Rush - Moving Pictures
Geddy Lee - Vocals, Bass, Keyboards
Alex Lifeson - Electric and Acoustic Guitars
Neil Peart - All Percussion and Cymbals
What can one say to begin to describe Rush? One of the most innovative, dynamic, and technically skilled bands of their generation, Rush have honed and evolved their sound constantly and consistently throughout their career, which spans 30 years and 29 studio, live, and compilation albums. Hailing from Toronto, Canada (reviewers note: hometown boys :) ), Rush were originally a garage band in the late 60's. Rush was inspired by bands like The Yardbirds, Buffalo Springfield, and Cream, inspirations which were recently validated as they released their latest studio album "Feedback," a collection of covers of songs they used to play in the early days of the band. Although their early albums were very straightforward rock n roll, the desire to evolve and progress with the times saw Rush change towards the mystic and progressive side of things, no album more notable then 1976's "2112," an epic tale written by drummer Neil Peart, with an inspiration from the writings of Ayn Rand. Just as 2112 was a commercial breakthrough and signified Rush's ability to compete with the best of the best in the world of rock, 1981's "Moving Pictures" broke ground for the band in a similar way to 2112. The use of synthesizers was not new to Rush, but Moving Pictures and especially it's follow up, 1982's "Signals," were very synthesizer heavy. The results were spectacular. One of their most commercially successful albums, Moving Pictures was immediately embraced by fans worldwide.
The band, as musicians, are legendary.
Geddy Lee's trademark voice is instantly recognizable, as is his sharp, rolling bass. Widely reknowned as one of the best bass players in rock and roll history, together with Neil Peart, Geddy lays down the foundation of an incredibly solid rythym section. Geddy also plays keyboards for live tracks that require them.
Simply, Neil Peart plays percussion. However, consider percussion a broad term, because there is no limit to the sounds that Neil can coax out of his kit. Equipped with everything from wood blocks to digital trigger pads, Neil has long been a favorite of drummers worldwide. His uncanny limb independance, syncopation, and creativity have been the envy of nearly everyone who has tapped a snare. As if this wasn't enough, Neil also writes all the lyrics for band, and has for over 20 years.
Alex Lifeson is the sole guitar player for Rush. His innovative and distinct playing style is a direct result of Pete Townsend. Lifeson, like Townsend, was the member of a band who had an extremely active and skilled rythym section, and had to develop his style so as to not overpower, but no accent and supplement it. Using a variety of open and suspended chords, Lifeson is able to allow Geddy and Neil to do their thing, while still providing beautiful melody whenever required. Not limiting himself to electric guitar, Lifeson also plays both 6 and 12 string acoustic and classical guitars. Fun Fact: Alex makes anywhere from 15-20 guitar changes per set. He has over 21 guitars on tour, usually customized for one or two songs.
- No fancy introduction here, Tom Sawyer just kicks right in. The synthesizer is very predominant in this track, especially with the ultra-catchy lead hook that Geddy plays. This track is all over the place, with Alex providing an eerie arpeggio over Geddy's equally evil bassline. Neil's off beat drumming and rolls add a bit more of a happy vibe, until Alex and Geddy go all out during the solo. It's difficult to keep an ear on Alex's screeching harmonies while Geddy rolls his bass up and down in the background. When the song climaxes, with Alex's telltale chord stabs and Neil's full range tom roll, you'll be in audio ecstasy. This is probably one of Rush's most well known tracks.
- Another synth heavy tune. The intro builds for about 30 seconds, with a Geddy bassline on top of lush strings, until Alex whips up a slightly flanged arpeggio for the verses. The chorus drops into an aggressive attack of guitar/bass slides, all with Neil's frantic hi hat opening and closing next to his lightning fast snare. In case you haven't noticed, this track is about a car. In fact, you can really pick up the vibe of the car just through the music. The effects, the lush strings, and obviously the vocals, really do a great job portraying the imagery. This is one of Rush's specialties.
- YYZ, in case you didn't know, is the Airport code for Pearson International Airport (where people fly into Toronto). Rush, being from Toronto, felt they had to give our fine city a little tribute. The chimes Neil plays at the beginning of the track is actually the letters YYZ in morse code. This track is purely instrumental, and has remained a Rush fan favorite. I personally think it's basic purpose is for all of the artists to showcase their skill. Right off the top, Geddy and Alex duel up and down the fretboard, displaying their harmony and tightness as a band. Alex chimes in at one point with a middle-eastern sounding solo, until some more synths kick in. Oh, don't forget consistent, quality fills and rolls from Neil, throughout the entire track.
- This song was written by Neil about his inability to deal with the many fans and well-wishers that Rush gained over the years. A classic track, through and though. Riff and arpeggio based, it has a beautiful vibe and melody. All of those who are fans of David Gimours unpredcedented emotional guitar playing, enter Alex Lifeson. I didn't know what this song was about the first time I heard it, but the solo instantly conveyed every emotion that this song means to. Fear, joy, insecurity. It smothers you and lifts you up. Not a long solo, but one of my favorites. A great song.
The Camera Eye
- Synths open up this track, as it slowly builds, like something materializing from thin air. Short stabs and subtle guitar build it up even more, until Alex starts throwing chords down in sync with the synth stabs, and adding his own riffs and arpeggios in between. All of a sudden, the track shifts to arpeggiated synth noises, and a steady synth rythym kicks in, which slowly builds until all the boys start laying down the heat. Really cool riff on this track. A great prelude for the Signals album. Eventually, Alex drifts back to the arpeggios and the track seems to fade, until it picks right back up from Alex's riffing. Finally, a solo by Alex (and some pretty quick triplets) signify the closing of the track. At about 11 minutes, its a long one.
- Part III of a serious of songs (parts I and II actually follow on later albums). I personally, love this song. It's slow, chugging vibe and uplifting, warm synths give it a beautiful vibe. Chunky, low riffs from Alex seem to pull it towards the fearful side, but the synths kick back in and everything seems to be gravy. Geddy's cries of "oooohhh" (as funny as that sounds) just leak emotion all over the song.
- With it's reggae-like chords, rolling bassline, and short snare this song always sounded to me like it was done by The Police. That doesn't make it a bad thing. It is definitely more of a chilled track, with a quick bassline on the bridge, and more reggae stabs on the chorus. Regardless of it's difference from the previous tracks, it still stands out on the disc. As Geddy says in the song, "everybody got to elevate from the norm." A great closing track.
Moving Pictures is one of the highlights in Rush's extensive catalogue. It is often one of the first discs a potential fan will listen to. In that capacity, it serves well. As a stand alone album, it is magnificent. Although not of the exact same caliber as some of their earlier works, it still stands today as a memorable album. To stand the test of time with all of the other great albums from that era really shows something. There isn't a song on here that is worth skipping over, and any fan of rock and roll should be able to appreciate the genius clearly apparent in this album.
FINAL RATING: 4.5/5