Rush
Grace Under Pressure


4.0
excellent

Review

by Johnny[Well] STAFF
November 16th, 2011 | 38 replies


Release Date: 1984 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An overlooked album full of resolve and anxiety

In the 1982's synth-dominated Signals, Rush underwent a revolution. Gone were the rock anthems of Red Barchetta and The Spirit of Radio and the progressive classics such as Xanadu and Jacob’s Ladder, which were discarded in favour of a more contemporary sound that retained the unmistakeable Rush feel. Unfortunately, this change came at a price, in that Alex Lifeson's guitar was given less priority in the arrangement, while Geddy Lee’s keyboards dominated the picture. Grace Under Pressure represents a compromise as sorts in the wake of this alteration. This album is effectively a continuation of Signals' futuristic synthesizer sound, with Lifeson restored to the limelight. The results are as distinctive as they are excellent.

The album kicks off with fan favourite Distant Early Warning, which immediately introduces an spacey sound helmed by Geddy’s bass, of which you’ll hear a lot over the course of this album. The song does everything right, throwing around enough keyboard melodies to categorize it distinctly into Rush’s 80s period, whilst rocking hard enough to make it easy to imagine that this album could have switched places with Signals as the follow-up to Moving Pictures. If you are looking for a general sampler of the album, this is a great place to start, since it contains aspects of all the other songs whilst still being interesting in itself.

Next up is Afterimage, which is very upbeat compared to Distant Early Warning, and quite a bit darker; hardly surprising when you consider that it was written about one of Neil Peart’s friends after they passed away. “I feel the way you would” certainly conveys a morse sense of reflection. This song is very catchy and distinctly melancholy, supported by a fantastically memorable guitar solo. In my opinion, this successfully expands and improves upon the template set out by Distant Early Warning with its nuanced upbeat drive.

Conversely, Red Sector A is a far more sombre track that stands as somewhat unique in Rush's discography. The simplest way to put this would be ‘a dark pop song’, but that does it no justice. The keyboards are prevalent here to a greater extent than the rest of the album, but it is focused around Geddy’s singing (which is very strong throughout the album), especially the lyrics. Neil Peart wrote this song about the holocaust, and the subject matter of “ragged lines of ragged grey” combines with the futuristic vibe to create a song that is very dark, very memorable and absolute win. Hear this if you haven’t already; it’s a surreal experience.

After Red Sector A, the album could easily have reached a climax and failed to carry on at the incredible standard performed thus far. Fortunately, Rush were hardly going to allow this to happen, so they recorded one of the most underrated songs I’ve ever heard. The Enemy Within is the perfect song to succeed Red Sector A’s depressing message; it is even more upbeat than Afterimage, but without the melancholy lyrics; this song is full of energy and makes you feel good to be alive. The highlight and driving force is without a doubt Geddy’s bass line, which Lifeson plays around flawlessly. My personal favourite from the album; a must have if you like Rush.

Unfortunately, Rush couldn’t maintain complete perfection for more than the first half. The Body Electric is a great song, but it fails to stand out as much as any of the songs that preceded it. However, it is still worth listening to, as Geddy’s binary in the chorus works very well, and the lyrics are based on the original subject matter of “A humanoid escaping/An android on the run”, which brings to mind later imaginations in this vein from other bands, such as Nevermore’s Sentient 6.

After The Body Electric lowered the bar along slightly, what Rush needed to do was to put a winner in slot #6, a song that would add a new perspective to the album whilst shining alongside the first four tracks. Kid Gloves succeeds in offering a new perspective with its plucky, upbeat nature, but it sadly fails to impress as much as any of the other songs. Lyrically, it’s a continuation from Subdivisions' self-conscious examination of society, with lines like “It’s tough to be so cool” catching a sense of anxiety that feels quite particular to Lee's manner.

After Kid Gloves lowered the album’s profile once more, Rush could pretty much follow it with anything of similar or higher quality. Red Lenses is the album's ugly duckling, half funky singing, half proggy funk, It does not surpass anything on the album in terms of quality, but is still somewhat impressive and memorable. At this point Rush would seem to have ticked all the necessary boxes, with a range of upbeat, melancholy and quirky happy songs; all that album requires to round things up is a strong track in a similar vein that improves on the second half's standard somewhat. Between The Wheels fits the bill perfectly, featuring great interplay between Lifeson and Lee throughout and keeping the listener hooked with its forceful keyboards and stellar guitar solo. Its chorus is engaging and slightly dramatic, touching base with elements of Distant Early Warning as it closes the album in style.

With Grace Under Pressure, Rush perfected a template for their synth era and deliver several of their finest tracks along the way. As such, the album has been somewhat overlooked and makes for an essential component of their discography.



Recent reviews by this author
A. G. Cook AppleAimyon Oishii Pasta ga Aru to Kiite
Gazpacho FireworkerPolvo Exploded Drawing
Tentenko NineteenTentenko Good Night Dub
user ratings (1025)
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of


Comments:Add a Comment 
Wombat988
November 16th 2011


410 Comments


Might want to spell check it, Noticed some missing punctuation in the first paragraph

Wombat988
November 16th 2011


410 Comments


Decent review otherwise

NigelH
November 16th 2011


1571 Comments


"CONS
it ends"

hahaha. good review. not my favorite rush album, but has some great tunes.

KILL
November 16th 2011


81241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

dude props for reviewing this



fuckin rules

KILL
November 16th 2011


81241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this isnt THE johnny though right

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2011


29269 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

THE johnny; ???

Digging: Dntel - Life is Full of Possibilities

seedofnothing
November 17th 2011


3425 Comments


the enemy within

m/




EverythingEvil2113
November 17th 2011


1326 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

sweet album. good review.

NOTINTHEFACE
November 17th 2011


2044 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The songs you dislike are my favorites. Kid Gloves is one of the best Rush songs ever.

MrSirLordGentleman
April 13th 2019


13573 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm still pissed at the fact that there are no official live recordings of Afterimage

teamster
April 16th 2019


5183 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

35th Anniversary today ... album brings back a shit-ton of fond memories.

Titan
November 17th 2019


21160 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Johnny dude, top songs on here are the even numbered tracks, even though the whole damn thing rapes



2nd half just as good as first half, if not better



I know you reviewed this ages ago, do you still feel the same way?



#johnnyoffthemark

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2019


18996 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Red Sector 'A' and The Body Electric are awesome.

Digging: Fleet Foxes - Shore

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2019


29269 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Heya fellas, excuse me for one hot minute while I edit that hideous boldface out and dip into this for the first time in a while...



EDIT: Ended up tweaking a lot of this, though convince myself to do a full edit. Bizarre to be rewriting something from almost exactly 8 years ago... First three songs are fire so far, so my take here is probably unchanged (although I remember Kid Gloves growing on me since)

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2019


29269 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh hell yes The Enemy Within's chorus and post-chorus are classic

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2019


18996 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I had to rewrite and edit a bunch of old reviews too, especially after a bunch became flagged when I had gotten promoted like what probably happened here.

The Enemy Within is good but not one of my favorites. Same with Kid Gloves, tho it's grown on me over the years.

KjSwantko
November 17th 2019


12030 Comments


Still never listened to this record. I better get on that wtf.

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
November 17th 2019


29269 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yes yes do it!

Interesting to hear that, Talons - did you find yourself editing existing content or redrafting from scratch more? Just finished up on this, can't help but wish past me had come up with something more than a glorified track-by-track :/

Titan
November 18th 2019


21160 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Between The Wheels is one of their very best songs

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
November 18th 2019


18996 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah Between the Wheels is a highlight

Johnny don't be too hard on yourself; I don't know how old you are, but this was almost a decade ago so I'm sure you've grown as a writer at least a little since then. I've been writing reviews on here since 2012, and while the first ones weren't bad, I've gotten much better in comparison. I just didn't always know how to organize my thoughts and my taste was so radically different with how much metal I was into, and I'm a lot more knowledgable about different stuff now and I like to think developed more sophisticated taste and writing style.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy