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Customer Review

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget everything you've heard about this. Now read this:, October 9, 2004
This review is from: Power Windows (Remastered) (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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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 11, 2014 8:47:30 AM PST
Excellent review, Sean. I love Power Windows and consider it one of the best Rush albums. I even love the album cover art; I can't explain why but something about it intrigues me. I don't understand why so many Rush fans dislike Power Windows. Perhaps it sounds too "poppy" for them? Poppy is hard to explain, but I know it when I hear it.

Posted on Jun 19, 2015 1:13:13 PM PDT
GZP says:
Great review. You know, you might be right. I don't think the band themselves realize just how epically good this album is. Alex seems to have gone on the record that he was hacked off with all the keyboards in PW and HYF, how ironic because some of his best ever soloing is on PW.

Everything that some people use to attack this album is what makes it so priceless. The meticulous and beautiful production reflects the peerless music and gorgeous tones and adds up to an absolute masterpiece.

It is not just Rush's best album (and that IS saying something) I think it is one of the best albums of all time, period.
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