Fans have been begging for the band's original live home videos to be put on DVD and now for the first time all three original live Rush home videos are assembled here in the three-disc DVD box REPLAY X3. Highlights include live performances of all of Rush's classic hits like "Limelight,_E"Tom Sawyer_Eand "Closer To The Heart,_Eplus 12 live songs previously unreleased on DVD. Also included are magnificent, rare medleys of "By-Tor And The Snow Dogs / In The End / In The Mood / 2112 Finale / YYZ_Eand "YYZ / Temples Of Syrinx / Tom Sawyer._EBoth Exit_Etage Left and A Show Of Hands have corresponding live albums, so also included is a bonus fourth disc which is a previously unreleased, bonus live CD of the audio from the newly remastered Grace Under Pressure concert soundtrack.
While Pink Floyd's widely popular Pulse
ranked as one of the bestselling DVDs of 2006, Rush: Replay x 3
is a similarly praiseworthy treasure-trove that's geared more for long-time Rush fans with a working knowledge of the band's evolution. New fans and late-blooming converts are just as likely to enjoy this three-concert package (compiled from previously available VHS releases from the 1980s), but it's the die-hard devotees of Canada's premiere prog-rock power trio who'll get the most from this epic-scale, remastered DVD package. Particularly welcome here are the miniature reproductions of the official programs from each of the tours featured here: "Exit Stage Left" (1981), "Grace Under Pressure" (1984) and "A Show of Hands" (1987-88). With tour-diary notes by the band's illustrious percussionist and co-founder Neil Peart, and often humorous personnel profiles and equipment list by Peart, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and bassist/synth player and vocalist Geddy Lee, these handy booklets offer both tour-related nostalgia and successive glimpses into the band's creative process. Lavishly illustrated, they're also fascinating as visual records of the band's on-stage look, album designs, and related materials.
As presented here (as opposed to earlier releases on VHS and laserdisc), the concerts are intended to complement the same live recordings (with some variations in playlists) that were previously released on CD, and the "Grace Under Pressure" CD, included here as a special-bonus fourth disc, is an all-new release exclusive to this package. If you own them all (and what self-respecting Rush fan wouldn't?), you'll have a near-complete collection of these pivotal performances. Both "Exit" (recorded at The Forum in Montreal, Quebec) and "Grace" (Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto) have been re-edited to an even hour apiece, while "A Show of Hands" (National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, England) clocks in at 90 minutes. While they lack the visual splendor of Pulse, each concert offers an equal serving of highlights, notably "The Trees" and "Xanadu" (on "Exit"), "The Spirit of Radio" and the muscular medley of "YYZ/The Temples of Syrinx/Tom Sawyer/Vital Signs" (on "Grace"); and the stunning Alex Lifeson showcase "La Villa Strangiato" (on "A Show of Gands"). The latter also includes an obligatory and always-impressive Neil Peart drum solo (on "The Rhythm Method"), and while the original video source results in occasionally murkey image quality (as also happened with "Grace Under Pressure" director David Mallet on Pulse), there's no doubt that the 5.1-channel Dolby Digital remastering (supervised by Lifeson and Mike Fraser) represents a substantial improvement in overall sound, especially for those with DTS decoders. For those who think a little Rush goes a long way, Replay x 3 will probably qualify as overkill, but true fans will be ecstatic despite the absence of certain previously available material or any backstage features that would allow a more intimate glimpse of prog-rock's most enduring practitioners. What's not here is regrettable; what is here is fantastic. --Jeff Shannon