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on July 26, 2001
Suitably enough, Rush recorded a live album to top off the most successful period in their careers. Permanent Waves and especially Moving Pictures had secured reams of popularity for the power-prog trio, so a high-energy live compilation was the perfect coda to this hallowed chapter in the band's history.
The tracks here cover a fairly broad range of Rush's catalogue up to this point, but skip over the debut and Caress of Steel. Although this collection largely covers the band's shorter, more commercial songs, they never forget the progressive rock wings on which they once soared. I'd say the song selection is perfect. Alongside hits like "Freewill," "Tom Sawyer," and "The Spirit of Radio" are progressive epics like "Xanadu" and "Jacob's Ladder." One of my favorite moments on the album comes with "La Villa Strangiato," an astounding instrumental tour-de-force that concretizes the band's standing as musicians' musicians. Live, this song SMOKES. Lifeson's first solo in this song is infused with tenfold the passion of the original, and I can't help but get chills up and down my spine listening to it. Still, while the energy is there and the songs are great, overdubs render the album a wee bit too polished, and the band's blazing live ebullience is diluted somewhat.
Still, this album many wonderful moments. The precise, stunning drum solo during "YYZ," "Closer to the Heart" with the entire crowd joining in with Geddy on vocals, the ultra-high energy performance of "Red Barchetta," the serene melodies of "Broon's Bane" as a seque into the hard-rocking "The Trees"...the list is endless.
I was kind of disappointed by the album's dubious representation of the concert experience. At the end of most tracks, the sound fades out and then comes back in for the next song. It's like it's taking snippets from several concerts instead of capturing the seamless performance. Most live albums cut superfluous crowd noise and chitchat, but blend crowd noise together so that it flows smoothly from song to song anyway. This works better in preserving the feel of the actual show. Annoyingly, here you'll often hear silence between the tracks and it creates a frustrating disjointed "concert" experience.
But it's not so bad. As a high-energy live "greatest hits" type package, Exit Stage Left can't be beat. Rush rules the world, and this captures them at their best.
(Oh, and make sure you get the Remastered edition, which has "A Passage to Bangkok," a rockin' song that was not included on some of the earlier pressings.)
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HALL OF FAMEon April 29, 2004
There are several things you can judge a live album for, and this one ranks quite well on most of them. Some of the ones where it's "weak" are: mix (uneven at times, leaning a bit more toward Geddy Lee's bass), sound quality (between songs, specially) and the general live feel (arguably, there weren't too many mics pointed at the audience, so you don't hear very loud "roars" between tracks).
On the flip side, the album ranks so well on so many other fronts, that the downsides pale by comparison. The musicianship, above all things, is bound to leave you speechless: Geddy Lee's basswork and Neil Peart's drums are out of this world (take the "YYZ" looooooong solo by the latter as the best example, easily making the entire album worth buying). The fact that the band sounds just as well live as they do on the studio says so much about their work too. Some people argue this is bad: I dare to say this is where a musician gets to prove him/herself, by matching or exceeding the studio work.
All in all, given the items mentioned before, while not the best live album EVER, this is a great piece to add to your music collection to sum up the band's work as well as to enjoy outstanding performances of several of their classics which by now have become prog rock standards.
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on October 1, 2015
Review of the vinyl DMM version

After a long delay due to production issues, the vinyl remaster series returns with the next installment in the series. The somewhat controversial Exit Stage Left is a nice interlude of ear candy until we get the much anticipated Signals. Mastered at Abby Road by Sean Magee (all the way back in February this year) this version comes in a nice 2LP double gatefold with the only extra the download sticker/code. My records were slightly warped but not to the point of disruption of the sound quality. Side II was somewhat dirty but otherwise these discs sound perfect. I have to say, despite the way the original was put together, to this day it remains one of the greatest live releases of all time. The sheer caliber of songs was astounding, and the execution near flawless. Despite the fact that the songs were culled from multiple shows, and it essentially played out like a greatest hits release, this one still rivals the beloved All The Worlds A Stage which clearly edges this recording out in the spontaneous/raw factor. Having listened to this endlessly when it was originally released, for me the highlights remain Peart’s amazing drum solo in “YYZ” and the band’s execution of the difficult “La Villa Strangianto.”

So how does this version sound? I don't think quite as spectacular as much of what has come before in this series but it still delivers. Overall, these are quiet discs but maybe a bit more pops and crackles on my version. The bass really takes the forefront here in the mix, but all of the percussion and synth nuances are evident - especially on "Xanadu." Side IV is breathtaking with the tandem of "Freewill," "Tom Sawyer" and "La Villa." That one side is worth the cost here, which is no small fee. I think fans will want to get this for completion of the set, but its not essential - nowhere near the caliber of the Moving Pictures disc or even Permanent Waves. But if you are like me and your vinyl originals are all essentially destroyed, this is worth grabbing.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon February 14, 2006
In case some of you are wondering if you should A)Upgrade your original Exit...Stage Left CD with the new remastered one or B)Wondering which version to get, I have some simple answers for you. You see I had the original CD and then bought the Rush Remasters version hoping for some audio improvements. The remastering done on the new CD brings practically zero improvements to the original mastering. Only the most intense audiophiles with expensive sound systems will likely notice a large enough improvement to make a difference. I'm pretty picky about audio fidelity and when comparing the two versions face to face I couldn't find any differences at all.

So now that the whole remastered question is out of the way we can cover another question: that missing song. This CD is missing a song that was originally on the double vinyl album the CD is supposed to replace. That song was A Passage to Bangkok. That song was left out because the CD couldn't hold the entire double album and a song had to be taken out to make room (this was before the newer 80 minute CD's). Personally I think they made a good call. A Passage to Bangkok is not all that great of a song if you ask me. It's not bad, but if you had to take one out that would be it.

The last question I hear between the two is cover art. You see, these Rush Remasters boast about not only having the music remastered but also the original album art being restored on the CD sleeve. To be honest the original Exit...Stage Left CD is true to the original album art so there is no need to get the new album for that either.

So essentially this version of Exit...Stage Left is still a winner and its only failing grace is the exclusion of the song, A Passage to Bangkok. If you have this album and are thinking about taking the double dip keep in mind the remastered CD won't sound any different, will only look a little different, and will have the single advantage of an additional track. If you have neither and don't mind missing out on one song in leu of maybe a cheaper CD then there is no reason why you shouldn't buy this album instead of the Rush Remasters version.
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on March 16, 1999
Live albums usually lack something in recording and instrumental quality. Not this one. As a big Rush fan who has most of their albums, I truly believe they were at the peak of their careers when they recorded this album. Neil Peart's drumming is incredible and listening to him live makes it even more dynamic. The drum solo in YYZ is worth the price of admission alone. All the great songs from their previous albums are here. My personal favorite is "The Trees", which sends shivers down my spine and I like the live version better then the original version. This is, IMO, the greatest Live Rock album ever produced.
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VINE VOICEon May 5, 2015
This live 1981 release came out at a time when I had just discovered Rush and culls performances from the Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures tours of 1980/1981. I had attended the Moving Pictures tour (and the subsequent Signals tour in 1982, which was my last Rush concert). As such, I found that this album brought back some fond memories and is a great souvenir from a time when Rush made some of my favorite music.

The track selection is great and Exit...Stage Left could easily double as an excellent compilation. The fact that the sound quality is so good, and the audience participation has been severely limited also contributes to the "compilation-like" quality of this album. I think that the performances are excellent and the tunes, although largely played as they appear on record, are changed subtly here and there. Nice additions include the drum solo on YYZ, the acoustic guitar solo piece "Broon's Bane" that leads into "The Trees" (and then Xanadu), and the extended electric guitar introduction to a searing version of La Villa Strangiato.

Although some people have complained that this album is too polished, the smoothness does not bother me one bit. I don't like attending live rock performances because of the obnoxious crowds, so the limited audience noise at the end of each track (and the sing-along on Closer to Heart) did not bother me too much. This is a live album after all. The sound quality is excellent, although the fact that this was originally presented as a double record with "sides" that had to be turned over does turn up every so often - Passage to Bangkok seems to come out of left field.

All in all, this is a fine souvenir from the height of their powers. Recommended along with 2112 (1976), Farewell to Kings (1977), Hemispheres (1978), Permanent Waves (1980), Moving Pictures (1981), and Signals (1982).
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I know I know, traitor, string-'im up, but I am also correct. I like rush and have most of their works. I had them on vinyl, on tape, on 4 track and now on CD and various file formats. This album will not make new fans or enlighten anyone to the lifetime body of work that is RUSH - humble music masters of the uni-verse. It still comes down to the story line - turned party line, you either get RUSH or you don't. Get this CD to have a good experience and to have an inside, critical listen, to how RUSH makes it happen live.
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on August 1, 2015
This was my 3rd Rush live album (the others being "Rush in Rio" and "Snakes & Arrows: Live") and I guess it was alright. A lot of people complain that "Rush in Rio" sounds "too live," but to me, other than occasional remarks from Geddy and some crowd noise, this album sounds almost like a studio album. I have found better live versions of "The Spirit Of Radio," "YYZ," and "Tom Sawyer" elsewhere (namely "Snakes & Arrows"). However, this album is worth it just for outstanding versions of "A Passage to Bangkok" and "La Villa Strangiato," with decent live versions of "Red Barchetta," "Freewill," and "Beneath, Between & Behind." Overall a good album but I've already been spoiled by "Snakes & Arrows," which I highly recommend based on a superior track selection (due to a later recording date; it has all the essentials and more except for "La Villa" and "Red Barchetta") and far superior sound quality, but you can't go wrong with any (early) Rush album really.
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on October 14, 2015
Well, it is Rush, so I cannot help but give 5 stars. As I have said in reviews of their other re-issue LP's, the quality of the pressing is excellent...it is quiet and sounds great. I am so happy to have this on LP again. This LP showcases the end of one era of their music and paves the way for the next.
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on November 8, 2015
If your a Rush Fan and don't have this album, your not a RUSH FAN. Rush live is better than most bands and while chicks may not dig Rush, true Rock and Roller's do. No one can play and create the sounds these three guys do and continue to do.
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