George Starostin's Reviews



Become a Certified Commentator today by following this link!

!!Before adding new comments, please check the GUIDELINES. Don't say I didn't warn you!!


Michael J. West <> (08.02.2001)

God, how I hate Rush. How's that for short?

<> (01.07.2002)

I hate Rush. 'Nuff said.

Bruno Müller <> (24.11.2002)

Now here's a major disagreement between us. Rush, mediocre?? C'mon. They might have never produced a revolution in rock world, but they always produced great rock and roll, either hard or progressive. One of the greatest performers there ever existed, up until today only the three of them make historic concerts (even when promoting mediocre albums), while a lot of over-rated artists and bands rely on thousands of musicians to make lousy live performances. At least you give'em enough credit as performers. That said, Neil Peart is a GREAT lyricist and an even better drummer, one of the best in rock - these two proclamations, I make enphatically.

Stefan Puiu <> (09.12.2003)

I've started digging into Rush with the help of a friend that borrowed me 15 cds of them, including most of their early stuff and some of their 80s stuff, plus the 2003 album. I've listened to 2112, Moving Pictures, Permanent Waves and Rush and have given casual listens to Caress of Steel, A Farewell to Kings and Fly By Night. At first, I thought that you must be exaggerating a bit when calling them mediocre, band for dorks, etc., but now I can see your point, even for the latter statement :D. They're indeed kinda boring. And the lyrics, they're just killing me... I don't know, they have this idiosyncrasy, "the dead serious band", and the dead seriousness of the lyrics is not compensated by unimaginative music. I mean, at least Yes could be humorous or lightweight, and they could always come up with amazing stuff, like the opening to "Close to the Edge", stuff I'd never expect to find on a Rush album.

I even find that you seem to like some songs I find to be absolutely horrific, like "Bastille Day" (ok, I gave two listens). Anyway, out of all these Moving Pictures seems to me to be the best by far, although I kinda hate "Red Barchetta" and "Camera Eye" is incredibly boring at its 11 minutes. I see you like the album too, so we pretty much agree on this.

Anyway, I've seen that you see "Lakeside Park" as a rip-off of Led Zepp's "Wanton Song", now, if I recall correctly, this is much closer to "Custard Pie" off the same Zep album. Another song that I think is based on the same riff (though you state in your review that it's ripped off a Stones riff) is Black Sabbath's "Slipping Away", where the tone is so Zeppelin-ish and Dio sounds so robertplantish that the 'tribute' intention is more than obvious. Also, "I Think I'm Going Bald" seems to have borrowed the riff from "Trampled Underfoot" of Graffiti, with variations.

Lance Lindley <> (16.02.2006)

Hi, I'm combing through your site, which is probably funny, since the most recent comments are 3 years old. Anyway, just wanted to say that never before has anybody else so perfectly paralleled and expressed my own feelings about Neil Peart's lyrics. To the die-hard Rush fan, his every word is a pearl of wisdom. To me, it was initially artistic if somewhat amateurish pablum which eventually became a caricature of itself. As you said, I needed only read the titles and wanted to read/hear no more. Self-serving, pedantic, preachy, pseudo-artsy... Well, as I said, you summed it up perfectly for me.


John McFerrin <> (08.02.2001)

Damn you George! Here I go to all the trouble to distinguish my site from yours, I force myself to sit through the entire the Rush catalogue, and less than a month after finishing that page you just haaaaave to start Rush reviews. Man, if I want any type of individuality, next thing I know I'll have to listen to Torotoise or Portishead!

As for the album, well, I'm actually not that surprised that you'd enjoy this album this much, given your tendency to like pre-pretentiousness albums of art-rockers. And it is ... decent. Enjoyable even. But the lack of originality, man, it just kills me.

But 'Working Man' rules, so that makes up for it (I like the description of the riff you give, btw).

Nick Karn <> (08.02.2001)

Yeah, this is probably one of the most derivative Rush albums in that most of it is just standard 70's hard rock done in the style of earlier acts, especially Led Zeppelin. Objectively it's a 6 from me, but on the overall scale of this site I'd give it a 5 (9) (yes, I'd rate these guys as a 4 star band - you gotta problem with that??) Some great riffs and certainly energetic playing, though, especially on the opening and closing duo "Finding My Way" and "Working Man". And "In The Mood" is just so to the point and entertaining. Nothing here is amazing, but most of it is enjoyable if a couple songs are almost totally unmemorable or tossoff-ish ("Need Some Love", "What You're Doing", "Before And After"). A nice hard rock record somewhat different (and mostly inferior) to the releases that would come later. It's weird how practically everyone rates this album in the same area but afterwards almost nobody's 'top 5 albums' list is much alike.

Jeremy Olson <> (03.01.2002)

I hated this album when I first heard it. It was so different from the Rush I knew and loved. Luckily, I was smart enoigh to give it more of a chance. And I realized it's a pretty damn good album! The raw energy on this one was something I don't think the band ever again recaptured (they rocked harder, but they never sounded as raw and ballsy as on this one). While it does take some adjustment to hear Rush as bar-room rockers, it is worth it. "Finding My Way" and "Working Man" are two real classics; oh so catchy, and chock-full of blazing riffs and youthful energy...the kind of stuff that makes you want to whip out your air guitar and make a fool out of yourself! :P IMO, there aren't any really weak points at all on here (the ballads are rather pedestrian, but they don't drag everything else down). "Rush" is fun, hard-rocking, and despite it being so very derivative, it has an identity all it's own. But, of course, better things were to come...

Peter Ross <> (05.05.2002)

Good review, George. This album, while completely atypical of the style Rush would embrace in their later years, is still a good album in its own right. It's good to see that you enjoyed "In The Mood;" I've loved that song for the longest time (I get a huge kick out of Geddy's almost lothario-like delivery of the verses). One of the best songs on the album, the best being "Working Man" (for me, that is). God, that jam after the second (third?) chorus rules--Alex's hammer-on guitar throughout it, that lead break towards the end of the jam, and the triumphant, crashing end of the song.

I will now say that I completely agree with your descriptions of "Here Again" and "Before And After." I like the former a little, but it does indeed drag. The latter has a nice intro, but when it segues into a heavy rocker, it turns to crap really quick. And I won't forget the worst Rush song ever written, "Take A Friend." Don't misunderstand me; the lyrics are great advice, but they're terribly written and extremely cliched to the point of nausea. The music isn't too hot, either.

Kudos to the noticing of "Heartbreaker" in "What You're Doing;" I realized that right when I read that sentence. "Finding My Way" is a cool opener, and "Need Some Love" is a silly little two-minute diddler indeed. I'd give it three asterisks.

Oh, John Rutsey left because his diabetes began to impact his playing, and he wanted to pursue other interests. I read he's a weightlifter now.

Jeff Hendershott <> (18.12.2003)

Here we go again! Rush copies Black Sabbath....Rush copies Led Zepplin.....Rush copies Deep Purple.....blah blah blan....... You ever stop to think for a moment that the greater part of YOUR "reviews" are nothing but copies of the same old garbage?

Jason Saenz <> (13.07.2004)

Yeah, I agree with the entire world of music listeners, this album is not spectacular, some good riffs ruined by that annoying overblown white boy blues crap. Yes working man rules but the rest, well the rest is just the rest.


Jeremy Olson <> (03.01.2002)

Unfortunately, this is not one of those "better things". The ballsy, raw energy is quite subdued compared to the debut, and that makes FBN lose a lot of the charm "Rush" had. "Anthem" is one of the few hold-overs from the debut; it's still energetic and power-packed, in the same vein as "Finding My Way". Repeated listenings make me give it the title of Best Song (closely followed up by the title track, and "Beneath, Between & Behind"). Three great, catchy, rockers! However, the rest of the album is pretty mediocre (at best). I like "By-Tor", but I admit it is quite stupid lyrically (although I don't really listen to Rush for the lyrics)...the music still rocks though. "Making Memories" is OK, but quite pedestrian, if you ask me (same with "In The End", but it's worse). And "Rivendell" simply blows. It is one of the Top 5 Worst Rush songs, and simply has no excuse for existance. Luckily, better things were on the way...(didn't I already say that???)

Mattias Lundberg <> (08.02.2002)

Due to the somewhat inapt reputation the band has earned wirh 2112 and A farewell to kings I initially approached Rush with the misapprehension that it was a prog band proper. Of course I bought the 'wrong' album first; Fly by night and of course I was disappointed to start with, but after a few listens I realised what great riffers they were. 'Best I can' blows away any contemporary English metal band. It's got a certain agility to it that you occasionally find in Deep purple, but never in LedZep. There are other great moments on this album; that major ninth chord that starts the title track just send shivers up my spine, and what a guitar sound ! They do something similar on one of the A farewell to kings tracks, but this one is better. 'Making memories' is also a great song, with tight, inspired playing by Peart. Why did such a highly entertaining trio of lumberjacks dabble with the pretentious fantasy stuff ? Leave that to the English, at least they know how to make fools of themselves in grand style.

Fernando H. Canto <> (25.05.2003)

I just completed this album today, so I still can't say much about a few of these songs. But... come on, do you really want to compare this one with Rush, the debut? That one was derivative as heck, this one, well, isn't much. For one, these songs here have a much sharper and smarter songwriting. 'Anthem', for one, is one of the coolest songs of early Rush, and while the two rockers that follow don't hold up to its standarts, they're just firmly in place. I think 'Best I Can' has a priceless groove, and 'Beneath, Between and Behind' is cool while it's on. And I'm glad to see you enjoy the title track, since I think it's high on the top of the top 10 songs of early Rush or so. I can see what you're on about 'By-Tor And The Snow Dog', but I actually think it's a decent effort, and could have been much worse. I don't think they were heavily on Prog Rock by that time, so I face this song as a hard rock song with a battle motif, and it works nicely like that, nothing more. And if you didn't know, Geddy Lee is credited as the "Snow Dog" and Alex as "By-Tor", at least in the LP. So it explains why Geddy does all those grunts with the bass and Alex makes his guitar screech. Heh, sounds stupid, but the results work fine. 'In The End' sounds weak, I know. When the electric guitar came in, I immediately thought "what! Someone blended this MP3 with 'Fly By Night'!", and that's annoying. 'Making Memories' is hardly memorable, and 'Rivendell'... well, I guess it helps it wasn't Rush's idea to do a ballad, they were basically forced by the record company, so it's only natural that it would sound fake and uninspired. But I happen to like it more than I should... or so. Fly By Night gets, at least, 3 stars and a half from me. I just wish it had a better sequencing. Side A is *bash*bash*bash*bash* and side B is *mellow*mellow*mellow*mellow*, and that annoys me. Oh, well.

Jason Saenz <> (13.07.2004)

Geddy Lee starts thinking and using his voice, Peart enters the scene and gives rush some direction, hooray for Peart!!!!! Just in the nick of time he rescued Rush from being a Zep blue's shitty wannabe. This album is a little underrated by most, but that's probably because most individuals buy this album just to listen 'By-Tor And The Snow Dog' or the main title track, but wait! listening to the whole album will open your ears, so dont just squeeze two tracks and ware em out, theres more on this than what you hear on the radio.


Nick Karn <> (08.02.2001)

Actually, knowing hardcore Rush fans if you stated that Roll The Bones was their best, that wouldn't exactly be a very dissenting opinion (though it is to me, since I personally feel RTB is their 2nd worst), since almost every album they ever did has been called the best by at least a few people, except this one, the most underrated in entire Rush catalog, and maybe by any band. I was convinced you were gonna give this a 2 or 2-1/2, since it seems to be just one of those types of art rock albums you would bash. Finally, someone else besides me who actually stands up for "The Necromancer"! I love that song to death, and I don't get why more people don't. I don't know, maybe it's the fact that before hearing this album I set my expectations pretty low due to what I'd read (i.e. epics really unfocused compared to later), but in my opinion this album rules. There isn't a single weak song on here (I even dig "I Think I'm Going Bald"), though I'd like to think of "The Fountain Of Lamneth" as more like six separate songs than a coherent 20 minute epic, because it flows so poorly (even if the separate parts are wonderful). A 12/15 in all. The production may be weak, and the pretentiousness may be high, but I hardly listen to this period of the band for the lyrics, which are very much good for a laugh - I dig the absolute chops (the riffs especially) and epic effect more.

Jeremy Olson <> (03.01.2002)

Yes, I think a "better thing" has finally arrived! COS easily beats the pants off of FBN (not by all that much, though). "Bastille Day" freakin' rules! It's easily one of their best from the '70's, and has some REAL catchy riffs in there (although not as catchy as, say, "Fly By Night"). Quite possibly the best song on the album. "Lakeside Park" and "I Think I'm Going Bald" are nice and solid; nothing real spectacular, but still great examples of Rush's more simple rockin' days. The two epics are OK, too. I know that a lot of people don't like Rush becuase of their early pretentious epic tendancies...but I don't see that much of a problem with either of the two on here. "The Necromancer", while having some fairly corny Neil lyrics, makes up for it with some real solid musical ideas. I think the band did a good job at making the song sound more diverse; the changes from soft and slow, to faster and more rocking, seem quite natural, and above all, they work. "The Fountain Of Lamneth" isn't quite as good. It drags in parts, and could easily have been shortened by 4 or 5 minutes. At least it's diverse sounding (the different sections work quite well), and has a nice main theme that repeats every now and then. It's no "Supper's Ready", but it's still better than it's often made out to be. Still, better things were on the way....

Fernando H. Canto <> (25.05.2003)

Wow, you *do* like 'The Necromancer'. That's quite nice, since I like it too. The three (or four) parts are all nicely executed, and they actually fit well with each other for the final product. It helps if I say I don't care absolutelly the least for the lyrics, so... 'The Fountain Of Lamneth' is, basically, a bunch of unrelated songs that the record company decided should be built into one sidelong track because it was fashionable. So, if you face side B as "a selection of unrelated tracks with a concept", it works far better than one song only. And since these separate tracks are great, I also like them fine. And hey, 'Bastille Day' is just as good as 'Anthem'! Or maybe better! And 'Lakeside Park' is a great, softer song. At least, works better than 'Making Memories'. But, come on, how can you say 'Bastille Day' isn't much different than 'I Think I'm Going Bald'?? The former simply rocks, and the latter is just a simple joke! There is a big difference on there. For me, the album deserves the three and a half stars just fine.


Jeff Melchior <> (03.03.2001)

Rush - the only rock band in history that I know of to champion the work of Ayn Rand - in many ways a bolder risk than any punk band could ever take. That said, as far as side-long suites go, I'll be darned if I can remember more than a patch or two of the whole thing, and I've listened to it a lot. Compare that to 'Tarkus' or 'Close To The Edge', which I could practically play in my head all the way through. An unfair comparison, I suppose, as Rush is an obviously inferior band, but I don't think 2112 deserves half the praise it usually gets. At this point, Geddy Lee has yet to overcome the dog-whistle screech that plagued Rush's early output and the keyboards have not yet been added to the mix in any major way - an element that helped to refine Rush's overly harsh sound somewhat. Besides, what kind of progressive rock band doesn't have keyboards anyway?

Bryan Boyd Jackson Jr. <> (14.06.2001)

Rush time! Yes, 2112 isn't nearly as good as our fellow Rush fans claim it to be, but it's still a decent album. I always thought 2112 was a step up from Caress Of Steel, but that's just my opinion. There are some problems though. One, the first 20 minute song titled "2112/Overture/The Temple Of Syrinx/etc" This is weird, but I love the first 6 minutes, don't care for the next six minutes, then the rest of the song is ok. It would be okay if the entire song rocked hard from start to finish. That way, Geddy's voice wouldn't be as noticeable. "A Passage To Bangkok" I actually enjoy. I don't pay any attention to the singing, but that melody is timeless. "The Twilight Zone" and "Lessons" are both reasonable songs. The first few seconds of "Lessons" reminds me of "Ramble On" by Led Zeppelin. "Tears" is my favorite song on here. Why couldn't Geddy sing like this on all Rush songs? This is a very moving, depressing ballad. I enjoy it. And "Something For Nothing" is a nice way to close the album. Overall, I'd give it an 11. Not nearly as good as everyone was telling me, but maybe if Geddy Lee had a deeper voice, I'd appreciate it more.

Jeremy Olson <> (07.01.2002)

What a great album. Well, almost. It's easy to talk about 2112 as if it's 2 seperate albums, because, at least to me, the first and second sides ARE different albums. There's no real connection at all (not that it's a bad thing, of course). So, the "first album", the epic title suite, gets a **** 1/2 from me. Yeah, it's over-long, and has some boring and repetitive moments. But getting beyond those details, it flat out rocks. "Overture" and "Temples Of Syrinx" are the Rush I know and love (at leave the '70's version): fat, booming basslines, powerhouse drumming, and riffs, riffs and more riffs. If only this had been carried through more of the song, it might have gotten that extra half star from me. But "2112" loses it big time on a few of the middle sections, where it's rocking, but not really going anywhere. That ending section though....very very nice! The "second album", side two, is VERY hit and miss, and gets maybe *** from me. To make a long story short: "A Passage To Bangkok" is a great classic rocker; "Twilight Zone" is medicore and I don't like it; "Lessons" is really good, and pretty catchy riff- wise; "Tears" is god-awful (my least favorite Rush song); and "Something For Nothing" closes out the album on a pretty high point. *** 1/2, maybe ****...I used to think this was the pinnacle of '70's Rush. Then I got AFTK.

<> (08.12.2002)

I agree with those who claim that this album is not all it's cooked up to be by Rush fans. However, it's not anything resembling the disaster that it's detractors would claim. I admit that the title track's lyrics are fairly juvenile, cheesy etc. (choose your adjective of choice) but I can deal with it. Sometimes Peart's lyrics are great, sometimes they're not. But when they're not, I can adjust by concentrating on Rush's usually quite interesting musical ideas. And here is where the title suite's failing lie, in the inconsistency of the music. After starting off with the balls to wall riffage of "Overture" and "Temples of Syrinx" there just isn't much to speak of in the way of energy. Thankfully Side 2 does contain some hight points of its own, as I think "A Passage to Bangkok", "Something For Nothing" and "Lessons" all are rocking, energetic, and entertaining. "Tears" is a respectable ballad. "The Twilight Zone" does nothing for me though. Some high points, but this is a spotty album as well. I give it 3 1/2 stars.

Michael Danehy <> (31.03.2003)

I enjoy the title track on this one a bit more than Hemispheres. It's less polished but the vocal melodies are more catchy and it "rocks" harder. The "Temple of Syrinx" portion is a bit like how AC/DC would sound if they sang ridiculous sci-fi thematics. It rocks like mad. The 'Presentation' section is also quite catchy, alternating between harder rock and folkier soft rock sections, with Lee singing as the oppressive high priests and the poor, idealistic sap who just wants to play guitar. The remaining sections aren't bad either with more goofy theatrics and some campy sound effects at the end. You are right that 2112 is not quite prog. More like a disjointed, relatively amateurish half-way between prog and simple heavy metal but I still dig it. Then there are the album tracks. "Bangkok" has a killer, memorable riff and the rest is filler. I'd give the whole thing a general rating of 9 or 10.

Fernando H. Canto <> (25.05.2003)

Okay, okay, so the title track bores you, and I understand. It doesn't bore ME, though, so I just love that song. Mostly because here, the "sidelong epic" thing was a planned thing, instead of an "afterthought" like on 'Lamneth'. And it works much better, not just because of the Overture/Syrinx duo, that's just awesome. The whole rest entertains me, even if Discovery is a tad overlong, but it builds nicely into Presentation. And the Grand Finale? Woot, it does make me hold my breath in awe, so it explains. Side B is just great, too, with only 'The Twilight Zone' being almost mediocre. 'A Passage To Bangkok' is a great piece of Rush hard rock, that isn't enough to match 'Bastille Day', but it's good enough for me. And 'Something For Nothing' is equally great to me. You know, I just like it. It sounds smooth. 'Tears' is an alarmingly beautiful ballad by Geddy, and 'Lessons' is a fresh, great piece of 70's pop. There, my comments. And know what? 'Tarkus' sucks. So... darn... boring... And of course, Rush has much more than just some "virtuosic" organ solos to make their songs interesting. Hah! And don't dare to treat me as an "heretic" or something, Mark Prindle is on my side... or I'm on HIS side, it doesn't matter.

<> (15.11.2003)

Ripped off of Pete Townshend?! Good "ole Pete wishes he was half the musician that these guys are. I like Geddy Lee's singing. At least it's believable unlike Daltrey's who sincerely struggles on occasion for keys clearly beyond his means, while Geddy Lee stays in the upper register quite effortlessly. And while playing some killler bass I might add. Neil Peart is clearly the best drummer rock ever produced. I've never heard anyone (except Stewart Copeland) even try to tackle those tricky off beat rhythms and variations. He is definitely the professor of percussion and lyrics like "look around the world we've made, equality, our stock in trade, come and join the brotherhood of man" hardly remind one of Pete Townshend's overblown epic attempts at recreating Tommy. I don't consider it a successful review unless George has given me one of his little red comments at the end proclaiming his theory, so I'm trying on this one. Hee hee. I had a good day today can't you tell? Anyway...hasn't time canonized this album as one of progressive rock's finest moments? I think so. In my opinion, Rush would make better albums, but this is where they truly came of age. I've seen this band in concert and they are truly the most powerful 3 piece band I've ever seen. Don't shut the album off after side one's sci-fi adventure however, 'A Passage To Bangkok' and 'Something For Nothing' both are great songs as well. This has always been a great and consistent band. Start with this album to introduce yourself to Rush and proceed onward.

Lindsey Eck <> (29.09.2005)

"A Passage to Bangkok": Well, being a straight arrow you wouldn't get this, but this is a song about cannabis. All the locales mentioned are famous centers of marijuana or hashish. "We burned the midnight oil"—it's hash oil. "We only stop for the best" ... you get the idea.


Jeff Hendershott <> (18.12.2003)

On of my favorite live albums of all-time. Is anyone else amazed as I am the way Geddy Lee can sing and play BASS RUNS at the same time? I have fond memories of this album and early Rush because I cut my guitar playing teeth learning Lifeson's licks. I failed miserably, but what a classy guitarist! Peart? In an atmosphere all of his own. I have to admit that most of the Rush lyrics make about as much sense as Yes lyrics, but somehow the music and they lyrics seem to fit.

<> (13.12.2003)

Yeah, you know good music. "Yours is no Disgrace" got me into Yes, and live "Anthem" got me into Rush. How's that for pre-pubescent over-simplification!


Bryan Boyd Jackson Jr. <> (04.03.2001)

Well, I guess my love for Uriah Heep is the reason I love "Cygnus X-1" by Rush so much. I love that song, along with "Cinderella Man". The title song is also good. Okay, the whole album I like! This isn't Rush's best effort, but it certainly is appealing (to me, anyway) and enjoyable the whole way through. I'll give it a 11. Buy it!

Jeff Melchior <> (04.03.2001)

I'm not sure if it's fair to judge a band - even a progressive rock band - on its complexity. Sure, compared to Genesis or Yes, Rush were not very complex (heck, even I can pull off decent guitar readings of most of 'Xanadu' or 'Closer To The Heart' and I suck) but that doesn't mean there weren't attempts to create music of some depth. Even Yes' most memorable moments (notably 'Wurm') weren't particularly complex.

Having said that, this is still more or less a fair rating. 'Cygnus X-1' really isn't music, although that doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't work as a collection of sounds designed to portray whatever message Rush was trying to give us. 'Xanadu' IS a beautiful song, and probably their most successful overtly "progressive" song they ever recorded. 'Closer To The Heart' is also a career high point, although unforgivably short. And, aside from the out-of-tune guitar solo, the title track is a mini-epic of prog rock grandiosity. It could be my favorite Rush album, although Permanent Waves constantly threatens to knock it off its pedestal.

Fernando H. Canto <> (25.05.2003)

Oh, darn it. I just adore 'Xanadu', so call me feeble, superficial, whatever. It's one of my favourites, so what the heck. And I don't find 'Cygnus X-1' all that dreadful, either. Even though I'd pay to know what they were trying to do on there. Maybe they were, like, "okay, so we have 'Xanadu' and 'Cygnus X-1'. Tell us which is actual prog rock, and we'll try it better on our next sidelong epic". No need to say which was the answer they got. All the other songs, hey, I happen to like it. Even if the riff to the title track is almost a bad joke, I find the song overall very fun, and 'Closer To The Heart' is pretty, pretty, pretty. 'Cinderella Man' and 'Madrigal' just... work. After all, what else could I expect from 4 minute soft rockers and 3 minute ballads? I'm satisfied. And you know what, I think listening to an album 3 times IN A ROW doesn't help. I listened to Foxtrot twice almost in a row, and the only thing I remember is the melody line to 'Watcher Of The Skies'.


Jeff Melchior <> (09.03.2001)

Hemispheres better than A Farewell To Kings? I don't know ... it's certainly one of Rush's most musically-accomplished albums (I'm thinking this even as the acoustic intro to 'The Trees' floats through my noggin). The "short" songs on this album are its saving grace - the problem with the suite is the same problem I had with '2112' - nothing memorable at all. Plus there's a point about half-way through in which Gedrick Lee's banshee shriek becomes unbearable even for the most Rush-hardened and Canadian among us.

Plus, as musically-sound as it is, the lyrics to 'The Trees' are just stupid. Why didn't Neil Peart actually use some kind of life form that actually MOVES to portray his left-wing fantasy? I'm also confused as to why an Ayn Rand fan such as Peart would appear to take an about-face in terms of ideology. Not that I care one way or the other, really - it's just confusing...

And then we come to my final beef - the album cover. What compelled so many progressive rock bands of this period to picture a male's naked arse on the album jacket (keep in mind Yes' Going For The One came out just the year before)? Ladies and gentlemen - the REAL reason punk had to happen.

Kevin Saliba <> (16.10.2001)

This is my first comment about a specific album on your site, and I just thought that Hemispheres might be a good album to start with. Anyway, after reading your comments I felt that justice dictates that I have to defend this one.

Most of all, lyrically for me 'Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres' is one of the most meaningful songs I ever came across. It revolves around one of the greatest inner battles of humanity: that one between heart and mind. Here, Peart metaphorically makes use of Greek mythology in order to render these abstract concepts more tangible. The brain is being divided into two distinct hemispheres, the left one dealing with emotion, and the right one relating to rationality. The eternal "struggle of the ancients" between these two is allegorically presented through Apollo - the God of Reason, and Dionysus - the God of Love.

Apollo tells the people that they should place rationality at the center of their existence and to disregard the language of feelings; while Dionysus tells them to "throw off those chains of reason" in favour of emotion. The people, after having experienced life under both of these two codes of ethics, they end up dissatisfied with both philosophies. Neither of the two extremes seem be conducive to their internal happiness; a dissatisfaction that brings about conflict and tension between the people. Their world was torn asunder into hollow Hemispheres. Along the way comes Cygnus - the God of Balance - who makes Apollo and Dionysus realize the misguiding nature of their erroneous philosophies by striking a balance between the two extremes. This brings Apollo and Dionysus together - a reconciliation that advises humanity that the wisest way is to listen to both inner voices "with the Heart and Mind united in a single perfect Sphere".

It reminds me of the so called Aristotelian mean. The Greek philosopher Aristotle, in his Ethics, wrote that that moral virtue is essentially in its own nature a mean condition. In other words, that ethical code which is most conducive to happiness and to self-realization (in Greek, eudamonia) is a mean between any two given extremes. If we had to consider the virtue of 'courage' for example, it would lie somewhere in between 'cowardice' and 'rashness'. Translated mathematically, cowardice would be a -3, rashness would be a +3, while the 0 would mark the mean. Thus, if we apply this Aristotelian logic to 'Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres', the mean is the balancing point between the extremes of love and reason. The lyrics, of The Sphere - A Kind of Dream, in fact, relate directly to the internal state of being of eudamonia.

Isn't this a wonderful conceptual song? Isn't this useful? Isn't this a battle which we all go through? And isn't its imagery magnificently written? For me certainly it is. I do not think that Rush lyrically have ever wrote something more well-thought as this. Musically speaking it should also be noted that the music and its atmospherics compliment their corresponding themes in a perfect manner. Furthermore, the vocal style varies accordingly. For me at least, every moment of this epic is memorable - although the value of its musicianship do not surpass that of its concept. Perhaps, only the title track of 2112 is more memorable and impressive than this one. I honestly can't think of any other Rush composition.

However, the wisdom of this trio does not stop there. The song The Trees also brings forward some interesting philosophical assertions which mainly revolve around a political analogy. The lyrics are about a disagreement between two types of trees in a forest, which to a certain extent are metaphorically related to the Marxist opressor-opressed dialectic. The oppressed or underprivileged try to seek their liberation by forming unions and eventually they manage to put pressure on the ruling classes to pass the "noble law" what should ensure that all trees "are kept equal". Though I think that the ending of the analogy is far from what happens in reality, I regard its allegorical figure of speech as very intelligent. Far from stupid, as one commentator described them.

I think that Hemispheres succeeded to combine perfectly the talents of a the band quite satisfactorily. As album is more complete, or less incomplete (as you prefer), than 2112. However, as a whole I still prefer A Farewell to Kings because it displays a greater sense of measure. Nevertheless, both lyrically and musically it is a classic. I would give it a 7/10 on your main record rating scale and an 11/15 (7 + 4 = 11; since my band rating for Rush is 4/5) on your general rating scale. I would give the 'best song' rewared to 'Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres' .

<> (29.04.2003)

Jeff, you completely missed the boat on "The Trees" message. Left wing? Not hardly. In fact, just the opposite. Please note the ending lines and realize the song is meant as a parable condemning communism and is in fact quite right wing. Much what you'd expect from the band/man who dedicated an entire suite to the works of Ayn Rand, who is as right wing as one could possibly be. That said, I love the song.

Fernando H. Canto <> (25.05.2003)

A "SLIGHT improvement"? Okay, I completely lost you there. For me, 'Hemispheres' is one of Rush's bestest tracks ever, better than '2112', 'Xanadu' or anything. Not a single boring second here. Only really, really great band work and gorgeous moments. And that "quiet" middle section? Great! I love it. And I couldn't say whether it's a rip-off of 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway', since... well, I never listened to it. But since, for you, EVERYTHING is (or must be) a rip-off of ANYTHING, I don't care the least. You listen to too much music, so it's only predictable that you start comparing everything for some unknown reason (please tell me you're not just trying to prove your knowledge). I happen to think 'Circumstances' is an unbelivably underrated Rush rocker, far better than 'The Trees', that's good, too. And, ah, 'La Villa Strangiato'... Okay, you said it all already, I finish here. Four and a half stars.

Lindsey Eck <> (29.09.2005)

"The Trees": Yes, this is a libertarian song that deplores the use of law and policy to even out individual differences, arguing that the only way to level individual differences is to reduce the peaks to the level of the mediocre. Were they Americans this might be perceived as a conservative, anti–affirmative action statement. But in the Canadian context I take it somewhat differently: There is a lot of resentment among English speakers over laws that, for example, ban signs in Quebec in which French is not the prominent language, and I think these Anglo-Canadians were sick of attempts by Francophones to impose equality of languages when they are so outnumbered by Anglophones. However, under that reading of the song the maples represent the Francophones, the oaks the Anglophones, whereas I'd think it should be the other way around. I wonder if any Canadians can comment on this.


Ben Rising <> (16.08.2002)

Let me start off by saying your site is very impressive and I have learned much by perusing it. I agree with the many of the reviews I have read here about a variety of bands but I see little fun in sending comments about things we agree on, so forgive me if everything I send sounds negative and critical.

That said, your review of Permanent Waves is simply astounding in how wrong it is. Wow. Where to begin with this? I think I disagree with just about every single sentence you wrote for this review. In the first paragraph you start off by proudly proclaiming your belief that Rush is at its heart an absolutely mediocre band. Since you don’t back this bold statement up with any substance, it makes it hard to argue with, but I will try. Around the time Rush released this album all three members had begun to be recognized in musician magazine polls for being among the best at their respective instruments. How exactly does that happen when a band’s playing is mediocre? Neil Peart’s lyrics may not be to your liking, but his style is certainly unique and clearly a lot of thought and effort went into them. In fact, I doubt you could name another rock lyric writer with a similar style. Preachy and pretentious may be valid criticisms but mediocre simply doesn’t fit. Even with Geddy’s high pitched singing style, grating and obnoxious I can buy, but mediocre? Come now.

In your following paragraph you state that the album is amazingly inadequate. The songs are short and pack the minimum number of riffs you complain. I’m sorry but I hear more riffs in the first minute of the Spirit of Radio than some bands manage to fit onto an album side. The guitar tones and tempo are the same the throughout the record is another complaint. While I would agree the tone is similar throughout, you could make the same argument about Moving Pictures, yet you gave that a reasonably good review. Every Rush album has its own characteristic guitar tone which gives it a unique flavor. Many good rock albums have a characteristic guitar tone throughout. Its not a bad thing. As far as the tempo goes, Different Strings and the Tidal Pools section of 'Natural Science' are slow, while the instrumental break of Freewill and the Hyperspace section of Natural Science are rather fast. The other songs fall at different points in between. Seems like plenty of tempo variety to me, at least as much as your average Beatles or Stones album. You say that Lifeson’s playing, while showing good technique, is “scraping the bottom of the barrel”. To my ears his playing is better on this album than any previous. Listen to his fluid leads on 'Jacobs Ladder' and tell me you can’t hear an evolution from the previous albums. And its not like this album doesn’t have its share of new sounds and styles for the band. The “calypso” style ending and wah-wah soaked guitar solo in the 'Spirit of Radio' and the “reggae” style rhythm guitar in parts of 'Natural Science' are not to be found on any previous Rush album. Take the instrumental break in 'Freewill'. It has to be the most frantic and intense playing this side of the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Bass, drums and guitar are all going at full throttle yet you can here each instrument clearly and they manage to keep structure in the chaos. Its really an incredible break. I love the obnoxious, grating guitar wails Alex makes at the beginning of his solo before he starts going nuts on the fretboard. Mediocre my ass.

Naturally your review bitches about the lyrics. Big surprise here. I think Neil Peart’s approach to lyrics is unique and fresh comparison to other rock bands. You seem perpetually unimpressed. However, your specific complaints are weak. You make the statement that the 'Spirit of Radio' is really just promoting a Toronto radio station. Which station would that be? I’m no marketing genius but I think it’s hard to promote something that you don’t identify. No, I think the song might really be about the balance between commercialism and art in the music business and the simple pleasure that hearing a good song over the radio can bring. You also call 'Freewill' lyrically naïve but fail to explain why. Let’s look at the final stanza which summarizes the song. “Each of us, a cell of awareness, imperfect and incomplete. Genetic blends, with uncertain ends on a fortune hunt that’s far too fleet.” What’s naïve about that? It sounds pretty spot on to me. I’d rather hear that than “give peace a chance” or some other trite (not to mention naïve) nonsense usually found in rock lyrics.

I thought your comments about 'Jacob’s Ladder' were particularly interesting and once again wrong. First of all you make the assumption that the song is about being in a thunderstorm. “If the song is about a thunderstorm give me a thunderstorm” you demand, as if you are expecting the musical equivalent of rain, wind and lightening strikes to gush forth. However, if you took the time to listen closely, its really about appreciating the beauty of a thunderstorm from a distance. The beginning section evokes that amazing feeling that arises when a storm is nearby but not on top of you. The sky becomes dark and still and the deep throaty rumble of thunder shakes the thick humid air. This “distant overture” is the most surreal part of a thunderstorm and I think the song evokes the mood perfectly. The chord progressions keep getting deeper and darker evolving subtly but constantly through the piece. The ominous Moog line played on top of the heavy guitar chords really heightens the dark mood. Then the second part of the song depicts when the clouds begin to break and the shafts of light come down, an inspiring spectacle. Once again the music evokes the mood with the guitar mimicking the “shifting shafts of shining” and increasing in intensity as the clouds break up. Your comparison with the 'Gates of Delerium' is interesting. Whereas 'Jacobs Ladder' evokes the mood of a thunderstorm rather than trying to simulate a thunderstorm, 'Gates' makes the mistake of attempting to sonically simulate a battle. During the climatic battle section, strange and unpleasant noises are wrung out the guitar, keyboards and percussion, straining to simulate machine guns and bombs. It just doesn’t work and the feel of the whole piece goes from majestic to cheesy in a matter of seconds. It’s a shame too because many parts of that song are stunning and beautiful but when those lame “battle noises” show up it sounds like an early 80’s video game gone berserk and I have to fight a very strong urge to hit the skip button on the CD player.

So back to Permanent Waves. The album is easily one of the best Rush ever did, second only to Moving Pictures. The band’s playing and production reaches its zenith in terms of crispness and intensity. The lyrics and songwriting are unique and fresh even 22 years later. What a great album. Your review, on the other hand, needs a serious reality adjustment.

George Starostin (16.08.2002)

Ben - I normally try to evade lengthy answers on MP3 pages (and particularly on the Rush page, as Rush fans usually strike me as particularly aggressive and intolerant - check out John McFerrin's reviews of the band if you will; ah well, the worse the prog rock band, the more ardent its followers usually are). However, I'll make an exception in your case, because you at least take the time to elaborate on the problems you have with my review.

1) First of all, you should have read the review more carefully - I get the feeling you didn't even try to understand the point of view expressed here, just used it as an immediate launchpad for your counterattack. Where on Earth did I say that Rush were "mediocre players"? Rush are a mediocre band, that's not the same thing. Rush play progressive rock; progressive rock automatically demands an extremely high level of instrumental skill. So what if these guys were specifically recognized? They were specifically recognized because they were popular, and thus, the public attention was on them as highly skilled players. The same could be said about at least several dozen other proggy bands who got less media attention. If being highly skilled with one's instruments automatically prevents one from being mediocre as an artist, I guess no prog band that ever existed could be called "mediocre". Maybe that's your stance. Not mine.

2) I have already written a long essay on Neil Peart's lyricism on John McFerrin's site, so you can refer there for additional references. Here, suffice it to say that there is absolutely nothing unique about his lyrical style, and that is an objective fact (one of the few objective facts I dare to state as truly objective about Rush, by the way). The only thing "unique" about him is that his lyrics are always straightforward, forceful, and obvious - which I personally consider a bad thing. He may sing about free will for all he likes, but he sure never allows the listener to practice it in connection with his own words. He's also a lyrical one-trick pony ("freedom of the individual mind" covers just about 95% of everything he's ever written), and neither the substance nor the form of what he writes present any particularly impressive advance over what's been written over the centuries. Like I said, I find Joey Ramone a much more interesting - and original - "rock poet" than Neil. Speaking of 'Spirit Of The Radio', it was really written as a "reward" for a Rush-promoting radio station. No, you didn't have the need to tell me that the song deals with "the balance between commercialism and art in the music business" - only a braindead person could not hear those references in the song (I actually gave a quote, didn't I?). It kinda strikes me as weird, though, that the band would be so vigorous about "the balance between commercialism and art" on one of their biggest commercial songs. But whatever. As for the 'Free Will' quote, it's "naive" not because it deals with something that Neil Peart cannot understand, but because it's naive to make your poetry sound like an extract from a physiology textbook.

3) 'Jacob's Ladder' - I appreciate your appreciation of the song, but how come I'm "wrong" and I need a "serious reality adjustment" for calling it boring and feeble where you do the same about selected moments in 'Gates Of Delirium'? What 'reality adjustment' are you calling for? For me to adjust to the "reality" that is, in fact, nothing more but a personal fantasy taking place in your head while the song is playing? Come on now. I'm not forcing you to adopt my interpretation. Don't force me to adopt yours. I have heard quite a few songs with thunderstorm references, and 'Jacob's Ladder' will never strike me as anything sonically interesting. "Evokes the mood of a thunderstorm"? What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Anyway, you're perfectly entitled to your perception of the album. Calling me "wrong", though, is uncalled for, as I don't believe I have made any significant factual errors in this review. And aside from factual errors, it's all a question of interpretation, perception, and one's own background. I don't see anything here that the same band hasn't done just as well, or better, on Hemispheres or 2112. I also see a distressful lack of melodic and vocal hooks - which is the main reason why I prefer the following three albums to this. Many fans treat this album as a "revolution" for Rush, all of them fail to convincingly explain why. Moving Pictures is a sonic revolution, with the serious addition of the synthesizer as a first-plan instrument and all (which actually beefs up their sound before it degenerates into boring formula a few records later). Permanent Waves is a so-so transitional album, with a few highlights and a lot of generic muzak which totally escapes me. But that's MY point of view. I understand yours. Try to understand mine.

David Dickson <> (15.01.2003)

Gfgnfh. We just don't agree on anything, do we George? Personally, this is my favorite Rush album. I don't understand how people can consistently rate the subsequent Moving Pictures better than this. Probably because it has that Mark Twain song on it. . . OK, actually, I will go so far as to admit that it has better, more elaborate production than PW and a more diverse musical repertoire. It is, you might say, the White Album to PW's Rubber Soul. Well, I like Rubber Soul better, so thPPPPPPPPPP. . . (sound of tongue making "raspberry" noise).

Permanent Waves, to my ears, sounds much more unified and of a piece than Moving Pictures. It is also much more dedicated to the concept of the hook, which means it is more listenable from start to finish. You mentioned that many of the riffs on different songs sound the same. I wasn't in the studio with Rush when they recorded this, but I think I know the reason why. See, they were just getting out of their "art-rock" phase and were still semi-dedicated to the idea of concept albuming, so the repetition of the riff from the end of "Entre Nous" at the beginning of "Different Strings" and the reprising of the chord progression from "DS" at the beginning of "Natural Science" was probably intentional--I guess, to make their fans think that this material was all related, which probably, in Neil Peart's Martian mind, it was. "The Spirit of Radio" is one of my favorite '80's songs--it's got hooks and virtuosity and rock crunch all at once. Same thing for "Free Will"--plus it's also got that spectacular show-off/musical masturbation part in the middle. SWEET. "Jacob's Ladder" isn't meant to be exciting, George, or make sense--it's their cheap imitation of Eno & Bowie in the ambient realm. I mean, really, can't you imagine this as the soundtrack to some cornily entertaining '80's kiddie sci-fi film? I sure can. It reminds me of "Flight of the Navigator." "Entre Nous" and "Different Strings" are somewhat less cool than the songs on side one, but they've both got a single killer hook in them, from Lifeson in the former and Lee (vocals) in the latter. And "Natural Science". . . it's a lame-ass title, I agree, but in the end, one of the best pop-prog epics this side of Kansas' "Magnum Opus." Also a killer live performance--even today, they always use it to close out set one. As for lyrics, well, "Spirit" and "Free Willy" seem pretty deep, and "Natural Science", while impenetrable, seems pretty scientifically uber. The only serious flaw of this album is that it's, like you said, not that new-sounding. Well, it is for RUSH, but not for the world at large. Four stars out of five.

P.S.: By the way, what is WITH that first commenter? He sounds like ME on the Bruce Springsteen page. :)

Fernando H. Canto <> (25.05.2003)

Oh, no, no. George, please, stop being annoying. You say you expect from Rush "blazing musicianship and interesting things going on," but I think I read the word "riffs" at least 30 times in one paragraph of that review. What's wrong? Why do you expect from this album precisely what it's not supposed to offer?... I just love 'Spirit Of Radio' and 'Freewill', for reasons I don't need to explain. And 'Entrè Nous' is a sadly underrated Rush pop tune that's more than just a cool intro in my opinion, and 'Different Strings' is some great Rush balladeering. 'Jacob's Ladder' happens to be, in my opinion, one of Rush's most artistically beautiful songs. I agree 100% with what Ben said here. Rush didn't want to "create a thunderstorm" here. It's like WATCHING a thunderstorm, and contemplating the beauty. You know, Neil Peart admitted he was a freak for natural phenomenons ('Chain Lightning', eh?), and this song just happens to be excellently written and performed. It's not speedy, intense, hard-rockin' or whatever, but it can't be. And I understand you on 'Natural Science', but I like it, too. Heh, I guess this just depends on a little thing called "taste". And, you know... not writing reviews as if every band in the world needed to pass through your approval to come to public. You know, when you write "Rush are a mediocre band", doesn't that sound, you know, self-important? If that's your point of view, why do you make it seem like it must the the point of view of everyone? And your counter-opinions don't work, either. Attacking first, and then coming around all defensive only make you look... you know what.


Brian Sittinger <> (28.08.2002)

Overall, this is a solid record. "Tom Sawyer" is one of the weirdest pop rock songs of the 80's (those synths!). "Limelight" is easily the highlight, featuring a catchy as hell riff, and a great laid-back solo. And, Geddy actually tries to sing! To be terse, only "Vital Signs" turns me off; the lyrics are especially bad!! The others, just sound monotonous after a while... In short, this gets ****(11) from me.

Fernando H. Canto <> (25.05.2003)

Oh, well, at least you're mild here, even though the five stars are still denied... Hmpf. Okay, so it's not as good as Tubular Bells, but what is? You know, I agree with you on the synths, that they walk along with the band and only help, and never steal the spotlight (*ahem*P/G*ahem*). But most of all, this album has a SLICK sound, totally unique. I never heard an album that sounded like this one! I love it! And the songs are good! 'Red Barchetta' is, like, the perfect song for driving. No wonder it talks about driving! Do you think Neil was in for some controversy here? He did the same thing on 'I Think I'm Going Bald', didn't he? A bit of sillyism helps, and 'Red Barchetta" is miles ahead of 'I Think I'm Going Bald'. And hey, 'YYZ' is fabulous! It probably sounds as great as what a 4 minute cut of 'La Villa Strangiato' would. And, aw, Neil's drum solos are cool. At least, they're humourous. And 'Tom Sawyer' and "Limelight' are both fantastic, especially the latter. Though I think the main feature here isn't Geddy, but the gorgeous guitar lines. And hey, I am in partial agreement with you on the second side. Though I happen to like 'The Camera Eye' a lot, and think 'Witch Hunt' is kinda weak. But 'Vital Signs' is cool.


Brian Sittinger <> (28.08.2002)

First, check out that album cover! Secondly, these performances are at worst no better than on the studio albums. So, this is a viable substitute for a greatest hits package if I saw one. Especially from "Xanadu" onward, the songs kick their studio, er, counterparts into the drain, due to a more vibrant guitar tone, or energy: ****1/2.

<> (12.07.2003)

exit stage left is just OK

<> (15.11.2003)

'Xanadu' is superb. But on 'A Spirit Of Radio' which leads off the album, Geddy Lee's bass clearly overshadows what should be spotlight guitar playing. I would have hoped that the newly remastered version would have corrected this, but alas, this is not so. A solid live album though. Considering Rush's tricky time signatures and synth overdubs in the studio, it is to their credit that Rush was able to reproduce these songs in concert with little change. Part of it is due to the fact Geddy Lee plays bass foot pedals when he switches to his Prophet synthesizer. Very worth owning, but only after you've heard the studio albums.


Brian Sittinger <> (28.08.2002)

I must have an alergy to this type of music overall. In all truth, it's all well-played, and there's nothing really bad. And Geddy's voice is calmed down for good. Irony, I say... . BUT, outside "Subdivisions" and perhaps "Analog Kid", nothing really stands out. The synths on the former really help set the mood for the song, with matching meaningful lyrics (yeah!). Perhaps, my favorite synth rock song of the 80's: ***1/2.

Jeff Hendershott <> (18.12.2003)

If you don't like Rush or Alex Lifeson, at least listen to he and Geddy on the song "Analog Kid" off of this album. This is one of the most, if not the most, cool and rocking power trio riffs I can think of, and Lifeson's solo in the middle simply floors me. This album DOES have a distinct flavor throughout in terms of sound texture, but it's good. I was happy with SIGNALS because it had some lyrics I could at least begin to understand. Everyone is playing real well in this effort and I think it's their best overall work from beginning to end. If I were to recommend to anyone one post-70's Rush album, it would be this one.


Dan Miller <> (20.02.2003)

And so begins the slide to mediocrity as Rush finally succumbs to the same sickness that plagued most veteran bands: The 1980s. But yo, hold up! Let's give 'em some props, homes! It took them four studio (and one live) albums to finally catch the fever! Anyway, I boycotted this album at first. All the elements of classic Rush were disintegrating. Their aggressive and intricate compositions, collective and individual showcases and squealy-but-heady vocals were being replaced by washes of synthetic electronics and effects, Simmons electric drums and processed guitars. Geddy lost his Rickenbacker (save for "Body Electric") and found that ridiculous rectangular Steinberger that nearly neutered his trademark, stand-out bass performances. Alex had already replaced his Gibsons with Fenders, thus trading in the former's full-color resonance with the more processed sheen of the latter. That said, as the years have passed I've come around to this album and now enjoy its overall, paranoid vibe. Now I'm in the minority here, but save for a creepy, moody middle, I consider "Red Sector A" the weakest link with its ponderous verses and trite refrain ("For my father and my brother, it's too late; but I must help my mother stand up straight"? What the hell is that?), and I dig "Between the Wheels" with its spooky chords, Neil's high-hat, those angular guitar leads and frightening vocal. "Afterimage" has a very strong drive throughout and some keyboard/guitar power chords - nice job! Most of the rest of this album is quite satisfactory. After many years at the producer's helm, long-timer Terry Brown is gone, replaced by one-timer Peter Henderson of Supertramp fame. Most fans bag on him (while forgetting, or unaware of, the fantastic work he had done for Supertramp), but his production is deeper and affords the music more textures than Peter Collins, the producer who followed. Overall, this is a satisfying effort and the last of what one should consider the quality Rush albums.

Lindsey Eck <> (29.09.2005)

"Distant Early Warning": This was the name for a system of radar installations in northern Canada meant to warn the U.S. of incoming Soviet missiles. The irony here, of course, is that to the Canadians the system was not "distant" at all.


Ben Rising <> (14.08.2002)

I'm pretty sure I heard a vocal hook in the chorus of 'Marathon'. Yup, I did.

Mark Corbett <> (14.08.2002)

Wha? Only two stars for Power Windows? Seems a little harsh, so here’s a few thoughts in its defence:

The album has a distinctive sound of its own; it’s over-produced, being top-heavy with keyboards and guitars. Rush decided they weren’t going to worry about whether they’d be able to play these songs live (unlike Grace Under Pressure, the recording of which nearly finished them), hence the BIG sound. I think the results are quite impressive.

There is some diversity on this album e.g. the deft use of strings, and a choir. There are also changes in the feel of the songs (compare the chilled out vibe of 'Mystic Rhythms' with the frenetic, quirky 'Grand Designs'). True, Rush always seemed to value sound variation between albums (or even between groups of albums!) over variation within an album, which I think is a shame, but nah, these songs don’t all sound the same.

Part of the reason the bass sound is less prominent is that Geddy Lee ditched the chunky Rickenbacker in favour of a lighter sounding bass. Nevertheless, I still hear it loud and clear on most songs, especially 'Territories', 'Marathon' and 'Middletown Dreams'. For me, a large part of the album’s appeal is the constant and frenzied switching of focus between guitar, bass and synthesizers – it’s almost as though there’s a competition between them. On 'Grand Designs' the guitar solo even spills over into the chorus to compete with the vocals. Top stuff.

Try to ignore the lyrics (even though they’re more palatable on this album than on most other Rush albums) and simply enjoy the sonic flurry!

Dan Miller <> (19.08.2002)

Not quite sure it's a fourth take on Moving Pictures, but rather a first take in a new Rush sound that utilized those '80s brand of "Gedsynths" that forever changed the band's direction, and not for the better. I blame Peter Collins as much as anyone. I guess he felt the synths weren't adding enough mud to this swamp, so he began the annoying habit of double/triple/quadruple-tracking Geddy's voice. I've always liked Geddy's voice because it's quirky and unique, but I don't think it makes for a good "choir." Anyway, I like 'Marathon', and Geddy's big multi-part refrain works very well here (I agree -- there's your vocal hook). In fact, I consider it the last great Rush tune. I also really like 'Grand Designs' for some reason - maybe because it seems unpredictable and different. 'Big Money' (great guitar solo - for a second it sounds like we're in Moving Pictures heaven again) and 'Manhattan Project' (nice verses) are good, but their hokey refrains pile on the cheese just a little too hard. A lot of fans love 'Mystic Rhythms' and I've never understood why. It's a wretchedly boring tune that relies strictly on atmosphere and nothing else. Mark's right, but Geddy isn't the only one guilty of trading on his sound (in fact, the signature Rickenbacker bowed its last on P/G. He took on the Steinberger and settled on the Washburn for PW. Alex turned in his Gibson for a Fender Strat, and Neil, replaced his Tama with a Ludwig and that insipid Simmons electronic kit). This album sounded pretty good in 1985. It still sounds good, just dated. There are parts of songs that are great ('Territories', 'Middletown Dreams', 'Emotion Detector'), but, except for 'Marathon', nothing that sounds cohesive throughout. While it's not a disaster by any means, longtime Rush fans were growing concerned and began to fear the road ahead.

Fernando H. Canto <> (25.05.2003)

I skipped Signals and Grace Under Pressure 'cause I'm tired of writing. So I'll just say I really, really, really like this album. Not just because it's a fan favourite, you know. Just because I listen to it with more care than you do. If you see nothing more than 10 generic drones, your loss. I don't think only 'Big Money' is a good song here, but I happen to love 'Marathon'. Really inspirational. And 'Manhattan Project', even though a bit too pompous at times, is thrilling and energetic. But damn it, how could you forget 'Mystic Rhythms'? You can't be forgiven for that. 'Mystic Rhythms', man, it rules. If you say "every song sounds the same", it's just you that isn't willing to appreciate it, you know. I am, so this album gets easy four stars from me.


Ted Goodwin <> (10.08.2002)


As much as I enjoy your reviews, the above song isn't meant to to explain "the beauty of the Middle Kingdom"'s just a song, for Chrissakes! Not meant to impart Eastern wisdom on the listener through a good drummer who can write the odd good lyric! [Well yeah, and 'Power To The People' isn't meant to be a populist-tinged pro-democratic anthem... hey, it's just a song! - G.S.]

Ben Rising <> (14.08.2002)

I never liked 'Tai Shan' much either but its only one song out of ten and far from a centerpiece. You make it sound as though you expected it to reshape your feelings about Chinese culture. It's a quiet, gentle song about visiting China.big deal. Your comment about watching a documentary with a real Chinese music soundtrack instead borders on the absurd. As if anyone listens to Hold Your Fire expecting to gain an understanding of China.

That aside, one of my favorite songs on the album is one you didn't mention.. 'High Water'. I don't know if you listen to these MP3s on cheesy computer speakers but if you turn that song up on a decent stereo, you'll find it's a rich sonic experience. In fact the same goes for this whole album. It sounds weak when its played softly but when you turn up the volume it comes alive.

Dan Miller <> (16.08.2002)

Well said. Whereas Grace Under Pressure caused me to wince (at the time ... today, I really like it) and Power Windows was the ultimate test of my patience, Hold Your Fire was the last straw and quite possibly the beginning of several albums' worth of rock bottom Rush, which, in my opinion, has only partially recovered. The '80s cheese-synth-wash is in full regalia here, all intricacies and unpredictability lost. "Turn the Page" was a saving grace at the time with at least some semblance of aggression, but no more. It's all dated, and "Force 10" just sounds stupid. "Time Stands Still" is Rush at its nadir - Aimee Mann blows. You can say feminist all you want, but her only real claim to fame was that insipid "Voices Carry" schlock in the mid-'80s. I can still see that video, with her standing in a theater and yelling, "SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!" Blegh! Still gives me the runs. Anyway, after this defecation, Rush would slowly reintroduce more organic elements into their music over time, but HYF is definitely that stop along the tracks where many older fans left the train. It's interesting, but HYF and PW were the stops where a lot of younger, "Johnny-come-lately" fans jumped on the bandwagon (look at Prindle's site - PW gets the 10, and even Geddy has said it's his overall favorite), so it's about this time where you see the demographics split between "old" fans and "new" fans.

Fernando H. Canto <> (25.05.2003)

Ooh, the so much hated album. I heard it already, and didn't find anything wrong with it. Nothing spectacular either, so maybe that's the problem. But I don't hate everything that isn't spectacular. 'Force Ten' rules, and 'Time Stand Still' is just a great pop tune. The rest is the rest, yeah, but I happen to like it all. Yeah, there's great bass playing here. 'Turn The Page' is a good example, I think... So, what can I say? Damn these two stars. Three and a half from me.

Return to the main index page