Review Summary: A classic and profitable album amongst a multitude of Rush recordings
1981’s Moving Pictures followed an established formula (see previous outing Permanent Waves) that allowed the band to break into the mainstream and receive a decent level of radio-play. This success would come to a climax on Moving Pictures, as it would be come Rush’s best selling album in the United States, moving on to become their overall most popular recording. The disc spawned several radio favourites, with “Tom Sawyer” leading the pack, and “Red Barchetta” and “Limelight” following. Like many of the band’s other recordings in the time-period (virtually releasing an album a year), the album is only forty minutes in length and totals seven tracks.
Moving Pictures’ lead-off track, the fan-favourite “Tom Sawyer” would be Rush’s most popular single, and has come to be a staple for Rush live shows as well as continuing to receive heavy airplay over 25 years after its release. The track itself – composed by the band with lyrics by Neil Peart – tells the tale of a freethinker.
A song inspired by a Ferrari, “Red Barchetta” shares the honour of being a staple in live performances, as well as receiving impressive levels of airplay.
“YYZ” would also become a major part of Rush’s live performance, and along with being a Grammy-nominated instrumental it has become a heavy fan-favourite as well. The title is based off Toronto Pearson Airport’s identification code, and features those letters in Morse code in the song’s opening sequence.
A semi-autobiographical look at the uglier side of being in the spotlight from a performer’s perspective, “Limelight”, like the majority of the tracks on Moving Pictures would be entered into many of the band’s live set-lists. This track also still benefits from radio-play and has become another fan-favourite.
“The Camera Eye” follows suit with feelings of personal isolation on a broader level, while clocking in as the album’s longest track at just under eleven minutes; this makes the track one of Rush’s longest compositions.
“Witch Hunt” is the third part of the ‘Fear’ sequence of songs by Rush. The band released the parts in reverse order with the exception of the fourth, making this the first written and recorded part (though the tracks share no vivid concept, but rather topics associated with the emotion of fear).
Perhaps their first true flirtation with reggae music (a formula repeated on their next album) “Vital Signs” combines this with heavy synthesizer effects; this would be the final single released from the record.
As a whole, the album is a great place for new fans to start, and a favourite place to stop and reminisce for old ones. The accessibility of the record is what led to half of its track-listing to becoming radio hits and fan favourites, working the majority of Moving Pictures permanently into the overall core of Rush.