Rush began a standard "havin' fun, gettin' babes" rock band. These bands were a dime a dozen and vice versa in the seventies, and hey, they still are today. But that era of Rush would not be what they are remembered for...
After the departure of John Rutsey on drums, the band recruited the goofiest looking man in Canada besides the other two guys in Rush, the great Neil Peart. With Neil's joining the band, the Canadian giants took a new direction with their music, going from full-on Led Zeppelin influenced rock band to rock band that really dug Led Zeppelin but did their own thing. 1974's Fly By Night
is still very hard rock rooted, featuring bluesy riffs and the like, but in comes the progressive rock influence, and it makes for an all-around more interesting listening experience from an all-around better band. The addition of Neil Peart's powerful arms (and equally powerful vocabulary, which he uses to write songs) makes far more difference than any other band getting a new drummer. The whole attitude of Rush changed, and while they were still fun-loving geeks, they were now fun-loving geeks with more complex *** and longer songs. Doesn't sound like much...but it is.
With the opener, "Anthem", it's hard to tell the direction Rush is going in. They are still playing hard rock, but there's something different....the drums. They sound goddamn insane. Must be that new guy! Not to mention Geddy's bass is far more prominent from the getgo, and the riffs are more groovy and memorable, rather than just standard 70's affare. And it only gets better from here. Sort of.
"Best I Can" could've easily had been on the band's debut, and while "Beaneath, Behind & Between" is a fun jam with a creative riff, the action doesn't really start until "By-Tor And The Snow Dog", which was, running eight and a half minutes in length, the band's first dabble in what would be considered progressive rock, while still keeping their early-day hard rock from Canada charm that would soon change within the next few albums. It's not just long for the sake of being long like a lot of prog. The musicianship is interesting enough to keep us listening to it far beyond the hard rocking beginning, and even when things slow down and become faux-proggy, the magic is still there and Neil's drum solos across the track could excite any fan of rock n' roll, provided he likes Rush.
The progginess has its peak there, with the rest of the album being slightly more interesting than regular rock n' roll-style rock, and one of the highlights of the album being the famous title track, one of the catchiest and most upbeat singles of the 70's, which can often be heard on your local classic rock station around 2 AM, after they've already played "Tom Sawyer" and "Limelight" enough times that day. But with such stellar musicianship, the band is much more than Bad Company or one of the other rock bands of the day. Neil's drumming is in your face yet tasteful, and Geddy's bass supplements the song, making it all the more awesome, and the main riff that Alex lays down is absolutely ***ing dreamy. The rest of the album is much of the same, but in the best way possible.
The thing that truly seperates Fly By Night
from Rush's debut is not just the better (or perhaps geekier) songwriting or the amped-up musical prowess displayed by the group, but the fact that every song on the album is actually memorable, showing that the Canadian threesome was really coming into their own and solidifying what would be known in the future as "the Rush sound", for better or for worse depending on who you talk to. But if you ask yours truly, it was for the better...much better.