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Rush - The Spirit Of Radio (Greatest Hits 1974-1987)  CD (album) cover

THE SPIRIT OF RADIO (GREATEST HITS 1974-1987)

Rush

 

Heavy Prog

3.21 | 80 ratings

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FloydWright
Prog Reviewer
3 stars As a very new fan of Rush, I can't speak with the same authority as longtime fans; however, I do believe I can say that this compilation will make an excellent starter album for someone who has mainly heard their great radio hits such as "Freewill", "Spirit of Radio", and "Limelight". This CD covers their work up until 1986. There are no weak or bad tracks on here, so I believe it could stand well enough on its own and even make a good gift for the casual fan who doesn't plan to explore any further. I doubt that true fans would have any use for this compilation, though, as is usually the case with such albums. The slightly higher rating is for the benefit of those who may just want a sampling of what Rush can do.

What really amazes me about Rush is the variety in their work--think of the vast difference between the early tracks "Working Man" and "Fly By Night" and much later works like "Subdivisions" and "New World Man". This distinctiveness owes to the fact that all three members of the band: Geddy Lee (vocals, bass, synthesizers), Alex Lifeson (guitars), and Neil Peart (drums) are superbly talented with their instruments and never seem to falter. While I appreciate all three, it's Geddy Lee I have the greatest respect for; he truly makes the bass into a prominent and powerful instrument that can hold its own with everything else going on in their work. And what more can possibly be said about his unique voice? It may take some getting used to at first--but make no mistake: it will grow on you!

Another fairly strong point of Rush is the lyrics, which even if not always dealing with social subjects, don't resort too often to stupidity. They do social commentary quite well and with a healthy dose of sarcasm (what a critique of the music industry in "Limelight"!)--but without launching personal attacks on anybody, something which I find completely inappropriate in music. It's hard to be exactly sure what political affiliation they are by listening; their commentaries range from the environmentally aware "Distant Early Warning" (traditionally a leftist issue) to the surprisingly conservative "The Trees", which offers a biting retort to certain socialistic ideas. The only problem that Rush sometimes runs into lyrically is excessive pomposity. "Distant Early Warning" is the worst culprit that comes to mind (don't get me wrong, it's still quite listenable).

The only other gripe I had has to do with the "radio edit" of the long composition "The Temples of Syrinx" I don't know why another song couldn't have been selected in place of such a heavily edited song. While it's clear the music is quite good, I have never cared at all for attempts to put out gutted versions of "epic" prog numbers as singles. This reminds me of the choppiness of the recent edited version of "Echoes" on the Pink Floyd compilation of the same name...it doesn't work out. Even though I have not yet heard the full 2112 version, from this sample I have the distinct feeling it's much stronger, and far less choppy, when the themes are allowed to develop as the band truly intended. However, overall I can't take away more than half a star for these two flaws; The Spirit of Radio is an undeniably fun compilation by a talented band that provides an excellent overview of their work up to 1986.

FloydWright | 3/5 |

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