So you'd like to...

get into Rush?

A guide by Kevin Caffrey (Fredericksburg, VA)
(REAL NAME)   

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Often falling squarely in the "Love Them" or "Hate Them" category, Rush is simultaneously overrated and underrated. They're overrated often by their own often over-zealous fans ("They are the three best musicians that ever walked this earth!") and they're underrated by those who refuse to give them a fair chance ("Geddy Lee CAN NOT SING!"). Neither of the two examples of comments I've just made are correct. They are not the best musicians ever, and Geddy Lee most certainly can sing. Therefore, if you're thinking of getting into Rush from a long time fan (15 years), read on.

There are several live albums and best-of collections out there, but I'm going to stick to the studio albums. Moving Pictures is almost universally considered their best work, by hardcore fans and casual fans alike. It contains the rock radio hits "Tom Sawyer" and "Limelight," as well as staples such as "Red Barchetta" and the instrumental powerhouse, "YYZ." It also contains what would be one of their last extended, proggy tracks - "The Camera Eye" & what would set the stage for most of their 80s work - the synth-laden "Vital Signs." If you like _Moving Pictures_, you're sure to also love the album that preceded it, Permanent Waves. _Permanent Waves_ was a distinct turn in approach for Rush. After spending the 70s mixing Zep-influenced rock with Genesis/Yes/ELP prog, _Permanent Waves_ is stripped down (for the most part) catchy, yet complex, rock songs - "The Spirit of Radio" and "Freewill" are still played routinely on rock radio. It also contains the extended cuts "Jacob's Ladder" and "Natural Science," the latter of which always lands in most hardcore fans "Top 5 Rush Songs." If you like these two albums, the next one I would suggest would be my personal favorite, Presto. Many fans are divided on _Presto_ but it is unlike most of Rush's other albums in that it pushes songwriting and production to the forefront rather than in-your-face chops. It's not as heavy as their earlier albums, but it is their best batch of songs and contains Geddy Lee's best performance as a vocalist to date.

Ok - so where to go from here? Easy. If you like the longer, musically-complex, rock side of Rush, buy Hemispheres, A Farewell to Kings, and 2112. This is Rush at their proggiest - but hardcore fans of progressive rock of the 70s (Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, ELP) often cite Rush as being far from in the same league as these groups in terms of composition and inventiveness. I don't entirely disagree with this view, but these three albums are strong and contain a number of great moments, and just a few that have not aged very well. Now, if you *really* like these albums and prefer Geddy's screeching as opposed to his later day singing, you might as well pick up the first three Rush albums - Rush, Fly By Night, and Caress of Steel.

Ok...now if you find yourself gravitating more to the 80s/keyboard era of Rush, you may want to make some different choices from the ones mentioned in the paragraph above. If you like Rush using keyboards and synthesizers, Power Windows would be your best bet. If you love _Power Windows_, follow it up with Signals, Grace Under Pressure, and Hold Your Fire - three albums where keyboards play just as an important part as the other instruments.

Now, if you want some contemporary Rush (1990-present), I'd say Counterparts is Rush fitting in nicely with the grunge/rock movement of the early 90s, Vapor Trails is Rush showing today's bands how to rock convincingly, and Snakes & Arrows is truly an excellent work--one of my favorite Rush albums of all time. Quite a feat for a band doing this for nearly 40 years. It takes the chunky rock of Rush's releases since 1993 and adds a 'classic' touch of their 70s work.

There's only one Rush album that I wouldn't recommend Test for Echo, which I consider Rush on autopilot - some good moments, but very underwhelming and offering nothing new whatsoever. Roll the Bones came out during a weird time for music - late 1991 - and the thin production bogs down some very good songs. This album also gets some flak for the 'rap' that comes in the middle of the title track. Keep in mind - this was 1991.

So, good luck with your quest of all things Rush! Once you start to become a huge fan--and I know you will--pick up their excellent new documentary Rush - Beyond the Lighted Stage [2 DVD]. I think they are often overlooked as great songwriters because so much of their early stuff was much more about rocking out in weird time signatures and exploring science fiction, fantasy, and folklore. My favorite era of Rush is 1980-present as opposed to the 70s.

Products mentioned include:
1.  Moving Pictures [Original recording reissued] [Original recording remastered]  by Rush
$5.99 Used & New from: $1.90
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2.  Permanent Waves [Original recording reissued] [Original recording remastered]  by Rush
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4.8 out of 5 stars   (249) | 1 customer discussion
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3.  Presto  by Rush
$7.98 Used & New from: $0.01
4.1 out of 5 stars   (201)
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4.  Hemispheres [Original recording reissued] [Original recording remastered]  by Rush
$5.99 Used & New from: $1.99
4.7 out of 5 stars   (258) | 3 customer discussions
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5.  A Farewell to Kings [Original recording reissued] [Original recording remastered]  by Rush
$5.99 Used & New from: $0.74
4.6 out of 5 stars   (221)
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6.  2112 [Original recording reissued] [Original recording remastered]  by Rush
$4.39 Used & New from: $0.99
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7.  Rush [Original recording reissued] [Original recording remastered]  by Rush
$5.99 Used & New from: $1.65
4.1 out of 5 stars   (203)
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8.  Fly By Night [Original recording reissued] [Original recording remastered]  by Rush
$5.99 Used & New from: $0.99
4.2 out of 5 stars   (167)
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9.  Caress of Steel [Original recording reissued] [Original recording remastered]  by Rush
$5.99 Used & New from: $1.79
4.3 out of 5 stars   (222)
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10.  Power Windows [Original recording reissued] [Original recording remastered]  by Rush
$5.98 Used & New from: $1.01
4.2 out of 5 stars   (218)
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11.  Signals [Original recording reissued] [Original recording remastered]  by Rush
$5.99 Used & New from: $0.49
4.5 out of 5 stars   (258)
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12.  Grace Under Pressure [Original recording reissued] [Original recording remastered]  by Rush
$4.99 Used & New from: $1.90
4.3 out of 5 stars   (204)
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13.  Hold Your Fire [Original recording reissued] [Original recording remastered]  by Rush
$4.02 Used & New from: $2.58
4.1 out of 5 stars   (207)
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14.  Counterparts  by Rush
$7.07 Used & New from: $0.01
4.1 out of 5 stars   (203) | 2 customer discussions
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15.  Vapor Trails [CD]  by Rush
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3.9 out of 5 stars   (840) | 1 customer discussion
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16.  Snakes & Arrows [CD]  by Rush
$6.99 Used & New from: $1.58
4.1 out of 5 stars   (565) | 82 customer discussions
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17.  Test for Echo [Enhanced]  by Rush
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3.9 out of 5 stars   (217)
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18.  Roll the Bones  by Rush
$14.10 Used & New from: $0.01
4.0 out of 5 stars   (155) | 1 customer discussion
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19.  Rush - Beyond the Lighted Stage [2 DVD] [Multiple Formats] [Color] [Subtitled] [Widescreen] [NTSC]  DVD ~ Rush
$17.45 Used & New from: $9.48
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Customer Discussions about products in this guide
Discussion Replies Latest Post
Anyone else notice that Sebastian Bach gets every Rush fact wrong? 7 Sep 16, 2014
Clockwork Angels versus Snakes And Arrows 1 Jul 14, 2014
Rank 'em- Top 10 favorite Rush studio albums * 124 Jul 8, 2014
Rush Remasters 0 Jun 4, 2014
Counterparts- a good album? 43 Jan 4, 2014
RUSH sounds tired, lazy and boring... 138 Jan 3, 2014
Rush Remasters: worth buying them again if I already have them? 12 Nov 10, 2013
You're on your deathbed . - - What's the last song you want to hear before you close your eyes forever?? 7 Jul 2, 2013
What song epitomizes Rush (or just their best song ever) 52 Jun 29, 2013
sound 0 May 25, 2013
Rank 'em- Top 10 Rush song's that should've had air play 8 Feb 27, 2013
Seriously, 2112 not available as download? 1 Dec 24, 2012
 
   

About this Guide

 

Author

Kevin Caffrey (Fredericksburg, VA)
(REAL NAME)   
Qualifications: Musician/Writer/Fan
Last updated: 7/15/10
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