Friday, December 05, 2008

Listening Post


Let's just get this out of the way: Rush is the single most talented rock band to ever have existed on this Earth.

There isn't a former uncool kid alive who won't admit -- even to this day -- to worshipping at the altar of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and the man the word "incomparable" was created for, Neil Peart.

When I was in my pre-to-early teens, Rush was my favorite band. Period. No question. I may have eventually become a slave to punk, alternative and metal, but Rush was a constant. They were the first band I saw live (the Signals tour, 1982). They were the band I played drums to in my bedroom. They wrote the songs that spoke to my heart and my head. They just ruled in every possible way.

And what's astonishing is that after more than 30 years, they still do. I recently started going back through my Rush catalog, and son-of-a-bitch if I don't love those songs -- from almost every stage of the band's evolution -- as much now as I did the first time I heard them.

Here now, two of my favorite off-the-beaten-path tracks from the mighty Rush.

First up, from 1987's Hold Your Fire album, this is Lock and Key.



Next, one that the band even admitted was an obscure choice to pull out for their 30th anniversary tour. From 1984's Grace Under Pressure, it's Between the Wheels.

31 comments:

DragonIV said...

Take it back, Chez! Egads, there's almost nothing more insufferable than Rush fans-and now you reveal you're one of THEM?!?!?

What is the world coming to????

Now I'm going to have to refer my two Rush-loving younger brothers to this site. Dammit, they're going to have a field day with this during the holidays.

Suzy said...

blame canada.

Chez said...

Deal with it, kids.

Rush rules.

celery said...

a-fuckin-men! rush is one of those bands who continually blow my mind.

even though i have all of their albums and love the less popular stuff, there's no song that puts me in a good mood as quickly as "the spirit of radio".

as a bonus, geddy lee is an incredibly nice and humble man who has never bought into the rock star bullshit.

Bob Cesca said...

Outstanding, Chez! My favorite band (tied for favorite with U2 and the Flaming Lips), and "Between The Wheels" is arguably the best song they've ever recorded.

As for DragonIV: "Shut your mug, screw!"

votar said...

I'd quip about how much better these songs would be if Johnny Cash had covered them, but I've got a raging sinus headache this morning so you're off the hook. My point makes itself.

Except to say that this reminds me that I'm often the elder statesman among my close circle of friends who share my former idol worship of Rush. Meaning: it's always interesting that the songs they/you tend to offer up as favorites or even obscure gems, tend to come from releases after Moving Pictures. I grew up memorizing every note and nuance of the seventeen-minute, Wagnerian operatic opuses these guys put out in the seventies, the entire side of an LP devoted to a single, complex and epic song. Each year's new release was like a new novel from my favorite authors.

I can't even name the albums that came out after Grace Under Pressure. It all started to sound the same once Rush became commercially acceptable, offering up one AOR-safe, 3.5 minute "single" after another. I longed for the good old days, my familiar friends Snowdog, Cygnus, and Kublai Khan, and I still miss the sense of awe that such intricate and textured masterpieces could be conjured by only three guys.

Damn, now I have to go rummaging through the closet to see if I've still got A Farewell To Kings.

Duane said...

Right on, Chez!! You described my early teens precisely. No one was cooler than me when I worked me up some air drums to 2112, alone, in my room, head phones on. Yeah, it took a while to get a girlfriend.

I'm more a fan of their early to middle work though. Lately, while their riffs continue to impress, the lyrics seem forced. I get the feeling the guys would much rather jam.

Still I love 'em.

Hex said...

Oh man, Between the Wheels?

I thought I was the only one who liked that song. Lots of fun to play on guitar.

Sean said...

I've loved your writing for a couple of years now, Chez. But this post makes me want to move to California, protest Prop 8, and then gay-marry you.

I love Rush.

I. Love. Rush.

I had the unfortunate luck of becoming a rabid Rush fan just as Different Stages was being released, four years before Vapor Trails. So I got to suffer through four years of will they/won't they ever make new music along with the life-long die-hards. I'll say, though, that seeing them, finally, on the 30th Anniversary tour was well worth the wait.

Did I mention that I love Rush?

Anonymous said...

Righteous!

unclebub said...

So glad to hear you're a fan; I have been since way back and thanks for the clips! I've probably seen them a dozen times, and I've never had Neil described better than you did. You made my Friday.

DragonIV said...

I'm still waiting for someone to say "OMG!!! Neil Peart is God!"

You people are disappointing me.

jtruant said...

I went to the "Signals" concert at the Hollywood Sportatoriam (smokeatorium, snortatorium, etc.) Love Rush. I think their music led me to listen to more alternative stuff, as opposed to being into Van Halen or hair bands, which just leads you to corporate rock.

nancy said...

God has no clue how to hold a drumstick, sorry. Neil Peart is waaaay above that.

been a fan since Caress of Steel....

LaughingWild said...

Chez, you just made my Canadian husband's list of awesome. He loves, loves, loves Rush. I think its illegal not to up there.

celery said...

votar,

i had a radio show in university and when i wanted to study, i'd put on "hemispheres" or "2112".

it gave me a break and satisfied canadian content laws.

Enrique said...

"Rush is the single most talented rock band to ever have existed on this Earth."

Couldn't agree more.

Enrique said...

And just to add...
Although I tend to gravitate toward their older material, "Time Stand Still" and "Available Light" are the two songs I appreciate most today.
A few times each year, I find myself listening to "Time Stand Still" and thinking, "Yeah, I really would like to savor this moment a little bit longer." It's a sensation that gets stronger as the years pass.

Torn Shorts said...

I was a budding college DJ in Texas in the mid-1970's when a fellow DJ introduced me to "A Passage to Bangkok" and "2112". That was the start of my love for Rush. And 30-plus years later it hasn't let go.

So like, take off...to the great white north...it's a beauty way to go, eh...

Anonymous said...

I remember your father taking us to the Hollywood Sportatorium for the p/g tour -- my first show. Since you inspired an intense morning geekout -- somebody bought and restored the p/g kit (links at the bottom of the page): http://members.tripod.com/broonsbane/rushneil.htm

Did you know Hugh Syme has a website? http://www.hughsyme.com The Permanent Waves cover rocks.

//c

kanye said...

Votar, Farewell to Kings was my first Rush concert...'78, I was in the 7th grade.

As far as most talented rock band ever, I'd have to go with Terry Kath-era Chicago.

cheetah chrome said...

LOVE all Rush up to Signals. On that album they dropped down the 80s electric keyboard hole so many other great 1970s bands did, never to return. I hate 80's style "gee-wiz it's sooo futuristic" keyboard garbage. The 80s may have birthed hardcore and speed metal and hip-hop, but it pretty much ruined every great band of the 70s!

Al said...

Nobody has mentioned Neil's novels yet? Read "Ghost Rider" - it is a view into his heartbreaking loss that even non-riders can appreciate his personal journey of healing.

Yeah, it's nowhere near as cheesy as I just made it sound.

Van Stuard said...

I am not a Rush fan. I have, in fact, written a piece about my distaste for the "progressive rock" as it was referred to back in the 70's-80's. This piece used Rush as my primary punching bag. That said, I will admit throwing up some joyous air fists to any number of pre Signals Rush songs back in the day. The thing about Rush that floors me to no end is the lack of hyperbole regarding the guitar of Alex Lifeson. Everyone talks about Peart (who I find busy) and Lee (whose bass playing I find tinny and whose voice, to be kind, I find unpleasant). However, Alex Lifeson's work amazes me to this day. The riffs he lays down on albums such as Moving Pictures rival the greatest riffs played by the greatest players of all time.
Before the expected barrage of hate comments, be aware that fate has found it's own punishment for me... my sixteen year old son loves him some Rush.

medic8r said...

Chez, I'm thinking we were separated at birth. I couldn't have said it better. Rush rules.

I encourage everyone to boycott the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame until they vote Rush in.

Manny said...

This may all be well and true, but have you heard Far's cover of Ginuwine's "Pony" song? Pure magic.

Jeremy said...

Ah yes... I've got the entire Rush discography on my computer (although my girlfriend will only let me listen to it through headphones... so much for her supposed love of "white boy falsetto"), and when I hear the opening chords of Tom Sawyer, I still feel that rush of primal energy I felt the first time I heard it as a gawky twelve year old
Thanks for sharing (see, the hippie Phish heads and the punk/hardcore kids CAN find some common ground!)

Richard said...

Back in the day a friend of mine and I used to photograph many concerts at the Hollywood Sportatorium. We did this by knowing the security people who works the shows.

Rush came to town and we showed up got to meet the tour manager I think his name was Howard and he could not have been nicer. Remember we were two 17 year old punks and he hooked us up with backstage passes.

Hours before the show we are wandering around backstage and run into Geddy Lee. My friend asked him to pose for a picture with him. He was very accommodating. As I raised the camera my friend put his arm around Geddy and he looked at my friend and said "Don't touch me." But he let us take the photos.

During the concert he would give us hand signals as to when the flash pots would explode, which was nice since the pots were about 10 feet from where we where standing.

Chez, when I run across the film from that show (yes kids we shot film then!) I'll scan some and e-mail them to you.

Mark Dodge Medlin said...

Couldn't agree with you more. No band has ever had more talent than Rush. They didn't always live up to their potential, but when they did, the results were incredible.

My favorite piece of music is the 1812 Overture, and yet every time I mention it, I almost say "2112 Overture," which may be my second-favorite. "Roll the Bones," "The Analog Kid" the first side of "Moving Pictures" and all of "Hemispheres" are way up there, too.

A Bowl Of Stupid said...

Grace Under Pressure Tour -- Philly Spectrum, 1984.

Alex, Geddy, Neil, and that kick-ass new laser light show. Awesome.

tony said...

Between the Wheels! Yeah! Love that song.