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Rush - Presto CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.17 | 895 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars A low 3.

From the first notes of "Show Don't Tell", it's obvious Rush are slowly returning to a more ballsy, tougher way of doing things, even if it's in baby steps, and even if they would never, ever be the band they were on, say, 'Permanent Waves'. But life is about change, and the 3 members of Rush always went with the flow of life, never looking back. You have to respect them for that. 'Presto' sees them coming up with a far stronger set of songs than its forgettable predecessor, 'Hold Your Fire'.

"Show Don't Tell" is full of vigor and life, with powerful vocals from Geddy Lee and some amazing dynamic interplay that reminds you just how special this band is. Second song "Chain Lightning" is so good that you might be tricked into thinking Rush had gotten all the crud out of their system for good. It starts innocently, upbeat with watery guitars, synthetic effects, slappy bass and a mild vocal approach. But the pre- chorus and chorus explode into one of Rush's brightest moments of the era. An airy, colorful, compelling chorus sticks in the head and moves the song along quickly, while Neil Peart plays nimbly and dynamic throughout. There are more moments of interest in this song than the whole of 'Hold Your Fire', as if Rush got hungry again. "The Pass" is next, which was resurrected for their live set years later, and for good reason. It's a poignant lyric and a moody piece of music.

This is where things get a little weak. "War Paint" is limp, nothing really outstanding or memorable about it, with a pop-happy chorus and even more sugary guitar solo. "Scars" is funky with an exotic tinge, a bit like "Mystic Rhythms" maybe, but showing The Police influence wasn't fully out of their system yet, the whole thing even closer to Duran Duran than anything. "Presto" is nice due to the use of acoustic guitar, which hadn't been used this much on a Rush album since 'A Farewell To Kings', but it's hardly worthy of that era's magic despite the relatively ambitious arrangement. "Superconductor" is one of the worst songs of their career, with chorus that's too stupid to believe. "Anagram" stirs the emotions, and the key changes are interesting, but it's still a bit overly happy and annoying. "Red Tide" is a strong bit of storytelling, playing upon hope and fear, renewal and paranoia, with some interesting dynamic shifts and excellent vocals. The final two songs couldn't be more different in quality: "Hand Over Fist" is awful, ultra-pastel pop that's incredibly hard to listen to...and "Available Light", which revolves around a beautiful chorus featuring some of Geddy's best vocals in years. An illuminating song that ends this uneven album on a high note.

Too bad the production on this album is soft and muted, flattening what sound like relatively energetic performances. It doesn't help an already so-so album. But there's enough to like here, and it's a small move in the right direction.

slipperman | 3/5 |


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