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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Rush

Rush

Review by Greg Olma

With the release of the new Rush studio album (reviewed in this issue also), I thought it would be a good time to revisit the past and give a listen to where it all began. 1974 saw the first output from Rush and no one could have predicted that 33 years later, they would not only be releasing new music but they would also be an international success. Many people described Rush as the Canadian Led Zeppelin but I tend to disagree. Led Zeppelin had a lot of light and shade at this point and Rush didn’t quite achieve that until Caress Of Steel and 2112. Most of the tunes on Rush are your typical blues based heavy rock songs. Even though they may lack originality, that deficit made up with a naïve exuberance that only a first release could harness. Say what you will about Geddy Lee’s voice, but it was unique and fit the times. Keep in mind that Robert Plant was probably the most famous of the hard rock singers and he had a high pitched wail also. I do sometimes wonder what this release would have sounded like had Neil Peart been part of the line-up. John Rutsey’s drumming is very pedestrian compared to the Peart’s and we won’t even get to the lyrical aspect. Each Rush record is unique but at no other point in their career have they been this raw and this heavy.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Finding My Way
You can easily see why this tune was a fan favorite for many years. Even though Rutsey’s drumming is very average, Lifeson puts in some great guitar work. It has that 70’s Rush guitar sound that followed them through A Farewell To Kings. Even at this early stage, they experimented by adding little bits to a song to make it more interesting. In this one, there is a really cool bridge right after the guitar solo that kind of breaks up the song.
Need Some Love
This is where I think Peart’s expert lyrics could have come into play. The verses have an almost punk feel to them but the chorus is cringe worthy. The lyrics are not your typical Rush words that we have come to expect. I guess you have to learn to crawl before you walk.
Take A Friend
If nothing else, Rush were not afraid to experiment and here they dabble in southern rock territory. Obviously, the lyrics again are not very Rush-like but they are much better than the ones on the previous song. I don’t remember this tune (probably skipped it in the old days) but now I kind of like it. The boys knew that you had to keep things moving in different and experimental ways so the inclusion of some country sounds only made sense.
Here Again
Here is where most hard rock bands start. This is a heavy blues track that has Lee giving us some plodding bass. Lifeson really knows his blues chops because he sounds great throughout the cut. You can feel that the band was “stretching out” during this piece and it was probably a focal point of the show back in the early days.
What You're Doing
This funky little rocker spent a lot of time in the fan favorite’s list and you can see why. As a song, the lyrics are a bit weak but musically, it had a really great groove that almost bounced. Throw in some reverb on Lee’s voice and you have a crowd pleaser. Compared to newer output, this sounds a little dated but it captures the charm of the band at this very early stage.


In The Mood
I remember seeing this track being played when Rush was on “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert.” Even then I though it had a Kiss feel to it in that it was a simple little rocker that had “hit single” written all over it. Even the lyrics are similar to what Gene Simmons would write.
Before and After
This cut starts off in a slow, almost ballady style before it turns into a rock tune. It was a precursor for when the band got more prog and started tunes with a soft guitar sounds before kicking in with some metallic riffs. It’s a longer song and you might be confused into thinking this is an instrumental because the lyrics don’t come in until almost 2 minutes.
Working Man
Here we get the “piece de resistance” as if they were saving the best for last. This ode to the working man (or woman) is Rush’s answer to “Freebird.” The opening riff is one of those sounds that when you hear it, you know who and what it is (like Deep Purple’s “Smoke On The Water”). Even though it clocks in at over 7 minutes, this tune moves along without ever getting boring or repetitive. It is still dusted off from time to time and played live and the crowd response is amazing. Even classic rock radio plays the full 7 minute version so you know it’s a good song.
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