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Rush - Moving Pictures CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.39 | 2936 ratings

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5 stars In celebration of Rush's latest creation, "Clockwork Angels", I decided to pay a well-worn tribute to the band by revisiting, quite frankly, their greatest triumph.

Yes, I'll admit, 2112 is one of the greatest prog tracks ever to be conceived, and it's impossible to forget "A Farewell To Kings", "Permanent Waves" and "Hemispheres" (THE single most underrated prog album ever, by the way), but "Moving Pictures" cemented this Canadian trio as kings of the modern prog world at the dawn of the 1980's, where video games were beginning to melt children's minds, cars were getting square, dull and boring, and every single song in the 80's had cheesy synths and fake drums everywhere you looked. Yet, despite the downfall of the great 1970's, Rush rose above all to deliver this absolutely phenomenal piece of work.

It's surely no surprise for those who listen to classic rock radio stations, especially to the tri- state residents familiar with Q104.3, that "Tom Sawyer" is a common staple on the airwaves, to no surprise. Not only is it accessible to the average audience (and short enough for radio), but it's also catchy, which is odd considering the guitar solo section is in 7/8 time, a time signature completely foreign in the world of 70's, 80's, even today's pop music. Yet it was Rush's first statement on a great album that would amaze even the most timid of rock fans.

"Red Barchetta" may not be as much of a prog staple as "Sawyer", but it's still another fine example of Geddy's subtly, making himself heard without resorting to that frankly deafening falsetto of his. It's not a bad thing, but not something I'd want to listen to everyday. "Barchetta" also showcases Neil Pert's unique drumming style, mixing up the beat while still maintaining 4/4 time, sometimes tricking the listener into thinking the outfit changed time sigs (which they'd do a lot of, not in this particular track alone).

Of course, Pert's true talent's would be resolved in "YYZ", a song that nearly every aspiring drummer... in the world... as attempted to play, including yours truly. This is where the time signature, like various gourmet foods on the cutting board of Bobby Flay, is diced, minced, and blended into something unrecognizable, but something that's absolutely delicious. Yet, while many praise Pert as the god of modern rock drumming, many forget about the trading 4's between Pert and Geddy, and the frankly magnificent solo by Alex Lifeson, backed up by the smashing of glass bottles and a whip, apparently. While Geddy's wonderful voice is absent here, the track benefits from it, because if I could only present one song to a prog foreigner who wanted to know what real prog rock sounded like, I'd present that being with Rush's "YYZ", a truly complete example of what true prog rock is.

"Limelight" also begins in 7/8, then shifts to 6/8 during the second phrase part as well as the chorus, yet in my opinion, it doesn't sound very proggy. It's a very typical mainstream rock song, another staple on the Q, yet listen closely, and you can still hear Pert gently phasing in and out of time sigs with ease, another example of this band's mastery with a classic, and frankly crucial element of prog rock. Of course, another crucial fractor in Rush's music that is often overlooked is Alex Lifeson himself. He displays another great solo on this track, another solo that many overlook, but another one that helps the cause in placing him as one of prog rock's great guitarists.

"The Camera Eye" is this record's epic, beginning with a subtle, yet wonderful synth intro with Lifeson quietly adding some wonderful grace notes and chords in the background. Obviously, due to the length of the piece, it's not as popular or as well known as, say, "Limelight" or "Sawyer", but still another classic example of the constantly changing time sigs, the effortless transitions by Lee, Lifeson and Pert and the astonishing technical ability al three musicians show, without resorting to fanatical showing off and ludicrously blown- out-of-proportions solos.

"The Camera Eye" begins the second half of the disc, which is the lesser known side of Rush's music, and not too many familiar tunes on this side, but none of which should be ignored. Such tracks include "Witch Hunt", the third installment of the outfit's "Fear" suite, a grungy, foreboding song, resembling and image of heretics being sent to their deaths (hence the title). Lee expertly paints the scene, while his synths finish out the picture created by Lifeson's excellent guitar work.

"Vital Signs" closes out the epic record, opening with fanatical synth reverberations, and Lifeson overlaying a "Police-esque" chord every second or two. I'm not a fan of the synth snare for the first twenty seconds or so, but the track overall isn't bad. Obviously, it isn't as well known as the aforementioned "Sawyer" or "Limelight". While the former tracks expertly disguise hardcore progressive rock in catchy, radio-friendly tunes, this song fails to catch me with a poppy lyric or enlightening hook, but that's not technically a bad thing.

Because frankly, it's impossible to knock this album, really. While "2112" contained some fillers that could've been left without ("The Twilight Zone" sounded like it arrived from 5 years in the future where Geddy still shattered glass with his golden pipes every ten seconds, way ahead of it's time), this doesn't seem to have any. If there are any weak tracks on this disc (and every album you come across is going to have some), "Vital Signs" is easily the weakest link, "Barchetta" starts off too slowly for me and "The Camera Eye" seems to be a minute or two longer than I would've liked.

Obviously, this is a much different sound than their latest creation, but that is to be explored for a later time, as I snapped off some drumsticks air-drumming to "YYZ" again, damnit.

That's like the 17th time I've done that.

Wicket | 5/5 |


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