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Grace Under Pressure

Review by Gary Hill

I make no excuses. I prefer the more progressive rock oriented period of Rush over the shorter songs that have made up most of the modern era of the band. That said, even the most blatantly “modern” of the Rush discs have their moments that work quite well. I guess you could say that no matter what they produce quality music. Grace Under Pressure is a fine example of that. Looking back on it I tend to think of it as one from the worst period of the band’s studio output – yet, there are still some great songs on here.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 6 at

Track by Track Review
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.

While there were parts of the last track that gelled pretty well, this number is far stronger than that one. There is a darkness to it somehow. While this is definitely in the “shorter more accessible” category of Rush music there’s still a cool edge to it. The vocal performance is another of the more potent ones, too. I like this one a lot.

Red Sector A
With the apocalyptical feeling the lyrics have this has somehow always felt to me like it was related to “Red Barchetta” to me. In many ways it feels musically related, too. I have to say that perhaps the lyrics here deal with the concentration camps of World War II. This cut is another highlight of the CD.

The Enemy Within
That Rush goes reggae texture is all over this. The high points of the track? It’s got a lot of energy and we get some cool drumming. The chorus is somewhat catchy. This really doesn’t hold up all that well, though and I’d consider it a weak point of the CD.

The Body Electric
Percussion starts off. Then Geddy Lee’s bass joins. Wait a minute – he’s playing funky? Yep. This has a definite funky feeling to it. With a keyboard dominated musical texture this has its moments. It’s a step up from the track that preceded it. I like the lyrics a lot. I’m just not overly crazy about this. Of course, the chorus is killer, though. There is a smoking instrumental section, though.
Kid Gloves
As far as I’m concerned this is a throwaway track. It’s just not really special. Lyrically it feels a lot like “Subdivisions” to me, but musically there’s just not that much to like about it. It’s not terrible, but definitely not great either.

Red Lenses
A step up from “Kid Gloves,” mainly due to Peart’s inventive percussion line, this is another that’s rather lackluster and somewhat forgettable. Lee gets a bit funky on this one, too.

Between the Wheels
They redeem themselves at the end. This track feels a lot like “Red Sector A” to me. It starts with a keyboard oriented section that has as much to do with Genesis as it does with Rush. They move out to something more akin to what we expect to hear from this group, though. I like this one a lot, really. The guitar solo on this track is quite tasty, too. It’s a great way to end things in style.

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