Rush
Moving Pictures


4.5
superb

Review

by Brendan Schroer USER (179 Reviews)
November 21st, 2013 | 72 replies


Release Date: 1981 | Tracklist


Chapter VIII: Right in the Limelight

If you frequently visit blogs or social networking sites, you might remember numerous online posts about the progression of the common person's interest in 2-D Disney movies. If you don't recall, allow me to give you the rundown: a kid loves Disney movies and watches them religiously; he/she gets into the preteen and teen years, losing interest in the movies and becoming pretty cynical toward them; then later down the line once he/she is older, the person regains interest and starts loving the films again. The reason I bring this up is because it's the exact same relationship I have with Rush's music. I loved them and many other progressive rock bands when I was young (I was never one of those nu-metal kids, despite how popular the genre was), had an anti-Rush phase a bit later, and now they're one of my favorite bands because of both musical quality and nostalgia. In the middle of my Rush recollection, Moving Pictures was one of the albums I remembered most fondly. Listening to it again, I can also conclude that it has aged better than most other Rush albums and remains one of their best.

As with other Rush albums, Moving Pictures is a great example of how technicality, songwriting mastery, and a thoroughly emotional touch combine in an exceptional way. Lyrically, the album continues in the vein of its predecessor Permanent Waves in how it touches more on real-life subjects than the fantasy elements of previous works like Hemispheres or A Farewell to Kings. Due to drummer Neil Peart expanding his range of lyrical themes, we get songs about the price of fame ("Limelight"), the moods and lifestyles of different places ("Camera Eye"), and even automobiles ("Red Barchetta"). Geddy Lee's singing is improved and more varied range-wise on this record, establishing him as a more solid storyteller as he sings the tales that Peart is weaving. The instrumental work is, as usual, absolutely fantastic; the trio play off each others' contributions wonderfully and there's a great sense of unity that prevents anything from sounding like aimless noodling. Even in the sole instrumental "YYZ," the band know what time to devote to soloing and what time to devote to composition. The Morse Code-inspired 5/4 section in the beginning is still an iconic progressive rock moment and luckily the song just keeps on giving, with a trade-off solo segment and a synth-ridden slow portion keeping things interesting.

Even then, what's even more impressive about Moving Pictures is how it's so radio-friendly for Rush and STILL manages to be so damn good. The hard-rockin' radio staple "Tom Sawyer," the dynamically-varied "Red Barchetta," the fame-influenced fan favorite "Limelight" and of course "YYZ," were all big hits when they came out, and yet remain considered some of Rush's most beloved songs even by hardcore fans who love their underrated material. Going back to the "balance" argument, that really does seem to be the reason for this. Radio rock fans will instantly recognize and appreciate that iconic first note played in "Tom Sawyer," while the progressive rock crowd will appreciate the craftsmanship that went into the rhythmically varied guitar solo by Alex Lifeson. "Red Barchetta" will have the casual crowd enjoying the catchy melodies and Geddy's singing performance while musicians and hardcore fans will notice Neil Peart's varied drum fills going on in the meantime. Even lesser-known songs such as "Witch Hunt" and "Vital Signs" carry this sense of balance, the latter even using a combination of the typical Rush sound and Police-like reggae rock influences. While "The Camera Eye" and "Witch Hunt" are perhaps the weakest songs in the grand scheme of things, there's enough atmosphere and variation to let the listener know that they aren't bad tracks by any means, just a bit overpowered by the classics.

This is definitely one of the Rush albums I revisit the most. There's so much quality packed into the arrangements and such a sense of unity (despite complex instrumental work) that everything comes together superbly. In the end, that's what this album is: superb. It's commercial enough for radio audiences and varied enough for the progressive rock crowd, making it most likely the biggest fan-pleaser in the band's catalog. That's probably the reason why it's still the highest-selling Rush album (certified quadruple-platinum in the U.S. alone!); in any case, it definitely deserves that distinction.



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user ratings (2239)
Chart.
4.4
superb
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
FiveLeavesLeft
November 21st 2013


9838 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hi guys

toxin.
November 21st 2013


12432 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hey babe

i only half-read but from that i got the impression:
-musical description was good
-personal experiences was kinda clumsily tied in

i think my problem is you start and end in first person, but the rest is mostly third person.

it just came off a little clunky. just my $0.02 :-)

BigPleb
November 21st 2013


36672 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good rev Brendan :D

Digging: Arc Iris - Arc Iris

FiveLeavesLeft
November 21st 2013


9838 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@toxin.: That was actually the point; I wanted to experiment with a new reviewing style. Thanks for the feedback though too :]

demigod!
November 21st 2013


44445 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Wind
In my
Hair

Digging: Portishead - Dummy

Tyrannic
November 21st 2013


3262 Comments


Wheres that fuck ing baton

Right hurrrr in urrrr hurrt

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
November 21st 2013


10244 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review and great first paragraph. This is a band I'll come back to every now and again but I appreciate how talented they are. Fantastic musicians.

PsychicChris
November 21st 2013


211 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Witch Hunt was always my favorite. Rather dark by Rush standards.

FadedSun
November 21st 2013


1270 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

My favorite Rush album.

KILL
November 21st 2013


71795 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

sweet

Digging: Invisible - El jardin de los presentes

WarmInTheWinter
November 21st 2013


78 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, great album. Red Barchetta is one of my favourite songs they ever did. I have always preferred Signals though. Perhaps it has to do with nostalgia.

SitarHero
November 21st 2013


4676 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Good review Brendan!

FiveLeavesLeft
November 21st 2013


9838 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks guys!

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
November 21st 2013


5831 Comments


Very well-written review. I like the personal touch you put into it, you should do that more often in your reviews.

Digging: Moonsorrow - V: Havitetty

NeroCorleone80
November 21st 2013


29027 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Glad to see the Rush reviews continuing

FiveLeavesLeft
November 21st 2013


9838 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hellyeah. I'm excited to revisit Signals as well.

@JudioRuso: Thanks man! I think I'll try the format a bit more and keep modifying it

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
November 21st 2013


10206 Comments


If you frequently visit blogs or social networking sites, you might remember numerous online posts about the
progression of the common person's interest in 2-D Disney movies. If you don't recall, allow me to give you the
rundown


a lot of beating around the bush here, esp considering none of this is necessary. when making comparisons, i always
like explaining why they're relevant from the get-go-- that way the reader knows why the hell you're saying what you
are. If I were to start off a review with the Disney comparison in mind, I'd do something like one of these:

"My feelings towards Rush's discography-- and stick with me here-- has a hell of a lot in common with that of a
Disney movie."

it's always a bit tough to make comparisons like that and not have it read forced, or cliched. but hopefully it at least
gives you some ideas.

a great example of how technicality, songwriting mastery, and a thoroughly emotional touch combine in an
exceptional way.


you could condense this a bit. (this album) "combines technicality, songwriting mastery and emotion exceptionally."
just to make it a little easier to follow, though it doesn't necessarily have a bad flow.

there's a great sense of unity that prevents anything from sounding like aimless noodling.

Don't see why this is in here-- statements like these grow tiresome in prog reviews.

third paragraph is very good, nice job.

to be continued



Digging: The Contortionist - Language

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
November 21st 2013


10206 Comments



Going back to the "balance" argument, that really does seem to be the reason for this.

awkward wording here, think about another way you could say that

Even lesser-known songs such as "Witch Hunt" and "Vital Signs" carry this sense of balance, the latter even using

even x2

they aren't bad tracks by any means, just a bit overpowered by the classics.

another cliche of sorts, i'd prefer for you to tell me why they're overpowered instead of just saying they are.

in your final paragraph you could cut out some of the definitely, certainly, etc. -type words. those words rarely add meaning to anything, actually, but there's the occasional exception.

and in terms of your overall review, i'd def say it's a good one! it is interesting to me that you said this was an experiment of yours though, bc it reads as a very safe / basic review. that isn't necessarily a criticism! it comes with time, the knack to color up your writing and that sort of thing. and i'm sure that in three months from now, you'll look at this review and think "hm, well i could have said this instead," etc. but you write in a straight-forward way here, which is the most important building block to writing great reviews. your points are succinct and clear, and you keep things on course.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
November 21st 2013


10206 Comments


~fvck form@tting~

FiveLeavesLeft
November 21st 2013


9838 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, man! Yeah, what I meant by taking an experiment was that I added a lot more of a personal touch to the work. With my older reviews, I was just stating a bunch of boring listless information, and here I tried to balance personality and info out. And I'll edit what you posted in the comment as well. Thanks, bro!



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