Classic Rock Bottom



Over the course of their decades-spanning career, the Canadian power trio Rush emerged as one of hard rock's most highly regarded bands.

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Latest Activity: Jun 5, 2023

The Canadian power trio Rush attracted a large international following in the mid-1970s with their eclectic brew of metal, progressive rock, and fantasy-oriented lyrics. Since then the group has kept up with the times, gradually developing a more pop-oriented sound, but their career approach has remained more or less the same: bypass the critics and Top Forty radio and sell records by touring constantly. In the wake of their enormous success--a 1991 Maclean's profile revealed that the trio had been "a multimillion-dollar entity for 15 years"--Rush has earned grudging respect from some of their harshest critics. Perhaps more notably, though, the once unfashionable fusion they pioneered in the 1970s has emerged as an influence on many cutting edge rock acts of the late 1980s and early 1990s, including Faith No More, Jane's Addiction, and Fishbone. What critics of the 1980s derided as "dinosaur rock" gained a new relevance in the 1990s, causing many fans, musicians, and critics to reassess Rush's work. Rush's success has allowed them to take a more relaxed approach to their careers; all three live quiet, domestic lives. As bassist-singer Geddy Lee remarked in Maclean's, "it's a darn good job and we do very well. But now, I'm not afraid to say no to Rush. My family's extremely important to me." This mellowed perspective has also permitted Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and drummer-lyricist Neil Peart to demonstrate that their reputation for taking themselves too seriously has been exaggerated. "People have always accused us of being deadly serious, but we all can look back at our albums and see the jokes," Lee insisted in an interview with Musician' s J. D. Considine, though he admitted this perspective came with time. "It's funny, when you're younger you seem to have this intentional furrowed brow when you're writing your music. It's like, 'This is serious music!' God knows what serious music is, but when you're a little bit older, you seem to have a lighter hand." Lightness of touch would probably not have been the attribute that leapt to the minds of Rush fans or critics of the 1970s who attempted to describe the trio.

The group's early albums featured science fiction opuses and songs based on the work of ultra-individualist writer Ayn Rand, all set to music jammed with complex time changes, extended solos, and bombastic riffing. Lee's voice, which Rolling Stone' s Michael Azerrad called "a shrill screech," has had many detractors over the years. With 1980's Permanent Waves, however, the band turned a corner; the album contained their first radio hit--appropriately titled "The Spirit of Radio"--and drew their first respectful press. Though reviews were mixed over the next decade, the group retained a loyal core of followers and managed to make new converts with each tour and record. The Rush enterprise began in the late 1960s. Lee and Lifeson met in high school in Ontario, Canada. Influenced by the heavy psychedelic rock of Cream and Jimi Hendrix, the guitarist and bassist began playing together; by 1968 they had formed a group with Lifeson's friend John Rutsey on drums. The group struggled on the club scene until a major legislative development--the lowering of the legal drinking age to 18 in Canada--increased their schedule threefold. Soon they were playing gigs throughout the week, and were not constrained to dances that required them to play oldies. After several years and numerous frustrated attempts to generate record company interest, they elected to make their own album. Their debut LP, Rush, appeared on the Moon Records label in 1974, sold surprisingly well in the United States--thanks in part to substantial airplay on a Cleveland, Ohio, radio station--and led Mercury Records to sign them. Soon the group had booked a U.S. tour. At that point, however, a falling out led to Rutsey's departure. Desperate, Lee and Lifeson auditioned and hired drummer Neil Peart; soon the trio achieved "international band" status by playing in such exotic places as Florida and Pennsylvania. For the first several years their touring schedule would be incredibly rigorous.

As Lee explained to Rolling Stone' s David Fricke, "The strategy was, 'There's a gig. We'll go play it.'" Ray Danniels, who managed the band from its inception, elaborated: "It was the drive-till-you-die philosophy." Peart's drumming had given breadth and complexity to the group's sound, and his lyrics were ambitious and unusual, as witnessed by fantasy excursions like "By Tor and the Snow Dog." In 1975 Rush released Fly by Night, the first LP with their permanent lineup. But neither Fly by Night nor the subsequent release Caress of Steel sold impressively. According to Fricke, these two records "bear the scars of the group's naivete." Rush wasn't succeeding, at least by rock business standards. "Then we realized how stupid we were," Lee remembered. "Because of all these people putting pressure on us, we were looking at ourselves through their eyes. From then on, we knew exactly what our direction was going to be, and were determined to have success strictly on our own terms." 1976's elaborate concept album 2112, according to John Swenson of Rolling Stone, "marked the band's evolution into spokesmen for a lost generation of Seventies rockers influenced by groups as disparate as the Who, Cream, Procol Harum and King Crimson." Featuring songs like "Temples of Syrinx," 2112 grabbed a whole new audience, as did the subsequent Rush tour, which included the group's first appearances in the United Kingdom. Melody Maker' s Steve Gett reported that Rush, "for a relatively unknown band, went down tremendously." Chris Welch, writing for the same publication, noted that the trio "surprised a lot of people by selling out and getting a standing ovation at their gigs--not bad for a band virtually unknown here until recently." 1976 also saw the release of a double live record, All the World's a Stage. The following year the band came out with A Farewell to Kings, which Melody Maker' s Michael Oldfie called "Rush's best yet." Oldfie was particularly enraptured by "Cygnus X-1;" he summarized the song as "the story of a doomed journey through the universe to the Black Hole of the title." This was only "Book One" of a continuing story, however: "for those of us waiting to get to Cygnus X-1, the next album can't come soon enough," the reviewer continued. The sequel to A Farewell to Kings arrived in 1978. Hemispheres, which took longer than the band had anticipated to complete, featured a title track that was meant, according to Rolling Stone' s Michael Bloom, to complete "Cygnus X-1," although "the musical and thematic references are only tangential." Bloom approved of much of the record's musical content--especially the instrumental "La Villa Strangiato," but had reservations about Peart's lyrics and Lee's "often unnecessarily strident" voice. Rush's real breakthrough came in 1980 with Permanent Waves. Fricke claimed that "Rush demonstrate a maturity that even their detractors may have to admire," and expressed particular admiration for the single "The Spirit of Radio;" his review concluded with the contention that "this band is among the very best in its genre." Soon Rolling Stone ran a feature about the group's new access to FM radio--thanks to "The Spirit of Radio." The band members owned that the new album reflected a more earthbound set of concerns; ironically, the single and another Permanent Waves track--"Natural Science" --were critical of the industry that had given the band the cold shoulder in the past. According to Swenson, the two songs "carve up the record industry as a pack of charlatans." Peart admitted that the tone of Permanent Waves was "a bit angry," summarizing its message as "Stop bullshitting." Years later he told Bob Mack in Spin that he still considered "Radio"--a song that mixed reggae, pop, and metal in a radical new way--"a valid musical gumbo" designed "to represent what radio should be." Swenson observed that "The Spirit of Radio" in all likelihood had "gotten more airplay than Rush's entire catalog put together, and it's brought them a whole new audience." The album made the Top Five. The band's critical popularity, such as it was, didn't last long. Gett, reviewing 1981's Moving Pictures for Melody Maker, called the LP "self-indulgent.... The album may be technically superb but it really doesn't generate much excitement." He concluded that "A lot of fans will feel betrayed." Rather than presenting more radio-friendly material, the band had put together longer, more difficult music at a time when critics were hoping for greater simplicity. But, as Fricke had noted, "critics don't count at all" in Rush's genre. As Lifeson explained to Brian Karrigan in Melody Maker, "the media isn't something that we tend to worry about in the band any more. It's more of a management or record company thing." 1981 also saw the release of a double live album, Exit...Stage Left, that sold tremendously. But Rush's albums always had a substantial audience, whether reviews were favorable or not. Harrigan called Signals of 1983 Rush's "major breakthrough," observing that "the album was packed with diverse musical strands and had such an aura of celebration about it that it suggested the band themselves had found a great release and allowed everything they had to come through." Harrigan reported that British concert audiences "greeted Rush in complete awe." By 1984, with its new release, Grace Under Pressure, Rush was--according to Derek Oliver of Melody Maker-- "one of the world's most popular rock bands." Rush's new sound was influenced by British new wave pop from the likes of U2, Simple Minds, the Police, and Ultravox. Oliver was struck by Grace Under Pressure' s "accessibility," while acknowledging that it was "seen by many as Rush's most adventurous album to date." And like numerous other interviewers, Oliver commented on how "immensely likeable" he found Geddy Lee. The following year Rush released Power Windows, which Rolling Stone' s Fricke praised as a record that "may well be the missing link between [English progressive-rockers] Yes and [seminal English punk band] The Sex Pistols." The reviewer referred to the LP's single "The Big Money" as "the best of Rush's Cool Wave experiments to date"; he commented that on Power Windows, as on Grace Under Pressure, the band "tightened up their sidelong suites and rhythmic abstractions into balled-up song fists, art-rock blasts of angular, slashing guitar, spatial keyboards [played by Lee] and hyperpercussion, all resolved with forthright melodic sense." 1987 saw the release of Hold Your Fire, which contained the single "Time Stand Still," featuring singer Aimee Mann of the group 'Til Tuesday on backing vocals. According to a Maclean's reporter, after the tour for this album the three members of Rush returned to Canada sick and virtually estranged from their families. At that point, according to Lee, he, Lifeson, and Peart "discovered that we didn't have to be obsessed about Rush 24 hours a day." They arranged to spend more time doing other things; Lee would get ten days off with his family for every three weeks of touring, while Lifeson and Peart devoted themselves to athletic pursuits. Hold Your Fire-- along with Power Windows-- provided the material for 1989's double live set A Show of Hands. Azerrad panned the record as a sterile, bombastic marathon, observing that "the music has the emotional emptiness of bad jazz fusion." By this time Melody Maker had fallen out of love with Rush's sound; Mick Mercer's acidic review of A Show of Hands revealed the group's lowered status with the publication: "The removal of Rush from society," Mercer fantasized, "as with the eradication of tuberculosis, was greeted with the establishment of internationally agreed public holidays." Though the album was rather unpopular with other critics as well, a People reviewer spoke highly of the 1989 Show of Hands videocassette: "Even those who don't usually enjoy Rush may find this 14-song concert video by the Canadian power-pop trio to their liking." Rush earned some accolades for their 1989 studio album Presto, released by their new label, Atlantic. Stereo Review called the record "proof that progressive rock is alive and well and in capable hands." The LP included the single "Show Don't Tell," the message of which was so popular with some American schoolteachers that the video for the song was actually shown in their classrooms. David Hiltbrand remarked in People that the band's "rock formalism has never been better realized," though he had less admiration for "the cartoonishly high pitch and overwrought intensity" of Lee's voice. Another Atlantic album, Chronicles, was released in 1990, and by 1991 Rush had a new hit album on their hands, Roll the Bones. The latter LP entered the Billboard album chart at Number Three, and if it didn't please everyone--Craig Tomashoff of People called it "audible proof that dinosaurs still roam the earth"--it sold faster than any previous Rush album. In addition, the single "Dreamline" was for a time the most requested song on U.S. rock stations, and the concert tour that supported the album was a smash in a dry concert season.
The admiration expressed for Rush by a variety of groundbreaking alternative bands of the early 1990s---and the trio's clear influence even on many bands that did not mention them--gave Rush a new respectability in the music world. From their days as a teenaged blues-metal act to their international fame as progressive rock's longest lasting big act, Rush have stuck to their vision; critical attitudes have changed, but the trio's commitment to themselves and their audience have paid off handsomely. As Lee remarked in a Guitar Player interview, "It's such a satisfying musical situation that, whenever push comes to shove, we always count our blessings. It's something you appreciate more the older you get." written by Simon Glickman ***The remainder of this bio is taken from Wikipedia*** While musically these albums do not deviate significantly from a general pop-rock sound, Rush stuck to their approach of incorporating traces of exotic musical styles. "Roll the Bones", for instance, exhibits funk and hip hop elements, and the instrumental track "Where's My Thing?" features several jazz components. This return to three-piece instrumentation helped pave the way for future albums in the mid-90s, which would adopt a more straightforward rock formula. The transition from synthesizers to more guitar-oriented and organic instrumentation continued with the 1993 album Counterparts and its follow-up, 1996's Test for Echo, again both produced in collaboration with Peter Collins. Musically, Counterparts and Test For Echo are two of Rush's most guitar-driven albums. Although the music in general did not meet the criteria for "progressive rock", some songs adopted a dynamic format. For instance, "Time and Motion" possesses multiple time signature changes and organ usage, while the instrumental track "Limbo", consists of several complex musical passages repeated throughout. Musically, Test For Echo still retained much of the hard rock/alternative style already charted on the previous record. Lifeson and Lee's playing remained more or less unchanged; however, a distinct modification in technique became apparent in Peart's playing from his jazz and swing training under the tutelage of jazz instructor Freddie Gruber during the interim between Counterparts and Test For Echo. In October 1996, in support of Test For Echo, the band embarked on a North American tour, the band's first without an opening act and dubbed "An Evening with Rush". The tour was broken up into two segments spanning October through December 1996 and May through July 1997 with the band taking a respite between tour legs. Hiatus and comeback (1997–2005) After wrapping up the tour promoting Test for Echo in 1997, the band entered a five-year hiatus mainly because of personal tragedies in Peart's life. Peart's daughter Selena died in an automobile accident in August 1997, followed by his wife Jacqueline's death from cancer in June 1998. Peart took a hiatus to mourn and reflect, during which time he traveled extensively throughout North America on his BMW motorcycle, covering 88,000 km (55,000 miles). At some point in his journey, Peart decided to return to the band. Peart wrote Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road as a chronicle of his geographical and emotional journey. In this book he writes of how he had told his bandmates at Selena's funeral, "consider me retired." On November 10, 1998 a triple CD live album entitled Different Stages was released, dedicated to the memory of Selena and Jacqueline. Mixed by producer Paul Northfield and engineered by Terry Brown, it contained three discs packed with recorded performances from the band's Counterparts, Test For Echo, and A Farewell to Kings tours, marking the fourth officially released live album by the band. After a time to grieve and reassemble the pieces of his life, and while visiting long-time Rush photographer Andrew MacNaughtan in Los Angeles, Peart was introduced to his future wife, photographer Carrie Nuttall. Peart married Nuttall on September 9, 2000. In early 2001 he announced to his band mates that he was ready to once again enter the studio and get back into the business of making music. With the help of producer Paul Northfield the band returned in May 2002 with Vapor Trails, written and recorded in Toronto. To herald the band's comeback, the single and lead track from the album, "One Little Victory" was designed to grab the attention of listeners with its rapid guitar and drum tempos. Vapor Trails marked the first studio recording not to include a single synthesizer, organ or keyboard part since the early 1970s. While the album is almost completely guitar-driven, it is mostly devoid of any conventional sounding guitar solos, a conscious decision made by Lifeson during the writing process. According to the band, the entire developmental process for Vapor Trails was extremely taxing and took approximately 14 months to finish, by far the longest the band had ever spent writing and recording a studio album. The album debuted to moderate praise and was supported by the band's first tour in six years, including first-ever concerts in Mexico City and Brazil, where they played to some of the largest crowds of their career. A triple CD live album and dual Rush In Rio DVD was released in late October 2003 featuring an entire concert performance recorded on the last night of their Vapor Trails Tour, November 23, 2002, at Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. To celebrate their 30th anniversary, June 2004 saw the release of Feedback, a studio EP recorded in suburban Toronto featuring eight covers of such artists as Cream, The Who and The Yardbirds, bands that the members of Rush cite as inspiration around the time of their inception. Also in the summer of 2004, Rush hit the road again for the very successful 30th Anniversary Tour, playing dates in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Sweden, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands. On September 24, 2004 a Frankfurt, Germany concert was recorded at The Festhalle for DVD (titled R30: Live in Frankfurt), which was released November 22, 2005; a complete version of the R30 Frankfurt set (the original DVD release omitted eight songs) was released on Blu-ray on December 8, 2009. Snakes & Arrows (2006–2009) During promotional interviews for the R30 Live In Frankfurt DVD, the band revealed their intention to begin writing new material in early 2006. While in Toronto, Lifeson and Lee began the songwriting process in January 2006. During this time, Peart simultaneously assumed his role of lyric writing while residing in Southern California. The following September, Rush chose to hire American producer Nick Raskulinecz to co-produce the album. The band officially entered Allaire Studios, in Shokan, New York in November 2006 in order to record the bulk of the material. Taking the band five weeks, the sessions ended in December. On February 14, 2007, an announcement was made on the official Rush web site that the title of the new album would be Snakes & Arrows. The first single, entitled "Far Cry," was released to North American radio stations on March 12, 2007 and reached #2 on the Mediabase Mainstream and Radio and Records Charts. The Rush website, newly redesigned on March 12 to support the new album, also announced that the band would embark on a tour to begin in the summer. Snakes & Arrows was released 1 May 2007 in North America, where it debuted at #3 in the Billboard 200 with approximately 93,000 units sold in its first week. It would go on to sell an estimated 611,000 copies worldwide. To coincide with the Atlantic ocean hurricane season, "Spindrift" was released as the official second radio single on June 1, 2007, whereas "The Larger Bowl (A Pantoum)" saw single status on June 25, 2007. "The Larger Bowl" positioned within the top 20 of the Mainstream Rock and Media Base Mainstream charts, however, "Spindrift" failed to appear on any commercial chart. The planned intercontinental tour in support of Snakes & Arrows began on June 13, 2007 in Atlanta, Georgia, coming to a close on October 29, 2007 at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland. The 2008 portion of the tour started on April 11, 2008 in San Juan, Puerto Rico at José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum and culminated on July 24, 2008 in Noblesville, Indiana at the Verizon Wireless Music Center. On April 15, the band released Snakes & Arrows Live, a double live album documenting the first leg of the tour. Those same performances featured on Snakes & Arrows Live filmed at the Ahoy arena in Rotterdam, Netherlands on October 16 and 17 of 2007 were released November 24 as a DVD and Blu-Ray set. The video also includes footage from the 2008 portion of the tour, recorded at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Atlanta. As the band neared the conclusion of their Snakes & Arrows tour, they announced their first appearance on American television in over 30 years. Rush was interviewed by Stephen Colbert and they performed "Tom Sawyer" on The Colbert Report on July 16, 2008. Continuing to ride what one movie reviewer has called a "pop cultural wave," they also appeared at a live show in April 2009 for the comedy film I Love You, Man. DISCOGRAPHY: Studio Albums

Live Albums


Discussion Forum


Ethan Miller, Getty ImagesRush will release a remixed version of their 2002 album ‘Vapor Trails’ as well as a box set collecting all of their…Continue

Tags: rock, bottom, classic, rjhog, box set

Started by RJhog (Admin). Last reply by Scott Aug 2, 2013.

Top 10 Rush-songs 8 Replies

Too difficult, only to make it a Top 5: 1. Red Sector A 2. Closer to the Heart 3. Distant early Warning 4. Tears 5. Time Stands Still 6. Fly By Night 7. Tom Sawyer 8. A Passage To Bangkok 9. Free…Continue

Started by Niels (Mod). Last reply by RJhog (Admin) Mar 12, 2012.

Neil Peart To Put Out New Book

from classicrockmagazine.comNeil Peart is to have a…Continue

Tags: rock, bottom, talk, classic, rjhog

Started by RJhog (Admin) Jan 27, 2011.

RUSH - Open Court Publishing To Release Rush And Philosophy: Always Hopeful, Yet Discontent In May 2011 4 Replies

from Posted on Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 01:55:10 EST …Continue

Tags: classic rock, classic rock bottom, rjhog, rush

Started by RJhog (Admin). Last reply by Niels (Mod) Nov 30, 2010.

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Comment by Daηηy Lyηη on May 29, 2023 at 2:49pm

The Professor R.I.P. Neil Peart

Comment by RJhog (Admin) on November 7, 2014 at 7:05am

Comment by Jon on December 27, 2013 at 2:23pm

That article didn't mention the 2011 remaster. 

Comment by Scott on December 27, 2013 at 2:18pm

Totally gonna get that before Jon!

Comment by RJhog (Admin) on December 27, 2013 at 1:56pm

RushAnthem Records

The guys in Rush may be planning on taking a year off in 2014, but that doesn’t mean their classic records will get a vacation. In fact, it looks like the band’s 1974 debut LP will return to stores with a few new additions.

The Globe and Mail reports that the ‘Rush’ album is due for a 40th anniversary reissue next year, and adds that the band is “very involved” in the process. And although no details are given regarding what fans can expect in terms of remastering or bonus tracks, it’s worth noting that the article in question focuses on deluxe single-album upgrades like the newly expanded versions of Nirvana‘s ‘In Utero’ and Van Morrison‘s ‘Moondance.’

The members of Rush have been in a retrospective mood lately, boxing up their Atlantic output and releasing a remastered version of their 2002 album ‘Vapor Trails.’ While ‘Rush’ received the remaster treatment in 1997, it seems safe to assume the process will start over for the 40th anniversary edition — and that the vaults are being combed for whatever live tracks and demos the band can scrounge up.

Also of interest for classic rock fans: the Globe and Mail’s article notes that a slew of other deluxe reissues are on the way in 2014, including yet another version of Elton John‘s ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,’Supertramp‘s ‘Crime of the Century,’ and an archival release from Kiss.

Comment by RJhog (Admin) on November 22, 2013 at 7:04am

Comment by Scott on October 3, 2013 at 6:31pm

I love Roll The Bones although fans seem to be mixed on it.  Bravado is one of my top 5 all-time Rush tracks.  Its production is different than what you'd expect froma typical Rush album and its got some very commercial (Re: non -prog) tunes on it.  

And as much as I hate to admit it, but Jon is spot on woth Counterparts, awesome top to bottm.  

Test For Echo is hit and miss for me...

Comment by Jon on October 3, 2013 at 2:39pm

Counterparts is awesome. The others have moments but overall are just ok. This, of course, being my humble opinion which is never wrong.

Comment by Niels (Mod) on October 3, 2013 at 1:15pm

Tell me honestly, and it must be Jon and Scott, I'm referring to, since you guys seems like RUSH diehard fans:

Is "The Studio Albums 1989-2007" worth getting? I mean SERIOUSLY worth getting? I own "Presto", or did because I don't think, I can find it. And I own "Snakes And Arrows" and "Vapor Trails". Now, I am not a big fan of RUSH's studio-albums after "Hold Your Fire", and that was one of the reasons, that I can't find Presto anymore. Except for the newest album, of course, which is great. "Snakes...." wasn't THAT great. But do you guys think, that since I'm a reborn Prog-fanatic nowadays, that it would be a good idea for me to purchase "The Studio...."? I'll be getting the remixed VP that way, but are #Roll The Bones", "Counterparts" and "Test For Echo" so excellent in your opinions, that I need to buy the set?

Comment by RJhog (Admin) on September 30, 2013 at 11:16pm

Remixed Vapor Trails streaming online now:

Vapor Trails Remixed


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