Review: 12 Months Of Rush

[avatar user=”David” size=”50″ align=”left” /]A whole year of Rush sounds like a great idea to me but there is a particular reason why it was announced there would be twelve months of Rush in 2015. Essentially, they are celebrating 40 years together (well 40 and a bit years to be accurate) by re-issuing fourteen albums on high quality vinyl. The re-releases started in January with Fly By Night and will continue on, one or two a month, through the rest of the year.

I have already reviewed one of the March releases (see Rush – 2112 vinyl re-release) but thought I would fill in a bit of detail for people who are not too familiar with Rush’s output and give a quick sketch of the other albums released so far.

First, it is worth pausing to consider the “40 years together” bit. That is forty years with the same line up. That is forty years of producing new, innovative music. That is 40 years of proper touring to support new material and not just doing nostalgia tours. That is… impressive!

The continuing increase in sales of vinyl is also interesting. Just this month, the “Official Charts” company launched vinyl specific charts in response to the growth in sales (see their website for details). It is also interesting to see how many rock acts are in the top 10 of sales for the first quarter of 2015. It would be interesting to know why this is happening. I guess there will be research out there but, as yet, I have not cared enough to go and look for it, yet! What interests me most is the experience of playing an LP but for those that swear by the sound quality, Rush seem to be doing it right with high quality vinyl and Direct Metal Mastering from analogue sources. I am therefore going to take the quality as a given (unless there is an obvious problem with the sound quality). Instead, I’ll concentrate on giving a quick review of: Fly By Night; Caress Of Steel; and All The World’s A Stage – the three albums released so far that I have not yet reviewed.

220px-Rush_Fly_by_NightFly By Night: re-released in January on vinyl, high res digital audio and Blue-ray audio. Rush’s second album and their first with Neil Peart on drums… and on lyrics. And, let’s face it, Rush needed help with their lyrics: for example, from their debut album (pre-Peart):

Ooh, I need some love
I said I need some love
Ooh yes, I need some love
This feelin’ I can’t rise above
Ooh, yeah, yeah

Hmmm! Fly By Night is an album created by a band in transition. With Fly By Night they begin to stretch beyond the British hard rock/blues influences that are evident in their debut. The first side starts with “Anthem” and seemed to pick up where their debut left off but by the end of side one, it is clear that we are not in Kansas any more! The last track on the first side is “By-Tor And The Snow Dog”. It lasts 8:40 and is a multi-part epic. It shows some of the lyrical themes that Neil would explore and develop in subsequent albums. It also shows the band can introduce musical themes then build and develop them. It is not without faults but it is an album produced by three outstanding musicians who are beginning to show what they can do.

220px-Rush_Caress_of_SteelCaress Of Steel: re-released in February on vinyl and high res digital audio. This is the album that caused the record company a bucket load of grief (see my review of 2112 for details). It is definitely an album of two halves. The first side, I really like. “Bastille Day” is a belter of an opener and pretty much made for playing live. It has a repeated riff with a gap custom made for crowds to cheer in:

d-diddly-dum-dum d-diddly-dum-dum d-diddly-dum-dum
d-diddly-dum-dum d-diddly-dum-dum d-diddly-dum-dum
d-diddly-dum-dum d-diddly-dum-dum d-diddly-dum-dum

… you get the idea. This is followed by “I Think I’m Going Bald” which is great fun… and for me, now all too true. The next track is “Lakeside Park”, which is fine and the side closes with a 12:32 epic called “The Necromancer”. This is one of the tracks the record company was worried about… but I like it. It is an ambitious, multi-part track but it is full of interesting ideas. The only problem with it, as far as I’m concerned, is the spoken narration at the start of each section. The “Fountain Of Lamneth” though, which takes up the whole of side two, is a bit harder work! It feels more like a collection of parts rather than a whole. It is good… in parts, but I can understand why the record company was worried. (Still rated as four stars in my iTunes though!)

220px-Rush_ATWASAll The Worlds A Stage: re-released in March on vinyl and high res digital audio along with the 2112 hologram edition. I must admit to having a soft spot for live albums (I have two listed in my top five albums in the Crew Profile). I think live albums sometimes capture the feel of a band better than studio recordings. With Rush, that is not the case. With them, I have always been astonished that the three of them do such a good job of sounding as good live as they do in the studio – they produce an astonishingly big sound considering there are only three of them on the stage. The live recording features something from each of their first four albums… but not surprisingly, does not include “The Necromancer”, or “The Fountain Of Lamneth”. It does, however, have a drum solo from Neil Peart (The Professor) on side four – the man is a genius on the drums and the solo recorded here is outstanding. It also has “Bastille Day” but the audience haven’t quite got the hang of the “RAAWWWRRR!” yet. If you want a flavour of what Rush sounded like in the first two years as a band, this album is not a bad snapshot. It says, this is where we were; wait until you see where we are going!

The next album to be re-released in this year of Rush will be A Farewell To Kings – due on 20 April.

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