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Rush - Different Stages - Live CD (album) cover




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4.34 | 423 ratings

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3 stars This three-disk set is really two albums: a double album with songs recorded from various concerts in 1994 and 1997, and a third disk of live songs recorded at a 1978 show.

Disks 1 and 2

A Show of Hands and Different Stages: Live are Rush's best live albums. Through 1988, the band reliably released one live double album after each four studio albums. Each of these live albums was made up of songs from those four prior albums (with one exception on A Show of Hands).

However, only half of the songs from Different Stages: Live are from the band's four prior albums; the other half are from 1976 through 1987. I guess by the mid-1990s, Rush was playing fewer and fewer new songs in concert. Their record company may have figured that a multi-disk live Rush album might sell a lot more copies if it contained "Tom Sawyer" and "The Spirit of Radio."

But what that means is a less reliance on some of their weaker material, and more room for "The Analog Kid," which wasn't on A Show of Hands, and all twenty-plus minutes of "2112." At the same time, it does contain some good latter-day songs like "Dreamline" and "Show Don't Tell."

It should be no surprise that the performances on these tracks from the 1990s are excellent. To begin with, it's Rush. They're great musicians who design their songs to be played live, then rehearse like mad. Nearly any detail that the three band members can't reproduce live is prerecorded or sequenced. Then they pick the best concerts from among almost three hundred shows across four tours, and even then, they could always re-record any part they wanted to. They mix the album for CD, and it sounds fantastic.

Disk 3

Based on the information on about the Farewell to Kings tour, the 1978 show is incomplete, excluding a "2112" medley, "Closer to the Heart" (versions of both of which are elsewhere on Different Stages), "Lakeside Park," and the drum solo.

Although it's a "bonus disk," you're paying for it. You can have All the World's a Stage, Exit... Stage Left, and A Show of Hands - - three double albums - - for a total of $11.97 on itunes or $13.97 on Amazon. Different Stages: Live costs $34.99! Unfortunately, you can't buy all of the 1978 songs individually - - to get "Xanadu" and "Cygnus" you have to buy the whole thing. So I disagree that critically examining the third disk is looking the so-called gift horse in the mouth.

As it turns out, the third disk is also well done, though not as polished. Singer/bassist Geddy Lee strains a bit to hit the high notes; but on the other hand, here the band is playing everything (or practically everything) live, and apparently without overdubs.


On the whole, a good album whose highlight is the 1978 show on the third disk. These recordings add very little to the studio versions, but are very well performed. Different Stages: Live also seems a bit overpriced compared to the band's other live albums.

patrickq | 3/5 |


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