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Rush Song Reviews


Rush (1974)

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Rush

Finding My Way 9/10

They start off sounding exactly like Led Zeppelin with "Finding My Way" Geddy's vocals and all. But at least they're good Led Zeppelin immitations who do everything right. The vocals do sound like Robert Plant, but they're good enough to make Rush worthy disciples of that group. The guitar playing is also highly solid! Most importantly, though, they have a good catchy riff, which makes this a joy to listen to.

Need Some Love 8/10

This one isn't as catchy nor as thunderous. Thank goodness it's only two and a half minutes! There's a lot of guitar crunching in here, which will make this enjoyable to anyone who can't get enough of that heavy metal music. They do a solid enough job to make this a good listen. Nonetheless, this is merely a good, above average song.

Take a Friend 7.5/10

Oh, I could care less about "Take a Friend." They slow things up to a moderate tempo here, which makes it kind of boring to me. The melody isn't that catchy, so the only thing you can like here is the guitar work. Well, the guitar work is great, but that's not enough to make a song great!

Here Again 6.5/10

Here's a bit of a pit-fall; the 7-minute mid-tempoed rocker "Here Again" with a frankly annoying vocal performance from Geddy. Otherwise, the melody is OK! This song makes the switch they'll undergo to progressive rock a little more predictable, but this sure is boring. ... The song trudges along for the entire time on the same pace and take too long to chang things up. Sure, there's sections where Geddy is singing and Alex plays a very boring solo, but ... heck, are they trying to put me to sleep? No wonder they went prog!

What You're Doing 8.5/10

It has a good riff though it's clearly stolen from someplace else. (It must be Led Zeppelin! But it sounds kinda like Black Sabbath, too!) Well, they at least use this riff well to make an enjoyable heavy metal song. This is a typical hard rocker and it even features an excellent electric guitar solo to keep things spicey. ... OK, it's not original, and I'm being sure to count off some points for that, but I like it.

In the Mood 8/10

More cowbell!!!! I guess the Blue Oyster Cult must have been the proxy writers of "In the Mood," which is actually a pretty good song. It's upbeat, and they come up with some good riffage here. This doesn't strike me as being hackery, because it's done so solidly! Say what you want about Rush, but they usually sound like they know what they're doing. Again, there's excellent electric guitar work!

Before and After 7/10

Stick with the hard rock, guys! The first two minutes of "Before and After" is a soft rock ballad that's too easy to tune out. It's not memorable, so why does it exist. Fortunately, after two minutes of that, they suddenly change things up to another Black Sabbath-esque song. ... Indeed, stick with heavy metal. ... Or get a new drummer and start doing prog-rock. Whichever.

Working Man 8.5/10

This is another seven-minute song, but this is actually a pretty good one. They keep the pace of it pretty tight and they import some interesting things in their instrumentals. Again, they steal a lot of stuff from their predecessors, but they make enjoyable music out of it. This song actually reminds me a bit more of Queen's heavy metal than Led Zeppelin, which also might give you an idea of how relatively accessible this song is. The guitar solo in the middle of this is particularly rollicking! I like the melody of this song, too. So, this is a good album closer!


Fly By Night (1975)

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Fly By Night

Anthem 8/10

I'm wary of any album that starts with a song called "Anthem." Especially if the band has a reputation for being prog-rock! Well, for crying out loud, this song isn't much different from their debut album except the drummer sounds more keyed up! There are a lot of power chords here although I don't get the feeling that this is just another blatant rip-off of Led Zeppelin. OK, so I like the drumming, but this time I do think Geddy Lee's vocal performance is just a tad bit over the top. The electric guitar solo is incredibly quick and tight (unlike the debut), which was probably done to match the style of the new drummer. So the instrumentation is technically proficient and show-offey (on the other hand, what would bands like Rush be if they weren't show-offey?) One major thing about this song I don't like at all is that they seemed to have forgotten about the hooks. This is one big old hunk of bland hard rock! They took this opportunity to triumph their instrumental skills instead of their songwriting skills (which they clearly do possess). This kind of decision will sink anyone! OK, I'm exaggerating a bit ... I also admit some sort of geeky pleasure in listening to these guys play their instruments.

Best I Can 9/10

OK, I'm relieved. This is more of a return to songwriting this time, so I can rest easy! Now, we can hear all of Neal Pearts drum playing actually enhance an already well-written song instead of all that show-offey stuff on "Anthem." The song has a catchy melody and some particularly fun crunches of the electric guitar. This is an excellent arena rock song! The electric guitar solo is much more accessible, too. OK, Rush doesn't suck after all.

Beneath, Between and Behind 7.5/10

There are many guitar chords ... so much so that I just get the feeling that they're doing it to be loud and little else! Where's the melody? I get all the guitar chords, the loud drumming and the scales, but is that all there is to it? ... This isn't prog-rock, guys. It's just show-offey nonsense!!!! ... And it's well played. But even a top-notch piano player would be capable of botching up Beethoven.

By-Tor and the Snow Dog 8/10

Oh yeah, Rush is a prog-rock band. "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" not only features a funny song name, but it's nearly nine minutes long! Ouch!!! As you might have guessed, the lyrics behind this song came from uber-geek Peart who liked to read fantasy novels. There's nothing wrong with writing songs about fantasy novels, but that does make you seem like big geeks! The good news is that this geeky hard-rock/prog-rock song is basically enjoyable. Guitarist Alex Lifeson makes a weird barking noise with his guitar, which I can't say I've ever heard before. Peart seizes the moment to do some drum soloing (which I don't care for). Oh, there are a few flaws, though. The choppy chords could have been substituted for something a little more effective. The slow, atmospheric part in the middle kind of came all of the sudden, although it's not bad in itself. I know Styx tried doings songs like this but were nowhere near this successful, so I guess Rush is kind of awesome in that way. This song is very well played and very enjoyable despite the flaws.

Fly By Night 8.5/10

This is a fun and catchy hard rock song. Nothing can make a song better than a catchy melody ... even cheesy hard-rock/prog-rock groups such as Rush! The song is relatively simple by design. The occasional electric guitar chord, and Peart does his own nutty things with the drums. There's an electric guitar solo thrown in here for good measure. ... Well, this isn't as catchy as all of the bad songs The Beatles wrote, but this is pretty good for this group.

Making Memories 7.5/10

I guess it's time for an acoustic track! And make it sound like a Led Zeppelin accoustic track, why doncha? Anyway, this isn't a bad work at all! It's a good work if anything. I like the acoustic strumming and the riff they're playing. The melody is slightly less catchier than a Led Zeppelin folk song. The chorus is good! Points off for lack of originality, but this is a decent Zep send-up.

Rivendell 6.5/10

These dorks like The Lord of the Rings! ... Not that there's anything wrong with that. I'm going to shut up now. Technically I shouldn't hate this because it sounds like they're pretty serious about what they're singing and not engaged in musical hackery like their contemporaries, Kansas. The song is done in an English folk style except without the cool, Medieval chord progressions! If they would have used some nice chord progressions, I probably would have loved it. But it's just boring. It's just a guitar strumming, Geddy singing very gently (which is almost refreshing) and some dumb old synth-pad playing in the background. Peart is nowhere to be found! Well, he wrote the lyrics, at least. I do appreciate their dorkiness, but this is a major snoozefest.

In the End 6/10

Ooo, they really kind of fizzled out. "In the End" is a weird song that jumps between its initial slow section to a hard-rocking section to a bunch of choppy chords and a lackluster ending. The transition between the sections are extremely spotty, and as a whole the song comes off as a mess. There are a few moments in this song that are OK. Notably around the song's final third, the song is generally good. I read a review of this album that said Rush was *ahem* rushed trying to put this album out as early as possible. Unfortunately, I think "In the End" was one of the victims.


Caress of Steel (1975)

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Caress of Steel

Bastille Day 8/10

This is an entirely decent hard rock song even though Geddy Lee sounds like he overdid it with the helium the day they recorded this song. There's some nice instrumental work (obviously influenced from pre-punk bands like The Who) that manages to bump up this song's merit. In particular, Lifeson's guitar solo is pretty fun!! Nonetheless, I'm a bit bummed out that the melody is so trite. I mean, this is worse than they usually are from Rush.

I Think I'm Going Bald 7/10

This one rings of Spinal Tap! It's an ode about going to the mirror and seeing that your hair is falling out! Trust me, I had that revelation about two years ago, but I didn't have the inclination to write a heavy metal song about it! This is a goofy and probably embarrassing song for them. But in its defense, it's an entirely well played song featuring some well-played guitar crunches. Geddy's voice sounds it came out of the toilet.

Lakeside Park 5/10

Oh, goooooooosh, this is just boring! And the song is structured strangely. Well, I guess this isn't such a cliche song, but it's not an enjoyable one either. It's a slowly payed song. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but this is one of those songs that doesn't grab my attention whatsoever. There's these awkward "pick-ups" of instrumentation that fix some of that problem, but ... they're awkward. There's not even any reason to pick out any great instrumental virtuosos in here, although I'm sure only drumming fans can pick out something over Peart's performance.

The Necromancer 18/20

Alright, here's the thing about "The Necromancer." It's a 12-minute prog-rock epic. I would have expected to hate this song more than the three hard rock songs that came before this (which, combined, pretty much equals this song in length). It begins atmospheric, but they don't appear to be using synths to create this. Just waves going in an out from the electric guitar. Peart soon chimes in with some sparse drumming and more and more guitars start flowing in and out of the speakers. Peart gets a bit more excited. It all stops and gets more atmospheric. Somebody doing a voice over talks as if he's in some interdimensional void! Peart starts to play a weird though truthfully innovative drumming as some choppy chords begin playing. They tried doing this sort of thing in Fly By Night, but this one seems more purposeful. It isn't until the 5 minute 30 second mark when they start playing some real rock and roll (with Geddy providing a nice bass-line) and Lifeson goes gloriously nuts with his guitar! I would say he was making love to his guitar, but that always sounds stupid when people say that!! Everything stops for a bit as Lifeson (as it was put by a critic) shreads the universe apart with his electric guitar. By the seven minute mark, mayhem ensues, and Lifeson REALLY goes crazy. And so does Peart. By the eight minute 30 second mark, they start going more pop rock. The voice over says something weird, and a Beatles-esque riff starts playing. This part is particularly pleasant. The melody is even pretty good though it's a shame that it's basically only a three chord song. Nonetheless, they end it with a smile. ... One thing that's obvious to me about this song is that their hearts were into it. It shows.

The Fountain of Lamneth 15/20

Just to prove that they are even bigger nerds than any of us would have supposed, "The Fountain of Lamneth" is 20 minutes long!! I believe the appropriate words are: "Wowie Zowie!" Well, it may be no consequence that much of this sounds like they've been listening to a lot of Genesis, but they don't like mellotrons. The beginning of the song shifts between a well-done but kinda boring folkie song between a more hard-rocking jam thing. The transition between these parts were OK but not expertly done. At approximately the four minute mark, Neil Peart gives every other drummer in the world the middle finger and brags exclaiming, "Look at me!" The fortunately brief drum solo stops when Geddy Lee screams. (That part wasn't crazy enough in my opinion ... and I'm not being sarcastic.) They start playing a more quiet section after that. It's not bad but it's too easy for me to tune out. Geddy Lee starts scream-screaming like a lunatic in the middle of this, and it's not particularly appealing on the artistic and aethetic level. It isn't until the 10-minute mark when they start doing something pleasant. A good little folk-pop song (for once) and Lee actually gives a constructive vocal performance. This section is more or less entrancing and a good way to pick up things after the previous few minutes. OK, maybe they're ripping off "Stairway to Heaven" a bit too closely, but I don't care at this point. I like it. At the 13 minute mark, an electric guitar led pop rock song starts to play. It was just a fade in after the folkie bit was over. Couldn't you come up with an actual transition? ... Whatever, guys. Anyway, this section is fine though it comes off as pretty sterile. At the 15 minute 30 second mark, Lifeson gives the sterile thing some life with a rather playful electric guitar solo. Then, it fades out. (What's with the fade-outs, guys??? How about some real transitions?) Then, the beginning section starts up again. They would have been better off just lopping off this last three minutes in my opinion since it adds nothing to the song unless you count the lyrics. (Who cares about Rush lyrics, anyway?) ... Just the same, this wasn't a bad song at all. It was heavily flawed and they didn't spend enough time developing it (or maybe they just didn't have the songwriting talent), but it's all in all a decent listen.


2112 (1976)

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2112

2112 Medley 13/20

(Warning: Please take a deep breath.) In "2112 Medley", Rush chooses to open this 20-minute prog-rock suite with a series of space-age noises for almost a minute until finally some extremely choppy guitar chords start playing. I have a feeling that I'm going to die not knowing why Rush enjoyed the use of choppy guitar chords. They're certainly one of the band's signature (along with the helium-sucking lead singer), but it's not that appealing! Things start really rocking after awhile, picking up the mood. Even though this is supposed to be prog-rock, they're not using too many chords. (Oh, I dare you to compare this to early Genesis, who uses more chords than you thought existed!) Anyway, Alex Lifeson chimes in with an electric guitar solo at around the three minute mark giving me something nice, although I can't say it's one of his better works. The pace is picked up shortly thereafter, although they're still playing a three-chord song. Some thunder noises strike and the song threatens to turn into a folk song. But that's short lived as the thundering chords pipe up, and Geddy Lee starts singing like somebody is electrocuting his testicles. This section provides the 'bulk' of the song but I can't say that I completely enjoy listening to this. Where's the melody? Is it merely three chords and Geddy singing like a lunatic? Sadly, yes. At around the six and a half minute mark, everything stops as they engage in some sort of ambient section with a river stream noises and Lifeson playing ponderously with his guitar. I'm pondering how I'm going to keep my attention from wandering away from this song! He slowly gets around to playing some real chords as Geddy starts singing a gentle folk song. This section is a little better than the hard rock section that preceded it. Unfortunately, this section drags on a bit too long, and they ought to have cut it in half. It isn't until the 10 minute mark when some electric guitar chords and Neil Peart starts drumming again. At this point the song turns into a pop-rock song with an OK melody, but nothing memorable. Finally, by 13 minutes, Alex Lifeson chimes in with one of his trademark, "universe shredding" electric guitar solos. It only lasts a minute, but this is the best part of the song. After that point, everything slows down again as they start playing extremely quiet and uninspried synth-pad notes. Geddy sings a very boring melody. The choppy chords pipe up again at the 15 minute point and again make me wonder why this band likes doing that. This is the section where drummers start drooling over Peart, because he does a few impressive things with his drums without resorting to drum soloing. Everything stops again (a bit too suddenly) at precisely the 16-minute mark and yet another folk song pipes up. Yawn!!!! This wouldn't have been so bad if Geddy were singing a melody a little more catchy or memorable. Then, as expected, heavy guitar chords come Rushing in as somebody reconnected Geddy's gonads to the electrecution prods. At about 17 minutes and 15 seconds, Lifeson gives another electric guitar performance but it's not as good as the one he previously did. They adopt a more pop rock feel and guitar-crunch heavy tone in the song's last two minutes. It starts off sounding happy, but it grows more chaotic until the end. They at least had a great conclusion to the song, but it's a shame the middle of it couldn't have extended far beyond mediocrity.

A Passage to Bangkok 7.5/10

This is a thankful return to 3-minute Rush songs. Fortunately, this is a decent song and a tad more thoughtful than the pop songs that appeared in Caress of Steel. The song features a Black Sabbath type tone to it with a pretty decent and utterly simple riff. They kind of ruin this song by peppering in the cliche Asian music chord sequence. (Basically the exact same thing featured at the beginning of The Vapors' "Turning Japanese.") Unfortunately, the song can't make it above a B- because of the lack of melody. So sad! Little redemption can be found in the guitar solo, even.

The Twilight Zone 7.5/10

Actually not too bad this time, although it runs a severe risk of getting boring! I listen to "The Twilight Zone" and think to myself: "This is going to get boring any minute." But it never does really. It teeters on that edge throughout its three minute running length. The melody is passable this time. I'm not too sure I like how the song is structured. It starts out poppy and bouncy but after 45 seconds, it turns into a "Stairway to Heaven" like folk song. The end has some nice ponderous notes from our favorite electric guitar player. The elements of this song are pretty good separately; I just don't think the thing works so well as a unit.

Lessons 8.5/10

This is one of the better songs on the album only because it actually works together as a functional unit FOR ONCE. There's a bizarre moment in this song where Geddy is singing along with some screetches of the electric guitar. Maybe he was trying to prove that he sounded like an electric guitar? Well, it was annoying; that's for sure! Anyway, apart from that annoying vocal performance, this is an altogether solid hard rock song. There's some good guitar crunches, and I like the melody. Lifeson closes the track out with a good guitar solo. What more could you possibly want?

Tears 9.5/10

Oh geez, I don't know what happened here. A blatant attempt to emulate Genesis, but it actually works 100 percent here. Bravo for "Tears!" For the love of Pete, I've never been so happy to hear the sound of the Mellotron. This is a light ballad but, unlike anything else Rush produced so far in this album, it has a melody that's heavenly. Oh, it's a simple melody and the chord progressions aren't much, but this is a very pretty song! A mighty excellent ballad ... for once.

Something for Nothing 7/10

This is a bit of nonsense! Again, Rush goes nuts with their broken chords. The song ends better though more chaotic. If they were trying to be artistic, it really didn't work. If they were trying to make an enjoyable hard rock song ... Well, that didn't work, either. Meh!!!


All the World's a Stage (1976)

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All the World's a Stage

Rush makes an interesting song selection to start with. "Bastille Day" doesn't sound any worse than it did on the studio version! That's a compliment, but I didn't think the song was so hot on the album. Oh well. I guess you don't buy this album for the melodies. You want to know how they do on their instruments. Well, Alex Lifeson delivers a few very entertaining electric guitar solos as Neil Peart drums away as if there's no tomorrow! So, this is a slightly improved version. It is a known phenomenon for bands to know how do to a song better when they get around to touring live, because they have a better idea how to develop the song. ... Listen to the crowd ... They're loving it. Rush's trademark "choppy chords" works pretty well here.

"Anthem" was another song that I never cared for. Oh well! (OK, does anyone else hear Geddy Lee screaming "Rudrow?") Well, if we're going to keep track on songs that sound better live than on the studio albums, the beginning of this song definitely sounded better on their studio album. The electric guitar solo in the middle of this can only be performed like that live in front of screaming mental patients (their fans)! Hey, who am I to diss these face-melting instrumentalists? I love it, too!

"Fly By Night" was a good song in the studio album, so it's no surprise that this is one of the better songs here as well. All those excellent glammy chords are fully in place here and you can hear Neil Peart strutting his stuff very easily here. He plays an interesting rhythm in the middle of the song whilst Lifeson delivers his nearly earth-shattering solo. The song gets more energetic as it gets to the end, too. Ah, what a concert this must have been.

I still don't think "Something for Nothing" from their latest album, 2112 is that good of a song. But it is very good live. You won't care that the melody is trite, because the instruments are amazing! Hear the NOISE! The electric guitar work on here is enough to lift the spirits of all nerdy boys the world round. Oh, and anyone who enjoys doing air drums will have to check this out. This is arena rock tastiness at its best. A variation of the title, this live version is "Something from Nothing."

Now, the studio version of "Lakeside Park" was something I really didn't like. This one's a tad bit more hard rocking and for whatever reason, less emphasis is placed on Geddy's vocals. This helps immensely! All that said, this is still a pretty boring song. I don't know why they wanted to play this one...

Oh no, this is where they play their big old chunk of prog rock. Fortunately, they scaled down the 20-minute song to 16-minutes! They could cut it down a little further than that, though! Well, all the studio stuff they did with the song (notably, the space age stuff at the beginning) wasn't done that much on the stage. They substituted that with their guitars. ... But this live version is a hell of a lot more fun than the studio version. Gosh, do you hear these guitars going off all over the place? And the bloody drumming? S-weet. They were so restrained in the studio or something! Excellent. Trust me, this version is more entertaining. MUCH more entertaining.

"By-Tor and the Snow Dog" is 12 minutes, which is a few minutes longer than the studio version. I'm not a big fan of how this song starts at all! Holy cow, man ... the melody sounds pretty bad. But after a minute of that, the remaining 12 minutes are pretty good as the song picks up energy. They even do the dog barking effect with this guitar here, which probably better than they did it in the studio. Naturally, what they do with the extra few minutes is to demonstrate more of their instrumental virtuosity. There's A LOT of that, man ... oh man ... Apparently because their arms were tired, they stop everything in the middle of the song and try to create atmospheric textures with the guitars. It's not as bad as I would have thought. Peart chimes in with some rolling drums pretty soon, and the rockey rolley comes back for the final three minutes. The electric guitar solo is amazing!!!!!!!

Wow, how boring! Especially after coming out of that electric guitar solo on "By-Tor." "In the End" begins woefully quiet and ballad like. It's not until the two minute mark they get around to putting some umph in the instrumentation, but it's just not the same. Neal Peart tries the best he can with his drums. I'm just not impressed. This song doesn't have the unbridled energy that the previous ones had, and this is a snoozefest. When Geddy starts belting out his lyrics, which gets echoed through some stage. Now let's all say this next word together: "Meh!"

"Working Man" was that excellent song they released on their debut. Hey, Neil Peart gives some impressive drumming. ... He wasn't on the band's first album! Anyway, this is probably one of their better written hard rock song with some excellently written guitar crunches and even a few melodic hooks or two. They extend this to 15 minutes to make time for the usual earth-shattering electric guitar solos and drum solos. This combined with the fact that this is one of their best written songs makes this my pick of the album. However, I'm sure that comes hotly debated by Rush fans! (Heck Neil Peart fans should love this song, because it features "Professor" Neil Peart on a drum solo that's actually not too shabby. Usually, I despise drum solos and think they're poison. Peart at least knows how to play an audience with them.) The band, who ate up this performance like pancakes, cheers and screams for an encore! Trust me, I would have been, too. Hey! They came back!

"What You're Doing" is another song from their excellent debut album, and it's translated entirely well on the stage! It's thundering like a ... bunch of thunder (I ran out of metaphors). The song was a well written hard rock work to begin with, but like most the other songs on the album, this really rocked live. Seriously.


A Farewell to Kings (1977)

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A Farewell to Kings

A Farewell to Kings 8/10

Rush isn't necessarily off to a bad start with "A Farewell to Kings." It starts with some acoustic strumming with a Medieval flavor. Some electric guitar chords pipe up and Geddy Lee starts doing his helium-singing and the guitar crunches are heavy. The melody is OK but it would have been a better song if they were stronger. All in all, it's an OK song though wholly uninspiring. It's also two minutes too long.

Xanadu 8/10

Supposedly, this is their masterpiece, but I don't find it anymore compelling than many of their other songs. Though to be fair, I'm beginning to see what people see in it. It starts out starts out all atmospheric-like with a quiet "oooooooooooh" in the background, some echoey electric guitar notes, bird sounds, a tinkling thing, and an occasional pounding of the woodblocks. If nothing else, Rush did figure out how to do this sort of thing better than their previous albums! So you'll have to give them credit of trying to improve their craft instead of simply stagnating after their commercial success in 2112. But I really don't think their hard rock has improved a great deal. The melodies and riffs are rather bland, and who needed for this to last 11 minutes? Doesn't seem creatively musical enough for that...

Closer to the Heart 8.5/10

This is less than three minutes long! That's a good idea, I think. Who needs all these 11+ minute long songs, anyway? This song continues to be a vast wasteland as far as melody is concerned. The song is structured OK though. There is some good transition between the slower folky parts, and the harder rocking parts.

Cinderella Man 7/10

Four minutes and 30 seconds! Cool! ... But again, the problem with the song is the lack of hooks. You must have a catchy melody if you are going to write a song like this. Seriously. It's not a bad song at all. In fact, I think this is another one of their better structured songs, which was a bit improvement from their previous albums. But it's just bland! It's a hard rock/folk song that's difficult to pay attention to. That said, I do fully appreciate that electric guitar solo at the end.

Madrigal 5/10

"Madrigal" wants to be an uplifting folk song, but it's as uplifting as a brick!! The acoustic guitar strumming is OK but the melody, again, doesn't have much to it. It's highly simplified. Not that there's anything wrong with writing simple, but it's important not to forget to write the *music* too.

Cygnus X-1 (Book One) 4/10

The beginning of the 10-minute "Cygnus X-1 (Book One) has many sound effects, and again this shows that Rush got a lot better at the goofy, ambient beginnings from 2112. This reminds me of the video game Myst I used to play all those years ago! Then, Rush starts up again with their trademark, awkward choppy chords. They basically keep on doing that nonsense for three minutes. And then, Geddy starts singing. Those jumbled-up guitars at the 5 minute mark are incredibly awkward! What were they thinking? ... Wow, this song is messed up. It pretends to be an epic song, but there's nothing compelling about this whatsoever. This seems like more of a collection of noises than a song. Come on, you guys can do better than this for sure! This song is incredibly difficult to listen to. I'm going to go to the bathroom now.


Hemispheres (1978)

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Hemispheres

Hemispheres 18.5/20

I can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Rush's progressive rock has never been this good in the 18-minute "Hemispheres." They've been trying to create great progressive rock songs since Fly By Night, but they were always marred by too much sloppiness or not enough melodies. They start the song with goofy ambient music (well, there's a little bit of that, but it only lasts about eight seconds). The song starts up very well and entertaining. There are some very solid chords and good balance in between the guitar chords and the drums. The transitions in between sections are even smoother than what it was like on their already smooth previous album. What really gets me is that the section that starts up around the two minute mark sounds almost like real progressive rock! Geddy starts singing at the three minute mark, and he doesn't sound unwelcome this time. I must also commend Rush on their use of choppy chords. I always hated it when they did that so much on their previous albums (especially when they would spend 2 minutes doing it). But they restrain themselves here, and it's actually pretty constructive. Alex Lifeson delivers a FACEMELTING electric guitar solo in here, which was one aspect sorely lacking from their previous effort. Even that goofy synth-ballad thing at the 13-minute mark is pretty good, although I'd have to say slightly misguided. All in all, however, their prog-rock is actually beginning to mean something musical. It didn't seem to long ago that their prog sections consisted mostly of three chords. This is also enjoyable for me to listen to. I can keep my attention on this song 100 percent without ever wanting to wander away from it. Rush has finally come of age!

Circumstances 8/10

Ah yes, Rush is supposed to be a hard-rock band at their roots. "Circumstances" is a guitar heavy song but with an odd time signature or something. (I'm not musically astute enough to pick out weird time signatures, which I guess is why I've never been a huge Rush fan.) But this song is pretty good anyway. I like the guitar crunches and strange chord progressions. The important thing in all this is that they didn't forget that they were instrumental virtuosos, and they all turn in good performances. The quiet bit in the middle of this is curious, but in a good way.

The Trees 7/10

This song starts out sounding like it's going to be a folky song, but then it jumps to hard rock. The transition wasn't that good, but it is better than I remember it being in the past. The quiet part in the middle is OK in some respects, but it does get a little boring in there. Then, at the two minute and 30 second mark, we get some synthesizer exclamations that catchy my interest again. The song is complex and OK but all in all the weakest song of the album. Good thing it was only four minutes and 40 seconds.

La Villa Strangiato 8.5/10

I wonder where they got the name for the nine-minute-30-second "La Villa Strangiato." It sounds like a name some 10-year-old writing fantasy stories would come up with on looseleaf paper! The beginning of the song sounds Spanish, and there's some very impressive playing on that acoustic guitar. That stops and some ambient synths start to play. This slowly gets louder as Peart delivers some pretty impressive drumming and Lifeson contributes with some electric guitar. They get a little ponderous (and slightly boring) by the four minute mark, but I'm never fully lost from it. Lifeson delivers a very impressive solo around the five minute mark but that stops when Lee, for some reason, brings in a bass solo. Lifeson returns his ground when he gives a very complex little solo around the six minute mark. Peart takes an opportunity to show off his drumming around the six minute 30 second mark, and then Lifeson really delivers an impressive guitar solo.


Permanent Waves (1980)

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Permanent Waves

The Spirit of the Radio 10/10

This is a guitar-heavy song where prog seems to have met pop-rock. What I really care about is the melody is catchy and the instrumentation generally flows well together. So many times in their previous albums, I'd criticize their instrumental ideas, but not here. And they have some relatively weird ones. Not any two-bit rock band would bother putting a bit of reggae in toward the end --- so strange. Yet it seemed to work nicely. These guys are first class with those instruments, and I'm really enjoying hearing that drumming... I can see where these Rush nuts are coming from. Everything's just right here, it's interestingly sttructured and it's a genuine joy to listen to. I guess that makes it great!

Free Will 8/10

More nice instrumentals in this one although the melody is more disjointed and random. The melody isn't hooky, but I am enjoying some of those gutiar riffs. I can't give this one a full endorsement, but at the very least it's a fun track, and there are some nice harmonies. The show-offey electric guitar solo in the middle was predictable, but nonetheless a ripe pick for people who do air guitar.

Jacob's Ladder 8.5/10

This is a seven-minute track that proves this group still wanted to be considered a prog-rock band. Oh well, that's OK by me. It begins with a military-ish beat and a medieval chord progression. After awhile, the guitars come up and they deliver what's expected out of a Rush album! Wicked guitar solos! The tempo seems too slow to really get my soul rocking out with it, but ... well, it's fun to hear anyway. There's some nice riffage here although it's not particularly catchy. They bring in some of them keyboards (it's the '80s so keyboards are the law) though they weren't ill-conceived. They're trying to be mystical here, and it sort of works I guess. Their instrumental ideas seem to be interesting to me as well as their rather primitive melodic and harmonic ideas. It all works though, and I like hearing this. Primitive is what works sometimes. Maybe Rush had that figured out by now.

Entre Nous 9/10

Such an awesome intro!! The funny thing is most bands with such a musically pretentious opening (with those 'epic' scaling synthesizers, power chords and pompous chord progressions) would make this seem so freaking stupid that my poor ears would reject it immediately. But this is genuinely neat. They take that into a more poppy part after that with a rather hooky melody. Again, the melody is simple, but that doesn't make it any less catchy. The song texture continues to change throughout, which makes it even more fun.

Different Strings 9.5/10

And now a bit of geek-balladry for good measure. But this is another track they seem to do right. Their medieval melody and chord progressions is fun to hear and suits them perfectly. The instrumentals are all great choices from beginning to end. The lightly strummed guitar, some synths, a real piano, the bass guitar ... and the drumming is lovely. The brief electric guitar solo at the end is also great. This is so pleasant and pretty.

Natural Science 8/10

Here is their obligatory nine-minute track. It begins with some water sound effects and sea gull sounds. Soon, (with some heavy reverb) an acoustic guitar starts to play, and Geddy sings a melody that's not so hooky. And then they bring it their usual bag of tricks (that is, elaborate song structures). This one's generally enjoyable although probably one of the weakest tracks of the album. I can't say I enjoy it as much as the others. I'm ready for it to end when it's halfway over. Maybe they should stick a little closer to pop-rock. I know they probably would hate to hear that, but --- well, it's true.


Moving Pictures (1981)

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Moving Pictures

Tom Sawyer A

That weird time in the early 1980s when Rush finally figured out how to rock ‘n’ roll was as unexpected as a song by them about Mark Twain’s classic to be awesome. Of course, Geddy Lee sounds like his testicles are being electrocuted… but that’s not bad, somehow. The melody isn’t any catchier than Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog,” but … I think “Black Dog” is catchy. The chord progression is very dark and evil… though addictive, and it proves my theory that good chord progressions can be all that’s needed to make a decent song. Lastly, the instrumentation is great… Nothing too flashy; just a wavy synthesizer or two and Peart’s classic drumming all over this thing. All the elements combine to make a very good song. It’s likable and nothing less.

Red Barchetta A

Very nice guitar-work here… The guitars are dark, crunchy and even catchy. The melody is actually excellent and Geddy’s delivery seems like the guy is just at his peak. He gives it nice normalcy without seeming like he’s going too over-the-top as he is prone to. The drumming is fantastic, but I’m going to say that the guitars really shine above everything else (including the melody) with this one. A nice bit in the middle seems to embrace their prog roots but without all the excess. This is wholly enjoyable! They should’ve been pop stars all along!!

YYZ A

I played all these Rush albums on my computer, and I’ve been bombarded with these Rush facts all this time… One of the facts was that “YYZ” is based on the morse-code tapping of it! I guess only Rush could make such a thing actually sound catchy… Well, I suppose artists can do anything right when they’re at their career high… always seems to work out like that. Anyway, this is an instrumental with a lot of tapping and complicated time signatures. I like the development and the instrumentals do show these guys in top form.

Limelight B+

Geez, these guys are utterly unstoppable now! Shame that they weren’t always like this. I never would have disliked them!! This is a rather tame rocker though its guitars are heavy and dark. Geddy’s vocals are as restrained as humanly possible, which makes him sound humanly (a good thing), and the melody is well-written. Peart’s drumming is fantastic as usual… This is just a very good song. Perhaps not as memorable as ideal, but it’s still enjoyable.

The Camera Eye A-

That synth introduction dates this album right to the early 1980s, but this is awesome for that. The 11-minute prog suite that ensues is surprisingly far from the quality that we heard on albums such as 2112… This is actually enjoyable to listen to! What’s more the actual musical quality of it has improved greatly. The transitions are smooth and the guitar riffs are very creative (through this time, I had nearly forgotten about 1970s Rush who used to piss me off with those elaborate sections with those horrible choppy chords and awkward transitions). This is very very good. Bloated? Yes. That’s what it’s supposed to be.

Witch Hunt B

The intro is cool! Very epic sounding, and the angry mob shouting you hear lightly in the background was a good touch. The guitar is crunchy, which is good. Overall, though, this is less compelling than the previous tracks… though not on any significant scale. I still like it! It’s centered on a Medieval riff, which doesn’t do wonders for me… I will give them credit for helping diversify the album, though. Nothing’s particularly catchy about this, but it’s interesting enough to keep the album from getting boring.

Vital Signs C+

Kudos for actually trying to combine prog-rock with reggae… and almost making it work! And when I say that this didn’t work, I mean it in the nicest way… I like the idea of it, but this would’ve been better if they would’ve just axed all those reggae undertones. Otherwise, this doesn’t make a bad listen… but boy the melody could’ve been catchier! It sort of reminds me of a bad Cyndi Lauper song. Really, this is a disappointing album closer… but it’s not bad.


Exit...Stage Left (1981)

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Exit...Stage Left

Spirit of the Radio A

Just a little bit of audience cheering and then the familiar tune from their popular 1980 album pops up. As far as I remember, they play it very similarly to the album version (forgive me… I don’t know Rush’s material by heart). Just that Geddy’s voice is a little quiet in the mix… Though knowing how annoying he gets sometimes, I s’pose that’s a good thing!

Red Barchetta A

Very arena-rock… I’m not too sure I recognized that in my review of Moving Pictures. It’s a very good choice for a second track… it gets you even more in the spirit. As usual, you can expect the crunchy guitars, wild solos, and the catchy melody!

YYZ B

A song that does lose its appeal in the live setting… Well, most of it is as good as the studio version except that Peart decided that he needed to do a three-minute drum solo. Impressive indeed and I like the sounds he makes, but this is the sort of thing you can’t really appreciate if you’re not watching it. Obviously, the crowd seemed to like it.

A Passage to Bangkok B-

You can see how inferior Rush’s early material was when you get to “A Passage in Bangkok” though this is honestly better than I remember the original as being. It’s a riff-based heavy metal song that’s very bland but at least Lifeson’s guitaring is furious.

Closer to the Heart B

One of the better songs from Farewell to Kings in my opinion. It’s certainly a pleasant thing to sit through. The melody might have been catchier, though, but the audience surely seemed to like singing along with it. The beginning is more acoustic and folksy, and the end is more rocking… Geddy’s vocals are reverting to their default, annoying state.

Beneath, Between and Behind B

All the way back from their Fly By Night album, and it’s just as dizzying. A bit of an improvement, though, since their instrumental ability has never been better. Lifeson knows how to shred a guitar!!

Jacob’s Ladder B

Not too sure what they think they’re doing at the beginning of this… they’re playing a half-witted cover of some sorts. Then they, surely enough, break into “Jacob’s Ladder.” The guitar solos are as furious as ever! I still can’t get myself to be too excited over it though… oh well…

Broon’s Bane B+

Not too shabby! A bit of classical guitar written by Lifeson! This doesn’t appear on a studio album even though this is basically just an extended introduction to “The Trees.”

The Trees C+

Actually a little better than what I remember from the studio album. (I’m such a non-Rush fan that I’m doing nothing but re-reading what I wrote about those tracks. Also, I’m lazy.) Geez, I still think some of these instrumental interludes are boring… They’re much better as arena rockers than progsters… they would never admit that to themselves though.

Xanadu C

I could never understand what the big appeal is to this song is. It’s not just a fan favorite, but plenty of critics point it out as the only thing worthwhile from A Farewell to Kings. I used to hate it, but had to convince myself that it wasn't bad. Still think it's an over-extended 12-minutes worth of piddly, not-that-interesting musical ideas and sound effects. Give them credit for the instrumentals, but they’re nothing phenomenal… just… At least have a blistering guitar solo or something… Well, I suppose it’s no big mystery why I can’t get into this song. It’s boring!! This version is even more boring than the album's. Sorry guys…

Freewill B

This was one of the more enjoyable entries from Permanent Waves although perhaps the not the best thing they could have picked. Still, it’s a better composition than “Xanadu.” The guitars are very dark!! COOL! I really enjoy that guitar duet in the middle… very shredding!

Tom Sawyer A

Somehow I expected to award more A’s in the album… it’s almost over and this is only the third one. Oh dear! But this is a fully qualified A… The one thing that sets it apart from the others, obviously, is the melody… Rush rarely ever writes melodies as good as this one. So, there you go. An A.

La Villa Strangiato B

This album takes forever to listen to, and they lay on a nine-minute track just when I think I’m going to be set free of it! (Again, I’m a non-fan.) But hey!!! This was one of the shining moments from Hemispheres wasn’t it? That album was the first good thing they ever released, so… Hey, I like this final nine and a half minutes. I’m thanking the stars that it at least wasn’t going to be a cover of “2112,” because as you probably know that song sucks.


Signals (1982)

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Signals

Subdivisions B

Hear all those dang keyboards! I thought these guys fancied themselves as prog's gift to heavy metal, and here they are turning into a keyboard band. ...Well, they're a good keyboard band anyway. They're generally interested in developing atmospheres here, although they only really develop *one* atmosphere and all I'm really receiving at my end is one lengthy drone. I do like their instrumentation, though, and they deliver a number of intricate textures. All things considered, this is respectable, and this is a vastly intelligent. But the melody is really lacking, which is one aspect that really should have been spruced up. I mean, this is a keyboard album for pete's sake.

The Analog Kid B+

This song works better because the guitar is crunchier and the keyboards are kept well into the background. These guitar riffs are tight and rather well-done. They do manage to work in a strange keyboard section that radiates what I'd call a, “heavenly,” vibe. It pops up rather suddenly, but it manages to work well in the context and turns out to be a “delightful surprise.” Lifeson proves he's still a member of the band when he delivers a finger-melting solo in there... It's not so much impressive as it is *fast*, but in the end it gives us another good texture change.

Chemistry B+

I love that crunchy guitar and the rhythms its playing. It doesn't seem like they really went as far with that concept as they should have. As long as they were using keyboards, why not let it play some counterpoint in the background? ... Come on, Rush, do ya want me to arrange your songs for you?? ... Oh, but this is a good song. I'm not always convinced at these guys attempt to create these pompous “epic” atmospheres, but when Geddy Lee cries “Electricity!....Biology!” I happen to buy the whole thing for that one second. Well, that's a cool experience at least. These textures are varied enough to keep it from growing too stale, but as I said earlier, I don't know why they didn't go ahead and take it to the next level. This melody needed sprucing up, too. I know they weren't writing three-minute radio ditties, but that's no excuse for bland melodies.

Digital Man C+

Alright, this is where my patience is tested. This would have made a perfectly bland three-minute song, but the fact they had to make this more than six minutes long means they didn't like me too much. To their credit, I like some of the elaborate chords they're playing ... but they're just playing it too long. That bit that comes up a few times with the pulsating synthesizer and echoey drums really doesn't work that well ... as interesting as it is to hear when it pops up it really doesn't work that well into the context of the song, and it's just not pleasant to hear. Of course the instrumentals are good, but I've long since become accustomed to what these guys are capable of. Give them credit for the intricate rhythms they give us.

The Weapon B

Holy moly, another six minute song. This one's better, though. I think these textures better and more developed than “Digital Man” and the song overall seems to flow better. The keyboards are a central part to this song ... a constant, busy loop going off in the background. They even find some time to give us this “cosmic” bit in the middle with what is apparently an artistic impression of ... er ... a weapon. Lifeson has his own parts with the electric guitar, which is nicely balanced in the mix. Really love Peart's drumming, which gives us plenty of textures. The overall chord progression is just dumb, though, and that's really what makes this seem so dull. The instrumentals are first rate and enough to be flashy and entertaining ... and I'm going to buy it ... but there's alarmingly little substance beneath it all.

New World Man C+

They made a good decision to not let this extend past four minutes, because this is another dull drone. That's to say, of course, that this is intricately well played and the texture is well developed. Sorry to keep beating this dead horse, because it's clear they're never going to appease me: Where are the melodies? Are you writing music or textures?

Losing It B

This is slightly better than a boring drone ... and that's just because they go off on this weird chord progression in the middle of it. They also manage to sell me quite dearly on that instrumental discourse they thrust in the middle of it with that very strange, scratchy guitar solo. It's wailing at such high frequencies that I'm surprised I'm able to register it at all. Not to beat the bloody red patch that was once a dead horse, this melody...

Countdown B-

Some of this song is pretty good! (Oh, do I have to be less vague?) OK, that funny concept with the rocket ship lift-off is completely pointless because I'm not paying attention to the lyrics. But they do often change these textures around, and that keeps this respectable more or less. Upon a few occasions, I can enjoy a few of the chords they choose ... but not once do I ever like the melodies. Not once. I've got to wonder why they bothered working so hard on something this down-deep boring...


Grace Under Pressure (1984)

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Grace Under Pressure

Distant Early Warning A

Not bad! They simplified their new keyboard sound while still giving us some interesting rhythms and textures here and there. The melody isn't especially catchy, but it works well enough in the context. It's a very cold song (just like most of the stuff in Signals) and for that reason it's difficult to take it to heart. All these busy synthesizers were well-arranged, and it's fantastically entertaining to sit through.

Afterimage B

Not nearly as well-composed as the previous track. This is another thickly atmospheric, cold song with busy instrumentals. The rhythms stay the same for the most part except for some pop-reggae (!!!) keyboard chords that pop up every once in awhile. The melody has its likable ideas, but surely nothing that'll make you flip your goats. The bit in the middle was an interesting sound-effects ridden interlude, but why didn't they make that even more incessantly weird? We have Lifeson doing his best to give these polished guitar-licks, although he's entertaining ... in the '80s hair-metal sort of way.

Red Sector A A-

As far as stadium-rock goes, I think Rush really hit the nail on the head here. Very excellent!! This must mean that my tastes are so simplistic since I prefer this to anything from Signals. The riff is typical of '80s hair metal groups, but it's a good one. And making it even better is their panache for uncouth arrangements ... which gives this stadium-rock thing an appealing twist. It's nothing too challenging, but it's definitely interesting enough.

The Enemy Within B

This is good, too. We have a very rapid drum beat with Lifeson providing some bouncy rhythms with his guitar. They smartly insert a more atmospheric interlude occasionally, so we won't get too tired out. The instrumentation is generally very good, but I don't know what was preventing these guys from changing up the patterns more. The chord progressions aren't too interesting, either, but they're OK.

The Body Electric A-

I like that uncouth rhythm that starts this up. The overall song isn't too different from a “normal” song as far as structure goes, but they can still find time to discover a few interesting textures to keep me entertained. They're not bombarding us with them anymore, which can become disconcerting to fans I suppose! I like hearing this song develop, and Lifeson gives us a cool guitar solo in the middle. The melody is OK, but the concentration here is not on the melody but the instrumentation, which is actually very exciting.

Kid Gloves B

They do some nice texture changes near the beginning of this. They're not as adventurous as they used to be, but we still get to hear Lifeson pounding crunching away some unpredictable rhythms and Peart following suit, though not as much. Funny the cold atmosphere and synthesizers seem to neutralize everything. Also, a down-side to this track is there's also not as many “stages” as there was on previous songs. For the most part, this entire song is keeping the same mood, and so it grows rather stale by the end.

Red Lenses B+

This song, on the other hand, is pretty cool. They change the moods and the rhythms a few times (at one point, Peart giving is a rather involved drum beat). This is dazzling enough to keep me entertained, but I'm left wishing that the chord progressions were a little more compelling. Again, the vocal melody is OK, but it's not what we pay attention to. Still, I don't know what they had against making the melodies good.

Between the Wheels B

The introduction is goth-like and rather compelling, but couldn't they think of more than two chords? Ah well, it's fine anyway. The guitars are involved and they help keep the boring harmonies somewhat exciting. ... After that, there's a more usual guitar-led bit that generally seems to flow better, and then a not-too-interesting four-chord bit. They repeat the whole process again (including the two-chord bit, which is worse the second part). Lifeson fans will be glad to hear his solo in the middle, which is pretty good. Despite my criticisms, I'm pretty entertained by this ... just some of their musical ideas here leaves me underwhelmed.


Power Windows (1985)

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Power Windows

The Big Money B+

Full marks for this technology-pumped introduction! Those drums are the first thing I pay attention to. They loud, and it sounds like a huge clap, but the sound is awesome and would make one forget that such '80s instrumentals can be cool. That synth solo at the introduction is cool, too, and some great effects add greatly to that texture. The problem is the following five minutes, which doesn't do this exciting introduction much favors. I still like it overall, but Geddy is singing a tuneless melody, and all they're doing is having a busy bass line, a normal drum beat and some quietly mixed guitar crunches. When they bring in that instrumental interlude in the third act, it sounds especially halfhearted... and these “sound effects” aren't very cool, either. Overall, this is an entertaining song, but it's flawed.

Grand Designs B-

Similarly to the last track, apart from a little bit of quirkiness in the instrumentation, this similarly mid-tempo song can get rather monotonous. And there's nothing mind blowing in the instrumentation, and I would have rethought a few things if I was them. (That robo-keyboard doesn't really work, for example. But at least the electric guitar solo is better than the previous one.) They also seem to keep repeating their ideas ... it could have been cut in half. Not dwelling too much on these negatives, I can claim to be mildly entertained by this.

Manhattan Project B+

I get that sinking feeling they were slowly metamorphosing into a too-typical '80s band ... especially with that quieter section that sounds uncannily like “Forever Young.” That four-chord progression is so simple for Rush, too! Otherwise, a few of the developments here are rather interesting. Instead of the predictable guitar solo in the final third, they give us a classy string sequence. I like the overall pace and the fact they're smart enough to change around the moods! The vocal melody isn't much, but the proceedings seem epic.

Marathon B-

This is also disconcertingly too close to average '80s pop for most of our tastes. Some of these synthesizers couldn't get more generic! The overall tone of the song is more monotonous than most of these other songs, and I wish they could have come up with a few more exciting ideas. That orchestral build-up was a nice idea even though it's mostly just repeating itself. Where did all those quirky instrumental pangs go? There is some development here ... there are a number of nice patterns that flow well into each other. It's consistent for the whole six minutes and it never grows tedious (which is a feat by itself), but the experience should have been bolder!

Territories B

I'm surprised that I haven't found any good reason to award anything less than a B- yet in this album. This is a very adequate album! Here's another mildly likable song with enough good ideas to keep the experience from growing stale. This is very similar to the other songs in style, except this has more of an industrialized, atmosphere to it. There are few nice guitar licks here and there (more lively than some of the other tracks, at least), and I seem to care about the directions they take this without ever getting truly excited about it. Again, that's no easy feat for a six-plus minute song. The melodic ideas are adequate, but better than usual.

Middletown Dreams B

Another good and entertaining song that never grows stale! How adequate of them! ... No, I'm only complaining a little bit. I'd rather be pleasantly entertained than feeling like my valuable time is being wasted. But I also wish they'd get off their rockers a little bit and start delivering something butt-bouncingly awesome. This is yet another synth-heavy mid-tempo rocker with enough textures and musical ideas to keep it interesting.

Emotion Detector B-

A pleasant, turgid pace with some soothing instrumental touches. A section with some squeaky clean power chords keeps this far from the world of adult contemporary, but that's almost what this song feels like. Overall fewer good instrumental ideas keeps this one from sounding even more unique than the others, but it's not actually bad. Keeps in line with the rest of these for being adequate!

Mystic Rhythms B

Congratulations, Rush! You kept the streak going! Here's yet another synth-heavy song with just enough interesting textures and a thick enough atmosphere to keep it from growing boring. It goes on for six minutes, and I never grow tired of listening to it ... and I find myself even enjoying it. But I can fathom a live of never listening to it again. Oh, how passively lovable!


Hold Your Fire (1987)

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Hold Your Fire

Force Ten B-

This is not a bad opener, if you're one to enjoy bland '80s pop music. The synthesizers can be dated directly back to the late '80s, and it's quite bland sounding. If you're impressed with reverb, you'll probably like it. Otherwise, the instrumentation doesn't do much for me ... and this used to be a band which was usually consistently entertaining in that respect. The melody isn't catchy. But as I said, it's not bad. You can sit through it and not feel too awful about the experience.

Time Stands Still B+

More distinctive this time. It's a very standard pop song that could easily have been recorded by Pat Benatar. (Except Benatar's vocal performance would have been punchier than Geddy Lee's. The melody is good, though. There are a few hooks here. It's nothing too bracing, but I do appreciate a decent melody. My only real complaint is it's about a minute too long.

Open Secrets C-

Another song that lasts far too long, and this wasn't so great to begin with. The fact that it's bland isn't its worst quality.... this one actually starts to get on your nerves. I long for some creativity every once in awhile! But this is just a standard pop song without an interesting melody. There are synthesizers all over the place giving the song a very bland sound. Peart's drumming isn't nearly as vibrant as it once was. It's just a huge hunk of plastic with very little reason to hear it. Meh.

Second Nature C+

Almost a keyboard pop ballad with those electric pianos that can be directly dated to the late '80s. The melody does very little for me, which is no surprise. They try to give the instrumentation a synth-epic feel to it at times, which prompted me to up the rating a little bit. I guess if you're going to make a synth-heavy album, you'd might as well make it seem epic! But even then, it's clear these guys are just coasting through these albums. I've heard worse than this, for sure. But what's the point of listening?

Prime Mover C

Another song that wallows in the sort of purgatory Rush was in during the late '80s. It's another bland pop song without much that's memorable about it. At least Geddy Lee decides to bring in a groovy bass guitar and Alex Lifeson brings back the crunchy guitars! Despite that, this song seems to be a blur from beginning to end. It's not a distressing blur, but I'm really waiting for something here that's worth keeping in my memory.

Lock and Key B-

This one's not that bad. I'm giving this a B- even though I think it's about two minutes too long. (The final two minutes offers nothing new, and those repetitive ideas grow thin by then.) Despite that, this song is well-executed. The chord progression has an interesting drive to it, and Peart finally seemed to briefly come out of that coma. Cool.

Mission C

More business as usual. I will give Rush credit for at least making these songs sound passable. Their lack of inspiration is a little bit trying on my patience... but it's all quite listenable. I wish I had something to add about this song. It's really just like all the others. Very '80s. A lot of reverb. Nothing too interesting.

Turn the Page C+

This is OK. At least it has an involved bass line that I'm enjoying listening to. It's also worth noting that this is one of the few songs here that doesn't have a wimpy fade-out ending. Albeit, it's just a synthesizer chord. But those fade-outs were getting tiresome.

Tai Shan C

Well, here's a slight change. Instead of a prog/pop inspired synth-fest, here's a prog/Asian inspired synth-fest. That minimal amount of variety was nice to hear at least! But don't get your hopes up. This song's sluggish pace and so-so instrumentation levels keeps it from getting too interesting.

High Water C-

Shower head? ... Somehow Rush finds a way to end the album with its weakest song. Or maybe this is just as good as the others, and I'm just ready for it to end. It offers little new to the experience. Lifeson delivers a guitar solo, but even that's ho-hum. Eh.


A Show of Hands (1989)

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A Show of Hands

Intro

And the crowd goes wild! ... They were playing some sort of cartoony version of “Three Blind Mice” before the show. ...Was that some sort of self-depreciating comment?

The Big Money B-

The studio trickery in the original was what impressed me the most from the studio version, and this one doesn't quite have that appeal. They didn't really change the sound of the song much, but it does appeal to the arena-rock crowd, which I'm sure was what 80 percent of the audience was looking for. The flashy electric guitar solo, I'm sure, made a few of those dorks wet their pants!!! ... This song isn't that bad. I just wish it was more melodic and/or inspired.

Subdivisions B

Very much played like the original... and that's probably exactly what the audience wanted, isn't it? It was a pretty good song to begin with, and nothing important has been diminished here. The textures are still well-developed and the melody holds mild interest.

Marathon C+

Yawn!! Six minutes of a very bland '80s arena song. Some of this seems like it was tricky to play... notably some of those rhythm changes were nicely constructed. But overall, this is a very bland song. The melody is even more toneless than the two songs that preceded it! Everyone who's in love with Rush's instrumental abilities will find enough to like throughout this... Geddy Lee notably has a few nice running bass-lines. Peart's drumming gets quite complex at times. Lifeson delivers a half-good electric guitar solo... But none of that really excuses this bore.

Turn the Page B-

This was from Hold Your Fire, which was easily the worst Rush album of this period. Although this wasn't the worst song on it. The cool thing about this song is Lee's busy bass-line. I will say that Lifeson comes out of his shell and delivers an unquestionably cool electric guitar solo here. The overall pace of the song keeps it lively, which wasn't quite so apparent in the studio version. So a minor improvement!

Manhattan Project B-

It was kind of cool in the studio version, but here it fits in pretty well with the boring, '80s arena-rock sound. I like that part toward the end where they bring in the orchestra... The overall pace of it is still kind of fun. It was probably better to hear this actually *at* the concert, in the middle of this grandiose '80s nightmare!!

Mission C

Not one of Rush's shining moments, and it affects me the same way the studio version did. It neither excites me nor repels me. It just exists. All this lukewarmness can get unnerving!

Distant Early Warning B+

I really enjoyed the original version (I gave it an A), which makes me wonder why this one doesn't have the same sort of effect on me. Perhaps this life setting tends to blur everything together... or maybe I just overrated the original. Anyway, those keyboards are undoubtedly cool here, which admittedly doesn't happen much with this disc. Also, the pacing is very snappy! This isn't wholly impressive, but at least it has that thunderous, epic feel. (The crowd proves that in the middle, when they spontaneously erupt into cheers.)

Mystic Rhythms C+

This is such a monotonous album that I'm surprised how I'm able to come up with so much text for these track reviews! (I know nobody reads these...... except for you, apparently!) I never thought the original was so great. Mildly enjoyable with enough stuff, overall, to keep it from turning into a tedious experience. Same thing with this...

Witch Hunt (Part III of “Fear”) B+

Here's one of only two songs that's from a point in Rush's discography before Signals. This is from Rush's best album, Moving Pictures, although this was probably one of the worst songs on there! I do like that uneasy chord progression, which accounts for much of this higher score. Those power chords are so cool!

The Rhythm Method (Drum Solo) C-

The last thing we need is a drum solo........... Granted, I don't like drum solos as a rule because they are literally toneless, and I think Peart's drumming is a tad better than what I hear from others. Still... who the heck needs to hear a drum solo???? There's some xylophone playing in this and some synth-horn hits, but it's boring. Yawny yawn yawn.

Force Ten B

This is a little better than the studio version... It's a little less synth heavy and the guitars are a bit more rollicking. Structurally, it's the same ... and they even have that female giggle from the intro. Of course, what was always sorely lacking from the original was a good melody, which I'm sad to say, will take its toll on the listener.

Time Stands Still B+

Easily the highlight of Rush's most recent album, and it shows here. The melody is marginally interesting, and the overall pacing is rather brisk. So, good on them.

Red Sector A B+

One of the highlights from Grace Under Pressure, my favorite Rush album from the 1983-1987 era, and it shows here. The melody is marginally interesting, and the overall pacing is rather brisk. So, good on them. ..................... Hm, it seems I've grown rather bored with this Rush album. No real surprise. I wish I had a pet lemur. That would be so cool.

Closer to the Heart B+

And they end it from a song that *gasp* appeared on their 1977 album Hemispheres. Didn't Rush forsake their back catalogue? ... Wow... OK, this wasn't the best song from Hemispheres, but you can sorta see what I mean about that era from Rush being their best. This track contains easily some of the best instrumental playing on the album! ... I'll also commend Rush for giving this album a three-track streak of relative hits! This album closes better than it starts!


Presto (1989)

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Presto

Show Don't Tell B-

Eh... If you've been following Rush's discography, you can immediately tell that they weren't trying to do anything too original. It's more of that late '80s rock sound with those loud drums and tons of reverb. Though Rush's instrumentation levels have always been quite good, and this isn't an exception. It's also nice that they chose a much more complicated structure that your average 12-bar ditty. But the harmonies are flat, and the melody is boring. It's just a bloated, tasteful song that never gets too boring!

Chain Lightning A-

This is just as skillful as the previous track, but it's a tad more memorable. The melody has massively improved, and the experience of listening to this is rather fun! The riff is excellent! It reminds me of a PiL riff or something. So, the late '80s-ness of this song doesn't detract from it... It actually makes it a little better. I do hope Rush continues on this vein...

The Pass B+

I will say that there is one really good piece of melody that keeps popping up in here. I also like the flow of this song, and, again, it's very complex structure. Despite the structure, they manage to give it nice enough flow so that it's coherent and easy to sit through. Overall, I guess, that makes this a good effort!

War Paint C-

It's back to business as usual, I'm afraid. Back to the compositions that are extremely well-played but they fail to leave any impression. Neil Peart is drumming away to some toneless melody, and Lifeson is chugging away lifeless chords. It's a wonder that Lee's able to find a melody out of this... which, of course, isn't interesting either.

Scars D-

I like that deep rumbling bassline ... That at least sets it apart from the other songs. But unfortunately, “sets it apart from the other songs” in this context means that this is probably a moment that you'd rather forget. Despite the bass and an otherwise uncouth instrumentation, the harmonies are extremely DEAD. So DEAD they are that its deadness will begin to affect you, and start making you seem DEAD, too. This is unique, but a massive misstep on nearly all accounts.

Presto D+

It's not as bad as “Scars,” but again here's a song that's all show and no substance. Flashy instrumentation and complicated song development can only take it so far on those merits alone... and they don't take it very far. This is a phenomenally dull piece. Next!

Superconductor C+

Well, at least they're giving us an actually *riff* here! That's a step in the right direction, for sure! That riff isn't exactly original, but it's a lively thing, and for once they're not sounding completely like zombies. The song development goes back and forth between this crunchy riff and a reverb-ridden “ballad chorus.” Unfortunately, the extent of this song's entertainment value starts and ends with that riff... The vocal melody will go in ear and out the other without making any sort of impression.

Anagram (For Mongo) B-

And I'm sure Mongo appreciates it! And *I* appreciate it too. It seems that Rush is peaking their heads briefly out of the metaphorical water and actually bothering to deliver something that's mildly entertaining! While they still have a ways to go to be awesome, at least the melody is marginally catchy, and I like those deep guitar riffs.

Red Tide C

When I was a geology student, one of my professors said that the red tide is a phytoplankton orgy. ... Oh, the good times I used to have as a geology student! But back to this Rush album. Now, if they were going to write a song about a phytoplankton orgy, the least they could do is make it sound more lustful. In fact, any emotion they could give it would be a good thing. Again, here's a dead-sounding, flashy late '80s tune with keyboards, reverb and nothing interesting.

Hand Over Fist C-

This song starts out like it might be pretty good. The atmosphere is engaging a little bit, and I like those jangly guitars. Even the opening chord progression has some quality. But it quickly becomes obvious that this'll be another dead, flashy Rush song that's nearly soul-sucking. Bluh.

Available Light C+

Good! The last one!! ... You wonder why a Band like Rush would even bother with these songs if they seem to have so much trouble coming up with melodies and good chord progressions. I ask this, because I know they're far away from talentless drones... VERY far away... I guess they were just too dazzled by their own instrumental prowess that they thought that's the only thing people cared about! Well, think again, BUSTER! Now, among all the dead songs, this is actually one of the better ones, and that's only because their instrumental loudness sometimes seems like it's about to sweep me away.


Roll the Bones (1991)

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Roll the Bones

Dreamline B

Hey, this is not bad! Sure, it's a little bit ... er ... predictable and simplistic, but I like listening to it! Since the '90s came around, Rush was given permission to increase the volume on the guitar and decrease the synthesizers a bit. Oh, '90s, how I longed for you! The melody is even pretty good ... mounds better than most of the stuff that appeared on any of those late '80s albums, which I'm attempting to forget even existed. All that said, the song doesn't make enough of an impression on me to be upped to the A-level. While the melody is good, it's not very memorable. And there's nothing too impressive about the instrumentation that takes it too far above ordinary pop music....

Bravado C

Well, well, well... This is an adult contemporary ballad! What were they trying to do, aim for a radio hit? The sound of the song is perfectly crisp and clear, and Lifeson even takes a moment to deliver a nice guitar solo! But the overall tone of this thing is BORING. The melody doesn't interest me a whole lot, the atmosphere is too dreary and I don't even like the lyrics. Zzzzz...

Roll the Bones B

Back to the more upbeat stuff, and this is pretty good apart from that part where they bring in the rapper. (Yeah... there's somebody rapping on a RUSH album. Imagine the horror!) I think that otherwise, the melody is pretty catchy, and I do enjoy listening to it. One part in particular, they give Lifeson a brief chance to shred his guitar a bit. They should let him shred more and then apologize for the '80s.

Face Up C

A little too reminiscent of their late '80s albums for my taste. This is a lot of loud instruments playing with a lot reverb but it has very little actual substance. The melody has little redeeming qualities, and you'll tend to forget that it exists after it's done playing. Come on guys, no one needs that! At the very least, they allow Lifeson to warm up a bit... I do like some of his licks here and there, which forced me to raise the rating a little bit.

Where's My Thing? B+

Here's an instrumental! And do you know what that means? Rush concentrates a bit more on flashy song development! Yes... I do see some hints at their old days. And when I say “old days” I don't mean those wonky old geek times. I mean those Permanet Waves glory days! This is very fun to listen to, and my only complaint is that it seems a bit hollow.

The Big Wheel C-

What's with all these hollow adult contemporary songs? I mean... this isn't particularly bad, mind you, but I sort of want more outta my music than ultra polished guitars and bland melodies. I mean, their '90s style is much better than that even blander '80s style, but the music still seems empty. It does nothing for me. I can listen to this without wincing at all, but I would've gotten the same thing out of listening to nothing. Hate to say it.

Heresy C-

Ditto with what I said in the previous track. I mean, Rush should at least try to do some of those crazy instrumentals that they used to... I mean, I don't care at all for their their classic prog albums, which I still think were pretty clumsy. But for the love of pete, after listening to this, all I can do is scream out to the heavens: A kingdom for some clumsiness! At least they were trying back then. Now, they're just giving us these terrible, simple pop songs that aren't really worth hearing. ...... I never thought I'd ever long to hear “2112” again. I think Rush diseased my brain... (Hah... I actually put it on, in real life. It was 18 months since I reviewed that album, and that song still sucks.)

Ghost of a Chance C-

I like the way this song starts. Those bouncy guitar chords give a nice texture, and I think Geddy Lee's vocal melody works pretty well with that. Even a bouncy bass-line worked pretty well. Then, it gets a little darker and more dramatic. ... OK, this is getting pretty exciting!!! ............................................................. And then they suddenly turn it into a ballad reminiscent of Michael Bolton. MICHAEL BOLTON???!!!! The song never recovers after that. I mean, this probably would have been one of Michael Bolton's better songs, but that's still not very good. Blah.

Neurotica C+

I was studying for a dynamics final when I was listening to this album, sort of passively surveying it before officially sitting down and writing the review. Naturally, most of this album didn't make much of an impression on me during that time, but this song was really standing out. Perhaps it's that wordplay that is so reminiscent of Supertramp's “Logical Song!” And then it make me wish I was listening to Supertramp! But anyway, “Neurotica” is a perfectly decent song in its own right. Not only is the wordplay done well, but the atmosphere isn't as dull as the other songs. Cool.

You Bet Your Life B

That robotic chorus is kind of neat! Other than that, this song isn't too terribly engaging. Again, the melody doesn't interest me much at all... I really wish these guys would sit down and try to do that! It would make their songs good! ... But the one thing that's a big improvement about this song more than the others is that I like some of the textures. Granted, they're still pretty simple... but at least they're trying harder here than usual. ................. And behold that section in the middle with the odd time signature. ............................................................................Rush? Is that you?


Counterparts (1993)

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Counterparts

Animate A-

A big old epic song that's also incredibly fun to listen to! The guitar sounds are bigger than they've ever been before in the history of Rush. The drums are loud, but remember, this is no longer the '80s, so it's the *cool* kind of loud. There's some very minor keyboards in the background, but they lend a bit more substance to the orchestration. The riff isn't that interesting, and neither is the melody, but they actually seem to work because of this instrumentation. This bold, guitar sound is wonderful!

Stick it Out B

They're sticking it out with the strong guitar tones. In fact, these are even deeper and more menacing than the previous song was. That really helps, because the riff isn't any better than most things from Kiss. But the instrumentation continues to be really enjoyable. In the end, I'm paying much more attention to those guitars than the melody anyway. The one thing I don't care for is the middle when they slow things down to deliver this mini-ballad. I like the texture change, but that part is borrrrrring.

Cut to the Chase B-

It starts with a slow build-up and slowly culminates into this guitar heavy chorus... Listening to it flow like this is wonderful! But then they suddenly stop it and make it start over again... That's a pretty big flaw in this song's development! At any rate, this is still a good song, and that melodic guitar solo is very easy on the ears.

Nobody's Hero C+

I guess the gay-bashing crowd felt alienated after Rush released this song! I guess that proves Rush fans actually pay attention to the lyrics... Rush fans are dorks! ...OK, apart from the lyrics, this isn't a bad song. It starts with a furiously strummed, full acoustic guitar and a melody with a few good hooks in it. It goes downhill when the more hard rocking chorus comes in... The arrangements are still pretty good, but they're a little more misfired than they were in the previous tracks.

Between Sun & Moon B

Not bad! Again, this new, bolder guitar sound is really serving Rush well, and it makes me regret they weren't just doing this all along... The riffs and melodies aren't really better than they have been in recent Rush albums. Frankly, they're still a little bland. But the boldness of the instrumentals is really butt-whomping, and this is pretty entertaining!

Alien Shore C+

This still isn't bad, but the guitar style isn't quite as bracing here as it has been, and of course the melodies and harmonies haven't gotten much better. The guitars don't betray the style that they've been shooting for in this whole album, but they sound a little more routine here. None of those awesomely dark tones from “Stick it Out” or anything. I do like that sort of detached guitar solo Lifeson gives us in the middle ... something alien about that!

The Speed of Love C

Yeah, so this isn't a perfect album. Again, the guitars are still heavier and so are the drums, but this seems even blander than “Alien Shore.” The melody is so good that I'm under the impression that the song would've been better if Geddy Lee didn't sing anything on it! ... I like the sound, but I say “meh” to this overall song.

Double Agent B+

I like that the guitars here sound much more furious than the other tracks, and that starts to get my heart pumping! The drumming is also very furious thanks to those skillful chops from Peart. It's all a little dizzying, but I like that Rush is finally starting to get crazy again... I don't think that voice over thing was a good idea, though, but it doesn't really detract from the experience that much. I might have given it an A- without it, though.

Leave That Thing Alone A

This track sort of puts my earlier comment to test about these songs being better if Lifeson just wouldn't sing on them. And here's an instrumental! I think I was right... The face is very furious and the guitars are very dark. The textures change around rather frequently, but they're not nearly as jolting as they were in Rush's progressive albums. Lifeson's really having a field day with his guitars... Every once in awhile, the guitar solos sound dark and angry... other times, they're thoughtful. Peart's thunderous drumming adds extra class to the proceedings. The fade-out at the end is a little cheap, but I'm not going to complain! Good song!

Cold Fire B

This is pretty good! The melody is much blander and the guitars aren't quite as exciting... but this is still a bold and rather furious song that makes an overall good listen. I think it's easy to forget this one exists around the others, but it's perfectly good for at-the-moment listening.

Everyday Glory C

A really boring song to end things with. The guitar tones are very wimpy compared to the rest of the songs, and the textures they create come off like a huge drone unless you're paying close attention to it. The melody is the same story that they have been throughout the whole disc --- really bland and boring. Lifeson's solo in the final third blends in the background, and it's also not very good. Mmhmhmmmmhmhmmhmhmhhhmmm.


Test For Echo (1996)

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Test For Echo

Test For Echo A-

Listen to all that guitar! This song sounds so flawless that I can hardly believe it... I haven't remembered Rush ever sounding like this ... at least back to those Moving Pictures days. Geddy Lee's singing a melody that's actually interesting, and hooky. The guitars are very polished and comes in with a few great licks here and there. My only possible complaint about it is they sort of stop doing anything new halfway through (it's a six-minute song), and my interest in it wanes. But ... wow, those guitar licks! Very fun to hear!

Driven B

That menacing guitar sequence that opens this is really cool. After that, the song doesn't have that much to offer us. They seem to be returning to their former policy of delivering mediocre melodies. The song development is very clunky, at times. Some parts are good, other parts aren't. That funny rhythmic part reminiscent of “YYZ” is kind of cool, but that chorus-like section isn't so much. I gave it an extra point for that guitar tone at the very end!

Half the World B+

Not a half-bad pop song! They're concentrating a bit more on the pop-melodies instead of their brand of bland weirdness as in “Driven.” It's only three minutes, which was just the right length, and I love hearing those guitar tones. This is one remarkably well-produced album, and their efforts do not go unnoticed!

The Color of Right B

This is solidly played, and I can't think of anything wrong with it. The melody is a little bland, and it doesn't do anything to interest me. Again, the guitar tones are good enough to keep this song from sounding *truly* bland. I wish there was something significant to set it apart from the other songs, though!

Time and Motion A

This is what “Driven” wanted to be, but couldn't quite make it! This is one of Rush's more unusual rhythms, which is executed wonderfully. It's rather mid-tempo, but they create an impressively bleak atmosphere with a number of excellent guitar crunches. A few rhythm changes throughout keep the song relatively fresh (although that part in the middle might not have been their best idea).

Totem A-

This is also one of the album's better songs... It's not quite as flashy as the previous song (though it's still pretty flashy ... every song on here is). It's a relatively quieter and smoother song. I like some the way Lee sings some of the lyrics even though the melody still isn't that great. Lifeson comes in with another good guitar line. That guy is being too awesome!

Dog Years C+

Yikes... Well, I guess it they were bound to hit their faces on the brick wall, eventually. This doesn't come together nearly as well as the other songs. The guitars don't sound quite as appealing (although they're still good) and, of course, the melody is bland! It's easy to forget this song exists, and you might as well do so. I'm just glad that it didn't annoy me.

Virtuality A-

You can tell how bad “Dog Years” was just by getting a whiff of the superior songs that surrounds it. This song has this really cool dark guitar riff! It also has somewhat of a cool vocal melody in the chorus and interesting song development. (That little diversion around the 1:50 minute mark is a little odd, but it flows well with the rest of the song, and I like hearing it.) This is another whopping Rush success!

Resist B-

Eh, this song is pretty easy to resist. WATCH ME! While there's nothing too wrong with this (it's not as bad as “Dog Years”), it's just bland. It doesn't do anything that captures my interest. It shares that quality with many songs from the albums they were releasing six to eight years previously, so that's not a big deal.

Limbo B+

An instrumental. By the sound of those vocal “aahhs” and how they blend with the atmosphere, it sounds like they were trying to write a musical version of purgatory. I wouldn't put it past 'em! For some reason, I really want to hear Rush put out a purely instrumental album. No, that's not because I'm sick of Geddy Lee's voice, but these guys were such interesting performers, that they always manage to put something interesting in each and every turn. These instrumentals are probably even more vibrant than the regular songs!

Carve Away the Stone B

That guitar intro reminds me of ASSSSSSSSSSIAAAAAAA!!! ... (Sorry, I'm just a little bit bored.) Rush had the common decency to end the album with a decent song although it's of fairly average quality. It starts out well, but loses some of its steam as it progresses. The instrumentation is smooth but non-distinct (how many ways can I say that it's a guitar-heavy rocker?). It's fun to listen to, but doesn't make much of an impression. Hello, Rush!


Vapor Trails (2002)

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Vapor Trails

One Little Victory A

I never thought I would say this, but that drum solo that opens this track is really cool! And then that ultra-distorted electric guitar sounding a little bit like it's playing a Misirlou-style surfing instrumental is even cooler. The transition to the main body of the song was practically flawless (it's another reminder that Rush had gotten so much freaking better at that since their 2112 days). They start playing an incredibly dark riff that's not too far removed from heavy metal, and Geddy Lee's vocals sound ... well, good for such a song! Wow. This thing is incredibly convincing, and I love listening to it. Good flow... vaguely inspired melodic hooks... interesting development... AWESOME.

Ceiling Unlimited A-

Wow, this is nearly as great as the previous song. It doesn't quite get the same high score, because it doesn't quite leap out at me, and I think they should have shortened this by 90 seconds at least. There seems to be two main sections to this track. One is a quickly strummed electric guitar riff, that is bouncy, a little poppy, and remarkably catchy. It creates a really cool texture. The second part contains some incredibly loud and thunderous and soaring electric guitars, which sooooooooar. It's as intense and convincing as these guys have ever done. ...Wow, who knew these old farts could still rock?

Ghost Rider B-

The energy is good and undeniable, but this doesn't have anywhere near the inspiration as the previous two songs. Frankly, I find this to be rather boring. The electric guitar riffs are strictly ho-hum, and the development isn't nearly as dazzling. The shifts from the heavy guitars to a quieter acoustic bit is too sudden. It also has a very sudden ending, something a little like The Beatles' “I Want You,” but that actually wasn't too bad. Making things worse, I don't get much at all out of this vocal melody... And I don't know why, but Geddy Lee seems to have recorded himself over a half-dozen of times... it could have produced a cool atmosphere, but it came up short. That said, it's still makes a decent listen.

Peaceable Kingdom B

I'm not always impressed with such tracks. There's really nothing here but a lot of heavily distorted electric guitars, and really dark atmospheres. This is the sort of thing that is supposed to be done by younger groups. And yet, they are presenting themselves surprisingly well. They lose points for the lack of melody, memorable guitar riffs and diversity, but they gain points for the sheer energy and the atmosphere. Cool.

The Stars Look Down C

This is a lot like the previous song, except it doesn't have that driving presence. It's true that we don't want all the songs to have the same pace, but I suppose that's the problem with having songs that rely too much on the same sort of heavily distorted guitars. Since there's a lack of drive, I'm left to hope that there is a good melody to keep me interested ... but I never find one. Bland-city.

How It Is C+

Well, this is better than the last song thanks to a nice sequence of guitar riffs, though it still doesn't even have close what it needs to in order to be a wholly likable experience. The heavy guitars are getting a little old at this part, and we really start to wish that Rush would have buckled down a bit and delivered more memorable melodies.

Vapor Trail B-

The textures are a little more intricate and interesting, but this thing is noisy as hell! I also don't think this melody is good at all... Why couldn't they sit around and work out some better harmonies, and more interesting song development? I liked their work in “Ceiling Unlimited,” but this is so samey throughout, it's nothing but a huge blur to me. I have to give it credit for the textures, but I have a metaphorical headache.

Out of the Cradle C

I think I got my wish about the lack of inner-song diversity with this one. Thank goodness we get a few small breaks from the incessant noise, and they bring in a few quieter parts here. But that doesn't excuse the melodies, which are about as uninteresting as it gets. Despite the diversity, this whole thing is uninteresting. It's well-presented enough that it deserves some sort of respect, but I can't respect it much if it renders me unconscious.

Earthshine C

I'm sorry for just giving all these songs very 'dismissive' C-marks, but I've ceased to care about them. Sure, they're well-played just like everything this band has ever done even when they were making those sucky 2112 albums. But I've decided that trying to pay direct attention to this album is incredibly boring to me... and since most of them sound alike anyway, I don't feel like I'm missing much if I just give all of these songs C's and just surf the Internet a bit until they're through playing.

Sweet Miracle C

Talk about a sweet miracle, this track starts out with a guitar riff sounding a little like Aerosmith. That's not a good thing, though, because I probably hate Aerosmith than I hate Rush! But whatever. It's a guitar riff, and it sounds kind of cool. But after the first 10 seconds, it reverts back into that toneless blur that characterizes most of these songs. ...I know I said I wasn't going to pay direct attention to these songs anymore... and I really wish I stuck to that plan. The only reason I'm not awarding this anything lower is because of the cool Aerosmith riff.

Nocturne C+

Actually, I like this one OK, but it falls short in several key areas. There's a really strong drive behind it sometimes (especially a part when they deliver these really shredding guitars). This also isn't completely noisy from beginning to end, which is good, but the quieter parts are by far the dullest and least atmospheric. I'm adamantly against these dreadful melodies. Holy crap, they spent six years away from the studio and they didn't bother thinking about that a little bit?

Freeze – Part IV of Fear D+

I'm trying my hardest to keep my composure, but this album really has me crawling at the walls. I'm not scoring these songs low just because I've been sitting here the whole time and I probably need to get some exercise (in fact I took a five hour break in the middle of these track reviews). But this album is so painfully dull that I really resent having to sit through the whole thing. Ideally I should try to aim to give every song the same rating no matter where it appears in the album... I'm giving this song a C- just for the guitars, but if I was going to score it based on how it's making me feel, it would be an F I'M REALLY SICK OF THESE INCESSANTLY LOUD GUITARS. They find a particularly ugly tone to play here. This thing sounds like they're torturing a metallic cat with a stick. Making matters worse, they drag this on for well past six minutes.

Secret Touch C

Is this thing over yet? ...... just six more minutes. Hold on. (P.S. This track is nothing that the others weren't, and I'm tired as hell.)


Snakes & Arrows (2007)

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Snakes & Arrows

Far Cry 9.5/10

This enormously crisp track begins the ceremonies. It begins with a nice catchy riff, and the remainder of the track exhibits solid songwriting with excellent flow. The melody is catchy and memorable. Geddy Lee delivers a startlingly non-annoying vocal performance. It won't change your life, but it's explosive and hugely entertaining.

Armor and Sword 8.5/10

The mid-tempoed, semi-ballad is considerably heavier. Even for a six-minute slower track, it manages to sound quite nice. Again, the riffs and the melody manage to be catchy. The production is considerably more flooded, but that's what this sort of song would call for. It's quite modern sounding, but it's tasteful.

Workin' Them Angels 8/10

Not quite as catchy this time. The riff is pretty simple and bland. The dark guitar tones keep things nice, and the production is as spotless as ever. Despite that this track is only 'at-the-moment' ejoyable, it's undeniably a great though forgettable song to pipe up the volume to blast out of your stereos. You get that impression from it. (They even take a moment to bring in what sounds like a bit of Celtic guitar in the middle.)

The Larger Bowl 7.5/10

Here is an obligatory acoustic ballad... Again, I'm not a big fan of their riff or melody. It's just not that inspired. Bits of the instrumentation capture my interest (especially the more thundering bits, which end up at least gracefully letting the track go out with a shout). This doesn't make an awful listen, but it's just not that inspired.

Spindrift 10/10

But this is quite a cool song, though. This whole thing proves that Rush didn't want to completely abandon being a little off-the-wall. It begins with some echoey effects --- a strange texture that sounds like water. Some guitars pick up and thunderous drums pick up! They take a bit of a moment to deliver some ghoulish sounding vocals!! But then, they continue to go full-scale with their dark though thoroughly accessible heavy metal rock. The evil guitar tones and riff is catchy and gives this a very convincing atmosphere. Brilliant, brilliant ---- this is pure ear candy! I can't necessarily speak for their '80s work, but I definitely like this better than anything on their '70s albums. Wowsers. Masterful.

The Main Monkey Business 9.5/10

Surprisingly, they don't let-up yet. It's an instrumental and Geddy Lee's not singing!!! (Oh, wait. He's not annoying anymore. I forgot.) Of course, it's not as good, but it's still quite good. There's quite a bit of melodies here. Not only some thundering guitar passages, but even a bit of a spooky keyboard melody. The elaborate and varied structure of this track reminds me of their elaborate '70s prog meanderings. But this is much better. It's wild and varied, yet its structure is solid as a rock --- there's not one awkward transition, or even something that could be mistaken for that. The guitars are freakishly wonderful --- everything perfect. Oh, and Peart's arms still work!!!!! Those geeks are right about him.

The Way the Wind Blows 8/10

This is a little more middle-of-the-road. It starts with a piddly drum solo (playing in a militaristic way). Then the hard electric guitars pipe up. A nice, heavy riff plays and Geddy sings his melody. Structurally, it's similar to the previous two but not quite as compelling. This time, the six minute running length does manage to get a bit excessive.

Hope 7/10

A two-minute strummey acoustic song. It's not bad except there aren't too many hooks in it. I guess I could be impressed at the instrumental virtuosity, but I'm not.

Faithless 8/10

Nicely done! Hate to say that it's not as tuneful as I would have hoped. The instrumentation is solid and crystal clear. There's some brief moments in the instrumentation when they're bringing in some violins (who do they think they are, ELO?). Other than that, they're not doing anything too special. It's possible that "Spindrift" completely spoiled me.

Bravest Face 9/10

This is a bit poppier, so it stands out above some of the other ones. It contains a nice (and almost "sweet") vocal melody and, naturally, a more instrumentally flooded chorus. The instrumentation is as solid as ever --- they don't try to impress you. This one might be a little bit overproduced, but it's largely constructive. They just want to deliver a good song, and it works! There's some great and subtle guitar noodling in here.

Good News First 8/10

At this point, you get the feeling that this hour-long album is a bit --- um --- too long. It's a fine song though. It has nice texture (thanks to a calculator acoustic guitar) and some more of those dark guitars. The melody isn't special, but there's some nice flow there. This isn't wholly impressive, but it's another nice one to put on as background music.

Malignant Narcissism 9/10

Wonderful! Here is rather vicious hard rock instrumental, and it proves to be just what this album needed at this point. Very brief (clocking in at just over two minutes), it's a little sloppy, and it's more furious than anything. They even inject a bit of creativity in it with some frightening sound effects. Cool. --- They lose me in the final third when they clumsy bring in some drum solo and guitar solo snippets. Really clunky.

We Hold On 9.5/10

And they nail the conclusion. This is an appropriately blistering closing track! The guitars are going everywhere, and you'd wonder how these guys were able to keep their fingers from freaking falling off. It's another thundering and well produced track. Very fun to listen to. Not weird or creative --- they just wanted to rock out. Baby.


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All reviews are written by Michael Lawrence.