I am part of that faction of rock fans who think Canadian power-trio Rush is great. I loved last year’s documentary about the group, Living on the Lighted Stage—one of the best in the genre. While mostly affectionate, that doc did acknowledge criticism of singer Geddy Lee – and how his high-pitched vocals are not for everyone.
While that voice may keep Rush out of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it has not kept them from earning the massive respect of other musicians and legions of fans. Their anthemic songs have helped them sell more records than almost any artist touring today.
As a fan, I was hopeful that the most sympathetic portrait in Living on the Lighted Stage of three humble and nice guys (isn’t that the Canadian way?) might make a case for reconsidering them for the Cleveland-based hall—no such luck. Nominations and inductions are out, and they aren’t there again. Alice Cooper over Rush? Seriously?
Now comes another opportunity for reconsideration by way of the consistently excellent Eagle Vision Classic Albums series. In what might be a first, this episode (available on Blu-Ray) is a double one – examining not one but two Rush albums, 2112 and Moving Pictures. This might be too much of a good thing.
Rush’s mega-success came from the runway created by Permanent Waves‘ two great songs Spirit of Radio and Freewill. Both became FM radio staples. By the time the needle hit the vinyl for Moving Pictures, the public was hungry for what were to become “the most requested songs from our catalog” – Tom Sawyer, Limelight, Red Barchetta. Waves also debuted one of the most incredible displays of monster music chops in rock music, the instrumental YYZ.
All these classic tracks are dissected in a typical Classic Album’ informative way, with producer Terry Brown and members of Rush having a seat at the recording board, isolating various tracks while providing anecdotes about the album. This is basic stuff for any fan of the band or the album – you won’t want to miss it. Hard to believe that YYZ started as a jam between drummer Neil Peart and bassist Geddy Lee. Quite a jam session!
The 2112 section was not as enjoyable. I am not sure I understand why this album, rather than, say, Signals or permanent Waves were examined. They seem like better candidates for Classic albums than 2112. 2112 is a weird album – one song takes up a whole side – and while it helped them “solidify their sound as a band,” I am not sure there is much pent-up demand for this deeper dive into that particular record. Much back-story is presented that was better covered in Living on the Lighted Stage. If you haven’t seen that documentary, this might be more interesting to you than it was to me.
As with the entire Classic Albums series, these are minor criticisms. It is still the only must-have series in the music video – every edition, even the less-than-great ones, is eye and ear candy to serious music fans. The band Rush truly deserved treatment, and the Moving Pictures section of this DVD is as good as any in the series.
In crystal clear Blu-Ray from Eagle Vision.