The 1970's was the decade of the live album. From relative failures (Led Zeppelin's The Song Remains The Same
, Rainbow's On Stage
) to huge successes (Deep Purple's Made In Japan
, Cheap Trick's At Budokan
), artists were judged by their ability to rock in front of thousands and thousands of people in an arena. Some bands' careers were made just by that crucial live album, like KISS and teenage girl-wet dream Peter Frampton. Rush decided to release a live album entitled All The World's A Stage
, and while it did not shake the world in the vein of Alive!
or even Alive II
, it proved to be an excellent and adequate live album packed with everything that makes a live release have that special "live" feeling.
Unlike many other bands who believed that every song you did should be ten minutes longer when performed live, Rush did not subscribe to this philosophy. They showed up in the arena, played their tunes, had fun, and got the hell out. While Rush has an undeniable stage presence, they were never really ever known for having that wild energy and over-the-top showmanship of other bands of the era, like Genesis or Jethro Tull. However, on the band's first live release, they truly have the fun, energetic feel of a great 70's band. This is material from their first four albums, and as any Rush fan knows, the first four albums (specifically the first two) had the hard rock feel that was more akin to Led Zeppelin or Blue Cheer than to Van Der Graaf Generator or Yes. This results in the only Rush album that feels the most like an actual live album. While on future live releases, many of the live renditions sound a bit too much like their studio album counterparts, on All The World's A Stage
, each song has that raw, live feel that makes you feel like you are really at the show. From the opening notes of "Bastille Day", you can almost smell the joint that the band was sharing backstage before they came out and rocked the hell out in front of countless Canadians (yes, they are playing in their homeland on this one). Each song sounds rawer and realer than its album counterpart, which gives it that improvised 70's live album vibe, which so many Rush live releases somewhat lack.
Anyone who says that Rush isn't a hard rock band just need to listen to All The World's A Stage
. Rush goes through the songs quicker, sloppier, and it sounds fantastic because it's ***ing raw
. They aren't the prestigious, professional musicians on this one, like they would later be. They are just three Canadian jerk-offs on the road to "finding their way", and by God, they found it. Alex is the star of the show on this one, with his wild and Jimmy Page-influenced guitar stylings making this a mostly guitar-dominated release. The man plays so much heavier live, it's unbelievable. Not only is "2112" turned into a nearly full-on metal track, but even softer tunes like "Lakeside Park" sound energetic and full of power. And it goes without saying that Geddy, both his voice and bass-playing, are fantastic, as is Neil's powerful drumming.
If you ever wondered if Rush shows were any more energetic in 1976 than say, 1988, this album will probably tell you the answer. All The World's A Stage
is a great live release from a band that isn't exactly known for their live records. Every Rush fan, casual to die-hard, should give it a try.