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Rush - Moving Pictures CD (album) cover




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4.38 | 3038 ratings

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4 stars Moving Pictures was the beginning of a new era for Rush, one that included a larger use of synthesizers and lesser use of guitars. However, the great thing about Moving Pictures is that it still included their more traditional hard rock sound, and so is often described as an album of both eras - in very much the same way as Duke by Genesis. Many people believe Rush only truly begun their synth-orientated period with their next album Signals, due to this sustained use of heavy guitars not seen later in Rush's work; it was Moving Pictures, however, where I think the change happened, as many styles of music in Moving Pictures had not been seen in their earlier work, and I believe Alex Lifeson said the album was where "we became us", clearly indicating a change in style.

The album begins with "Tom Sawyer", opening with a really cool synth accompanied by drums, Geddy sings the first lyrics and before you know it the song's in full flow (in Rush's earlier work it usually took a few minutes for the song to begin, much less than a few seconds). I don't think I will be contested when I say "Tom Sawyer" is an excellent song and a classic.

After "Tom Sawyer" fades out, a muted guitar riff fades in. Soon the drums, bass and synth join in and start playing a song about... (wait for it) ...a car. Not a common theme at all for Rush at the time, who seemed to prefer writing songs about astronauts dying in black holes and being reborn in black holes. Anyway, the song in question is "Red Barchetta", another great song and one of my favourite ever Rush songs.

Next up, "YYZ", an instrumental track. It begins with Morse code (why not) that create the rhythm of the track, which then begins with a bang into a 10/8 guitar-dominated riff. This song is one of the most experimental for Rush on Moving Pictures, as not only does it begin with the Morse code "Y-Y-Z" (YYZ being the IATA airport ID code for Toronto Airport) a large section is entirely synth-dominated - and I mean a synth plays the melody rather than just being in the background. Oh, and not to mention being only four minutes long - Rush's only other instrumental at the time, "La Villa Strangiato", was a more than ample nine minutes in length.

With "YYZ" ending dramatically, a heavy guitar riff repeats thrice - on the third time the drums, bass and synth come in and play a great song, the last on side one of the album. The song is called "Limelight". I will say no more on the song to ruin it to readers who have not had the fortune to hear it, apart from the fact it's one of Rush's best ever songs, a fan favourite, and certainly the best song on Moving Pictures in my opinion (though some give that honour to "Tom Sawyer").

Now, before I get on to side two, you will note that all the songs on side one I have described as flawless. On side two... things are a little different. It is much more experimental, and more reminiscent of Rush's 80s era. It also, however, seems as though Rush put the songs with the best tunes on side one and the slightly odder ones on side two. But I'll move on.

The first song of side two, "The Camera Eye", you might expect to be the most traditional song on the album, since it is the last of Rush's multi-part suites, but actually is the most experimental. The entire song is dominated by synthesizers. It opens with the sound of some bustling street in a city, after which some particularly cool synths come in, slowly build up as the guitar and bass join the synth, until the drums come in with bombast. Usually, I'd say this is a great song. The lyrics are great (it's about a city, by the way). The music is great. The problem with it is, is that it's in two five minute parts. And when the first part is over, though the lyrics are different, the music just repeats itself! So, by the end of the ten minutes of the song, you're getting pretty bored!

So, like I said, I'd usually say "The Camera Eye" is a good song, but because it's incredibly repetitive, it's only ok.

After "The Camera Eye" ends, "Witch Hunt" fades in with what sounds like a very unruly crowd chanting something unintelligible - once again, not something common in an album like, for instance, Permanent Waves. Then, a heavy guitar riff comes in and the first lyrics are sung before the drums take over the rhythm. Two more things should be noted here: "Witch Hunt" is part three of Rush's Fear Trilogy - parts two and one would feature on their next albums; Signals and Grace Under Pressure. The second thing to note here is that "Witch Hunt is another example of how Rush had progressed from their previous albums; it's opening I already have noted was experimental for Rush at the time, and the chorus is synth-dominated. All in all, a good song, but not on par with songs like "Tom Sawyer" and "Limelight", in my honest opinion.

As "Witch Hunt" fade out, the final track, "Vital Signs" begins - the only song on side two that compares with songs on side one. It opens with synthesizers, which develop into a reggae-orientated guitar riff. In fact, the entire song is reggae influenced, something never seen before with Rush except from a small part of "The Spirit of the Radio" - however, at the end of the song the reggae ostinatos from earlier in the song are forgotten, and the finale section comes in, with three simple chords, which fades out. An excellent outro; there are no other words for it.

So, in conclusion, Moving Pictures does not quite fit my requirements for a five star review:

1. The songs must all be excellent.

2. It must work brilliantly as an album.

Not all the songs are quite excellent - as I mentioned earlier, "The Camera Eye" is only ok, not brilliant, and "Witch Hunt" is good, but isn't on the level of the other songs. So I've put the album at four stars; it is generally a great album, and includes some brilliant songs (just look at "Tom Sawyer"), but isn't 100% brilliant.

FatherChristmas | 4/5 |


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