Rush - The discography

There is little to say about Rush, many have called them the "Pink Floyd from Canada" but as far as I'm concerned these gentlemen cannot be compared to anyone, technically superior without ever bragging about them, united, capable of making 99% of albums with the same line-up, as well as brilliant without ever taking themselves too seriously: how can we forget the Barbies put in front of the guitarist like groupies or the sets made of real rotisseries or working washing machines.

Telling their discography is a long, thorough and certainly demanding job, so I will limit myself to a few hints of their record releases, focusing above all on the stylistic variations that have affected their history. And so...

(Article by Enrico Spinelli)

RUSH (1974)
Debut as immature as it is fresh and fun for the Canadian band that presents itself with a hard rock/blues inspired by sacred monsters such as Led Zeppelin and Cream, which can count on the peculiar vocal performance of bassist Gaddy Lee. "Finding my Way" and "In The Mood", to name two, are as direct as they are engaging, and the concluding "Working Man" will become an unmissable classic at the end of their shows. The only record not to present Neil Peart on drums.

The drummer Neil Peart enters the line-up. Since then, the Line-Up will no longer experience any upheavals but, on the contrary, all the elements of the group will find their own balance, with a consequent improvement in musical proposal, as can already be seen from this work. Peart's work on writing brings the band a breath of fantasy well represented by the suite "By-Tor and the Snow Dogs" and Tolkien's "Rivendell". The direct title track that evokes the night transfer from Canada to London of the drummer and his family is thrilling. Other memorable tracks include the violent "Anthem" and the fast "Beneath, Between and Behind". A record that marks a real maturation leap for ours.

Having reached their third work, the group is expected to achieve definitive commercial consecration, which unfortunately does not happen: the album in fact sells less than the previous one and is considered by critics as a step backward, so much to be later one of the least looted works in live performances. Let's say that with hindsight the fact, not indifferent, of being between two capital works pays off (the second of which will give way to an absurd series of masterpieces) and has paved the way for large suites even if in still immature form ( "The Necromancer" and the long "The Fountain of Lamneth" already show the distinctive signs of our future proposal, more marked by emotion than cold virtuosity). The other 3 tracks shine for spontaneity, especially the epic "Bastille Day" and the melodic "Lakeside Park". A job to be rediscovered.

2112 (1976)
The album of the group's consecration and narrative talent of Neil Peart who in the long title track bases a dystopian sci-fi mini concept of rare power, epicity and wickedness, a true masterpiece. Yet it would be wrong to neglect the rest, from the oriental "A Passage to Bangkok" (which is very reminiscent of "Bastille Day"), the suggestive "The Twilight Zone" and "Tears" and the rocking "Something for Nothing", a perfect job to be reductive. 2 curious notes: this disc appears among the "homework" assigned by Jack Black in the film "School of Rock" and the title track takes up an entire passage of the novel "Ready Player One". With this record ends the first phase of the history of Rush, immortalized by the beautiful live "All the World Stage".

The second period in the history of Rush officially begins, perhaps the most "progressive" one, as denoted by the great experimentation and the search for new stylistic solutions, all without ever leading to virtuosity as an end in itself, as evidenced by this work, well balanced between more immediate songs such as the title-track, the radio "Closer to the Heart" and the almost epic "Cinderella Man" and monumental suites such as "Xanadu" (inspired by a Coleridge's poem) and the science fiction "Cygnus X-1"... you fly high and in style.

The band allows themselves the luxury of releasing a work of only 4 tracks with a long instrumental entitled "La Villa Strangiato", a piece that will remain in the hearts of fans. The rest of the album is no exception, with the long "Cygnus X-1 2", a mythological themed suite of great impact, the rocking "Circumstances" and the ecological parable of "The Trees". It is not known where these three can get their ideas from, but they are certainly not in debt for oxygen.

The path traced by the previous albums continues with an eye more shifted towards the dimension and rock as demonstrated by the anthemics "Spirit of Radio" and "Free Will", classics that cannot be missed in live venues. There is no shortage of impact suites such as the suggestive "Jacob Ladder" and above all "Natural Science". If perhaps the surprise effect is missing, however, the usual class is not lacking, and it is already a lot.

As "2112" represents the consecration of the first period in some ways it can be considered as the perfect compendium of the second phase, the most balanced on an experimental, progressive, and rock level: "Tom Sawyer", "Red Barchetta", "Limelight" and the beloved instrumental "YYZ" represent real classics, far from cold virtuosity or technique as an end in itself, characteristics that we also find in the long "The Camera Eye". Suggestive the obscure "Witch Hunt" as well as the final "Vital Sign". Electronics are becoming increasingly popular, with some reggae hints, elements that will characterize the next phase of the group's history. Testimony of this period is the excellent, even if coldly perfect, "Exit Stage... Left".

SIGNALS (1982)
New tour and new research! The music goes more and more to synthetic sounds that often take over the canonical instruments: proof of this is the open "Subdivisions", particularly suggestive and successful with its almost ethereal gait. There is no shortage of more classic moments such as "Analog Kid" and "New World Man", while the overrated (Rush will recover it for the 40-year show) "Losing It", is a simply creepy song that stands out. The group slightly sheds its skin but holds its own!

Remaining well anchored to electronic experimentation, however, Rush returns to insert a little more energy, as evidenced by the more powerful "Distant Early Warning" (frightening arrangement), "The Body Electric" and "Kid Gloves" or the more articulated "Between the Wheels". Absolute and dramatic "Red Sector A" wonder that recalls the experience in the Nazi concentration camps of Gaddy Lee's family. Perhaps the most successful record of the group's "third life".

More balanced between rock and modernity, this work is characterized by a greater physicality of the compositions, as evident from the opener "Big Money", as well as the most epic moments such as the dreamy "Manhattan Project" and "Marathon". The experiments continue on the almost tribal "Territories" where the electric guitar makes its beautiful appearance. Finally, "Grand Designs" and "Mystic Rhythms" should not be overlooked.

Perhaps one of the most underrated works of the band, the record shows a clear prevalence of modern sounds, which nevertheless blend perfectly with mature and well-structured compositions, giving us a pleasant and homogeneous sound experience. Songs like "Force Ten", "Time Stand Still" and "The Mission" are in all respects classics that will be periodically fished out, even after supporting the tour from which the live "A Show of Hands" will be taken, the third seal of the history of the band before the fourth phase, once again more music.

PRESTO (1989)
The fourth life of Rush starts with a very bizarre cover, a pyramid full of rabbits, and with a record that far distances itself from what it has heard in the recent past: modern experimentation is almost entirely less in favour of a more direct and rock, as evidenced by the opener "Show Don't Tell". The songs are all of the canonical duration and more classic solutions are preferred, all without giving up on the quality front: the title track and "The Pass" are memorable, while the more articulated "War Paint" must absolutely be rediscovered. Some hints of funk music appear which will also return later.

The path of cleaning up from the effects continues with a work that moves on to another strong of experimentation, including more and more funk influences as in the famous title track, which also includes a short rap section. Memorable the powerful opener "Dreamline" and the subsequent dreamy "Bravado", as well as the direct "Ghost of a Chance" and "The Big Wheel". A work that has had conflicting opinions but which confirms the group's intention to walk its own path without setting any limits.

If it weren't for Gaddy Lee's unmistakable voice it would be hard to say that these are Rush! Purged of all forms of modernity and synthesizers, ours offer a rather direct and dry rock work, bordering on the Alternative. Songs like "Animate", "Stick it Out", "Leave That thing Alone" and "Between Sun and Moon" perfectly combine the verb of the Canadians albeit in an almost completely new guise. For many, a step forward compared to the previous one, which however I like more, certainly a more homogeneous and direct work.

The substance does not change that much, except perhaps a greater melodic research, but the group continues decisively along the road of simplicity, presenting a nice hard rock album with alternative and funk veins where excellent songs stand out such as the evocative title track, the live "Driven" and "Resist". This marks the end of the fourth phase of the band, immortalized by the splendid live "Different Stages" (considered by many to be the best Rush live album), and also seems to herald the end of everything. Following the heavy death in Neil Peart's life, the band will in fact decide to stop, always according to the rule of "all for one one for all" (which is rare in the world of music) and for 5 years they will no longer hear about it.

Years pass and the group returns and does it in style. The fifth life of Rush takes up and harmonizes the main elements of the past enriching them with a more rocky sound, bordering on metal. It seems incredible that the band is still able to create excellent compositions, the fact is that "One Little Victory" is very bad, "Earthshine" and "Secret Touch" are beautiful, but all the songs deserve, without moments of boredom, the whole despite the considerable duration.
In this phase of the band's history, a large number of live shows will be released, at least a couple for each album, and all of them are great, starting from the monumental "Rush in Rio" up to the splendid and unfortunately last "R40".

Being able to cope with a masterpiece like the previous album is an almost impossible undertaking, but the band still release more than a decent album, whose only flaw is perhaps the presence of too many tracks. The powerful "Far Cry", "Working The Angel" and "Faithless" are true masterpieces, the blues-like "The Way The Wind Blows" is suggestive and "We Hold On" is reassuring. 3 instrumentals among which the beautiful "Main Monkey Business" stands out. Slightly verbose but still full of good music.

A band on the threshold of 40 years of career and with a series of masterpieces in the curriculum that would make oceans of bands pale, what can you expect from them? An absolute fucking masterpiece, but it's obvious. In the face of all the caryatids who live on income, the three Canadians churn out a work of rare excellence and beauty, the first true concept album in their history. And since our folks don't like the easy game they choose as a single the perhaps less radio song, the beautiful "Headlong Flight", a pearl among the thousand pearls of the album that appears as a true compendium of the group's art. It is useless to mention a single piece of such a perfect work, yet I cannot fail to highlight the spectacular "The Garden" placed at the end, an artistic epitaph of the band and, alas, an unwanted farewell.
Giovanni Gagliano

Passionate about music I wrote my first article for "Given To Rock" in 2012, reaching now 30K global followers. I am also a musician, gigging around London.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post