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Various Artists

New World Man: A Tribute to Rush

Review by Gary Hill

Here we have a new Rush tribute album from the fine folks at Magna Carta. Other than two tracks, this disc features songs performed by various groupings of musicians, rather than “band” showings. Most of the music is fairly true to the original rendition, but some take the music in some interesting new directions. All in all, this is a set with no bad music and a lot of exceptionally strong stuff.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 3 at

Track by Track Review
New World Man

The lineup on this opening cut is Robert Berry (lead vocals and keyboards), Chris Pennie (drums), Dave Martone (guitar), Shane Gibson (guitar) and Juan Alderete (bass). This fires out quite heavy and doesn’t really resemble the original at first to my ear. As the vocals enter the cut is recognizable. To their credit, though, they really make this their own, bringing in both a more pure progressive rock texture and some modern heavy sounds. The fast paced jam is closer to the original, but even that seems to stretch well beyond the Rush version. I like this track a lot. It’s very different, but also very cool.

The Trees
There are a small handful of bassists out there who can really make changes to a Geddy Lee bass section that seem to be “upping the ante.” Billy Sheehan proves that he’s one of them. This cut is far closer to the original, but Sheehan adds some intriguing bass elements. Mike Baker handles the lead vocals quite well and Brendt Allman provides lead and rhythm guitar. Chris Ingles plays piano and Gary Wehrkamp does the rest of the keyboards. Mike Portnoy is the drummer, pulling of an excellent Neil Peart impression. This is another great rendition.
Fly By Night
The lineup on this older Rush tune is almost the same as the one on “New World Man.” The one difference is that this time, Robert Berry only provides backing vocals. The lead vocal duties are handled by Sal Marrano. This is a simpler song (both in terms of the original, and this version). There are still some prog aspects added and this arrangement is more involved than the Rush original. The guitar solo on this feels just a little noodly to me. 
There’s almost a more AOR sound to this cut. It definitely resembles the original, but there are more progressive rock sounds here, but it also feels somehow like something you might hear on a light rock radio station. I think that aspect comes mostly from Eric Martin’s vocals. This is good, but he almost sounds like Michael Bolton covering Geddy Lee. There are only two other players on this cut, Brad Kaiser on drums and Robert Berry tackling absolutely everything else. I love the guitar solo section here and the proggy jam that follows it. 
Tom Sawyer - I, Omega
This is one of only two tracks here performed by an actual group that normally plays music together. Musically, this is closest to the original of anything we’ve heard here. It does shift towards more metallic territory at points and the drum arrangement seems to lack a bit of Peart’s subtle finesse and brilliance. The vocals are close to the original. No one would believe that this is Rush, but it is not all that far removed from the studio recording of Rush. 
Jacob's Ladder
Sebastian Bach provides the lead vocals this time around. He’s joined by John Petrucci (lead guitar), Matt Guillory (keyboards), Mike Portnoy (drums), Billy Sheehan (bass) and Brendt Allman (rhythm guitar). This is one of the tracks that is closest to the original and I like it a lot. It’s definitely cool and there is a bit of a more metallic edge to the mellower sections than was originally there (bringing some new aspects to the plate). 
This is quite different, coming in as almost metal in nature. Sure, there is a prog edge and this extended intro still feels like Rush (but Rush in an alternate universe). Once the opening segment completes, though, they play it more true to form. Kip Winger does a great job on the vocals, at once making this his own and paying tribute to the original. Andreas Kisser provides a great melodic guitar solo. There’s also a cool instrumental section later in the track that brings in some other Rush cuts. Other musicians here include Vinnie Moore (rhythm guitars), Stu Hamm (bass tracks), Mike Mangini (drum tracks). Robert Berry, Jeff Feldman and Trent Gardner all bring some keyboards to the table. 
Force Ten
The lineup on this is exactly the same as the one on the disc’s opener. They play this cut quite metallic. That said, it had a definite metal vibe to it from the beginning. They just seem to play that side of the piece up. The vocals, though, bring some real progressive rock to the table. 
This one is played pretty true to form. The vocals have a different texture to them, but vocally this is very close (after the different introduction, anyway). There is also an extended instrumental section that does a great job of combining classic Rush sounds with more progressive rock oriented elements. The lineup here is Randy Jackson on lead vocals, Jeff Feldman on keyboards, Vinnie Moore (rhythm guitars), Stu Hamm (bass tracks), Mike Mangini (drum tracks), Robert Berry (keyboards), Trent Gardner (keyboards) and Dominic Cifarelli (guitar solo). I have to say that I miss the “Subdivisions” voice over from the original. 
Tom Sawyer - Alex Skolnick Trio
The final track is the only duplicate of the set. It is also one of two that feature an actual band playing the song. This time it’s the Alex Skolnick Trio and they have a history of creating jazz renditions of rock songs. This is no exception, although, it is also more rock and blues oriented. I guess this would best qualify as fusion.
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