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Rush - Power Windows CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.53 | 804 ratings

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2 stars I've listened to this album 20-30 times. That's a little over once a year for the past 20 years. Considering it's one of my least favorite albums by one of my very favorite bands, I believe I have enough experience with it to confidently give it a low rating. 'Power Windows' is Rush's coldest album. It is terribly mechanical, engulfed in the digital technology of the day. I hear sounds all over this album that remind more of Duran Duran, The Fixx, Ultravox and Modern English than Rush. Indeed, not only is the production totally of its era, but the writing and playing veers into that new- wave/new-romantic/pop/MTV thing that was, next to heavy metal, the sound of the day (1985). Fair enough, because I recognize that all true artists evolve, but I never thought Rush sounded quite right in this guise.

As a production piece, 'Power Windows' is amazing. Peter Collins and the band definitely captured the atmosphere that the songwriting calls for. Whether or not you like their chosen style at this point, there's no doubting the quality of the recording itself. But I still hear a weak album filled with weak songs; not even the performances of the insanely talented members pull it through. Geddy Lee's voice veers into a disturbingly complacent, bland area that took him years to grow out of. Neil Peart's continued use of electronic drums sucks a lot of life out of his performance. And poor Alex Lifeson, once again drowned out by an enormous bank of digital synths and electronic drums. When he does rear his head, it's usually in washes of pastel chords, all brittle and thin.

Many of the songs seem interchangeable, many sounding alike. That fact that I've listened to this well over 20 times and still can't recall anything of "Grand Designs", "Middletown Dreams" or "Emotion Detector" is telling. But there are two moments of magic here. "Marathon" is gifted with a chorus of profound emotional weight, musically and vocally. Despite Geddy's white-funk bass slappin' and poppin', the rest of the song supports the grand chorus well enough. And final track "Mystic Rhythms" has enough brooding atmosphere in its exotic character to pull it through. A dramatic, engaging ending to a sadly unengaging album. Both of these songs would've fit well on 'Grace Under Pressure'. More of their kind is sorely needed here, as I find the rest of it flat, chilly and uninspiring.

slipperman | 2/5 |


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