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4.2 out of 5 stars
Power Windows
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 1999
Format: Audio CD
This is Rush at perhaps their most powerful, both musically and lyrically. This is a trend that would continue into Hold Your Fire. However, unlike that album, this one rocks much more.
Power Windows is an even more radical departure from Grace Under Pressure as Signals was from Moving Pictures.
The keyboards on this album sound beautiful and add so much texture. From the sweeping symphonies of Manhattan Project to the majestic chorus' of Marathon this album packs a powerful punch.
The rhythm section here is at it's tightest ever. Neil turns in some of the most complex and powerful drumming of all time and Alex's guitars are at their emotional peak...just listen to the heartfelt solo in Marathon. This album also marks the first use of overdubbed chorus' by Lee...something that will dramatically increase over the next few releases.
Again, there is a theme to this album...this time it's power. Power in money (Big Money), talk (Grand Designs), weapons (Manhattan Project), persistance (Marathon), world domination (Territories), dreams (Middletown Dreams), emotions (Emotion Detector) and the unknown (Mystic Rhythms).
This album ranks among the best Rush albums ever. The music ties in with the lyrics and the lyrics tie in with an overall theme...a masterful work that should not be overlooked.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I had never heard of RUSH until the "The Big Money" came on the radio one night in the fall of 1985. It immediately caught my attention. I remember thinking that the song sounded so... "BIG"! Sorry, no pun intended. The sound was aggressive yet melodic and (it seemed to me) a little over the top. But I immediately decided that I liked it. It was like nothing I had ever heard before. Soon afterwards I learned that it was just three guys making all of that music! I was impressed. I purchased the album and loved it. I have since looked forward to all RUSH album releases. They are outstanding musicians.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Power Windows, the 11th studio album by Canadian rock trio Rush, was released in 1985. It surpassed the high standards set by 1984's excellent Grace Under Pressure, both in songcraft and production values. The phasing in of keyboards and synthesized drums and guitar reached a zenith on this album and it's follow-up, Hold Your Fire (1987). Far from sounding cheesy, this album has a majestic and sweeping sound that contrasts with the claustrophobic and moody atmosphere of its predecessor.

Geddy Lee proves himself to be an accomplished keyboardist-bassist-vocalist, Alex Lifeson's solos are better than ever before and Neil Peart, as ever, defies the norm with his thought-provoking lyrics, god-like drumming and short hair. Producer Peter Collins should not beoverlooked. His contribution was easily as significant as the band members' were. Here is my overview of the eight glorious soundscapes on offer:

1) The Big Money: (10/10) The perfect opening track. Soaring synth and rapid-fire drumming accompany this lyrical critique of money and its destructive powers (POWER is this album's recurring lyrical theme). The instrumental section starting off with Alex's atmospheric guitar sound and some impressive percussion really make this a Rush classic.

2) Grand Designs: (10/10) A brooding look at triviality and the lack of substance in style. Alex's guitar reminds of Chic's Nile Rodgers (of all things!). Some might say the heavily synthesized chorus was ill-advised. I wouldn't, though.

3) Manhattan Project (10/10): An ironically positive-sounding observation on the state of nuclear science. Turn it up loud to hear that driving bass chord at the beginning! A very melodic verse leads into a memorable chorus underpinned by a glorious guitar motif. Then comes an orchestrated section that really succeeds in capturing the feeling of the Enola Gay as it flew "OUT OF THE SHOCKWAVE!" (don't you just love that part?). Alex's short solo is PHENOMONAL! What did you expect? Richie Sambora?

4) Marathon (10/10). The first really bass-driven song. A jittery bass-line in the verse and bridge leads into a supremely catchy chorus featuring a choir! Once again, Alex's solo is the highlight! (He must've fumed a bit after his notable low-key appearance on Grace..).

5) Territories (10/10): The least Rush-sounding track, but by no means the weakest (a relative term where this album is concerned). Neil's lyrics even add some humour. Heavy on synth but all the better for it. Neil is the real star on this on, in both musical and lyrical "territories".

6) Middletown Dreams (9/10) It sure says a lot about this album when a track like this is considered the weakest! The tricky stop-start intro impresses, as does the (once again) catchy pre-chorus and chorus. I can just imagine fans of 70's Rush cringing when the synth-piano bit starts. I can also imagine them burning to a crisp in a scorching inferno...

7) Emotion Detector (9/10). As with the previous track, this is weak compared to the rest, but still amazing. It features a great keyboard hook and impassioned chorus. Simply a great Rush track, period! Shame they've never performed it live...

8) Mystic Rhythms (10/10) A slow-paced epic with an apt title. Even the synth, which is commonly thought to be clinical and cold sounds emotional here. If you don't get chills when you hear that deep synth chord when Ged sings "or the African sun", you're practically bionic! As someone who lives in Africa, I can honestly say that these 3 Canucks have fully captured the rhythm and atmosphere of dark Mother Africa. And on a synth-driven 80's arena-prog album! Whaddayaknow?

So, to sum it up: this album is alarmingly melodic, intellectual, professional, emotional, (do forgive me) mystically rhythmic and vibrant. While I do believe that every Rush album has its place, from the ambitious concept of 2112 to the organic heavy metal of Vapor Trails, this is the album I will always consider their best. I don't think the band themselves realize just how good this album is.

A great starting point for potential new fans, as well as compulsory addition to existing collections. And that's understating...

LIKE THIS? TRY THESE....

1) Rush - Hold Your Fire (continuation of the theme and easily as good)

2) Iron Maiden - Somewhere In Time (its heavy metal sibling)

3) Yes - 90125 (its progressive-pop sibling)
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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Throughout the 1970's, bassist / vocalist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart built a reputation on their live performances and technical fluorishes. But things change, people grow and our love sometimes shifts focus, if not object. And as their careers progressed, their love for creating music began to focus on the writing rather than the performing. So by 1982, the 10-minute epics had given way to tighter, more focused, yet equally challenging pieces. That the songs had become more melodic was a useful byproduct of the shift in focus. However, this era in Rushtory, which began with 1980's "Permanent Waves," has endured countless criticism from snotty rock journalists, who would apparently seem content to listen to recorded verses of sublime literature recited over two dissonant chords played alternately over and over again. Much of the criticism has even come from Rush's own fans.
The pinnacle of Rush's output during this era was 1985's "Power Windows," which, not too surprisingly, has (unfairly) become the whipping boy for Rush's 1980's oeuvre. Always one to touch on powerful subjects, Peart (who is also the band's lyricist and one of rock's finest at that) devoted the entire album to dwelling on the subject of power and its many manifestations. Peart takes his lyric writing seriously, and with good reason. When the music is this good, you better have something meaningful to say to back it up.
The production duties were co-handled by the band and Peter Collins, beginning a fruitful relationship that (so far) has yielded 4 albums. The sound quality is superlative. The music lacks the raw aggression found in their earlier albums, but it more than makes up for it in the subtle, layered and intricate arrangements that include bass, guitars, drums, electronic percussion, bongos, keyboards, strings and a moving choir effect (at the end of the soaring "Marathon").
Particularly noteworthy among the songs are "Emotion Detector," (dealing with the way in which emotions can alternately make us powerful and frail); "Grand Designs" (a highly elegant way to say "stick to your guns!"); and "Territories," in which Peart touched on the subject of globalization years before the term became fashionable. The opener (and first single), "The Big Money," the title of which was Peart's homage to Dos Pasos, is a deceivingly catchy song that provides a blistering commentary on its subject matter.
Now, having made much of Rush's emphasis on songwriting, let me remind all you kiddies that these guys can play! "Power Windows" found them all at the top of their game: their technical abilities were at their peak and all three members matched them with brilliant writing, excellent production and lyrical meaning light years ahead of their musical peers. The result was "Power Windows," which, in my opinion, along with "Hemispheres" and "Moving Pictures," stands as Rush's best album.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Great album. True, it reaks of the eighties, but can you name a more progressive and innovative album from this time period? No, I'm sure you can't, if you've heard POWER WINDOWS. While most other Rush fans would dismiss this album as a new-wave sellout piece, I believe Rush were just trying to progress (you know, like progressive rock artists should?). Geddy Lee's Wal bass, which he introduced on this LP, gives off funky bottom-end flare in Marathon; Alex Lifeson's guitar work is tasteful and sharp, as always, and, of course, Neil "The Professor" Peart dishes out crackling snare drum hits and thundering bass-drum kicks, along with his signature time signature changes and flawless percussion. Oh, and the synths aren't to shabby either. Haters be hatin', while I be listenin'.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Power Windows is one of the most overlooked and villified Rush albums in their entire catalog. Perhaps that's due to it's heavy keyboard presence, beefing it up even more than 1984's Grace Under Pressure. I'll admit I wasn't a huge fan of this album or Hold Your Fire when I first bought them, but after listening to this album after a long absence, I realized what a damn good album it is. Just about EVERY song on here is first rate, musically and lyrically. Big Money is the "hit" from this album, the one everyone knows, and it's a great song. But there are lots of amazing gems on here just waiting to be discovered by you. Grand Designs, Manhattan Project and Marathon (two of my all time favorites), Territories, and the awesome Mystic Rhythms (Rush revived this when I saw them live in 2004 and when they started it and it was just getting dark at the outside venue...magic!). Emotion Detector and Middletown Dreams are slightly weaker, but still really good. Do yourself a favor and ditch your preconceived notions (if you have any) about what Rush should sound like and discover this album...you'll be richly rewarded.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2000
Format: Audio CD
If the Albums Rush through Hemispheres can be called, the 'Classic Era', then Permanent Waves through Hold Your Fire can be known as the 'Golden Era' of Rush. The time when Rush evolved musically into more than just a Guitar based, progressive rock band. Power Windows clearly marks the pinnacle of this period in the band's songwriting. The delicate balance between Keyboards and Open-Ended Melodies here are married very well with classic, tight song-writing, and the enigmatic themes that have personified the lyrical context of their music. From the powerful openning chord of the 'Big Money', to the thought-providing ideals of the 'Manhattan Project', and continuing with the adrenaline inducing elements of 'Marathon', this album delivers more than just music for your ears, but also rhythms for your soul. In addition, the music showcase what rush fans already know so well, the superior musical abilities of the band. Songs like 'Mystic Rhythms' demonstrate why Neil Peart is quick to come of the lips of many fans when the question of Best Rock Drummer is asked. Alex's guitar works is as solid and cohesive as ever. But it is Geddy who really shines on this compilation. Adding the keyboard element to his typical impressive Bass Lines and solid vocals, he reveals why he may be the most versatile and talented musician in all of progressive rock. Like a good movie, a great music album is one that continues to ring in your ears and your mind long after the music has stopped. And this album, has kept my mind wandering for many a night. If not to be liked, this album must at a minimum be experienced by any true rock fan.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Seriously this is an awesome album, not just for Rush but for music in general. This album is flawless not a bit of filler at all. The year was 1985 and synths were definitely the cool thing in music and MTV was a staple for young music lovers. Be forewarned, though, that if you thought Grace Under Pressure had too many synths then steer clear of this one as it is mostly synths. Right from the start of Big Money,with its in your face keyboard playing, you will know what you are in for. I also love the upbeat Grand Designs and Marathon. Territories is a little over six minutes but it still sounds very epic. Manhattan Project sounds a little darker, but has a very nice mid-80s AOR sound. The last three songs,I feel,really lay on the synths thick. Just the sad keyboard sounds of Middletown Dreams can bring a tear to your eye while Emotion Detector will have you playing that air keyboard in no time.

And then there is my personal favorite Rush song of all time: Mystic Rhythms. The synth sounds are at their best here and it proves that Rush knew had to make their music sound intelligent even with electronics and not just as if they were selling out to the 80s. This album is perfect to relax to in the backyard laying down in the grass, watching the sun go down and a cool breeze begins to set in. Like I said before this album is flawless and I would give it ten stars if I could. In my opinion this is one of the best albums in the history of music.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Rush are one of my favorite bands of all time starting from 1975 Fly By Night. They grew with each album becoming more progressive in the late '70s and becoming more recognized by the early '80s with their smash-hit "Tom Sawyer". They started to put more electronic and techno influences into their music, the band continued growing. For some reason I used to dislike their techno-era but over time I started liking it more and more. Grace Under Pressure and Signals are still superior and more well balanced with the guitar and synthesizer. Power Windows is still a solid release and hit techno head on, it's a lot lighter offering but not bad. The guitar riffs aren't as consistent but it shows them fully committing to a new direction and focusing more on the atmosphere.The entire album is well produced, mature and powerful but also accessible. Was an overlooked album in their career.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 1999
Format: Audio CD
"the big Money," "Manhattan project'" "Marathon," "Middletown dreams," "eMotion detector," "Mystic rhythms". I've always thought of this album from a middle-of-the-alphabet, consonant context. I am also reminded of the film "Birdy" (from the same period) when I consider the pajama-clad youth with the hacked haircut on the cover of 'Power Windows.' Visual impressions aside, I shunned this album upon its release because I heard the single 'The Big Money' on FM radio and disliked its production, lack of guitar and vocal histrionics, and its pseudo-cynical lyrics (Rush aren't exactly struggling musicians after all!). I was one of the teenagers of the early-'80's who got hooked on the cerebral hard rock of 'Moving Pictures' only to have Rush shift (from our perspective) prematurely to adult-oriented rock. Yes, there's teen angst in "Signals's" 'Subdivisions.' There's enough low-end, bassy thud to counterbalance the synth, and enough up-tempo material to keep the 13-18 year-olds interested. "Grace Under Pressure," despite its grim and bleak lyrical outlook, did not have the "Rush" 'thud' (think 'Tom Sawyer') to retain the interest of teenagers. Every album after 'Grace' was ignored by me. Well, I'm 29 now and one of my colleagues at work chides me for my comments that Rush went lame after 'Signals'. Perhaps the fact that I'm now at the age they were when they created 'Grace' and 'Power Windows' explains why I can now listen to these lp's with pleasure. Is it possible that not all rock muisc is crafted to appeal to 13-18 year-olds ('the big money' indeed!)? My top three Rush albums have been from the 70's and always will be, but I can't listen to them very often for fear of overexposure (classic rock radio syndrome- I haven't listened to Zeppelin or Pink Floyd in years, though I have everything on vinyl), so I am content to re-appraise my evaluation of Rush's 80's output. 'Power Windows' is excellent, especially given the nonexistent state of prog rock at the time and the cookie monster thrash-orientation of heavy metal in 1985. I especially enjoy 'Marathon' and 'Mystic Rhythms' now. I am moving with caution and an open mind towards 'Hold Your Fire'...
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