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Rush - Fly By Night CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.36 | 1180 ratings

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3 stars Standing on the Runway Waiting to Take Off

Rush's second album shows a marked progression from the Led Zep clone style of their debut - the Rush sound is beginning to crystallise, most notably in Geddy's vocals.

The overall style of the music, with rare exceptions, is of progressive hard/heavy rock, but it drops valuable Brownie points in the Prog Rock score charts. The one song that redeems this entire album is the famous "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" mini-suite, which almost justifies the price tag - if you can pick it up cheaply.

Good Rocking Tonight

"Anthem" has many of the hallmarks of a Budgie track in the multiplicity of riffs and contrasting light/heavy sections with soaring, screeching vocals - although some sections still bear a sneaky resemblance to Led Zep. Peart, particularly, loses the groove all over the place, coming across as messy rather than loose in the groove.

The same could also be said about "Best I Can" - and "Beneath, Between and Behind" passes almost unnoticed in a rather bland heavy rock vein.

There is a kind of garage charm in the looseness of execution, and the overall feel of being unsure about what the band is trying to achieve, but this is reasonably balanced with the conviction in the delivery and the attention to detail in the structuring of the compositions.

The lyrics for these first three tracks underscore the Rock feeling of the music, as the first two songs are plainly in self-absorbed Rock territory, while the third is an interesting take on the fascination with the Dark and Middle ages that many Rock bands displayed; It's interesting simply because it bemoans man's planned desecration of the earth and worries that we may get our come-uppance - which is the theme of Necronomicon's "Tips Zum Selbstmord".

By-Tor and the Snow Prog

Everything becomes tighter and more dramatic for the "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" mini- suite, which despite the tightness in delivery and focus on riff-based segments, becomes the first and only Prog track proper on this album, each section following on smoothly from the last as a continued developement of a single musical idea. Rush even manage to inject a sense of humour into the overall drama, which goes through clearly identifiable characteristics as it sets out to convey the separate "movements";

The "Across the Styx" section is most striking, as tinkly bells lend an electric atmosphere to the sparse and expressive instrumentation, which demonstrates the versatility of the recharged Rush.

I'm tempted to Rush into an analysis of this piece - but who among Rush fans reads technical analysis of music?

A bit of a Hoot

"Fly By Night" has the harmony issues that were to plague many future Rush tracks, and is just another in the vein of the first 3 tracks - no new territory is explored here.

The next interesting track is the balladic "Rivendell", but the line "You feel there's something calling you, You're wanting to return To where the misty mountains rise and friendly fires burn" is a kind of giveaway to the inspiration behind this. Geddy's voice is somewhat precious here, which spoils the whole effect - but in itself it's a reasonable, simple song, as is the disappointing "In The End".

I find the last song disappointing, simply because I kind of expected a hard rock oriented album to go out with a bang rather than a whimper: Although the music picks up for the middle section, it returns to the light opening music, and is somewhat simple and samey in style overall.

Birds of a Feather

It's worth bigging up Budgie at this point - this band had already released 3 albums before Rush's debut, and both "Never Turn Your Back on a Friend" (1973) and "In For The Kill" (1974) should be compulsory acquisitions for fans of "Fly By Night" to lend a better context. The former contains "Breadfan" and the latter contains "Crash Course in Brain Surgery", both made famous when they were covered by Metallica.

Neither has anything as proggy as "By-Tor and the Snow Dog", but both the similarities and differences between these two power trios should automatically make fans of one band fans of the other - and Budgie don't get nearly as much press as they deserve - so check out "Budgie"(1971), "Squawk"(1972) and "Bandolier"(1975) while you're at it :o)

Of course, YMMV.

This Bird Has Flown

By way of summary, a good if patchy hard rock album that's not really metal and not really prog, apart from the one track - which is a bit of a masterpiece.

Certif1ed | 3/5 |


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