18:05)
I never got into this one until years after it was released because I was just a kid and did not have access to it. It wasn't until after I bought "Moving Pictures" that I went back and started buying all the older albums. In any case, this is another excellent album. Rush were at their prime here.
Rush - Permanent Waves (Mercury) 1979
1."The Spirit of
Still in top form here, Rush begins to feel the effects of radio air play for the first time with "The Spirit of the Radio." (Hey, is that a coincidence or what?) Unfortunately, like most bands as they tend to get more popular, selling records becomes the objective rather than writing creative music. But that is still to come. "Permanent Waves" is still a great album but is beginning to touch more on the AOR.
Rush - Moving Pictures (Mercury) 1981
1. "Tom Sawyer"
My favorite of all Rush's albums. An absolute masterpiece! "Tom Sawyer" was the song that had me hooked. From that point on I started collecting all the old Rush albums as well. Every song on this album is essential!
Machine Head covered "Witch Hunt" on their "Unto the Locust" CD.
I have the original CD pressing of this live album that omits "Passage to Bangkok." Luckily it is included on "Chronicles" so I am not missing anything, especially since I only paid $5.99 for this "recycled" disc. In my opinion, this is one of the greatest live albums of all time, overshadowed only slightly by "All the World's A Stage." As I have stated before, however, live albums are usually the end on an era, and that is certainly true of Rush who would begin a downward spiral in to radio pop and worse in the future. Shame really as everything up to this point was absolute brilliance.
Rush - Signals (Mercury) 1982
Hmmm, totally lost interest with Rush for these 80s pop-rock, keyboard infested, AOR albums. All the albums from here one, with the exception of the wonderful "Test for Echos," I bought cheap and used. Like many of the great 70's bands, the 80's totally ruined them with the overly glossy productions and pop oriented music. Still, I look back on this album a bit more fondly now and occasionally pull it out and give it a listen. "Subdivisions" was a big hit for the band.
Rush - Grace Under Pressure (Mercury) 1984
1. "Distant Early
Nice cover art, but that is about all I remember about it. I hardly ever play it, so I guess I won't comment any further on it.
Rush - Power Windows (Mercury) 1985
1. "The Big Money"
Rush were hugely popular at this time, but I had all but given up on them ever putting out another masterwork like "Moving Pictures" or "2112." Once again, I pull out this one occasionally and give it a spin but it's far from a favorite. A bit to pop rock oriented for my taste.
Rush - Hold Your Fire (Mercury) 1987
1. "Force Ten"
This is one of those Rush CDs that really disappointed me when it first came out. Honestly, I was put off at first by the overtly pop leanings, yet for some reason I didn't feel the same way when I first heard Yes' 90215 or Genesis' Abacab. "Hold Your Fire" just seems so "light" and "poppy" in comparison to what I had always loved about Rush in the past. However, with repeated listens and having heard a few of these songs on the radio over and over again, I must confess that I now like it quite a bit. Honestly, my big criticism of this CD is the overuse of keyboards and the mixing back of the guitar wizardry of Alex Lifeson. I can't help but wonder what these songs would have sounded like with a crunchier, heavier guitar tone. When Alex hits those power chords in songs like "Time Stand Still" I cringe at the thin guitar tones. Of course the bass and drums are right out front with the keys. Neil Peart is as inventive and exciting as he ever was. The songs here are all pretty light, although around halfway through the album the mood seems to get a tad darker than the lighter "hit" tracks in the beginning. All in all, a good Rush album, but one that is so saturated in 80's pop sounds, it falls a bit short of being one of their best.
Rush - A Show of Hands (Mercury) 1989
1. "Intro" (0:53)
While I have kept up with Rush through the years, none of their "synth period" releases did much for me. I often get in the mood to hear Rush and when I do I usually grab from something from the 1970's or early 80's. This period represents the albums that came out during the 1980's; Signals (1982), Grace Under Pressure (1984), Power Windows (1985), Hold Your Fire (1987). For that reason, I didn't really put much effort into picking up this live album that focuses mostly on that 1980's "synth period". "Show of Hands" is a snapshot into the "Hold Your Fire" tour. Two songs on the CD, "Mystic Rhythms" and "Witch Hunt" are from the preceding "Power Windows" tour. Unfortunately I have read that some really great performances from this tour, such as the "2112"/"La Villa Strangiato" medley, were recorded but not included on this CD. Frankly I think it would have made for a better list. "A Show of Hands" just doesn't have the intensity or raw energy that "Exit Stage Left" or "All the Worlds A Stage Had". Part of the reason for this is the slick, 1980's production. It seemed popular in the 80's to strip the rock 'n' roll energy right out of records, and I think that is the case here. I'm sure many Rush die-hards will disagree with my opinion of this live album, but as I see it, this live CD is a reminder of Rush's worst era.
Rush - Presto (Mercury) 1989
1. "Show Don't Tell"
Rush's 13th release is actually an enjoyable listen. I have to admit that I don't think anything Rush has done since "Moving Pictures" has quite matched what they did in the 1970's. However, I prefer this more ambient, progressive rock sound to the pop stuff they were doing in the 80's. Alex Lifeson's guitar work is once again the center, along with solid piano breaks and the thumping bass. "Presto" still doesn't have that crunchy guitar tone I am longing for but as I stated, I still find it enjoyable. I am not sure this CD generated any radio hits, but "Show Don't Tell" is the standout cut on an album that is overall a very solid album.
Rush - Roll the Bones (Mercury) 1991
With the exception of "Dreamline" and perhaps "Where's My Thing?" this has to be the worst Rush album ever released. Neil Peart even attempts to rap in the title track. Argh! Seriously, this disc is powerless, has lifeless songwriting and absolutely nothing memorable, save for the very cool cover art. Rush seems to be content with cramming as many notes into a song as possible without thought for melody or memorability. Even Lifeson's usual stellar guitar playing lacks any real power this time around. Neil Pert still offers plenty of percussive ballet, but with when put behind songs that are lacking any power, it matters very little how good the drumming is. I still count myself as a Rush fan, and perhaps some Rush fans will think I have committed blasphemy, but honestly, this disc is a filler in my Rush collection rather than a frequent player in my stereo.
Rush - Counterparts (Mercury) 1993
$3.99! I figured how bad could it be for $3.99. Pretty bad. This is hardly Rush as I know them. A few shining moments but nothing worth mentioning.
Rush - Chronicles (Mercury)
A nice compilation of all of Rush's releases up until this time. What I like about it is that it includes the missing live song off "Exit Stage Left" and it has some of the better songs from the mid to late 80's releases that I do not own. Found it in perfect shape at a pawn shop for $5.
Rush - Test for Echo (Mercury) 1998
1. "Test for Echo"
Well now here is a Rush album that was worth buying new. Musically more solid that anything they have done recently. A return to their harder sound with less keyboard pop crap mixed in. Alex Lifeson must have remembered that he is a great guitar player because his signature sound is back in place. Took a chance and bought it through the BMG record club. Geddy Lee sings a hair lower on this record, or maybe it's just not as high as I remember.
Rush - Vapor Trails (Atlantic) 2002
1. "One Little Victory"
The first Rush album in six years after the personal tragedies suffered by Neil Peart. (In 1997 his daughter was killed in a tragic car accident; a year later his wife died of cancer.) In anycase, despite the long time between studio albums, Vapor Trails picks up where 'Test for Echo' leaves off. Sounding very little like the Rush of the 70's or 80's, "Vapor Trails" is a tad bit heavier, a little bit darker and slightly more on the modern side. As a matter of fact, I was playing this CD at work and a guy who is fairly familiar with Rush's past catalogue didn't recognize them. The song writing is certainly on par with what one would expect from Rush, but to be quite honest, I didn't think the hooks were as apparent as in the past. As usual Neil Pert writes all the lyrics. He tactfully tackles the subject of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on "Peaceable Kingdom", making this song one of the more interesting to me. A welcome return for one of my favorite veteran bands and with repeated listens I think this one could become a frequent player. However, I don't I would ever put this on the same level as their phenomenal 70's and early 80's catalogue.
Rush - Feedback (Atlantic) 2004
1. "Summertime Blues"
Awesome! I heard "Summertime's Blues" on the radio and knew I had to run out and get this CD To celebrate their 30th anniversary, Rush put out this EP of covers, that is surprisingly retro in both song selection and in sound. "Summertime Blues" is the standout cut for me. Rush manage to steal the luster of the excellent Who version in my opinion. I especially liked the bass fills in place of some of the vocals. However, it is also apparent that Rush were paying at least some homage to the Who's classic "Live at Leeds" version (either that of Blue Cheer's version, which also was influenced by "Live at Leeds".) "Heart Full of Soul" is another standout cut, and is a spectacular cover of the Yardbirds hit. The version of Stephen Stills' "For What It's Worth" begins as an acoustic tune but quickly turns into a heavy, droning rock 'n' roll romp. "The Seeker" once again pays homage to the Who. This song absolutely annihilates, although I am not sure I would say it is better than the original. (That would actually be a hard task to accomplish.) Rush's rendition of "Seven and Seven Is" is much heavier and faster that Love's original, and personally I like it better. "Shapes of Things" and "Crossroads" round out the EP nicely. Rather than go the route of blues, Rush chose to give a rousing nod to the Cream arrangement of Robert Johnson's seminal blues standard. This was $9 well invested in my opinion as this is a highly enjoyable EP right down to the trippy, retro album cover and the mini album cover sleeve.
Rush has had a trend of releasing four studio albums then a live album. With "Rush in Rio" that trend is broken as it comes after only one studio album. Also, unlike past live albums that were culled from several different shows and using the best recordings, "Rio" is a recording of one show. The CD is extended with a pair of recordings from earlier in the tour of songs not included in the Rio set. The last two songs recorded at a different show are labeled "The Board Bootlegs"and do appear on the DVD version of "Rush in Rio." Featured in the set list are four from "Vapor Trails", three from "Power Windows" and "Permanent Waves", two from three different albums, and one each from eight records. In other words, Rush offers a good variety of material here from all their past releases. It does lean a bit heavily on the more popular "hits", however there are a few gems like "Red Sector A", "The Pass", "Bravado", and "Natural Science". I also quite enjoyed the closing medley that included "By-Tor and the Snow Dog", even if it is a much shorter version of that song than the awesome version of "All the World's A Stage".
The band's performance is incredible. I doubt anyone will fault them on their musicianship here. However, I've read numerous complaints about the recording and/or mix. While it's not pristine and polished like "Different Stages" or "Exit...Stage Left", I sort of like the raw, live feel. This is more of what you would probably here had you attended the "Rio" show. It's also fun to hear such an enthusiastic crowd, singing along to each and every song. Overall, I find "Rush in Rio" to be a fantastic listen.
Rush - Snakes & Arrows (Anthem/Atlantic) 2007
1. "Far Cry"
I have been a Rush fan since the 1970's. I have followed them through the years and have loved and hated what they have done. Rush have always managed to update their sound to stay 'relevant' while still sounding like themselves. Their latest offering, ‘Snakes & Arrows’, is no exception. This album offers what you would expect from Rush, rock music with artistic flair, technical prowess, and full of energy. However, that is not to say that "Snakes & Arrows" sounds like it was recorded in the 1970's. Rather, the modern production and even the songwriting is much more modern.
The lyrical theme of the disc seems to revolve around Peart's ideas on the nature of "faith". While doing some research on this album I discovered that Peart wrote a book called "Landscape" that discusses American Christian fundamentalism in the face of rising Muslim factions in the Middle East. The lyrics on "Snakes & Arrows" seem to echo these themes. However, the lyrics are not written in such a way as to harshly attack people of faith and are written in a much more poetic and non-threatening way. Lines like those found in "Armor and Sword" express the sentiment, "sometimes the fortress is too strong or the love is too weak, what should have been armor becomes a sharp and angry sword. Our better nature seek elevation, a refuge from the coming night. No one gets to heaven without a fight."
Musically, while I don't view Snakes And Arrows as being on par with albums like 2112, Hemispheres, and A Farewell to Kings I do think that Rush has recorded a good album. There are a total of three instrumentals on this album, that are in my opinion, some of the best tracks. "The Main Monkey Business" is the a beautiful instrumental that echoes the classic "La Vila Strangiato" complete with some excellent guitar solos. "Hope" also gives Alex Lifeson a chance to strut as he performs alone on a beautiful acoustic piece that has a slight celtic vibe. "Malignant Narcissism" is a two minute soaring track complete with some superb fretless bass work from Geddy Lee. The rest of the album is good as well, but I was quite impressed with the three instrumentals on my first few listens to the CD. I don't recall Rush ever being much of a blues based band, but they do offer a bit of blues in "The Way the Wind Blows", while still retaining the signature Rush sound. Other highlights are "Armor And Sword" and the prog-rocker "Spindrift".
Overall, I wouldn't say this album is heavy, as acoustic guitars can be heard on nearly every track. However, "Snakes and Arrows" does offer some solid hard rock. Geddy Lee's trademark high pitch shrieks have mellowed considerably with age as well. As such, I would not say that "Snakes & Arrows" was the band's best offering. Personally, I don't think anything they do will ever top the masterworks they created in the 70's. It was a different time that cannot be repeated. However, I can say that "Snakes & Arrows" is a very good album and one that has already seen several plays by this fan.
Rush - Working Men (Anthem) 2009
Rush - Clockwork Angels (Anthem/Roadrunner) 2012
I've been a Rush fan since I was a kid in grade school in the 70's. I was Kiss fanatic and a fellow Kiss fanatic's older brother turned me onto Rush. For decades I have held those 70's Rush albums in high regard, nearly sacred. The concept album of concept albums was "2112" released back in 1976. Decades later and that album has not only held up well over time, it is a bonafide classic. "Clockwork Angels" is the nineteenth studio album from progressive Rush and is another progressive concept album from the Canuck rockers. (At least I count 19, the sticker on the CD says it's their 20th. I suppose if you count the "Feedback" EP, the it's the 20th.)
"Clockwork Angels" opens with two somewhat familiar songs. The band released these two tracks two years ago and had been performing them live for the past couple years as well. As such they have an air of familiarity and are easily some of the more immediately like-able tracks on the album. Indeed, "Caravan" is an instant Rush classic that will most likely be played in concert for years to come, or for at least as long as Rush trudges forward. The song is marginally heavier than most of what Rush has recorded since the early 80's. Guitarist Alex Lifeson, whose riffs have been gradually becoming more essential to the band's sound since the angular 1980s, lays down a thick mass of musical muscle and some sweet licks. "Clockwork" revives Rush’s prog-rock pedigree. The title track, along with songs like "Caravan" and "Seven Cities Of Gold," are built around tricky signatures and Lee’s heavy, contorted grooves. Actually, "Seven Cities" with it's growling bass opening and progressive tendencies is reminiscent of classic 70's Rush, though with a more modern production and vocal approach. Lee's vocals are notquite as celestial as they once were. The production is thick, heavy and obviously digital. It's more likeable than their late 80's albums, but not quite as warm and energetic as their classic material.
So what of the concept of the album? Frankly for me, I'm less concerned with story lines than I am with music. From what I have read the storyline "centers around a a young man following his dreams and yet struggles with inner and outer forces of order and chaos brought about by his enemy is the Watchmaker.
Overall, "Clockwork Angels" is a good Rush album that should please longtime fans. It took a few listens to begin to really appreciate it. It's definitely not on par with "2112" or those classic 1970's albums, but what band that's been creating music for four decades is releasing music that can topple the nostalgia of their early classics?
CD comes packaged in a 4-panel digi with a thick 28-page booklet.