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Rush - Different Stages - Live CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.36 | 366 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Encyclopedia Rush-tanica: 1974-1996

To celebrate the release of the new Live Rush offering (S&A Live) I've decided to revisit an old friend of mine. This is the kind of friend that over the years you have less and less time for, but whenever you see them (or in this case, hear them I suppose) it evokes such fond memories. This is an album that I bought by chance several years ago after I received pay for my first (paying) gig in the career I would later pursue; so I ran out to the record store to find this - an album that I'd been searching for for so long already based sheerly on it's awesome cover art. Simple and yet mathematical, childish, dense and welcoming all at once. Looking at the track listing also I knew this would be something of a dream come true as an up and coming Rush fanatic, especially with the third disc included.

And so it went - the album followed me everywhere. I played it at home, at work, on my way to and from school, having enough material on it that as soon as I got to the third disc I'd be wanting to hear the first again. Indeed, it's this album that turned me from a Rush fan to a rabid Rush fanatic. Which is why I would eventually choose it as my avatar when I joined Prog Archives, a site that I would come across while looking for more Rush over the web. Go figure.

So the album is monumental in my life, So what!? Many of you may ask, well:

It is such for a very good reason. This is an amazing effort by the legendary Canadian three piece, and at the time of it's release, almost the final effort by them. Following the less than stellar Test For Echo people might have been wondering what the material would sound like live. Well, the band truly managed to bring everything to life here. And really, it's less of a tour to promote one album and more of a tour to play their old material after having evolved and matured as musicians.

One thing I've always admired about the band is that they're always able to make their music fresh. Each recording of Closer To The Heart for example, sounds completely different from the next, and I especially love this version which includes almost 3 minutes of jam-time at the end of the song (topped only by the A Show Of Hands version of the song). Rush always plays the music as if they'd recorded it the day before.

This album features a ton of material - although that's to be expected when it's a three disc set. There's a lot of variety, especially since the band plays a couple of tracks which hardly ever make it to the live album set-lists. A couple of gems to be had here include Show Don't Tell (one of the best tracks from Presto), Nobody's Hero (from the already amazing Counterparts) and 2112 in its entirety (something most prog fans will appreciate)! And that's just the first disc.

The second disc has much much more material to cover. The versions of Test For Echo and Driven presented here are FAR superior to their studio counterparts, and songs like Stick It Out and Leave That Thing Alone get wonderful treatment even if they didn't need to be improved upon in the first place! Although for the prog-heads out there the biggest draw will likely be the addition of the usual Fan Favorites as well as longer tracks like Peart's The Rhythm Method and the energetic Natural Science.

But wait, there's more.

The third disc (if the others didn't interest you) is what will really draw in the proggers. Taken from a concert recorded in 1978, the third disc shows the band in their progressive golden age. Imagine the energy and spirit from All The World's A Stage combined with the musical prowess and prestige of Exit... Stage Left - that's basically what we have here.

The standouts on the disc are many. Mini-epics (that Rush excel so well in) like Xanadu and Cygnus X-1 are played here with such ferocity that one would think that they were trying to take over the Earth! The shorter tracks are all well done also, especially the abridged version of By-Tor and The Snow Dog, the excellent A Farewell To Kings and the ''lost'' Cinderella Man (which has always been a favorite of mine anyways).


As I said in my review of Exit...Stage Left there's not many live albums that I've found that are worthy of the five star mark -- but this is one of them. If you're going to buy one live Rush album it had better be this one, as it is an amazing catalog of their works up until 1996 and includes a double disc-modern Rush live album coupled with a Classic-era Rush live album. In terms of performance -- incredible. Rush have always been a live band, and this is no exception.

Unless you dislike Rush this is an essential piece of music to your library.

Queen By-Tor | 5/5 |


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