Retro Spins: Rush - Rush


Before the classic lineup of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart, there was another iteration of Rush.

Front man and bassist Jeff Jones, lead guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer John Rutsey were the initial incarnation of the band in the summer of 1968. However, by fall of that same year, Geddy Lee would replace Jones, and this line up of Lee, Lifeson and Rutsey would record and release the debut self titled album in 1974.

Though Rutsey was credited with the overall success of Rush creating its first album, being the man who often pushed Lee and Lifeson to practice and stay focused, he would end up leaving the band shortly after their first album. This was a decision based on concerns with his health, due to his diabetes, a difference in musical direction, and an overall dislike of touring. His absence was filled by drummer Neil Peart, and with that, the classic lineup of Rush which would go on for forty years was in place.

Peart would not only provide a unique percussion sound to the band, but also be credited as the main writer of lyrics. His lover for science fiction would often result in rock opera style albums, which would remain a recurring theme through the 70's, intertwining many of their records with a continuous story.

It's long been disputed as to whether or not Rush was better in the 70's versus the 80's. To this, I can only say that I suppose it varies based on your own personal tastes. If nothing else, Rush certainly continued to evolve in their music, starting with a hard rock style, which eventually moved into prog rock for the majority of the 70's, before transitioning to synth led tracks, and even a little commercial mainstream. The band never really seemed to stay still long enough to really label them as any one particular style. I think this is what not only led them to such a successful career, but also one that helped keep them relevant in an ever changing industry over the decades.

With that said, I can also understand that Rush is one of those groups that people tend to love or hate. I've heard it many times from people when I ask them, "Do you like Rush?" They either say, "I love them," or "I can't stand them." The usual answer for why people don't like them typically goes like this, "The music sounds great, but I hate the singer's voice." I totally get that. Geddy Lee's vocals can be cringe worth to people not expecting such a shrill noise. It's an acquired taste.

For me, my journey with the band began in the early 90's, when I heard a song on the radio, but had no clue what it was. Being young and naive, I thought that going down to my local Waxie Maxie, telling the clerk I had heard a song recently from them, and briefly trying to explain what it was would lead me to getting the album. Not so much. The clerk handed me the 1980 released Permanent Waves, and said, "It's probably on here. This is the album most people ask for." For the record, that song was Nobody's Hero from the 1993 released Counterparts. However, this wasn't a bad thing. Getting my hands on Permanent Waves introduced me to The Spirit Of Radio, Freewill, Jacob's Ladder, and Natural Science, which in turn led me to wanting to here more from the group. As my collection of Rush albums grew, I eventually stumbled across Counterparts, and got the song I was initially after.


Now that I've gotten that out of the way, today's Retro Spin takes us back the bands 1974 self titled debut, where we hear the origins featuring the (somewhat) original lineup. Sadly, my overall impression of the album can be summed up much quicker than the above.

Things spring into high gear with Finding My Way, a classic staple of the groups many greatest hits albums. However, from there, the remaining tracks kind of fall into obscurity as noise. That is until things wrap up with Working Man, another iconic song often found on their various hits albums.

Overall, it's okay as an album, but it certainly doesn't scream forty year veteran band, which I suppose isn't uncommon. It's just unfortunate, considering who the are. Most of the times when someone gains an appreciation for a group, they can go back to their earlier works and view it through stain glassed eyes, finding more joy out of it than your casual listener. With Rush, I don't get that. The album's decent, but it's not rave worthy.

Most of the songs just don't make the cut. For me, I'd rather just pull the two off of it I like, add them to my shuffle, and move on. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it is admittedly a little disappointing.

Do I still like Rush? Absolutely. I think they're a great bad. They never necessarily went mainstream, but at the same, they have a distinct sound to them, that when you hear it, you can immediately say, "That's a Rush song." I think that's one of the things I like most about them. They're familiar, which in and of itself is a good thing.

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