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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Rush

Time Stand Still: The Collection

Review by Gary Hill

You have to wonder how many compilation discs featuring essentially the same music can be released. Of course, more times than not, the band doesn’t release these things, the label does. This collection would be a good first disc for someone trying to build up a Rush collection. The only other obvious reason to get this would be to have everything that’s been released by Rush. Since I’ve already reviewed all the individual tracks here on other albums, I’ll use or modify those here for the sake of consistency.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Spirit Of Radio
With a scorching guitar line opening it up, this is a great track. It really does seem like it would have been quite at home on the previous disc Hemispheres – at least as one of the non-epic offerings. It still manages to be catchy and rather “pop,” though.
Tom Sawyer
For those who don’t really know Rush all that well, this is the one song that will come to mind when they here the name. It’s crunchy and catchy. It represents the more pop oriented sound of the band while still maintaining some of the edge and power that the earlier works had. While in some ways I really want to dislike this track, you just can’t. Overplayed and the start of the change away from the music I really loved, this still works incredibly well.
Freewill
This was one of the first tracks from the band to show off the more “pop” oriented direction that was to dominate the next portion of their career. We still get some classic “Rushisms” and the arrangement has its share of quirky sections, though. It’s one that holds up quite well. While it has a bit of that Hemispheres sound it’s perhaps closer to the musical textures that would make up the band’s next release – Moving Pictures. All members of the band get a chance to shine on this.
Fly By Night
The title track to Rush's second album comes in as a somewhat lighter jam that still showcases a rather straight-ahead rock sound. If the chorus of this one wasn’t so catchy it would really be a throwaway piece.
The Big Money
This was the first single from Rush’s Power Windows and for me it seemed to represent a tying together of their older, harder rocking sound with their more pop rock elements. It’s got a good bit of crunch to it and works fairly well, Still, there’s plenty of the more modern trappings, too. While I wouldn’t really think of it as close to the top of the Rush pool of music, it’s definitely a highlight for that period of the band. It’s got some killer funky bass work from Geddy Lee in places. Yes, I said “funky.”
Time Stand Still
While the main concept isn’t all that different from the number that preceded it (on its original release), this track just doesn’t work as well. The duet vocal element is a nice touch, though – and Geddy Lee does gives us some of his most emotional vocal work on record. This just doesn’t really hold up exceptionally well.
Limelight

Here’s another of the group’s hits. It’s another most people should have heard at one time or another. It’s perhaps the biggest sign of things to come in that it has less of that old-school Rush sound on it of all the Moving Pictures music. Still, it’s a pretty cool track nonetheless. The guitar solo section on this one is extremely tasty.

Finding My Way
The Zeppelin influences of early Rush are all over this hard rocking number. It’s one of two on the set to feature original Rush drummer John Rutsey. This is a cool tune and has a few hints of what was to come in the band. Overall it’s a straightforward cruncher, though.
By-Tor And The Snow Dog
The first real sign of what was to come with this band, “By-Tor and the Snow Dog” includes both epic aspirations in terms of musical prowess and arrangement and also fantasy-styled lyrics. In some ways it doesn’t differ all that much from the rest of the material here. That is apparent on the verse and chorus section. However, the extended duel between the two entities mentioned in the title creates a whole new world for Rush. This segment is a battle between the guitar and the bass (each representing one of the players). It should also be noted that throughout the cut Geddy Lee’s bass work serves to raise this one to new levels, but during this proggy hard rocking jam section the whole effect is purely amazing.
A Passage To Bangkok
This heavily drug influenced cut is a solid rocker that works well. As presented on the original 2112 album just after the full side-long title track, the majesty of the previous masterpiece was destined to pretty much overshadow anything in comparison.
Distant Early Warning
A keyboard based intro has a science fiction like feel to it, They quickly shift things out to a rather reggae based stripped down sound for the verses. The bridge segment still has enough keyboards to keep it interesting. That keyboard arrangement and Geddy Lee’s vocals are the two things that really hold this track together. The chorus rocks out harder and works remarkably well. The instrumental segment on this ups the ante and the more powerful take on the song proper that follows it delivers.
The Trees
Starting on acoustic guitar, the first verse is sung in this style. Birds come over top of the end of this verse, then a brief pause gives way to a more metallic reworking of the first verse's themes. They work this in several directions as the song carries forward. They it drops to a mellow segment dominated by keys and percussion. This moves to a gradual build up to a classic Rush jam. Lifeson gets in a very tasteful solo before the main themes return, the group jamming on and reinventing this for a time, then jumping back into the verse.
Closer To The Heart

 This starts off with an intricate acoustic guitar motif. It never really moves into the majestic sort of powerhouse approach that made up the core of that piece, though. Instead it stays fairly closer to a ballad approach. They still manage to create plenty of progressive rock power and include some more anthemic treatments. This is another great tune and another fine showing of the band’s more prog rock oriented sound.

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