Music listeners can have a love/hate relationship with bands sometimes. Maybe you love an artist’s music, but you can’t stand the way the act in the real world. Maybe a band where you really enjoy a certain song, but it’s a real guilty pleasure. In today’s case, so many people love the music, but can’t get over the lead singer’s—let’s call it unique—vocal style.
Rush is a Toronto-based rock group that formed in the late 1960s. They tinkered with the lineup for three years before finally forming the first real incarnation of the band. A local man was hired as manager and they started to play shows in the Toronto area. Their self-titled debut album released in 1974, but the feedback was largely negative. Critics at the time referred to them as ‘a poor man’s Led Zeppelin’ and noted their sound was not unique or different. Off that album was a track titled ‘Working Man’ which made it to radio in Cleveland, Ohio. The blue collar theme resonated with rock fans of that city, and the band started to get noticed in the states.
Today I’m looking at Rush’s eighth studio release, Moving Pictures, which came out in February of 1981. In seven years the band put out eight albums – there was certainly no shortage of music for fans to grab on to. All of their records (except the debut) had done fairly well, but this one is still their highest selling at over 10 million copies worldwide. It rose to #3 on the Billboard charts and reflected the band’s new direction in making music. Instead of laying down long, instrumental heavy rock, Rush began moving toward radio-friendly hits, that would ultimately end up being their legacy on the industry. This album contains songs like ‘Tom Sawyer’ and ‘Limelight’ which remain two radio staples to this day.
Funny to me, but this album was listed as “hard rock” back in the early 80s. If such a genre even existed, this would be labeled as “tame rock” by today’s standards. Really, it was very progressive rock, with the heavy use of synth and keyboards. Neal Peart is one of the greatest drummers of all time and he’s heavily featured on this record as well. Additionally, they mix up the time signatures—which gets a little technical, but for the true music nuts out there, it makes for an interesting listen. Strictly from a composition standpoint, I’m not sure you’ll find a band that does it better. Their albums are produced like a symphony, and you can really hear the quality.
Many friends of mine tell me they just can’t get over Geddy Lee’s vocals, and it makes Rush a tough listen. This album might be a great introduction for those types, as there is quite a bit of instrumental on this record, and it can give you a great appreciation for what they were doing. I think this album is a near perfect blend of top 40’s radio and pure rock music. If you’re a fan of simply well done rock music, it should be right in your wheelhouse.
This album is 40 minutes of awesome for me. I could put this on every day and not get tired of it. It’s a straight up jam record, and getting it for $5 bucks is a steal.
Top 3 Tracks: