I'm sure if you're reading this you've heard of Rush, have heard some of their hits like Closer to the Heart, 2112, and Tom Sawyer, and have realized that Neil Peart is god. But even if you have heard of Rush, chances are you haven't heard anything from Presto, Rush's last album of the 80's, which shows the band beginning (but not quite) to depart from their synth-dripping sound that permeated Signals through Hold Your Fire. Many complain about this era of Rush, because Alex's guitar isn't blasting out in overdrive and Geddy is more often than not playing keyboards as much as bass. But IMO Rush began to become technical masters from Permanent Waves on, moreso than they had before. They were geniusus before, but in the 80's Rush seem to really outdo themselves. Presto is no exception. As a matter of fact, it's one of my favorite Rush albums, not only of their 80's period, but of all time.
As far as sound goes, Presto is far removed from Hold Your Fire and Power Windows, but not quite up to the Counterparts return-to-rock sound. Alex's guitar is very clean throughout the album, but not as shrill as it was in the aforementioned albums. When you hear Alex's guitar sounding out the high-pitched chords in song like The Pass and Show Don't Tell, the first thing that tends to enter your mind is *sparkling*. I guess that's what he was going for, because alot of the tracks have a slightly whimsical, polished fantasy feel about them. Plus, he treats you to a solo in just about every song. One of my favorite riffs here is the intro of Show Don't Tell. Guitarists, learn to play this riff; it's extremely flashy-sounding and not to terribly hard. If nothing else, download it so you can hear it.
Once again, Geddy is drowning most of the songs in synthesizers. However, the synths on Presto aren't nearly as overpowering as some might say they are on Power Windows, Signals, etc. They play much more of a subtle role, and allow the rest of the members of the band to make a showing above the keyboards and mellotrones. As always, Lee's bass playing is legendary, but you can expect that from any Rush album. The point I'm trying to make is that those who were turned off by the synth era of Rush may find Presto more enjoyable. There's even a few rocker songs here, like Superconductor and the aforementioned Show Don't Tell. But it's the ballads that really shine. The syntesizers on The Pass and Anagram just make the songs for me. I find myself nodding off to sleep on many occasions during this album.
Neil Peart, often considered the cornerstone of Rush, is widely recognized as one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, drummers ever. But his other contribution to this venerable band is his deep and interesting lyrics. The songs Presto and Red Tide have some of my favorite lyrics ever, and add the the subtly epic quality of those songs. Overall, an amazing showing by Peart.
I admit that I have always liked synth-Rush a little better than progressive Rush. But I also think that fans of the progressive era can find something to love in Presto. Like I said before, it's one of my favorite Rush albums (and I have them all) which is really something because there's so much to love in all of them (well, except for the self-titled *bleh*). Even though this album is little-known compared to the overrated Moving Pictures, I think it's better than their extremely popular music. If you have any doubts download one or all of these songs:
Show Don't Tell
Album Score: 4.5 Just short of timeless classic