Written By Braddon S. Williams

Rush: Moving Pictures

Moving Pictures (1981) was the album where Rush’s songwriting skills finally matched the band’s instrumental prowess, resulting in massive sales and several signature songs from the Canadian power trio.

Tom Sawyer is the biggest hit, and rightfully so, but my personal favorite is Red Barchetta. That song paints a vivid movie in my mind every time I hear it.

The instrumental, YYZ, is a thrilling demonstration of how to make a song memorable without any vocals.

Rush knew that chops were great to have, but those skills needed to serve a well constructed piece of music in order to reach a wider audience.

Limelight was a reflection by lyricist/drummer extraordinaire Neal Peart on the effect that fame had on his personal life, yet another superbly written Rush composition.

I think Moving Pictures was where Rush found their perfect balance between their hard rock past and the more keyboard heavy direction they were headed towards. Moving Pictures is Rush at their finest.

https://youtu.be/ZiRuj2_czzw

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

RUSH: A Farewell To Kings

This one required a certain amount of thinking, because Rush has so many high quality studio albums to choose from, but I decided to pick 1977’s A Farewell To Kings, and I’m here to tell you why!

First of all, A Farewell To Kings represented a bold step forward in the band’s composing skills, continuing the path of longer songs, and the addition of more keyboards into the mix.

Later down the road the keyboards kind of put the guitars into a lesser role, but at this point, Alex Lifeson still sounded like a real guitar hero (which he is!) and Geddy Lee was still primarily a super power on bass and vocals.

The Professor (Neil Peart) was expanding his drum and percussion arsenal, and digging deep into his bag of literary tricks to pen some of the deepest lyrics in progressive rock music.

For all this maturity and growth, I still hold A Farewell To Kings near and dear to my heart, because, quite frankly, it ROCKS my face off.

Xanadu is simply mind boggling, a work of cosmic genius, and firmly in my top 3 Rush tunes of all time. Such an epic track, topped off with a completely incendiary solo by Sir Alex. Cygnus X-1 Book 1:

The Voyage, is another chapter in Rush’s science fiction saga, and Closer To The Heart demonstrated that the boys still knew how to keep a song short and sweet when they wanted to.

A Farewell To Kings was Rush discovering just how powerful a power trio could be.

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

While we are on the subject of live albums, I believe it is time to show Canada some love. Rush released All The World’s A Stage, their first of many live discs, in 1976. For all intents and purposes, this was my introduction to the incredible power trio. I have always loved the raw edge and insane vocal range that Geddy Lee displayed on this album. His voice positively shredded throughout this double album of highlights from their first 4 studio records. By Tor And The Snow Dog (featuring Alex Lifeson conjuring all sorts of noises and ripping lead work), In The End, Bastille Day, and Working Man (featuring the first of many jaw dropping Neil Peart drum solos) are all amazing, but the live rendition of 2112 really grabbed my attention the most. Rush made a lifelong fan of me with this album, and although they progressed monumentally throughout the years, this one will always claim a warm spot in my rock ‘n’ roll heart.

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Rush In Concert

On this date in history, 8/9/2002, I saw Rush for the last time at Deer Creek in Noblesville, IN. Rush were touring in support of the Vapor Trails album and had no opening act.

By this time in their career, Rush had a nearly bottomless well of quality songs to choose from. They played 2 full sets with an intermission, and to no-one’s surprise, they played majestically. Rush truly had no weak spots instrumentally. The only criticism I have ever heard from anyone is the occasional complaint about Geddy Lee’s voice. I’ve always liked his voice, so I have remained a fan since I first heard “Working Man” about a thousand years ago.

One thing I was thrilled with at this show was Alex Lifeson’s guitar sound. For a time in the ’80’s I felt that Alex got away from sounding like a guitar hero and had drifted a little too far into the guitar synthesizer realm. During this show he sounded more manly than ever before, with the tone of the gods.

Speaking of gods, Neil Peart demonstrated repeatedly why he is on the Mt. Rushmore of rock drummers, delivering flawless playing throughout the show. His drum solo was so epic that at the conclusion of it he played along with a rear screen projection of a black and white film of a big band jazz orchestra. Neil revealed his ‘swing’ chops to staggering effect.

 

Directly after the drum solo feature, Geddy and Alex sat down with acoustic guitars and played a stripped down version of “Resist” that was hard to resist! Really cool to hear some unplugged Rush.

After the set break, another excellent screen projection featured a gigantic dragon gradually flying across a desert landscape and making a thunderous landing in the foreground of the rocky terrain. The dragon pulled out a cigar and lit it with its fiery breath, simultaneously setting off huge pyro fire blasts on the stage and kicking off the 2nd set with “One Little Victory”, a killer track from Vapor Trails.

The crowd were amused and curious about 3 clothes dryers on the stage and at one point during the second half of the show we were rewarded to find that they contained Rush t-shirts that were then launched into the crowd.

This tour eventually found its way to South America, where a show was filmed in a Brazilian soccer stadium in front of an ecstatic crowd of around 60,000 Rush fanatics. The DVD is called Rush In Rio, and basically is the same show as the one that my friend and I saw in Nobleseville. I highly recommend it, and I’m thrilled to have such an awesome souvenir of my final time seeing a band that has been part of the soundtrack of my rocking life!

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

Rush In Rio

 

 

On This Date in History

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On this date in history, 4/27/1980, I saw Rush and .38 Special at Market Square Arena. This was one of the stranger combinations in terms of musical styles, but it was a fantastic show all the same.

I had just seen Rush a little less than a year and a half prior to this and in that time they had releasedĀ  Permanent Waves. This album was the one featuring “The Spirit Of Radio” and “Freewill” and began a trend towards shorter songs. There were still a couple of long ones, but they didn’t take up a whole side of the album, so it counts as a pretty major change for the Canadian trio.

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All facets of the live show were in full growth mode…better lighting, better sound, more songs to choose from; but the consistency and commitment to excellence remained a hallmark of all the Rush shows I ever attended. Geddy, Alex and Neil were all simply killing it on their respective instruments and playing together as a unit with a razor focus.

$_35The opening set by the talented .38 Special was loaded with their fiery southern rock and full of great songs that are still played on classic rock stations all these years later. On paper it was a weird band to open for Rush, but in the arena it all came down to songs and performance, and both bands delivered plenty of highlights.

Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic

Rush – Exit Stage Left 1980

 

38 Special LiveĀ  1980

On This Date in History

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On this date in history, Part 1: Rush was on tour for their magnificent Moving Pictures album in 1981 and I caught them at Market Square Arena for the third time in just over 3 years. There was a bit of a twist for me on this show, because I was actually more stoked to see the warmup band, Max Webster.

Max Webster was from Canada (like Rush) and their current album at that time was called Universal Juveniles. I highly recommend this record to anyone who loves hard rock music…utterly fantastic from start to finish…all killer, no filler! There was a song on that album that featured both Rush and Max Webster playing together that was getting some decent airplay on FM radio stations. The song was called Battle Scar, and I’m guessing this collaboration had something to do with the 2 bands touring together.

KIM MITCHELL – Battlescar

Max Webster shared the confusion factor that was always present for Jethro Tull, in that there wasn’t actually anyone in the band named Max Webster! The lead singer/lead guitarist was Kim Mitchell, and he was bursting with talent; crazy good on the guitar and a great singer. I recall him saying some amusing stuff between songs and just being quite charismatic. When they played Battle Scar at the end of their set, they were joined by a mysterious masked man with a bass guitar. As soon as the masked bassist sang his first phrase into the microphone it was obvious to everyone in the arena that he was none other than Geddy Lee. The crowd roared, the band slayed and we were properly hyped for Rush’s arrival.

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Geddy singing Battlescar with Dave Myles of Max Webster

As always, Rush delivered precision musical mastery and a seriously high tech light extravaganza. By this point in their career, the Canadian trio had a solid catalog of material to choose from and this was full of killer highlights. This was the best I ever saw them, but they were so consistent that I give most of the credit to Max Webster for making this one my favorite.

Written By: Braddon S. Williams

Rush 1981 Moving Pictures Tour Live

On This Day in History Part 1: