For those of you unfamiliar with their music, it's hard to know where to begin. They started in the late 60s/early 70s as a fairly straightforward heavy metal band, but with the addition of drummer/lyricist Neil Peart in 1974, they quickly moved in a much more complex and interesting direction. In subsequent albums they explored the boundary between heavy metal and progressive rock, then moved seamlessly into more radio-friendly hard rock, then onto a more keyboard-driven almost poppish sound, and then back to a hard-rocking three piece on the last few albums. Over that time they have absorbed musical influences from elsewhere in the rock world and beyond, and have continued to do it "their way" without much concern for radio play or popular press.
What unifies their work is their outstanding musicianship (all three are generally recognized as among the very best on their instruments in rock), their willingness to write complex songs that demand as much from the listener as the players, and their always interesting and intelligent (and fairly libertarian) lyrics. Their success stands as a tribute to both their ability and their integrity (yeah!). And they have always turned it up a notch in concert, with the most recent tour being no exception. This is a band that plays rock that demands to be taken seriously.
With their induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1994 (the biggest among many awards they have won), and so many young bands noting their influence, rock critics are finally, after years of scorn and derision, giving them the (grudging) respect that they have long deserved. Say what you will but this little tidbit says a lot: the Beatles and the Stones are the only bands with more gold albums than Rush, and only ZZ Top has a similar 25-plus year long stream of musical output, uninterrupted by personnel changes or stays in rehab. Even with the death of Neil's wife and daughter in 1997 and 1998, the band eventually soldiered on with the release of 2002's outstanding Vapor Trails. After an unbelievable tour, Rush seems to be back and ready for more.
you want a representative sampling of their music, I would buy the following
discs in the following order: Moving Pictures (1981 - their best and most well-known),
Power Windows (1986 - the best of the 80s keyboard sound), Vapor Trails (2002
- still rockin' and still blowing younger bands out of water), 2112 (1976 -
their breakthrough; raw, angry, energetic, ambitious, gutsy, libertarian, and
just flat out brilliant), Permanent Waves (1980 - the turn from progressive
rock, almost as brilliant Moving Pictures). For more details, go to my capsule
NEW: Read my Journal of Ayn Rand Studies paper "Rand, Rush, and Detotalizing the Utopianism of Progressive Rock" here. (PDF)
Feel free to visit my capsule reviews of all 17 Rush studio albums, and the latest live CD "Different Stages." Comments and criticisms are welcome as always.
My new second career as a devotee of rock criticism, especially the recent explosion of good books on progressive rock, has led me to create a page of book reviews of serious rock books of interest to Rush fans.
See my review of the remasters of Rush, FBN, COS, AFTK, Hemi, and PeW, which also has some thoughts on TFE.
You can read a post of mine to alt.music.rush that describes what Rush
means to me
click here. You can also read some
of the posts that followed, in no particular order, by clicking here.
Being the bright, cool, and techno-savvy folks that they are, Rush fans have virtually overrun the Internet with cool places to visit. I could not do justice to all of them, but here's the place to start:
For the really daring, you might drop by Usenet's alt.music.rush, where many of us hang out. It's a scary place, but we're actually quite nice if you play nice with us. If you like Rush, but you also think Animal House was one of the great movies of all time, and you think that there's nothing funnier than a good fart joke, and you love to talk politics, and you think that Dream Theatre is highly overrated even by their own fans, then come on by. Or take a test taste at:
www.altmusicrush.com (be sure to read the FAQ, or risk the baboons)
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