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Rush - Fly By Night CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.36 | 1109 ratings

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The SaidRemark
4 stars Many fans consider later releases like "2112," "Hemispheres," and "Moving Pictures" to be the "classic albums" of Rush's career. As fine as those albums may be, perhaps even better than this one, I say go back further to find the classic Rush.

"Fly by Night" is, in my eyes, the first true Rush album - the first album to feature what is now a 35 year line-up: drummer Neil Peart, bassist Geddy Lee, and guitarist Alex Lifeson. The sound is refined far beyond anything they could have been capable with previous drummer John Rutsey.

The album is structured very intelligently, four high energy hard rock songs on side A, and some more eclectic pieces on side B that balance it out, giving the album an even feeling. Most of the songs feature a killer melodic guitar solo establishing Alex Lifeson among the other greats of his time, like Page and Beck.

"Anthem" kicks of the album with full force, introducing new found musical ideas and ability, as well as fine new lyrics, credit of new drummer, Neil Peart. You don't need to listen longer than six seconds to tell that Neil is light years ahead Rutsey on the drum kit. You really should though, because this song is the first of four excellent hard rock songs that comprise side A.

"Best I Can," the only solely Geddy Lee composition here, shows them hanging onto their roots; just the right amount of rock-star ambition cheesiness is present in the lyrics, Geddy's lyrics are not as terrible as many would have you believe.

"Beneath, Between, and Behind," is another great rocker, you can really detect the direction Neil is taking the band. The lyrics are an homage to Canadian independence, the drum work shows influence by prog legends like Bill Bruford and well as standard rock greats like John Bonham.

"By-Tor and the Snow Dog" may come as a bit of a turn off because of its almost absurd fantasy-based lyrics, but once you can either appreciate or get past this, you will find it to be a great song, Rush's first excursion into the territory of multi-part epics. The real crux of this song is its six-minute instrumental mid-section, where the band really shows off its talents. They have become frighteningly rhythmically tight, as the awesome backwards-count-from-seven breakdown proves. An indication of the potential Rush had for the future, once they were allowed some time to mature.

"Fly By Night" is killer pop song with great bass work and a catchy chorus. Strange that they should have chosen it as the title track as it may seem insignificant next to the other songs, but it is a good song nonetheless. It is perhaps not prog enough for some, however.

"Making Memories" is a one-of-a-kind song in Rush's collection, folk-rock with a edge. Sounds almost like a Doobie Brothers song. At 2:56, its presence is more than welcome here.

"Rivendell" has been called tedious, boring, or even ridiculous with its Tolkien-inspired lyrics, but I oppose these notions. It is truly a sultry ballad, in a way that only Rush could achieve. This song should be listened to in a quiet place with headphones on, you'd be surprised that Geddy could sing this soft.

"In the End" is a fine closer, a catchy power ballad with Geddy's classic screaming vocals. The mood of this song is one that Rush would later abandon, as Geddy, who writes here, would progressively write fewer lyrics. Here, the mood is something approaching romance, making this a feel-good song that ties together what loose ends there were.

Some call "Fly by Night" a standard hard rock album - a Led Zeppelin clone - but I recognize it as something distinct. The progressive element is already brewing as Neil enters the fold, you can see the direction they are heading with more complex song structures, odd time signatures, and fantastical lyrics.

All in all, Fly by Night is a very good album, but there is still much to come from the band at this point. I recommend either this or "2112" as a starting point for someone looking to get into the wondrous music of Rush.

P.S. Don't be afraid of Geddy's voice.

The SaidRemark | 4/5 |


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