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RUSH

Heavy Prog • Canada


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Rush biography
Formed in Toronto, Canada in 1968

RUSH are a pioneering line-up of Seventies Progressive rock, who influenced many Prog, hard-rock and heavy metal bands. This Canadian band is composed of bassist, singer and keyboard player Geddy LEE, guitarist Alex LIFESON and renowned drummer Neil PEART. In 1974 John RUTSEY was replaced by Peart who also assumed the role of the band's primary songwriter. Acclaimed for their instrumental virtuosity, their lyrics and longevity, throughout their 40+ year career they've proved to be the masters of their respective instruments while creating challenging yet popular music. They have the record for the third most consecutive gold or platinum albums for a band on the US album chart behind The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

Now, a brief summary of the band's career ...
Through the history of RUSH, they have passed through many distinct phases. Every one of these phases represents a triumph in music, allowing the band to move on. As at the end of all of RUSH's phases, a live LP was released. This tradition began with "All The World's A Stage", recorded live at Massey Hall in Toronto, Canada. Since then, the group has released three additional live albums: the best selling "Exit... Stage Left" (1981), "A Show of Hands" (1989), and the three-disc set "Different Stages" (1998), which encompasses three decades of the group's music.

FIRST PHASE (1974-1976):
In the beginning, they started off as hard rock blues outfit with John-boy before he left and Neil came in, bringing his sci-fi mind into the works. The music seems to be a transition between straight-ahead rock tunes and more complex progressive tracks. "Caress of Steel" is a landmark album in the history of RUSH. Lyrically and musically, "2112" was a masterpiece. This multi-platinum release remains one of RUSH's best-selling albums.

SECOND PHASE (1977-1981):
They moved headlong into progressive rock in the later part of the decade, starting with the album previous and right on to their massive breakthrough, 1981's "Moving Pictures". Synthesizers were now employed by the band, played in the studio and on stage by Geddy. This was the end of transition from long epic pieces to shorter, more concise, and intricate songs. "Permanent Waves" is widely considered to be second only to "Moving Pictures" as RUSH's finest achievement.

THIRD PHASE (198...
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A Farewell To Kings [3 CD][40th Anniversary Edition]A Farewell To Kings [3 CD][40th Anniversary Edition]
Mercury 2017
Audio CD$23.41
2112 [2 CD/DVD][40th Anniversary]2112 [2 CD/DVD][40th Anniversary]
Mercury 2016
Audio CD$23.47
$25.99 (used)
The Spirit Of Radio: Greatest Hits 1974-1987The Spirit Of Radio: Greatest Hits 1974-1987
Remastered
Mercury 2003
Audio CD$4.79
$1.19 (used)
Moving Pictures [LP]Moving Pictures [LP]
Mercury 2015
Vinyl$21.51
$11.00 (used)
2112 [Remastered]2112 [Remastered]
Remastered
Mercury 1997
Audio CD$3.00
$1.85 (used)
Hemispheres (Remastered)Hemispheres (Remastered)
Remastered
Mercury 1997
Audio CD$4.86
$4.21 (used)
Caress Of Steel [Remastered]Caress Of Steel [Remastered]
Remastered
Mercury 1997
Audio CD$4.72
$4.71 (used)
Rush (Remastered)Rush (Remastered)
Remastered
Mercury 1997
Audio CD$3.77
$3.55 (used)
GoldGold
Remastered
Mercury 2006
Audio CD$7.39
$4.66 (used)
Permanent WavesPermanent Waves
Remastered
Mercury 1997
Audio CD$4.79
$3.76 (used)
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RUSH discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

RUSH top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.93 | 973 ratings
Rush
1974
3.36 | 1083 ratings
Fly By Night
1975
3.53 | 1152 ratings
Caress Of Steel
1975
4.11 | 1883 ratings
2112
1976
4.32 | 1991 ratings
A Farewell To Kings
1977
4.36 | 2149 ratings
Hemispheres
1978
4.29 | 1844 ratings
Permanent Waves
1980
4.40 | 2539 ratings
Moving Pictures
1981
3.95 | 1201 ratings
Signals
1982
3.70 | 1046 ratings
Grace Under Pressure
1984
3.55 | 908 ratings
Power Windows
1985
3.28 | 830 ratings
Hold Your Fire
1987
3.16 | 767 ratings
Presto
1989
3.09 | 779 ratings
Roll The Bones
1991
3.76 | 836 ratings
Counterparts
1993
2.86 | 760 ratings
Test For Echo
1996
3.43 | 780 ratings
Vapor Trails
2002
3.58 | 886 ratings
Snakes & Arrows
2007
3.96 | 985 ratings
Clockwork Angels
2012

RUSH Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.86 | 410 ratings
All The World's A Stage
1976
4.05 | 525 ratings
Exit... Stage Left
1981
3.49 | 377 ratings
A Show Of Hands
1989
4.37 | 358 ratings
Different Stages - Live
1998
3.82 | 325 ratings
Rush - In Rio
2003
4.20 | 182 ratings
R30 - 30th Anniversary World Tour
2005
3.60 | 210 ratings
Snakes & Arrows Live
2008
3.95 | 164 ratings
Grace Under Pressure 1984 Tour
2009
3.59 | 63 ratings
ABC 1974
2011
3.40 | 150 ratings
Time Machine 2011: Live in Cleveland
2011
3.38 | 62 ratings
Moving Pictures: Live 2011
2011
4.02 | 83 ratings
Clockwork Angels Tour
2013
4.31 | 13 ratings
Kiel Auditorium, St Louis, MI, February 14 1980
2015
4.57 | 14 ratings
R40 Live
2015

RUSH Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.98 | 126 ratings
Exit... Stage Left (VHS)
1981
3.37 | 37 ratings
Through The Camera Eye
1984
4.00 | 104 ratings
Grace Under Pressure Tour (DVD)
1985
4.01 | 106 ratings
A Show of Hands
1989
3.05 | 81 ratings
Chronicles
1990
4.36 | 259 ratings
Rush in Rio
2003
4.42 | 252 ratings
R30 - 30th Anniversary World Tour
2005
4.05 | 133 ratings
Replay x 3
2006
4.14 | 143 ratings
Snakes & Arrows Live
2008
2.81 | 44 ratings
Working Men
2009
4.68 | 270 ratings
Beyond the Lighted Stage
2010
4.21 | 76 ratings
Classic Albums: 2112 - Moving Pictures
2010
3.91 | 98 ratings
Time Machine 2011: Live in Cleveland
2011
3.92 | 59 ratings
Clockwork Angels Tour
2013
4.36 | 36 ratings
R40 Live
2015
4.80 | 10 ratings
Time Stand Still
2016

RUSH Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.41 | 56 ratings
Archives
1978
2.74 | 25 ratings
Through Time
1978
3.50 | 2 ratings
Anthology
1984
3.60 | 104 ratings
Chronicles
1991
3.31 | 71 ratings
Retrospective I (1974-1980)
1997
3.20 | 67 ratings
Retrospective II (1981-1987)
1997
3.12 | 78 ratings
The Spirit Of Radio (Greatest Hits 1974-1987)
2003
3.11 | 52 ratings
Gold
2006
2.92 | 53 ratings
Retrospective III 1989 - 2008
2009
2.77 | 42 ratings
Working Men
2009
1.82 | 29 ratings
Time Stand Still: The Collection
2010
2.32 | 28 ratings
Icon
2010
4.15 | 38 ratings
Sector 1
2011
4.54 | 42 ratings
Sector 2
2011
4.54 | 41 ratings
Sector 3
2011
3.29 | 7 ratings
Icon 2
2011
4.20 | 26 ratings
The Studio Albums 1989-2007
2013
4.70 | 10 ratings
2112 40th Anniversary edition
2016

RUSH Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.01 | 37 ratings
Not Fade Away
1973
2.80 | 27 ratings
Finding My Way
1974
2.67 | 6 ratings
In The Mood
1974
0.00 | 0 ratings
Bastille Day
1975
3.05 | 28 ratings
Fly by Night
1975
3.04 | 28 ratings
The Twilight Zone
1976
3.56 | 35 ratings
2112: Overture/The Temples of Syrinx
1976
3.66 | 36 ratings
Closer to The Heart
1977
2.27 | 20 ratings
Everything Your Listeners Wanted To Hear By Rush... But Were Afraid To Play
1977
3.37 | 11 ratings
The Trees
1978
4.11 | 47 ratings
The Spirit of Radio
1980
2.80 | 42 ratings
Entre Nous
1980
3.95 | 52 ratings
Tom Sawyer
1981
4.18 | 11 ratings
Tom Sawyer / A Passage To Bangkok / Red Barchetta
1981
3.89 | 9 ratings
Vital Signs / Passage To Bangkok / Circumstances / In The Mood
1981
4.14 | 9 ratings
Subdivisions
1982
3.71 | 7 ratings
Countdown
1982
3.14 | 38 ratings
New World Man
1982
3.67 | 6 ratings
The Body Electric
1984
3.56 | 36 ratings
Distant Early Warning
1984
3.50 | 2 ratings
Afterimage
1984
3.08 | 37 ratings
The Big Money
1986
4.20 | 5 ratings
Prime Mover
1987
4.60 | 5 ratings
Closer To The Heart
1989
4.00 | 8 ratings
The Pass
1989
2.84 | 19 ratings
Ghost of a chance
1992
4.00 | 6 ratings
Roll The Bones
1992
1.89 | 20 ratings
The Story Of Kings
1992
3.05 | 25 ratings
Stick It Out
1993
3.33 | 27 ratings
One Little Victory
2002
2.83 | 193 ratings
Feedback
2004
3.80 | 5 ratings
Summertime Blues
2004
3.51 | 40 ratings
Far Cry
2007
4.10 | 128 ratings
Caravan / BU2B
2010
3.59 | 75 ratings
Headlong Flight
2012
4.57 | 7 ratings
The Garden
2013
3.00 | 3 ratings
7 and 7 is
2014
4.25 | 4 ratings
Roll The Bones
2015

RUSH Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Grace Under Pressure by RUSH album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.70 | 1046 ratings

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Grace Under Pressure
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by martindavey87

4 stars Following on from where 'Signals' left off, 1984's 'Grace Under Pressure' sees Rush fully embrace the 80's synthesizer era of music, with some of their most radio-friendly and keyboard-driven pieces yet, but without losing any integrity or sense of identity. It makes for some easy-listening progressive rock, which can appeal to fans of the genre and non- fans alike.

Surprisingly, a lot of people were put off by what they consider Rush's "pop era", though personally I find this to be some of the bands most accessible material. Admittedly the second half of the album is a little on the weak side, but the first half is absolutely stellar, and consists of some of my all-time favourite Rush tunes.

'Distant Early Warning', 'Afterimage', 'Red Sector A' and 'The Enemy Within' (check that bass line!) are all perfectly crafted songs. Each one remains true to the band's sound while adapting to that periods musical trends. They're fantastic songs, incredibly catchy, creative, and well performed. Although, as mentioned above, the second half of the album does get a little stale. They're not awful by any stretch, in fact, 'The Body Electric' and 'Between the Wheels' aren't too shabby, but they pale in comparison to the previous tracks.

Well-produced to truly emphasize that glorious 80's pop vibe, Rush's 'Grace Under Pressure' is a fantastic album that shows a band able to keep with the times and avoid stagnation while delivering a product that is undeniably their own. Despite the weaker second half, I still consider this one of their finest releases.

 Moving Pictures by RUSH album cover Studio Album, 1981
4.40 | 2539 ratings

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Moving Pictures
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by martindavey87

4 stars I remember back in 2006, at the age of 19, I was playing in a band with a drummer who wanted to do a cover of 'Tom Sawyer'. I'd heard of Rush and was well-aware of how they'd inspired countless others, but I'd yet to actually listen to them. Oddly enough, around the same time, another friend of mine (a bassist... poor fella), was digging the instrumental track 'YYZ'. I was blown away by both songs, and when I found out they appeared on the same album, the decision was made. And so 'Moving Pictures', coincidentally one of Rush's most beloved and renowned releases, also served as my introduction to the Canadian rockers.

Not a bad place to start.

Having started as a traditional hard rock outfit, by the time Rush reached 'Moving Pictures', their eighth studio release, they were firmly established as a progressive rock act, with their music full of the traits associated with the genre. While the band had used keyboards and synthesizers before, this album ushered the trio into the 80's, in which their music would become much more keyboard-driven, adapting to the musical trends of the time, whilst never compromising their own identity.

Containing fan favourites such as 'Tom Sawyer', 'YYZ', 'Limelight', 'Vital Signs' and 'Red Barchetta', 'Moving Pictures' features excellent performances by everyone involved, with no self-indulgent endless musical passages, every note on this record has true meaning behind it, and is wonderfully produced to ensure the band sound as majestic as ever.

Highly regarded amongst fans as Rush's greatest release, 'Moving Pictures' is a classic album that rightfully deserves it's place in every progressive rock collection.

 Rush by RUSH album cover Studio Album, 1974
2.93 | 973 ratings

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Rush
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by martindavey87

3 stars Arguably one of the most influential and beloved bands of all time, Canada's Rush came from humble beginnings, with this 1974 self-titled debut, which sees the Canadian three-piece as not much more than a standard hard rock outfit, long before they adopted a more progressive sound that would garner them worldwide fame.

Although it's not really the sort of thing I'd normally listen to, and certainly not the first Rush album I'd reach for, 'Rush' is still a nice little record. It's 40-minute duration makes it an easy listen, and although none of the tracks are notably memorable compared to their later material (with the possible exception of 'Working Man', which was an early hit for the band), they're still fairly catchy and certainly won't cause any harm.

Forming six years prior to the release of this record, it's evident in the music that this is a band that have had time to gel and really develop their own identity with their music. Geddy Lee's powerful voice bellows with a high-pitched passion that has yet to be tarnished by age or years of touring, and Alex Lifeson's guitar work, though not quite as instantly recognizable as it would become in later years, is still confident and impressive.

'Finding My Way', 'Here Again', 'Before and After', 'Working Man' and my personal favourite, 'What You're Doing' are all highlights of this album, though as I've mentioned before, most of them will be overshadowed by the bands later output, and that's not a slight on 'Rush', but a testament to how great this band will become.

 Hemispheres by RUSH album cover Studio Album, 1978
4.36 | 2149 ratings

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Hemispheres
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by Luqueasaur

4 stars No prog n' no problem: 8/10

Truth be told, I always found RUSH's flirting with prog rock laughable. Not only their "innovations" are dated, but they are not innovations at all. While the musical movement shook the earth in the early 70s, RUSH was busy playing simpleton hard rock (that bordered metal) tracks. This obviously doesn't take their merit as accomplished musicians and creators of good music, but I feel I would be ridiculous to visualize RUSH as a progressive powerhouse. So much so that, after their "prog" phase, they hopped in the synthesizer-driven poppish rock trend of the early 80s without a single flinch. Almost as if they were glad that they had no longer to worry about faking a "prog" posture. Honestly, their music became more natural.

Putting this aside, HEMISPHERES, just like most of their songs in the "prog era" (or almost any era I have listened to, to be honest) is fun to listen to. I can't seem to find any excerpt of theirs that sounds saddened or melancholic or to put it simply, isn't downright upbeat. Their joviality, cheerfulness and a rather unpretentious (well, unwillingly, because eighteen minutes long tracks aren't written accidentally) approach to music are so appealing to me.

Hemispheres is perhaps their most polemic work. Deemed by some as boring and dragging and others as enjoyable, this has a lot to do with its lack of diversity on the riff repertoire. There's also a debate whether the lyrics are overly cheesy or a well-crafted lyrical fountain. I belong to the latter group. I love this song.

Circumstances show that RUSH never truly abandoned their simple and unadorned approach to hard rock.

The Trees is a weird version of a fable. Rather than featuring animals, it features plants. Lyrics tell of small trees that, due to lack of sunlight, joins in a syndicate against the larger trees that absorbs it all. In the end - spoilers - all trees are chopped so what difference does it take? The distilled sarcasm is sturdy, resembling Frank Zappa's. Also, the midsection features a delightful and serene atmosphere as Peart plays the temple/wood blocks.

La Villa Strangiato is their acclaimed and indisputably most 'progressive' work, an instrumental song with various jams and sections that showcase their fullest potential. Didn't give many listens to it, but from what I've heard it sounds masterful.

If you are willing to ignore the debatable "lack" or "abundance" of progressiveness in their songs and just enjoy it labellessly, I'm pretty sure you're going to have a good time with it. I did.

(originally written to rateyourmusic, hence the review's less substantiality than I usually put)

 A Farewell To Kings by RUSH album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.32 | 1991 ratings

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A Farewell To Kings
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A Farewell to Kings was a step forward in the right direction for Rush!

After very good but not excellent releases like Caress of Steel and 2112, they managed to improve their epic progressive rock with glimpses of space rock mixed with a more conventional and commercial 70's hard rock in this album, achieving a very good collection of songs with moments of true mastery.

A Farewell to Kings opens with a medieval melody and beautiful classical guitars, but soon derives into a majestic and slow riff, which introduces a typical Rush's hard rock song. After the moment 3'20'' the song transform itself in a progressive wonder, which in my opinion surpasses all that Rush had made until this moment.

Xanadu is even better. A true classic with a mystical and space-rock opening worthy of the best science fiction film. After that, we can hear a great crescendo, which leads to one of the finest Rush's song, with an outstanding instrumental work on it.

Closer to the Heart starts beautifully with precious guitar and vocal melodies, and after that transform itself in a fine rock tune. Cinderella Man is similar, but a bit more complex and a wonderful bass, especially during the rather strange Lifeson solo (this man has a weird technique in his solos in my opinion) when Geddy Lee plays in a rather funky way.

Madrigal is a mellow and slow tune, in the vein of Rivendell from Fly By Night? However, it ends too soon! I don't understand why, because I think this song could have bit better with a bit more complexity and development. Nevertheless, Cygnux X-1 mends that, because it is another wonderful progressive-space rock song with a spectacular bass at the beginning, some dark and mysterious melodies and the best guitar solo of the album in my opinion. It remembers me to 2112, but better in every sense.

Conclusion: A Farewell to Kings is not a masterpiece in my opinion, but it's an excellent addition to any prog-rock collection because it's great musicianship, original songwriting and a pair of outstanding songs. They achieved a more focused and natural sound here, after four good but not splendid albums.

In addition, I think that the band reached its maturity with this release and because of that, A Farewell to Kings is one of their most important records, although I prefer the style that they practiced after Permanent Waves.

Best Tracks: A Farewell to Kings, Xanadu, Cygnus X-1.

My rating: ****

 Grace Under Pressure by RUSH album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.70 | 1046 ratings

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Grace Under Pressure
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by Walkscore

4 stars This is a bit hard to rate as a Rush album. It breaks significantly with the sound of previous albums (even with Signals, which also broke with the sound before it). Alex Lifeson's guitar sound went from progressive rock power chords and fast solos, to ethereal echo-laden Andy Summers-like accents. There are no epics. Geddy is singing down the register. This album largely set the formula that would be followed on Power Windows and Hold Your Fire, two of Rush's weaker albums from the 1980s. Yet, Grace Under Pressure is really good! The songs have more potency and urgency than anything on either Signals or the other 80s albums. Neil Peart has said this album was made during a difficult time, emotionally, for the band. Perhaps that spurred to members to feel things more and to put their hearts into the compositions. The songs on this album are consistently good, even if very different from the style set by Rush's 70's classics. The lyrics here are some of Neil Peart's best, in my opinion (not only poignant, but full of double entendres, puns, etc - I even remember reading that MAD magazine had awarded them some award for the humourous lyrics). So, while for me Signals feels too safe somehow, this album feels like the band are taking some real risks and laying their creative souls on the line. The album flows exceptionally well as an album. While some tunes got more radio play, I think virtually all the songs on this one are very close to each other in quality, not "essential" but solid, with great lyrics. For me, this is one of the few Rush albums they did post-Moving Pictures that deserves four stars. I give it 8.2 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 PA stars.
 Hemispheres by RUSH album cover Studio Album, 1978
4.36 | 2149 ratings

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Hemispheres
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by Walkscore

3 stars This is one of Rush's "Kimono" albums. Clearly, they were under pressure to come up with something that could meet the expectations set by Farewell to Kings. While "The Trees" and "La Villa Strangiato" are excellent (among Rush's best songs), the rest of the album suffers. As Neil Peart himself said about this album, looking back it was clear they were "reaching". This is most evident in the long epic "Cygnus X Book II Hemispheres". While I usually love long epic compositions, and I LOVED Cygnus X-1 on Farewell to Kings, I think Rush were tired and trying to hard when composing this follow-up. It probably could have been a decent 7-minute tune, but by stretching it out to 18 minutes they felt compelled to come back too often to the "I bring..." theme, which gets tiring after a while and is the least musical theme on the album. This, to me, is a good example of how long does not necessarily equate to musical. (And while "Circumstances" is fine and listenable it is nothing too special). With the test of time mainly only supporting Trees and Villa, which I admit are essential SONGS, I can't call the entire album "essential" or a "masterpiece", or even "excellent". I give this 7.6 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is short of the threshold needed for 4 stars. So, for the album, 3 PA stars.
 A Farewell To Kings by RUSH album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.32 | 1991 ratings

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A Farewell To Kings
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by Walkscore

4 stars As a Canadian who has been listening to Rush for eons (essentially since I began collecting albums), I will go out (slightly) on a limb here and claim this to be Rush's best album, although by a hair (over Moving Pictures). It contains what I think are three of Rush's best compositions (Farewell to Kings, Xanadu, and Cygnus X-1), as well as one of Rush's best and best known hit singles (Closer to the Heart). Indeed, Xanadu is a classic, and although I think it works even better live (e.g. the version on Exit Stage Left), it fits very well on this album. I also think this is where Neil Peart's lyric writing matured sufficiently that it does not get in the way of the music (many of his lyrics are previous albums gratingly ideological), even to the point that the lyrics on 'Closer to the Heart' can resonate (positively) with anyone. The music is sufficiently diverse to keep the album interesting and flowing. The guitar chords/progression on Cygnus X-1 for me defines the Rush sound perfectly. I also think Cygnus X-1 is Rush's most successful epic. Why not a five-star rating? Well, not all of the songs are 5-star quality (Cinderella Man, Madrigal), and even though I love this album, it is not in the top 50, and when I compare it to other 5-star albums (like Close to the Edge, or Harmonium's albums), well it can't quite make it. I give this 8.8 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is just a bit short of the level needed for 5 stars. So, PA 4 stars.
 Moving Pictures by RUSH album cover Studio Album, 1981
4.40 | 2539 ratings

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Moving Pictures
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by Walkscore

4 stars A Classic.

Defining in many ways the Rush sound, Moving Pictures should probably be the first of their albums you pick up. I say this even though it is my second-favourite Rush album (my fav is Farewell to Kings), because this album is the key that links everything that came before with all that came after. It is in a way a microcosm of the Rush spirit, even though one might easily date it to its specific release/recorded year. And of course, it is high quality. Every song here is excellent. By now most if not all will know "Tom Sawyer" (the opener) and "Limelight" (the other single). "Red Barchetta" and the amazing instrumental "YYZ" (so named for the Toronto Pearson Airport code) also still receive widespread airplay. But these are all complex songs, very difficult to play. The second side is also quite good. The song "Witch Hunt" is often overlooked among Rush fans, but it is one of their best (and dare I say even more pertinent to contemporary politics in so many countries?). And the closing tune, "Vital Signs" is a great Rush original. Like previous Rush albums, which often featured a few epics or at least extended songs, there is also one longish tune here, the 10-minute "Camera Eye". This is also quite good, but perhaps not as well realized as the rest of the album. I also find it harkens a bit close in one spot to the "lost in the city" part of Yes' "Heart of the Sunrise". But perhaps that is Rush's way of saluting Yes? At any rate, it is a very minor issue, and the album can only be described as excellent. I give this album 8.7 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to (high) 4 PA stars.

 A Farewell To Kings by RUSH album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.32 | 1991 ratings

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A Farewell To Kings
Rush Heavy Prog

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

2 stars To put it quite simply, this is a disappointing album, and I think its faults are best summarized with a track by track.

Starting things off, we're greeted to a more serene Rush than we've ever heard before. Classical guitar? Lush synthesizers? What is this blasphemy?!? After about a minute of inconsequential softness, though, the Rush we're more familiar with reenters the picture. A nice hard-hitting riff comes in and sweeps us off our feet. Admittedly, "A Farewell To Kings" is a fine track. It's not the best opener in Rush's catalogue, and even the main body of the song itself shows a marked lack of the exuberance that they so faithfully put into each and every second of their first four albums. Unfortunately, this will serve to be a common motif for the album.

With the opener drawing to a close, it's at this point that I'd like to say something along the lines of "and now here's where the prog awesomeness comes in!", but I really can't. "Xanadu" occupies the remainder of side two, and is the first "epic" of the album. It's really difficult for me to call it that, though, even in quotation marks, because there's really nothing evocative, daring, or thrilling about it. 3 minutes of dated synthesizers open it off, in some futile attempt to create atmosphere, but it does absolutely nothing for me. Fortunately, just as I'm reaching for the skip button, that's when Alex Lifeson saves the day with some more good ol' fashion Rush riff-age. Unfortunately, then, the track never develops past being a collection of riffs, sometimes interspersed with "dramatic" breaks synth effects that wouldn't seem unfit for a 90's new age album, or an Asia b-side. In general, "Xanadu" is simply a flawed track. While there are enjoyable moments, namely when the band actually decides to *rock* a little (Lifeson's solo is quite good, really), the dreadful synth tones, and the start-and-stop tendency make this one really difficult to appreciate as a whole. After sitting through this, I can't help but think "man, this sure makes the last track look good in comparison". And, unfortunately, that sentiment is perhaps the most commonly recurring motif on the whole album.

Side two opens with "Closer To The Heart" and "Cinderella Man", which just let that "man, that sure makes the last track look good in comparison" magic keep on delivering. Forgettable riffs, low energy performances, you name it. These are simply sub-par rock numbers. "Madrigal" just keeps the disappointment and immemorability coming, but it's not until the album's closing "epic" that those sentiments reach an all-time high.

Ah, "Cygnus X-1". No wonder people can't take prog seriously, if this is the kind of stuff that serves as the genre's public face for so many. On the bright side, at least Book I has one redeeming feature in that it isn't quite as bad as Book II (yes, somehow Rush manages to make the "man, this sure makes the last track look good in comparison" motif span multiple albums!). 2 minutes of spacey stock sound effects give way to a mediocre medley of riffs, each one disjointed from the last and never developing into anything substantial. But perhaps the general lack of compositional capability here is at least masked somewhat by the unparalleled cheesiness of the concept. Looking purely at the positives, though, I suppose that I should give this song at least some merit. There aren't many things more hilarious than the mental image of Geddy Lee getting sucked into a black hole.

So there you have it. An album that starts off decent, only to gradually devolve as it runs its course. I feel an insatiable desire to give this flopper a sole, feeble star as fizzled out and lifeless as Cygnus X-1 itself, but I realize that there are a great number of Rush fans who actually enjoy "A Farewell To Kings". So with that in mind, I hesitantly give this 2 stars. If you're already familiar with the majority of the Rush catalogue, and enjoy it a lot, you'll probably enjoy this one, too. But for everyone else, avoid this thing before it tries to suck you in.

Thanks to Tony R for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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