Rush, 'Tom Sawyer'
Info: Canadian rock band Rush were formed in 1968 and consist of Geddy Lee on vocals and bass, Alex Lifeson on guitar and synthesizer, Neil Peart on drums (replacing John Rutsey in 1974, 2 weeks before their first US Tour) and frontman Jeff Jones on vocals and bass. Rush were at the peak of their powers from the mid-seventies and are best known for their 1976 album 2112, which was followed by a string of successful albums culminating in 1981’s Moving Pictures, essentially flying the flag for classic progressive rock at the dawn of the 80’s.
After multiple line-up changes the band really took off after Peart replaced Rutsey, who had to quit for health reasons and an aversion to touring. Rush’s self-titled debut album was received indifferently with too many comparisons to early Led Zeppelin, and it wasn’t until Cleveland radio station WMMS started to regularly feature their debut single (a cover of Buddy Holly’s ‘Not Fade Away’) that they began to gain traction. Once their music entered the public sphere they started to gain a legion of blue collar rock fans who appreciated their hard rock sound, this led to them being signed up by American label Mercury Records in 1974.
After expanding their influences, including prog-rock bands Yes, Van Der Graaf Generator and King Crimson, Rush released 2112 which showcased their talents as masters of their individual instruments and gained them mainstream popularity and credibility. A move to the UK in the late seventies completed the metamorphosis and saw the release of critically acclaimed albums A Farewell to Kings (1977) and Hemispheres (1978).
As for the album itself, Moving Pictures, I have to say this is one of the most enjoyable rock albums I’ve come across in the last while, and it surprises me because I often think of the 80’s as the least rock decade. Of course you had the hair bands, such as Def Leppard, Poison, Kix and a load of others (the start of Guns N’ Roses), but what makes Rush’s album stand out is that it’s a mix of ‘traditional’ seventies prog-rock and 80’s synth, but it works, perfectly, no better exemplified than on the third track, the instrumental ‘YYZ’, which goes from solid guitar riffs to slowed down synthesizer and back again. Highlights for me are the opening two tracks, ‘Tom Sawyer’ and ‘Red Barchetta’, but in all honesty, all 7 tracks are very strong and thoroughly enjoyable, it makes me feel like I’m listening to The Eagles’ Hotel California album turned up to 11. Fan of rock music? Check it out.
1. Tom Sawyer
2. Red Barchetta
5. The Camera Eye
6. Witch Hunt
7. Vital Signs