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Rush - Grace Under Pressure CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.69 | 1135 ratings

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4 stars "Grace Under Pressure" is a great collection of songs. Lifeson continues to explore guitar tone and timbre at the expense of solos and riffs. That is not to say there are no solos or riffs but in general they defer to rhythm and coloration. At least the guitar is much more audible in the mix than on "Signals", a balance that is very welcomed.

During moments of Signals it seemed as though Rush had been trying too hard to duplicate the success of Moving Pictures. Not so on this outing. This time the band forges ahead with a truly unique sounding album, expressly 1980's, even new-wavish yet somewhat proggie as well.

Peart provided us a glimpse of a more mature thematic vocabulary on the song "Losing It" on "Signals". On this album he stretches further to explore cold war anxiety (Distant Early Warning), sensitive reflections upon mourning a death (Afterimage), even clinging to dismal strands of hope in a concentration camp (Red Sector A).

Has any other band completed a song trilogy starting with part 3 on one album, part 2 on the next and completing the prequel with part one on yet the next? (Fear Part 3, WitchHunt, Moving Pictures 1981, Fear Part II, The Weapon, Signals 1982, Fear Part I - The Enemy Within, Grace Under Pressure 1984).

Admittedly, a linear storyline does not quite unfold in reverse order during the trilogy. Even so, a logical progression of ideas does come into focus with part one exploring how fear affects us from within, part two exploring how fear can me made into a weapon, and part three how fear can be used to mobilize groups into a dangerous mob mentality.

Rush even tagged a Part 4 on song cycle with 2002's Vapor Trails but that strikes me as more of an afterthought. The forethought and the puzzle of figuring out the logical progression (or regression as the case may be) from parts 3 to 1 is a source of fun and fascination for me!

Overall, this is an excellent collection of intelligent and artistic rock songs.

progpositivity | 4/5 |


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