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Rush - Power Windows CD (album) cover

POWER WINDOWS

Rush

 

Heavy Prog

3.52 | 725 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Beastie!
5 stars Power Windows, the 11th studio album by Canadian prog-rock trio Rush, was released in 1985. It surpassed the high standards set by 1984's excellent Grace Under Pressure, both in songcraft and production values. The phasing in of keyboards and synthesized drums and guitar reached a zenith on this album and it's follow-up, Hold Your Fire (1987). Far from sounding cheesy, this album has a majestic and sweeping sound that contrasts brilliantly with the claustrophobic and moody atmosphere of its predecessor.

Geddy Lee proves himself to be an accomplished keyboardist-bassist-vocalist, Alex Lifeson's solos are better than ever before and Neil Peart, as ever, defies the norm with his thought-provoking lyrics, god-like drumming and short hair. Producer Peter Collins should not be overlooked. His contribution was easily as significant as the band members' were. Here is my overview of the eight glorious "soundscapes" on offer:

1) The Big Money: (10/10) The perfect opening track. Soaring synth and rapid-fire drumming accompany this lyrical critique of money and its destructive powers (POWER is this album's recurring lyrical theme). The instrumental section starting off with Alex's atmospheric guitar sound and some impressive percussion really make this a Rush classic.

2) Grand Designs: (10/10) A brooding look at triviality and the lack of substance in style. Alex's guitar reminds of Chic's Nile Rodgers (of all things!). Some might say the heavily synthesized chorus was ill-advised. I wouldn't, though.

3) Manhattan Project (10/10): An ironically positive-sounding observation on the state of nuclear science. Turn it up loud to hear that driving bass chord at the beginning! A very melodic verse leads into a memorable chorus underpinned by a glorious guitar motif. Then comes an orchestrated section that really succeeds in capturing the feeling of the Enola Gay as it flew "OUT OF THE SHOCKWAVE!" (don't you just love that part?). Alex's short solo is PHENOMONAL! What did you expect? Richie Sambora?

4) Marathon (10/10). The first really bass-driven song. A jittery bass-line in the verse and bridge leads into a supremely catchy chorus featuring a choir (probably a Mellotron eight-voice choir, though.)! Once again, Alex's solo, with it's out-of-this-world bends, is the highlight!

5) Territories (10/10): The least traditional Rush-sounding track, but by no means the weakest (a relative term where this album is concerned). Neil's lyrics even add some humour. Heavy on synth but all the better for it. Neil is the real star on this on, in both musical and lyrical "territories".

6) Middletown Dreams (9/10) It sure says a lot about this album when a track like this is considered the weakest! The tricky stop-start intro impresses, as does the (once again) catchy pre-chorus and chorus. I can just imagine fans of 70's Rush cringing when the synth-piano bit starts. I can also imagine them rotting away in their mother's basement listening to worn-out vinyl copies of 2112, too.

7) Emotion Detector (9/10). As with the previous track, this is weak compared to the rest, but still amazing. It features a great keyboard hook and impassioned chorus. Simply a great Rush track, period! Shame they've never performed it live...

8) Mystic Rhythms (10/10) A slow-paced epic with an apt title. Even the synth, which is commonly thought to be clinical and cold sounds emotional here. If you don't get chills when you hear that deep synth chord when Ged sings "or the African sun", you're practically bionic! As someone who lives in Africa, I can honestly say that these 3 Canucks have fully captured the rhythm and atmosphere of dark Mother Africa. And on a synth-driven 80's arena-prog album! Whaddayaknow?

So, to sum it up: this album is alarmingly melodic, intellectual, professional, emotional, (do forgive me) mystically rhythmic and vibrant. While I do believe that every Rush album has its place, from the kimono-sporting, bollock-clutching high vocals and ambitious concept of 2112 to the organic, synth-free metallic thunder of Vapor Trails, this is the album I will always consider their best. I don't think the band themselves realize just how good this album is.

In my opinion, this is a great starting point for potential new fans, as well as compulsory addition to existing collections.

Beastie! | 5/5 |

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