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Rush - Fly by Night CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.37 | 1298 ratings

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4 stars One of the most fortunate events in music history occured when original Rush drummer John Rutsey was replaced by Neil Peart. 'Fly By Night' was the first album to feature the classic Lee/Lifeson/Peart trio, and like many albums that were to come, it set a very high standard and played to the peak of the band's abilities at the time. 'Fly By Night' is a curious album, splitting time between the band's debut of simplistic hard rock and the progressive tendencies that would overflow on their successive output. It also splits the Rush fanbase, being as much loved/hated as an album like 'Roll The Bones'.

"Anthem" opens proceedings, and if their debut 'Rush' was heavy hard rock, "Anthem" is sublime heavy metal. Bombastic, theatric and iconoclastic, it propels forward with serious intent, tons of depth, and inspired vocals by Geddy. The reverbed accents give the song even more character, and it's clear that Peart is a player on par with his new bandmates. The special chemistry between the three musicians is very clear here, and they couldn't have picked a better song to open their second album. Too bad second song "Best I Can" takes things a few steps backwards. It's simple, framed on a typical boogie-rock figure, and though it would've worked fine on their first album, it drags down the momentum of the album's excellent beginning. "Beneath, Between & Behind" features some interesting chord patterns from Alex Lifeson, swirling percussion from Peart backing Lifeson's open-chord stylings, dissonance and exciting transitions. It's another song that moves Rush away from hard rock and into a more metallic area. And what can I say about "By-Tor & The Snow Dog" that hasn't been said a million times? This is an undeniable classic, an epic of early prog-metal, and easily the highlight of the album (kind of...I put "Anthem" right up there with it). The battle sequence is intensely visual...but we should keep in mind that it bears an uncanny likeness to Yes's "The Gates Of Delirium", which was released one full year before (on 'Relayer'), a band that Rush admitted to being influenced by at this time. But that knowledge doesn't lessen the impact of the mighty "By-Tor" one bit.

The second half continues the diversity of the first, but is overall a bit lighter. "Fly By Night" is a perrenial FM radio staple, simple and light-hearted, easy to get into and utterly enjoyable, though not a total classic. "Making Memories" is something I'm not always in the mood for, being an acoustic-driven, lilting springtime bounce. The lyrics are autobiographical and foreshadow the heights the band would scale in the coming years. "Rivendell" is a gentle ballad with a medieval feel, Geddy's fragile approach conveying Peart's lyrics well enough, but it seems merely a warm-up to the more effective ballads that would come ("Madrigal" and "Tears"). "In The End" is excellent. I love its slow build, and the crashing chords along with Geddy's wailing provide a huge ending to 'Fly By Night', a wonderful album that may not be as complex as those that were on the horizon, but as Rush's true starting point, it works plenty of magic.

slipperman | 4/5 |


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