I was really tempted to write “Rush Hour, part 3” and leave you all wondering where did the part 2 go. But then I figured that would be too cruel. Anyway, let’s Rush it down!
It’s been a while since I last visited the 80’s decade when listening to music, because that’s when the music got towards unbearable with all those electronics and other mindless crap. Of course there are exceptions like that of Tom Waits, but not everybody knows him. So far, Rush is a popular rock band that I tend to like. Let’s see if they’re going to break that 80’s boundary for me, since Hemispheres was their last 70’s album.
Well, what can I say… I don’t know if it’s just me, but did Rush turn towards pop rock right as the 80’s have begun? Because the Spirit of the Radio, the first track of the Permanent Waves was and is the ultimate Rush hit. And you can hear that they aimed for it to become one. Shortish solos and many elements cramped together, not what I was seeking after Hemispheres. The next track on the album, Freewill feels rotten inside as well. It features a guitar solo that is going overboard, and the catch line “I will choose free will” doesn’t even feel genuine. Jacob’s Ladder, on the other hand, gets Rush back on track, even if it doesn’t beat the previous epics they had made, and the track feels very empty and unfinished. Same thing can be said about Entre Nous, the slightly Different Strings, and even the 9 minute long Natural Science. Did they lose all their imagination? At least they’re losing all that credibility they’ve managed to attain from 2112 through A Farewell to Kings to Hemispheres. This was their weakest album so far.
Moving on to the Moving Pictures, supposedly their best album, if one can judge by the ratings on progarchives.com. First thing I notice is the simple beat on background of Tom Sawyer, and the whole album features poor and simplistic drumming. Yet Rush seem to regain some of their complexity they had lost in their previous album. Red Barchetta features a couple of tasty riffs, failing to achieve anything special nevertheless. The third, instrumental track named YYZ is perhaps the best one on the album and it gets points for feeling quite different from their other stuff, but it doesn’t beat La Villa Strangiato. Limelight isn’t even worth discussing, whereas I tended to enjoy The Camera Eye in spite of most of it being built on solely two chords. The Witch Hunt would be a decent addition to a Halloween playlist, and Vital Signs sounded like a song made by The Police (an indication of all that is boring, so I’ve been told). Not quite what I was expecting from their best rated album.
As if this progression wasn’t evident before, Rush have gone fully pop in this album, which was a sad, final blow to my heart (will I be able to survive?) Although in the end, since all the songs sounded pretty much the same and the sound was quite full to my surprise, it was quite an enjoyable album because of its consistency. The album had some Chemistry of a kind that kept the songs together. Digital Man even featured a nice kind of solo. And the 80’s electronics weren’t that bad, but I wish they had experimented more with that style. Yet shifting from an accomplished prog band to some second-grade background music is not the right way to go…
Why to invent more, when it sounds all mighty and powerful with a basic beat and an appregiator like in the Red Sector A? Spice it up with some seemingly meaningful and touching lyrics, a lame guitar solo, and the job is done. There are still some nice parts shining through, like the sync between the drums and the guitar picks in The Enemy Within, but the whole picture lets me down. What should I call it… Progressive pop? Even Starcastle were more creative when they went pop in their third album. I’ve had enough of this kind of Rush.
To sum up, this day was a grand disappointment. I made a right decision to stop at Hemispheres on Saturday. All the motivation to listen to the Rush albums that I had acquired has gone now. It might just be that I won’t be rushing on with the part III of the Rush Hour saga.