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RUSH

Rush

 

Heavy Prog

2.88 | 780 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Chicapah
Prog Reviewer
3 stars In my ongoing, better-late-than-never investigation of the prog phenomenon known as Rush I've finally gotten my mitts on a copy of their first outing and, relatively speaking, it ain't bad. Obviously, this is the album with the significant asterisk stuck next to it, indicating that their infamous and highly touted drummer Neil Peart had yet to join the trio and, therefore, expectations should be lowered accordingly. With few exceptions, a band's debut is rarely a stunner and this definitely won't stun anybody I know. Yet a record doesn't have to be mind-blowing to be categorized as impressive and this one assuredly is. For a trio of young musicians barely in their 20s and still mere neophytes in the recording studio environment they acclimated themselves admirably to the task at hand and learned quickly. What they lacked in experience they more than made up for in enthusiasm and naive confidence so it's no wonder this disc got them the attention they needed to be allowed to make another and better record a year later.

They open with the aggressive rocker, "Finding My Way." Alex Lifeson's supercharged guitar riff and bassist Geddy Lee's in-your-face vocal approach reveal their unbridled energy and the hard rock influences they were raised on. Even though it's their first LP one can tell they were a talented bunch and the fact that they didn't seem concerned about manufacturing the standard 3-minute long, Top 40 single established their credentials as being worthy of later competing in the progressive rock category. Considering that only a miniscule fraction of North American bands were brave enough to go in that frowned-upon direction they deserve our respect and gratitude no matter what you may think of their music. "Need Some Love" is next and it's a straight-forward rocker molded in the tradition of Deep Purple and Trapeze (not bad company to keep, really). In light of the legend who replaced him, John Rutsey does a damned decent job on the drums and is unquestionably on an equal footing with both Lifeson and Lee as demonstrated on "Take A Friend." In the track Alex in particular displays a bullish attack on his fretboard well beyond his tender years but the tune as a whole belies their still-developing, somewhat amateurish songwriting skills. "Here Again" follows and, while I admire their effort to do something different with the traditional blues/rock format, it's crystal clear that the genre wasn't going to be their forte. Special note must be paid to Lifeson, however, due to him making the most of his extended solo, summoning in the process his finest Jimmy Page-channeled techniques.

"What You're Doing" is a riff-based rocker with a strong James Gang flavor. Once again their musicianship isn't in doubt but on this number they lack a distinguishing spark of originality, something that will change in short order when Peart enters the picture. "In the Mood" is the nadir of the album. A machismo-filled rock & roll ditty, it sounds like any of a thousand other wannabe groups of the mid-70s era but for Geddy's inimitable vocal timbre. It may well have benefited from more cowbell. "Before and After" offers the first sign of a trait in their creativity that proggers would come to appreciate and delight in more and more. In the early going of the tune they show they weren't afraid to shine a light on the softer, more sensitive side of themselves by developing an airy, emotional mood instrumentally. It would've been much more engaging had they held on to that aura and expanded the initial feel but they chose to get "heavy" with it and it's at that juncture I lose interest in the number. I detect a whiff of Black Sabbath wafting around in "Working Man," proving their metal mettle in dramatic fashion but to my ears it's no more than an average "rawk" dirge. I do like how Alex tears it up properly during the instrumental section, playing with passion and fire and the colossal concert-styled ending was perfect for making a memorable grand exit when they went out to tour the record. They were wise to think ahead like that.

If you're a die-hard Rush fanatic then it makes sense to have this in your collection but if you aren't then it isn't essential. First albums are a curious breed, though. It never ceases to amaze me that a few kids with shared interests can find each other, put together a fledgling garage band and end up a worldwide sensation. The odds of that happening are astronomical, yet some of the greatest groups came together in just that serendipitous way. At some point, if they were lucky, they got an opportunity to go into the studio and tape some of their stuff but the vast majority never went beyond that stage. But when you listen to this album you can hear that these determined boys had something intangible going for them that most didn't have and it's always a remarkable thing to notice how some seeds take root and thrive while others that seemed similarly promising wither away. Kudos to Rush for making the most of their big chance. 2.7 stars.

Chicapah | 3/5 |

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