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Rush - Moving Pictures CD (album) cover

MOVING PICTURES

Rush

 

Heavy Prog

4.39 | 2805 ratings

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Necrotica
Prog Reviewer
5 stars If you frequently visit blogs or social networking sites, you might remember numerous online posts about the progression of the common person's interest in 2-D Disney movies. If you don't recall, allow me to give you the rundown: a kid loves Disney movies and watches them religiously; he/she gets into the preteen and teen years, losing interest in the movies and becoming pretty cynical toward them; then later down the line once he/she is older, the person regains interest and starts loving the films again. The reason I bring this up is because it's the exact same relationship I have with Rush's music. I loved them and many other progressive rock bands when I was young (I was never one of those nu-metal kids, despite how popular the genre was), had an anti-Rush phase a bit later, and now they're one of my favorite bands because of both musical quality and nostalgia. In the middle of my Rush recollection, Moving Pictures was one of the albums I remembered most fondly. Listening to it again, I can also conclude that it has aged better than most other Rush albums and remains one of their best.

As with other Rush albums, Moving Pictures is a great example of how technicality, songwriting mastery, and a thoroughly emotional touch combine in an exceptional way. Lyrically, the album continues in the vein of its predecessor Permanent Waves in how it touches more on real-life subjects than the fantasy elements of previous works like Hemispheres or A Farewell to Kings. Due to drummer Neil Peart expanding his range of lyrical themes, we get songs about the price of fame ("Limelight"), the moods and lifestyles of different places ("Camera Eye"), and even automobiles ("Red Barchetta"). Geddy Lee's singing is improved and more varied range-wise on this record, establishing him as a more solid storyteller as he sings the tales that Peart is weaving. The instrumental work is, as usual, absolutely fantastic; the trio play off each others' contributions wonderfully and there's a great sense of unity that prevents anything from sounding like aimless noodling. Even in the sole instrumental "YYZ," the band know what time to devote to soloing and what time to devote to composition. The Morse Code-inspired 5/4 section in the beginning is still an iconic progressive rock moment and luckily the song just keeps on giving, with a trade-off solo segment and a synth-ridden slow portion keeping things interesting.

Even then, what's even more impressive about Moving Pictures is how it's so radio-friendly for Rush and STILL manages to be so damn good. The hard-rockin' radio staple "Tom Sawyer," the dynamically-varied "Red Barchetta," the fame-influenced fan favorite "Limelight" and of course "YYZ," were all big hits when they came out, and yet remain considered some of Rush's most beloved songs even by hardcore fans who love their underrated material. Going back to the "balance" argument, that really does seem to be the reason for this. Radio rock fans will instantly recognize and appreciate that iconic first note played in "Tom Sawyer," while the progressive rock crowd will appreciate the craftsmanship that went into the rhythmically varied guitar solo by Alex Lifeson. "Red Barchetta" will have the casual crowd enjoying the catchy melodies and Geddy's singing performance while musicians and hardcore fans will notice Neil Peart's varied drum fills going on in the meantime. Even lesser-known songs such as "Witch Hunt" and "Vital Signs" carry this sense of balance, the latter even using a combination of the typical Rush sound and Police-like reggae rock influences. While "The Camera Eye" and "Witch Hunt" are perhaps the weakest songs in the grand scheme of things, there's enough atmosphere and variation to let the listener know that they aren't bad tracks by any means, just a bit overpowered by the classics.

This is definitely one of the Rush albums I revisit the most. There's so much quality packed into the arrangements and such a sense of unity (despite complex instrumental work) that everything comes together superbly. In the end, that's what this album is: superb. It's commercial enough for radio audiences and varied enough for the progressive rock crowd, making it most likely the biggest fan-pleaser in the band's catalog. That's probably the reason why it's still the highest-selling Rush album (certified quadruple-platinum in the U.S. alone!); in any case, it definitely deserves that distinction.

Necrotica | 5/5 |

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