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Rush - All The World's A Stage CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.85 | 467 ratings

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4 stars A SOLID double-live album, one that demonstrates every good side of the earliest epoch of Rush and virtually none of the bad. The only complaints I can really muster for the album are that (a) the performances don't differ from the studio versions that greatly and that (b) being early Rush and all, much of the material still contains problems that I already may have mentioned in the studio album reviews. But otherwise, any negatives for the album are few and far between.

Certain things really jump out at the listener when partaking of this live album. First of all - the band focuses strongly on the RAWK aspect of their sound (which was their main strength of this period, after all), so much so that even the artsier periods are overwhelmed with massive headbanging. Second, related to the first, is that Alex Lifeson has a chance to break free of whatever shackles he may have had in the studio (there weren't many at this point, but you get the message) and break free he does. The rendition of "By-tor" here destroys its studio version, if only because of the efforts of Lifeson. In addition to all sorts of cool ultra-fast solos, he also pulls out guitar sounds that I can only compare to those by David Gilmour on the Ummagumma live album (in particular, listen to "Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun"). That's a big big compliment, if you don't know it already (that live album, no kidding, was what got me firmly into Pink Floyd).

Lifeson also gets the chance to rescue "2112" - not only is it about 25% shorter (less atmospheric wank! yay!), but the jamming in every part becomes at least SOMEWHAT entertaining this time around (as opposed to before, when "Overture" and "Temple of Syrinx" were all I liked of it). The lyrics still make me cringe, but whatever - that's a problem with the original, not this version. At least this time the ending parts that are supposed to make me bang my head actually do so.

Elsewhere, the album is pretty much what you'd expect. The bitchin' kickoff rockers of Night and Steel get the album off to a great start, with this version of "Anthem" even managing to exceed the original. Geddy's screaming is even more convincing, Lifeson's solos are more blazing, the sound blows out your speakers if you're not careful ... just beautiful. Anyhow, the rest is all good, if not "jaw-dropping." The most refreshing thing is that the album contains four numbers from the band's debut - on the one hand, I'm not exactly a huge fan of the debut, due to its massively derivative nature, but on the other hand, it's good to see that the band hadn't yet decided it was too good for its non- artsy roots. Call it an issue of psychological appeasement, if you will. And beside, "Finding My Way" and "Working Man" were the two best songs there, while both "In the Mood" and "What You're Doing" are just fine and dandy. Come to think of it, this album has all of the songs from that album that I liked, so maybe you should skip that one and get this.

Elsewhere, ya got yer "Fly by Night," ya got yer "In the End," ya got yer "Something for Nothing" and ya got yer "Lakeside Park." All standard, yet all good. Point is, if you have an interest in the earliest incarnation of the band but don't feel like wading through all the filler, this is as good a place to start as you're going to find. And hey, even if you're an experienced fan, the energy by itself makes it all worth it.

tarkus1980 | 4/5 |


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