Review Summary: A True Classic in the rock genre that shows a band performing what they love playing to the fullest of their vast musical abilities.
Rush had come on leaps & bounds leading up to 1981, they had been a Hard Rock Band before being encompassed in certain prog roots, & altogether Geddy, Alex & Neil had made Rush a famous name between 1976 & 1980 by releasing a quartet of successful albums in that time, including the hugely successful Permanent Waves in 1980, that catapulted the band to major radio attention. Many at the time did think, after the success that album brought that could it be topped? The simple answer is yes, because the album that followed was Moving Pictures, often quoted as Rush’s magnum opus alongside 2112.
Rush continued what had been started on Permanent Waves, with the band opting for a more “Radio Friendly” style of music, whilst keeping the Progressive nature they had used in the 70’s but to a lesser extent, Geddy’s voice was toned down & synthesizers were slowly becoming crucial parts to Rush songs, which would be the case for the 1980’s as a whole for the band.
This album only has 7 songs on it, but every one of them is different in it’s own unique way. The album is often referred as to having “The Perfect A-Side” (when listened to on Vinyl), it’s clearly easy to see why, as 4 of the bands best known songs are present: Tom Sawyer, Red Barchetta, YYZ
(aptly named after the Mark Twain Character) & Red Barchetta
are both similar in musical terms, capitalizing on Alex Lifeson’s soft guitar tones plus short, technical guitar solos & Peart’s thunderous, collected drum playing, coupled together with Geddy’s low, occasionally soft wailing voice & synthesizer passages (more prominent on Tom Sawyer) to create a smooth musical texture that encompasses you whilst listening, as both of them have a story to tell. Both songs show the bands lyrical ability very well, Tom Sawyer was wrote as a poem by the band in collaboration with Pye Dubois (who would end up writing along with the band, songs on future releases) about a “Modern Day Warrior”. As it is a poem, the lyrics do in turn rhyme at certain points. Red Barchetta is wrote about a time where old petrol cars are banned, in which the narrator uncovers a red barchetta (noted as the car of Neil Peart’s dreams at the time of writing) that his uncle had kept in brilliant condition for “fifty-odd years”. Both of these ‘stories’ sung by Geddy to perfection makes you envision them in your head, which in itself creates a brilliant experience.
(pronounced Why, Why, Zed) is highly regarded & probably is Rush’s most popular instrumental piece. Named after & at points set in tune of the Morse code identification code of Toronto International Airport, the song is almost 4 & a half minutes of Rush showing of their technical dexterity. Neil’s drumming is blisteringly fast & technical in this song, it shows just why his reputation as one of the world’s greatest drummers has been cemented for all these years. Alex & Geddy’s guitar & bass riffs blend together to create a spine tingling shred fest. The solos on all 3 instruments showcased in the middle sector of the song shows a sense of timing & ability to a truly brilliant effect. Where Geddy slips in 2 brilliant bass solos to go alongside his riff, Neil Peart showcases his precision & skill with 2 smartly timed runs & Alex finishes off a bands soloing paradise with one of his well most praised solos. The band are regarded as the greatest trio in Rock History, if by some insane reasoning you aren’t convinced, this song will convince you… hopefully.
follows the same formula of Tom Sawyer & Red Barchetta, wrote by Peart about struggling with the fame of being in a famous band. It was a radio favourite back when it was released & it still is to this day. In a way, I see this song as quite an emotional song whenever I hear it due to the way it naturally flows. Whether it be Geddy’s singing, or Alex’s guitar solo, (which he often states is his favourite to play) the song is just full of a gripping sense that Neil really felt for what being in the limelight meant as the fans usually give the thanks back by hearing their music with such awe.
The second part of the album is where Rush’s change in direction is certified, with 3 songs that show the way in which the band headed in for Signals. The Camera Eye, Witch Hunt
& Vital Signs
The Camera Eye
is special, it is to date, the last song that band have done that is over at least 7 minutes in length on an album, which marked the end of their Prog Era for good, as long epic songs had become a staple of every Rush album up to this one. They also haven’t performed the song live since 1983, which has many fans requesting it to be played (with the band hinting it being played before various recent tours, but to no avail). Coming in at a second over 11 minutes, the song centers itself lyrically at stating the differences between London & New York. The song is therefore split into 3 sections, starting off in a slow, mellow way, once again showing the textural music that this album is full of. It then speeds up slightly through the verses to describe New York & London, encompassing the cities with various criticisms lyrically regarding mostly the difference in how the people of the cities are like & the weather in both of them. Near it’s end, Alex goes into what seems like as simple few note solo, however that is not the case, it soon flows out into a finger tapping thunderstorm, sure it may only last for 13 second but it is an amazing ending for what is Rush’s last long epic song.
was the first song in the Fear Series (despite it being the 3rd in the series overall). It has quite dark atmosphere, which the synthesizer intro & haunting guitar riff show very well. The lyrics are sung in a slow, dramatic fashion by Geddy to further emphasize the dark nature, he also twice in the song manages to wail 2 ends of words just after the chorus & just before the instrumental end of the song, which in my case sends shivers up my spine every time. The song is quite a simple one, which shows that the band can slow down their music to an extent & still create something unique.
The album ends on a good note with Vital Signs
. A very fast & technical drum fill by Peart goes through the entire song along with the guitar & singing style Geddy decides to adopt giving this song a reggae feel, which had been used on Permanent Waves & was further used in songs on later albums in the decade, it is in overall terms the weakest song on the album, but don’t take that as a off point, the song is well worth your attention.
As Rush’s most well known album by fans & critics alike, I can’t understand why no rock/prog lover hasn’t checked this out before now. These songs show Rush performing at their best, maybe not at their technical best as their early albums summed that up in a nut-shell, but the album holds itself together better than many albums of the period could boast. This is regarded as one of the best rock albums in history, after listening to it, you can see why. A True Classic in the rock genre that shows a band performing what they love playing to the fullest of their vast musical abilities.