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Fly By Night

Review by Gary Hill

To quote the disc’s closer, “I know, I know, I know” that many of you don’t consider Rush to be a progressive rock band. That said, we have always included them under that heading due to the strength of their more prog period (Caress of Steel, 2112, A Farewell To Kings and Hemispheres). This disc was really the one where the band began to show some of those tendencies. While not everything here is what you might call a “masterpiece,” there is no real “junk” either. This still holds up reasonably well and serves as a fine piece of foreshadowing for what was to come from Rush.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 1 at

Track by Track Review
Fast and crunchy, this is a killer tune, with a theme that is derived from Ayn Rand’s philosophical views. An interesting side note is that Rand’s book by the same title is not the source of this, but instead serves as the story line for the epic “2112.” This song, though, drops back to a more stripped down mode for the vocal segment, but the instrumental sections are pure hard-edged early Rush masterpieces. This also includes a smoking guitar solo segment. In fact, it’s amazing how much they manage to pack into four and a half minutes.
Best That I Can
This stripped down rocker has more of a sound that’s in keeping with Rush’s self-titled debut disc – as in quite Led Zeppelin-like. While not all that special it does have a few moments that shine and it works reasonably well.
Beneath, Between and Behind
This one seems sort of a transitionary piece. It’s still well rooted in that primal, early Rush sound, but also shows off enough elements of later Rush to link it into the more prog oriented sound that would come later. This one has always been a personal favorite.
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.
Fly By Night
The title track 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.
Making Memories
Acoustic guitar based, this is an interesting jam. It has a definite folk rock element to it, but it is also a great change of pace. They power it up more into the rocking, electrified direction later, but overall the song “remains (more or less) the same.”
Now this extremely sedate piece of music is another that shows a different side of Rush. It’s also one more example of the beginnings of their fantasy / science fiction leanings. This is pretty and works well. It is a sign of things to come in many ways. If I were to make one complaint about the track it would be the fact that it seems to run a bit too long.
In The End
In my view this one (with the possible exception of “By-Tor and the Snow Dog”) is the standout track on show here. It reminds me a lot of the material on the second half of the 2112 album. It has that killer Rush hard rock sound and seems a bit more thought out and complete than some of the other material on this disc. I can’t imagine a better way to end the disc.
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