Tag Archives: Rush

Reports of Rush’s death may be exaggerated

Rush may not be quite as dead as we thought. Geddy Lee is quoted in The Guardian.

But was Peart really saying what they thought he was saying? In the absence of an official clarification from Peart, it was Rush bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee who set the record straight, when he spoke to Prog magazine on 8 December. According to Lee, what Peart said was merely a confirmation of what he has said repeatedly in recent years – that he is no longer willing to tour for months on end, as Rush have done throughout their 40-year career. Simply, that Peart is “retired” from touring, but not from the band. “I think Neil is just explaining his reasons for not wanting to tour with the toll that it’s taking on his body,” Lee said, alluding to the tendonitis the drummer now suffers from.

Much like Judas Priest didn’t retire a few years back, but stopped doing gruelling world tours in favour of one-off festival appearances. Still, even though this is not the end for Rush, it is probably the beginning of the end.

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Neil Peart calls it a day

Sad but understandable news that Rush drmmmer Neil Peart is calling it a day, citing chronic tendonitis as one of the reasons. Though The Rolling Stones might still be able crank out their 12-bar blues into their 70s, it’s a different case with the far more physically demanding music of Rush. Just look at the video above.

Like many other fans, I had guessed the band were on their final lap, but had hoped for one last British tour so I could see them once more.  Sadly that isn’t to be.

But nothing can take away their legacy; a 40 year career that produced an impressive body of work (Just how good is that run of eight albums from 2112 through to Power Windows?), and they were at the top of their game live right through to the end. My first ever piece of professional music writing was about Rush.

Enjoy your retirement, Neil, and thanks for all the music.

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It’s a sobering thought that there are people alive today who will be alive in the year 2112. And by the looks of it, some of today’s students sound like they would make good Priests of the Temple of Syrinx.

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Hype and Substance

Clockwork AngelsHow often does a much-hyped creative work end up leaving you cold? I’m not talking about heavily-promoted artistic flops like Oasis’ infamous “Be Here Now”. I’m thinking more of things that create a huge buzz within a given fandom, but leave you scratching your head over quite what all the fuss is about.

Rush’s 2012 album “Clockwork Angels” is a case in point. When it came out many music fans of my acquaintance were speaking of it as an album of year, but barring a couple of songs the album failed make any strong impression on me at all. No matter how many times I listened the bulk of the album ended up going in one ear and out the other. The brickwalled mastering didn’t help, but neither did the the album’s lack of memorable songs. For me at any rate, it wasn’t a patch on golden age Rush from the 70s and 80s, and compared poorly with later albums such as “Counterparts”.

Have similar things happened to you? Can you think of albums or other creative works where sometimes it feels as if you’re the only person who doesn’t get it?

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Now Playing – September 2013 edition

Some of the records I’ve been listening to over the past couple of days. 2013 has been a great year for new music, but here I’ve revisited some old and sometimes overlooked classics.

Marillion – This Strange Engine

Their live sets in recent years have often drawn heavily from this album, but it’s the first time I’ve given the whole album a listen for a long time. One thing that struck me was how much it resembles their more recent work, despite being a decade and a half old. When it came out it was a bit a departure for them, with more emphasis on atmospherics and textures, and drew mixed reactions. But in retrospect, a lot of their current sound has its roots in this album.

Touchstone – Discordant Dreams

Touchstone’s first full-length album shows just how far they’ve progressed since they started out. I’d forgotten that Rob Cottingham sang most of the lead vocals back in the early days with Kim singing harmonies – It was only from “Wintercoast” onwards that Kim took over as the band’s main lead singer.

Yes – Drama

The announcement that Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes from pop duo The Buggles were to replace Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman made heads explode when announced all those years ago. But thirty years on this is an album that stands the test of time far better than its unfocussed and directionless precessor “Tormato”. I think it’s fair to say that without “Drama” there would have been no Yes three decades later.

Black Sabbath – Seventh Star

Tony Iommi and former Deep Purple singer Glenn Hughes made this collaboration with a bunch of session players after the ill-fated Ian Gillan-fronted Sabbath fell apart. It was never really intended as a Black Sabbath record, and lacks the doom-laden melodrama associated with the Sabbath name. But taken on its own merits it’s an excellent blues-metal hybrid, with both Iommi and Hughes on top form.

Rush – Roll the Bones

I was never that big a fan of Rush’s “Synthesiser period” and found their late 80s output a little bloodless and sterile. Their first release of the 1990s represented a back-to-basics power trio approach with Alex Lifeson’s guitar in the centre of the mix where it belonged.  All very welcome for me, even if the rather heavier following album “Counterparts” remains my favourite Rush disc of the past two decades.

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Albums of the year 2007

Everyone else seems to be doing their annual ‘best of’ list, so it would be remiss of me if I didn’t do one as well. I’m not going to try and rank everything in order.

Album of the Year

  • Porcupine Tree – Fear of a Blank Planet. It feels as if the whole of their 15 year career has been working up to this album. It combines metal influences of their recent work with the soaring atmospheric soundscapes of earlier albums to produce the most consistently good album they’ve ever recorded. Just six songs, the longest clocking in at 17 minutes, with not a weak moment among them.

Runners-up

  • Fish – 13th Star. A major return to form by an artist too many have written off as a has-been who can’t sing any more. This emotionally-charged album seems him singing in a lower register, half-spoken in places, that suits his present-day vocal range, backed by a hard-edged guitar-driven groove-orientated sound. His best album since at least “Sunsets on Empire”.
  • Odin Dragonfly – Offerings. Not a prog album, or even really a rock album, but an acoustic work with guitar, piano, flute and two voices. The result is a stunningly beautiful album that perfectly captures their live sound. Yes, they really do create those harmonies on stage with just two people.
  • The Reasoning – Awakening. Remarkable debut album marking the welcome return of Karnataka’s Rachel Jones. Best described as prog-tinged hard rock, with some remarkable harmonies from their three lead vocalists, and full of melodies that get permanently stuck in your head.

Strong Contenders

  • Breathing Space – Coming Up For Air. Effectively the debut for the lineup of the band that’s been playing live over the past year, it’s a well-crafted mix of 80s pop/rock numbers and the sort of sweeping rock ballads Iain Jennings used to write when he was with Mostly Autumn.
  • Dream Theater – Systematic Chaos. Complex, epic prog metal by the band that really defined the genre, and a rather more consistently strong album that their previous couple.
  • Joe Bonamassa – Sloe Gin. Part acoustic, and part guitar-shredding electric blues. The title track has to be one of my songs of the year.
  • Epica – The Divine Conspiracy. The European rock scene is awash with female-fronted symphonic metal bands, and this album is perhaps the best out of a whole bunch of good ones.
  • Therion – Gothic Kabbalah. Scandinavian choral death metal, totally bonkers but compellingly brilliant. Because a lot of the arrangements are a bit off-the-wall it does take repeated listenings to really get in to.
  • Apocalyptica – Worlds Collide. One of the most metal albums of the year, except it’s all played on cellos rather than guitars. 50/50 mix of manic instrumentals and songs featuring a variety of guest vocalists.
  • Rush – Snakes and Arrows. Return to form after the disappointing “Vapor Trails”. I find my enjoyment of any Rush album is directly proportional to how prominent Alex Lifeson is in the mix. He’s to the fore on this one.
  • Marillion – Somewhere Else. The album that’s really divided the fanbase. While this is no ‘Marbles’, it’s still a good album once you get into it, simpler songs with more straightforward arrangements rather than the multi-layered epic approach some might have expected.

And there were plenty of other great ones, making 2007 such a great year for music. And then there are a few albums people have raved about although I have yet to hear them, such as the new ones by The Pineapple Thief and Riverside.

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