Review Summary: Rush Discography Review Chapter I - An unfortunately poor debut that shows a little promise in the form of two particular songs, but nothing could prepare the listener for how different every album they released following this was to be
Before Rush became the titan of progressive rock they are today, it may surprise those uninitiated to their discography aside from their biggest releases such as 2112 that they began as a hard rock/heavy metal band in the same vein as many bands that were cropping up around the early 1970's. Their self titled debut was the most indicative of this sound, as even by the time of Fly By Night, their second studio album, the band had clearly evolved. This was just an album for a band that was in its infant years and needed to find its feet in the music world and make a statement.
For those who have been living under a rock since the band's inception, Rush has been considered for some time one of the absolute finest rock bands out there, combining the brash unapologetic sleaziness of hard rock with the progressive nature to create a sound that is utterly unparalleled anywhere in music. Formed in August 1968, the band has gone on to release nineteen studio albums on top of many live albums and compilations, selling more than forty million units along the way, establishing themselves as one of the largest progressive rock bands of all time, influencing countless other bands along the way.
Musically, this album is extremely one dimensional and samey, over using the same riffs to the point they become stagnant and continue to grate on the listener long after they are first introduced. Aside from Finding My Way and What You're Doing, this album lacks anything in true memorability and fails at having any aura of catchiness, something that was essential in early 70's hard rock and heavy metal. However, for those looking for the Rush who would change styles so fast it could lead to epileptic fits are best advised to stay away from their first album. This is an album that has one style throughout the album and sticks to it, happy in the sound that it has found, even if it is not the best one.
The one thing that really does stand out is Geddy Lee's bass, being very indicative of the insane amounts of talent that would be showcased even more on future releases. On here the bass is mixed very high and is instrumental in giving this album a decent amount of credibility. The bass lines to Need Some Love stick out in particular, and will be stuck in the listener's head for a long time, although the ones to Take A Friend and Working Man are every bit as well composed. The vocals from Lee have the feminine sound that all early Rush vocals had, although being even more noticeable given that he is shrieking throughout a lot of this many octaves higher than what is found on the releases that would follow.
Finding My Way and Take A Friend are two of the songs actually worth a listen or two from this album, having a sound to them that Aerosmith would later attempt to mimic, although they would arguably go on to do it better than what is heard here. The solo to Take A Friend in particular stands out as one of the finest, most jaw dropping moments found on here, being really well written and sounding absolutely perfect in the context of the album.The guitar work on this album is, for the most part, bland and too repetitive, but the soloing found on this song really does stand out amidst the mediocrity found.
This is an album that is definitely not indicative of any of the features that were to come from this band in the future at all. Even by the next album, the band were beginning to shed their skin as a heavy metal band and create their own sound. By its own merit, this album is not even that good, being just another one of a batch of a thousand generic early 70's metal/hard rock albums that sound completely the same. Aside from the songs mentioned before, nothing on here really can hold the listener's attention for long, and therefore fails on so many levels. Thankfully, the massive improvements needed were made on the following album, almost righting all the wrongs that plague this unfortunately mediocre release.