It is hard to believe that it has been nearly a quarter of a century since Rush composed the song “Time Stand Still”, a song filled with nostalgia for the past which came at a time when it appeared to many of us that the band’s career was winding down. In that sense, it was a good time to look back and wish “time would stand still”, but in another sense, as fans we are quite fortunate that it did not stand still at that point in time.
The Canadian trio seemed to have lost their mojo – their absolute control of the sound, with each of these virtuosos making it do acrobatics on a tight rope 1000 feet high and then coming back to do something even more amazing, had all but devolved into a muddle mess of synthesized sound behind a monotone vocal and sophist, preachy lyrics. It was 1987 and Rush had just released Hold Your Fire, their second consecutive album that had tilted fully towards a synth-led sound that had to be as close to 180 degrees away from their classic rock power trio sound that they had delivered so masterfully a decade earlier.
Many of us were absolutely baffled by this radical (or lamely ir-radical) move off the edge. Following the phenomenal success of the breakthrough Moving Pictures in 1981, the band had edged towards new sounds with the new-wave influenced Signals in 1982 and the pop-oriented Grace Under Pressure in 1984, but this was something totally different – and not the a cutting-edge, artistically satisfying sort of different – but it felt cheap and uninspired. Between 1985’s Power Windows and Hold Your Fire, there are a few good moments reserved for the radio-friendly song or two on each, but even so, it is doubtful that a single quality album could be compiled from all the tracks on both.
It was about that time, in the late 1980s when I was introduced to many of the great albums that preceded Moving Pictures. To me the dichotomy was very confusing, because the band was still around and still releasing new albums every year or two, but these new albums sounded nothing at all like the older ones. Many staunch fans defended their new turn towards “modern music” as an extension to their creative journey, but others felt like they had lost their creative drive altogether after becoming mega-stars. Personally, I felt like their career was winding down and reflective songs such as “Time Stand Still” was a tacit acknowledgement of that fact. Boy was I wrong. They had not yet come upon the midway point and still had some fantastic classic work to be produced. And in 1989, the band embarked on the first of two major “comebacks” with the release of their fantastic album Presto.
Looking back now, it was just a bend on the long road of their career; a road that still stretches forward in 2011 as we await the upcoming release of what will be the band’s 19th full-length studio album, Clockwork Angels, so the adventure continues.
For Rush IS a journey – an adventure that takes one to places wild and lame, adventurous and mundane, to unbelievable musical heights to baffling musical stagnation, and all this is decorated with the story telling and the philosophy of “the professor” Neil Peart.
There has never been a rock band like Rush. They are three modest and unassuming men who have each excelled deep into the realms of virtuosity with their respective instruments. They have a single guitarist, Alex Lifeson, who plays any style imaginable and often switches instruments mid-song to replicate the original feel of the song. They have a singer lead singer, Geddy Lee who often plays at least two other instruments while singing. I can say that I like to play online sports betting and can show you some of them here. They rarely harmonize and almost never produce anything in the studio that they can’t reproduce on stage. And then there is Peart, loves to come up with mathematical formulas to make multiple time signatures fit and is considered by many (if not most) to be the finest drummer who ever sat behind a set. Together, these three have jived together like no other before them and will likely not ever have adequate company in the stratospheric category that they call their own.
Rush is a band made up of musicians’ musicians. To be able to master a part of a Rush song on any instrument has been a brag-able milestone for generations of rock musicians. There are little to no simple or easy Rush songs.
Beyond these artistic intangibles, Rush has the solid metrics to validate their stature (as of May, 2011):
- They have placed all 18 studio albums on the United States charts since 1974, with 10 of those reaching the top 10. And this is not just good ole day, prime success, as Rush has placed its last five albums in the U.S. Top 6.
- In Canada they have six No. 1, two No. 2 and three No. 3 entries.
- In the United Kingdom, Rush had 16 albums reach the top 40, half of which made it to the Top 10.
- Since 1980, Rush also has charted hit albums in Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Sweden.
- Year after year, Rush continues to be one of Rock’s best drawing concert attractions.
- They rank third behind just The Beatles and Rolling Stones for most consecutive gold or platinum studio albums by a rock band.
Still, they have been slighted as no band before or since, most especially by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2013 update: Of course, Rush is now in the H.O.F. but still check out our related article >a href=”/burn-down-rock-hof/”>Burn Down the Rock Hall of Fame). The mainstream rock clique has always scoffed at the band, at once ridiculing their sound while dismissing their virtuosity as “fringe prog rock”.
This “banishing” by the self-appointed elites has, in fact, isolated the band from certain corners of the entertainment world but has also served to galvanize their prestige among fans and a growing number of true musicians. In the 2010 documentary Beyond the Lighted Stage, commentary is provided by a diverse set of established musicians that range from Trent Reznor to Les Claypool to Billy Corgin to Kirk Hammet of Metallica to Gene Simmons of Kiss, all of which was influenced by and/or hold the band in grand reverence.
|The Rush Story|
|2||The Terry Brown Sound|
|3||Rock n’ Roll Rebels|
|4||The Universal Dream|
|6||Presto! Rush Is Back|
|7||Workin’ Them Angels|