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Rush - Exit... Stage Left CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.04 | 592 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars A farewell to kings

Recorded and released at the very culmination of their classic period (just before they were overcome by the "spirit of radio" and drifted away from Prog with Signals) and primarily featuring songs from their four most highly regarded studio records (Moving Pictures, Permanent Waves, Hemispheres and A Farewell To Kings), Exit... Stage Left is a respectable live album. Still, I feel that it does not add enough to what was already on the studio albums for it to be a really essential release. The performances are strong and energetic and it indeed is a fun listen, but it does leave something to be desired in relation to the brilliant studio albums from the same period. The only song here from the pre-Prog era is Beneath, Between And Behind from 1975's Fly By Night and the only non-album selection is the short but nice acoustic instrumental Broon's Bane.

The most recent studio album at the time of this live recording, 1981's Moving Pictures, is represented here with three numbers, two of which are the most commercial tracks off that album: Tom Sawyer and Red Barchetta. 1980's Permanent Waves - which is my least favourite album from the classic era (1976- 1981) - is equally represented with three songs here, again two of which are the most commercial tracks off that album: The Spirit Of Radio and Freewill. 1978's Hemispheres - which is my #1 favourite Rush album of all time - is represented with two great songs, but there is nothing at all from the brilliant, side-long title-track which is that album's strongest part in my opinion. Two numbers are taken from 1977's A Farewell To Kings - both great songs, but one of them is again a non-progressive one. It is difficult to complain about a set list with so many good and classic songs, but I think there is a case to be made for the view that Rush was already favouring their more commercial side here on this live album and thus pointing towards their imminent future. Indeed, I would say (as I have in other reviews) that Rush had already slowly been drifting away from Prog ever since after their progressive peak on Hemispheres.

Don't get me wrong though, La Villa Strangiato, Xanadu, Jacob's Ladder and YYZ are all here representing the truly progressive side of Rush wonderfully. But it is arguable that while the band's first live album, All The World's A Stage, was recorded too early in their career, Exit... Stage Left came a little bit too late. Personally, I think that the perfect time for recording a live album would have been just after Hemispheres. Imagine, for example, a double live album with the respective title-tracks of both 2112 and Hemispheres as well as the bulk of A Farewell To Kings. That would have been something! As it stands though, Exit... Stage Left is a good live album and an excellent companion to All The World's A Stage. But I would still say that the studio albums from this era are enough for most people.

A good addition to any Prog collection that already holds the studio albums from which the bulk of the selections were taken, but hardly an essential release in its own right.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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