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5 stars Well, what can I say.. Maybe as good as "A Show of Hands", but still completely different.. This is the last "classic" Rush album, after this, the synthesizer took over much of their sound.. Great album anyway! Good: "Jacob's Ladder", "Xanadu", "Frewill" Bad: Overproduced album
Report this review (#20752)
Posted Friday, December 26, 2003 | Review Permalink
3 stars The thing about this album is, the band has admitted to major doctoring and overdubbing on this "live" document. That said, as far as live albums go, this is 1 of the last of the great ones (let's face it, live albums were a peculiarly 1970's sort of thing). And it's got "Beneath, Between Behind! " And "Jacob's Ladder!" And hearing the crowd cheer after the solo in "Freewill" sends chills up my spine. In fact, I'm bumping this from 2 stars to 3. (Note to newbies, "Broon's Bane" is just some introductory guitar fluff, not an exclusive track, which is what I thought when I bought this years ago.)
Report this review (#20747)
Posted Sunday, January 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars I've never liked this one as much as my fellow Rush fans, the production always left me cold. I would just as soon hear the studio versions. I much prefer the real live feel of All The World's A Stage, plus ATWAS was my first Rush album.
Report this review (#20748)
Posted Friday, January 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars You can still hear me yelling , cheering and partying on this one . What a real sense of pride hearing those far-away Glaswegian fans yelling out the lyrics of closer to the heart - spine-tingling for the first hour fan who sensed that Rush would close another chapter after this live album . In came the Videos , MTV and shorter songs of Signals . Although the change was under way long ago, the band kept on honouring the classic stuff (Xanadu, Strangiato, etc...), we just feared what lay ahead.
Report this review (#20749)
Posted Tuesday, February 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars "This is the Spirit of the Radio...." That phrase opens a magnificent album. To all who don't know Rush and want to start somewhere, this is a wise place. Try to get the reedition of the album, because you have A Passage to Bangkok on it. THIS IS one example of a good song, even better in concert. The best about this album is that you have a bit here and there of every album. The sleeve is so gorgeous, and there's even a little game you can play with. As a canadian, I know my Rush. And this live album, is by far their best from the best era. You simply cannot go wrong, because the playlist is a total killer with no filler.
Report this review (#20750)
Posted Friday, March 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'm far from reviewing concert albums , but i've got something to say about what others write in their reviews of Hemispheres album. In my opinion that album is one of the most overrated prog albums ever. On this concert lp we have La Villa Strangiato which is the WORST composition of the band. I'm the major Rush fan , it's my favorite band of all times but Hemispheres is something like B-sides of what was left from A Farewell To Kings session (btw i love that album). Returning to this concert, where's Natural Science? where's Limelight (my favorite Rush song)...anyway we have here great version of Xanadu (played little bit slower) , we have also great parts like Spirit of Radio, Red Barchetta, Jacob's Ladder, Freewill and Tom Sawyer. This live compilation is just good, band plays with precision what's the norm when we talk about Rush, but i prefer the next live album from the band, Show of Hands. Buy this and Listen to the greatest band ever.
Report this review (#20751)
Posted Friday, March 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars As I have said before, all the live Rush albums are good, but this one is probably, overall, the weakest one. The recording is not so good as on the others, it is quieter and seems to lack something, especially at the beginning. Nevertheless, there is some good stuff here. Red Barchetta, Beneath, Between and Behind, Jacob's Ladder, Xanadu, Freewill, and, of course, La Villa Strangiato are all played superbly, with feeling, and technique of the highest calibre. Probably my fave of all would be La Villa. Alex shows off his prowess here in fine style. Recommended, but not their best.
Report this review (#20737)
Posted Friday, March 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After the "Moving Picture" album, RUSH made this live album. The tracks mostly come from the "Moving Pictures", "Permanent Waves", "Hemispheres" and "Farewell to Kings" albums. The Rickenbacker bass is VERY loud, full of bottom and has a more than usual superamplified vibrating spring sound. Peart's drums are excellent, as usual: on YYZ, he plays an OUTSTANDING solo! Lifeson's electric guitar is however not as shiny and clean as on the studio albums: his rythmic sound is sometimes almost killed by the extremely loud bass, and sometimes his higher notes are almost inaudible, like on "Villa Strangiato". The recording is not very good, also because the sound is not crystal clear at all, even sounding flat, a bit coarse: the keyboards are sometimes hard to distinguish, like on the "Tom Sawyer" song. There is no doubt about the great power of the sound and the unforgettable live atmosphere involved: that's the real strong point of this record. It takes a huge sound system to correctly manage such a powerful & heavy sound. The better your system, the better you will appreciate this live performance.

My rating: 4.4/5

Report this review (#20758)
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I've been an avid Rush fan for as long as I can remember, and Exit.Stage Left was probably the 2nd or 3rd Rush LP that I bought back in the early eighties. I personally feel that this album is unquestionably both a luminous live production and a thought provoking time capsule - for this LP is truly reminiscent of Rush at their absolute finest.

I may well get my hand smacked for this? But I am going to take this opportunity to plug my website. My website is dedicated to the Rush phenomenon ( and I would appreciate any feedback that you may have to offer.

" Let the music take you away..."

Report this review (#20753)
Posted Monday, May 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Knit, knit, knit, knit, purl. RUSH followed the pattern begun with "All The World's A Stage": four studio albums followed by a live double album to recap the whole period. But what a difference four albums can make when they're called Farewell To Kings, "Hemispheres", "Permanent Waves" and "Moving Pictures". Exit. Stage Left captures the band at the height of their popularity, and arguably at the height of their technical skills. It also marks the end of an era, as RUSH shifted toward more synthetic music on subsequent albums; the fiery guitar work of ALEX LIFESON, NEIL PEART's bells, blocks and tiny toms, and GEDDY LEE's warm vocals would grow noticeably colder by the time A Show of Hands appeared. As a last hurrah for the band's "classic" period, you couldn't ask for more. The drum solo on "YYZ", a guitar introduction that morphs gracefully into "The Trees", the crowd participation for "Closer to the Heart", these arguably outclass the original album versions. Although the band throws in a few early nuggets ("Beneath, Between And Behind", "A Passage To Bangkok"), they avoid duplicating anything from "All The World's A Stage". The real winners here are the album tracks like "Jacob's Ladder", "YYZ", "La Villa Strangiato" and "Xanadu." In these cases (and especially on "The Trees"), the band has no trouble shaking the original genie out of the bottle and making it dance.

Because the band didn't release a widely available greatest hits compilation until 1990's Chronicles, their live albums often functioned as abbreviated entrees into their catalog. I wouldn't have any trouble recommending "Exit... Stage Left" as the best of the live albums (given the works it covers), and thus a good way to get acquainted with the band or get re-acquainted with their best music in a single sitting. There are very few live albums I listen to, and enjoy, as much as this.

Report this review (#20744)
Posted Monday, May 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars If somebody asked me how to describe a power trio, I would answer that is a group of three lunatics making the job of five or six normal musicians. That's why I believe being part of a band like Rush is a hard task, especially when they have to be on stage. In a studio album is not so hard even for a single man to play all the instruments, but when a you see Geddy Lee playing bass, keyboards and singing almost simultaneously, there's when you know his real value, and believe me he deserves a lot of credit.

Every time I have the chance to listen "Exit...Stage, Left", can't understand how in hell they manage to sound even more powerful than in studio recordings, seems almost as if Lee, Peart and Lifeson are able to canalize the audience energy and multiply themselves to do an outstanding performance.

This album proves that Rush is not a common Art Rock band is much more, blends symphonic, metal and even classical progressive with extreme skills. Even though is not my favorite style, I must recognize they are a solid band that bases their success in a combination of skills, energy and hard work.

"Spirit of Radio" opens the album with a fast intro where the three members show what they are capable of, and Geddy's voice completes the scene, the percussion by master Neil Peart is simply amazing, a track that doesn't leave a second to breathe, simply frantic.

If you believe "Spirit of Radio" is strong, you have to listen this version of "Red Barchetta" with an impeccable bass carrying the weight of the song, Neil Peart and Alex Lifeson have the chance to do their job with the confidence that everything sounds alright, the drumming is simply outstanding again a breathtaking track.

"YYZ" is a more rhythmic track somehow reminds me of ELP and King Crimson, especially for the complex introduction. Who ever said Alex Lifeson is not in the level of the other two members, must listen this track and eat his words, he's absolutely perfect. This already makes a good track, but if you add Neil's drum solo, then we are before something special; this guy must have three hands!!! The keyboards at the end of the track create a perfect atmosphere, one of the album's higher points.

"Closer to the Heart" has always been one of my favorite Rush songs, has everything, starts soft with great vocals by Geddy and chorus by the audience the effect is spectacular, the bells by Neil Peart announces a future explosion and the track suddenly changes into a more violent and aggressive even when keeps the soft mood of the start intact. Wonderful track.

"Beneath, Between and Behind" is one of the weakest tracks or maybe it's played in a bad opportunity, at this point of the concert sounds as more of the same, a change is needed, and the change comes in the next track "Jacob's Ladder" which starts with a beautiful and calmed guitar solo while a low voice announces the name of the song. Darker and more mysterious than all the previous prepares the audience for another explosion that never fully develops, a sensual electric guitar section by Alex that merges with Geddy's keyboard which take the lead, makes of this song an unforgettable track that changes the mood of the concert into less Rock & Roll and more progressive, 8:15 minutes of pure Progressive Rock.

When you listen the incredibly beautiful acoustic guitar you know it's time for "Broons Bane", Alex in the pure style of Steve Howe works an introduction for the fantastic "The Trees" that slowly melts with Geddy singing in an unusual (for him) lower tone which later changes to a higher level. I must repeat what I said before the concert is more progressive as the minutes pass, abrupt changes, solid drumming, imaginative lyrics, outstanding bass, everything is in its place.

The introduction of "Xanadu" reminds me of Yes specially Close to the Edge, of course the keyboards are not baroque as Wakeman's but the atmosphere is somehow similar even when more spacey, again a burst of energy announced by Neil's percussion and when you believe they will never explode, Alex shows the way, but it's somehow controlled. A 12 minutes epic also very progressive oriented with constant changes in speed and mood, a very atmospheric track. At the end again that Close to the Edge inspiration is clear.

"Freewill" sounds boring at this point, not for the song itself but again because the moment is not the correct, in the first half of the concert would have been ok but here it's again more of the same.

There's no Rush concert without "Tom Sawyer" the mysterious keyboards of this tune are a trademark and a tradition, IMHO not the best of their songs, but it's like Yes and Roundabout or ELP and Lucky Man, not their best stuff but there's no real concert without them.

The album ends with "La Villa Strangiato" a very atmospheric start that goes in crescendo until a point when they reach a controlled aggressiveness, based in guitar work; the perfect closer for a great album.

I used to believe "Exit...Left Stage" was their best live album until "Rush in Rio" was released, but still is an essential recording by the Canadian trio that has a place in every decent musical collection.

I was tempted to give 5 stars but I'll probably reserve that rating for Rush in Rio or one, maybe two of the spectacular studio albums.

Report this review (#20754)
Posted Thursday, June 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This stunning live represented the conclusion of their "progressive phase", concerning the present legendary Canadian Band, resumed in fine albums like "Farewell to Kings" ("Xanadu" is magically performed here), "Hemisphere" (listen to the present live version of "La Villa Strangiato") and partially abandoned inside the 80's album "Permanent Waves" (however a couple of progressive tracks within this latter are well represented by "Jacob's Ladder" and "Freewill"), which is a great testament for Rush!!

I don't get crazy for the drum solo by Peart here, despite of recognizing his grandeur (even though usually I prefer the approach of drummers such as for instance Terry Bozzio) and the choice of one track only-"Beneath, Between and Behind", very short , taken from the past, let me be a bit perplex...but anyway all the other songs -including "The trees"- are very well performed!! The harmonic solutions gain such a splendour in their synchronized live execution and I think that's enough!!


Report this review (#20755)
Posted Friday, July 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Well here is another one of those live album from this era that delivered at the highest level. Granted it was now the early 80's but Exit-- Stage Left really smacked from the first song onwards. ' Xanadu' especially sounds awesome. It is hard to single out other songs because as a entity this live album delivered excellent results.Highly recommended.Four and a half stars to be precise.
Report this review (#20756)
Posted Tuesday, September 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars This, to me anyway, sounds like an over-compensation for the rough and ready "All the worlds a Stage". To give a live album any value it must add something performance or arrangement wise to its studio counterparts and this is where "Exit..." loses stars for me. This probably represents where Rush and Terry Brown were at the time striving for technical perfection in all areas, whereas i feel this is fine in the studio this is where it should end. Also the bass is mixed far too loud, almost to the detriment of the guitar parts, if you've ever heard the video version of this album (Geddy being executive producer) this an even worse example, which hints at egocentricity. On the plus side, a poorly produced Rush album is still top drawer amongst rock's elite, purely because of the material. If you want to experience Rush live any one of their other live albums is a better bet than this unless you want to study every bass note down to the last 32nd note. I don't listen to this album anymore, its just like playing inferior studio versions.
Report this review (#20735)
Posted Thursday, September 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is an energetic live album. Previous reviewers wrote that this album doesn`t have a good recording. I agree with them. But it still has very good live versions. Me, being a drummer, I enjoy very much listening to Neil Peart`s playing. I listened to this album for the first time in 1983. It was (and it is) for me really an "exercise for learning" trying to play the drums along with this album and others by other bands. I can say that I learned some "tricks" listening to Peart. My favourite songs from this album are:"Spirit of Radio", "YYZ", "Jacob`s Ladder", "The Trees", "Xanadu" (with one of the most difficult drums and percussion parts), "Free Will" (great lead guitar!) and "Tom Sawyer" (the heaviest of all). I think that it should have been very difficult to play live with sequencers, as they are programmed synthesizers. Rush did it. They sound "precise", even if the rhythms are constantly changing. Maybe the rhythm is the same, but Peart never plays it in the same way, even if they repeat sections of the same song.So, this gives the songs more variety ("Red Barchetta", for example). Geddy Lee also plays some rhythm guitar in some songs ("A Passage to Bangkok", "Jacob`s Ladder","Xanadu" ), and also plays some synthesizers live ("YYZ", "Tom Sawyer", as I have seen in the "The Grace Under Pressure Tour" video). A very good live album.
Report this review (#20746)
Posted Thursday, December 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This live album provides you with the best Rush songs played with all the live energy and perfection that you can dream of. If you are a beginner to Rush, this is definately the place to start! But even if you have all the albums I believe you need this one - there are namely lots of material you won't elsewhere, like the beautiful solo guitar peace "Broon's Bane" and the renowned drum solo on YYZ.
Report this review (#20759)
Posted Friday, February 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is by no means anything like earlier classic multi-album live sets, ALLMAN BROS."Fillmore East", THE BAND"S "Rock Of Ages" or YES'S "Yessongs", mainly due to the lack of improv and song extensions, but it still captures RUSH at the peak of their powers with gusto. I bought this album about 6 mos. after seeing them for the first time on this same tour in '81 and was pretty wowed by them. As I stated before in my "Permanent Waves" review, I pretty much ignored Rush through the 70s listening to fusion mostly. But after Waves and Pictures came out, I just had to see these guys and it was well worth it. I was really impressed on just how full their sound was for 3 guys. Not since CREAM has there been such a dynamic power trio of this caliber. Sound could be a little better on this disc, but's still a real kicker. Enough said. Recommended.
Report this review (#20764)
Posted Sunday, April 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Despite all the great tracks on this Rush album ,the basic fact is this is a very mediocre live album,and i would not recomend it to anyone listening to Rush for the first time.The recording itself is one of the worst ,balanced and engineered live albums i have ever heard ,the entire, (sound) range is so wide .That to listen to this recording you are always having to play with volume controls to hear it properly,its either to loud or to quite.When this recording was released on vinyl the packaging of this album was totally dreary,you open up the album expecting photographs and info ,nothing, one side was blank space the other side ,3 pictures of the guys each the size of a (Toenail). A totally overated live recording for only hard core Rush fans only.
Report this review (#20765)
Posted Monday, May 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
5 stars This is one of the best rock albums of all time, on the level of "Made In Japan" from Deep Purple, "Live '73" from Uriah Heep and "Yessongs" from Yes. All compositions sound powerful and inspired and contain the extra exciting elements that are so vital on live- albums. The choice of the tracking-list is perfect, the song "Broon's Bane" is a pleasant surprise and the renditions of "Xanadu" (what a build-up and grand finale!) and "La Villa Stragiato (electric flamenco!) evokes goose bumps every time I hear this wonderful and compelling composition. Although later live-records delivered a better sound, this live- album remains my favorite one. Indeed, a matter of taste, nothing more or less because you can fill many pages on Prog Archives with other opinions!
Report this review (#20766)
Posted Monday, May 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I'm usually very fond of live albums, and therefore it's not a surprise that I'm very keen on this live album of RUSH too. The song list is good, and the versions are interesting to listen. I like and appreciate RUSH as a band very much, but I don't listen to their records very often anymore. But I still sometimes return to this classic, either as an old vinyl or the concert film (with little different tracks and takes). My favorite highlights on this album are the medleys of LP-side two (Closer to The Heart - Beneath, Between & Behind), and the one on side three (Broon's Bane - The Trees - Xanadu). It's unbelievable, how big sound wall the band manages to create with Peart's huge drum set, both guitars and both pedal and keyboard synthesizers! Geddy is truly an ultimate multi-instrumentalist.
Report this review (#36416)
Posted Monday, June 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is one of Rush's best live albums. For one reason, it has Red Barchetta live. Well, that and many others to boot, like Xanadu, and La Villa. I absoltly loved this version of Xanadu, the carry over from The Trees is impecable. Rush is simply amazing here. Red Barchetta and YYZ also stood out for me, all reminding me of the R:30 concert which was unreal, to say the least. This album gives me a direct flashback to that concert, becuase it has some of Rush's best songs all live on this one album.
Report this review (#37107)
Posted Monday, June 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is Rush at the top of their live form. After Permanent Waves, they discussed whether they wanted to record a live album, but they decided to make another studio album, which became Moving Pictures. This album is from that tour, and it is superb. The bass by Lee is superb, the guitar by Lifeson is precise and his tones are perfect, and the drums by Peart are out of this world. Ever since the first time I listened to this album, I was hooked. Instead of going through all of the tracks, I'll talk about my favorites.

The opener, The Spirit of Radio, is good, but nothing different from the studio. The next song, Red Barchetta, is superb. The video version off this song (from the same concert) is out of this world. Lifeson's guitar sound is superb, it's delicate yet has a rough edge. The bass tone is also superb, and Geddy's voice is great to hear. The next song worth mentioning is A Passage to Bangkok. The cowbell fills that Neil Peart adds are a welcome addition, and the guitar tone is a lot rougher than the one on the studio album, superb. Jacob's Ladder begins with a 1950's rock intro (Going from C, to A minor, to F, To G7), and is played superbly. The complexity of the song is no big deal for the band, who rip through it with ease. Broon's Bane is Lifeson's guitar ditty before the Trees, and it is very cool to listen to. Xanadu is also very nice, with an awesome extended introduction. The finale La Villa Strangiato, is very much like the studio version, except that the classical guitar intro is now played on a distorted electric, and it sounds awesome. The solo that Lifeson gives is also different from the studio, and it is one of the best he's ever done. Neil Peart's drumming is also top-notch, this being his best performance IMO.

Overall, this is a very good album showing the best of what Rush had to offer from 2112 to Moving Pictures. A great live album. 4.5/5.

Report this review (#37310)
Posted Thursday, June 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars A Masterpiece. The best example how a band shows its virtuosity and power in a live show. La Villa Strangiato becomes the highest point in the concert. Coordination between the musicians cannot be better in this song with an excellent Lifeson demonstrating that the band is supported by three similar strong columns.

YYZ drum solo shows a mature Neil Peart playing percussion as if any other instrument like Piano o guitar.

Geddy Lee plays his l bass guitar as a magician, getting inspired in Red Barchetta or YYZ.

The whole record is a total power injection for those who expect energy, good music and pure progressive rock.

Finally, Broon's Bane, a little Jewel.

Report this review (#42662)
Posted Friday, August 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars Rotten,tedious live album of some classic rush material.Truely stay with the original studio material,because all of this is just a run through and does zero justice to some of these great tracks.The recording and production is woeful and sounds likes its recorded 60 rows back from the front stage,its one of the most pathetic live albums in prog rock history and basically should never have been released.

None of these tracks come within a lions roar of the original studio recordings,and should be totally avoided except for the diehard Rush fan,people who are discovering Rush for the first time dont even think about it,(start with permanent waves).

Report this review (#46206)
Posted Saturday, September 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I love live album especially from great bands like Rush. When this album came out, I purchased the cassette version and I remember how this cassette has experienced a serious suffering as I played this album over and over. Bad news at that time this album was released when punk rock swept the music industry. Good news was that the rock fans in my country did make clear distinction about those who love seventies music and those who love new wave / punk rock - in terms of albums they purchased for their collection. The classic rockers (the 70s rock fans) hardly could deny the strong and heavy winds of new wave & punk because they took the market by the storm through rigorous air time on the radio. Songs like "Don't You Want Me" from B 52's or "Fred Astaire" by Mo or "Looking for Clues" by Robert Palmer were gaining air time than normal rock music. So, those who loved classic rock created their own small community to restore the power of older bands like Rush, Jethro Tull, Zepp, Sabbath, Deep Purple or Genesis. I remember vividly that one tribute band in Jakarta created their band name in anecdote as the band was called Punk Modern Band. And you know what they played? The did perform RUSH repertoires!!! Yeah . they played "Tom Sawyer" and other Rush's songs excellently. The tribute band helped save the name of Rush eventually .. So, with this background, you get the picture how it was like (in my country) when this album was released.

Spinning this CD will cause you a bit of trouble: you can't stop it in the middle! The stream of energies demonstrated to the music delivered by three talented musicians: Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee and Neal Peart are really excellent! Not only the music that flows beautifully, the live vibes are there steadily throughout the live set! With a hard edge guitar work followed with inventive drumming as intro of "Spirit of The radio" produce uplifting lyrics: "Begin the day with a friendly voice .!" wow man .. what an energetic opening. It flows excellently to "Red Barchetta" (6:48), continued with one of the best rock instrumental song: "YYZ" (7:44) .

The music gives a break to a slower tempo opening of "Closer to the Heart" followed with a rocking style and stunning guitar solo. It continues with "Beneath, Between and Behind" (2:34) which has a nice guitar opening part. "Jacobs Ladder" (8:47) - "Broon's Bane" (1:37) and "The Trees" (4:50) give another silence nuance through a slow to medium tempo music. "Tom Sawyer" (5:01) is a great hit and is performed wonderfully here. My all-time favorite is the last track "La Villa Strangiato" (9:38) which has a difference style with the opening guitar work where this version starts with an electric guitar instead of acoustic one as performed in studio album.

Overall, it's a highly recommended live album. Keep on proggin' ..!

Report this review (#49961)
Posted Tuesday, October 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Before I heard this album, the only other Rush albums I heard were Moving Pictures and Signals. After hearing the tracks on this album, I had to go and buy all their old albums. This really is like a "classic hits" live album.

I prefer some of these live song versions over the studio versions: - A Passage to Bankok. I like the "chinese" riff better on this version. - Beneath, Between and Behind. This seems more energetic and exciting. - Jacob's Ladder. It sounds more majestic to me. - Xanadu. The volume swell intro part sounds more "spacey" and relaxed than the original. I like the vocal phrasing better. - Freewill. The bass intro before the solo is more active and flows better. - La Villa Strangiato. I think it has a better, longer solo and has added "vocals".

My favorite section of the album is the Broon's Bane/The Trees/Xanadu section. It starts out with the beautiful solo classical guitar piece Broon's Bane and then goes into The Trees. The end of The Trees fades into the spacey, trippy, atmospheric Xanadu intro.

I don't think the Moving Pictures material is on par with the studio originals.

Originally I thought the sound quality of this album was great, especially compared to the very raw sound of their prior live album: All the World's a Stage. But these days, I think it sounds a little muffled, and perhaps a little bit too polished. I think their "Different Stages" live album has a nice balance between rawness and polish.

This is one of my all-time favorite albums. A "desert-island" album if you like.

Report this review (#69263)
Posted Monday, February 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album has a more polished sound than "ATWAS", but I think I like it just as much as that one simply because the trio stretches out some more. Here, they jam out on LA VILLA STRANGIATO (with Broon's Bane being a great opener to it), and lash out with a full-on version of CLOSER TO THE HEART (oddly, much better here than the next 3 times it was aired, probably because it wasn't done ad nauseum.) All in all, a great record, and the last time, oddly enough, you could hear such a warm sounds coming from the trio. Later live recordings would be cold and distant (until Rush In Rio), so, if you want something warm and vibrant in the live area, pick this up and prepare to have youur butt kicked.
Report this review (#71458)
Posted Wednesday, March 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Nice live album from Rush, powerful and raw are the words to describe it. The production is very good and I can also hear more the bass!!

Starts with the hipnotic guitar intro of "Spirit of Radio", followed by "Red Barchetta", which has bombastic bass. The best moment of the recording is the super - instrumental "YYZ", with that bass solos that make me, as a bassist, feel proud of the instrument. Also here, in difference of the studio version, "YYZ" has an excellent drum solo in the middle of the song. And here I realised that Mike Portnoy takes that forious solos from Neil Peart, and also the style of drumming (well, don't forget there is an obvious influence of drum master John Bonham). "Closer to the Heart" features a choir that goes well with the song. The classical "Broon's Bane" with that nice acoustic guitar, goes very good as an "introduction" to "The Trees". Another big moment with the experimental "Xanadu", with that Wakeman style synthesizers. The album closes with the other bombastic and raw instrumental, "La Villa Strangiato", which starts with a "flamenco" guitar solo.

Overall, it's a good live album.

Rating: 3.9/5 stars.

Report this review (#71687)
Posted Saturday, March 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It is a very special album for me, for one simple reason, and im going to be honest with you, 3 years ago i used to dislike Rush, a couple of friends of mine were so excited with Rush, i simply didnt understand why, i dont like it at all, but suddenly, i listened to Exit.. Stage Left, a song with nice bass lines caught my attention, it was YYZ, but it only caught my attention for some minutes and i said, well, that sounds great. Then a second chance, again that powerful song with nice bass lines, but i wasnt really interested in the whole album and in the band. After all i think i listened to it at least 5 times and nothing changed, but mysteriously i put it in my CD Walkman, i listened to it more carefully than the other times and i said, wow!, what the hell was i thinking?, i immediately started to lear to play YYZ in my bass.

Is rare that a live album has caught my attention first than a studio , but with Rush it was the way ,so i listened to it more and more times, until now that i love it and im thankful with it , because it openned the door for my Rush`love, now i cant live without it and without Hemispheres and without A Farewell to Kings.

This is a great album, Spirit of the Radio is a nice song with great guitar and powerful drums, in fact all the albm has powerful drums, we know Neil Peart`s superbly, Red Barchetta is a nice song, not the best but good to hear it , then YYZ, what a great song, i love the most this version than in Moving Pictures, here in the middle of the song is a great drums solo, but i love Geddys bass playing, he is a monster, he has a particular way to play bass and it sound great, there are so many great bass lines, and also he is the singer, i was amazed with that, because he can play bass and sing at the same time very well, also he plays mini moog, wow! but returning, to YYZ, what a great song, and Alex Lifeson has too an incredible guitar sound, more hard edged.

Closer to the Heart is maybe the poppish song, is that song that everybody wnats to sing, and its good why not, i think in this concert they made an excellent track list, all the songs are in the best place, Jacobs Ladder is another excellent song, one of the best points of this concert i think, i like it so much because its softer and with a calmed guitar sound , but suddenly a great and powerful sound. And then, another great but great song is Xanadu, i get excited every time i listen to it, it has a beautiful calmed and atmospherical introduction that makes your skin colder, then Lifeson`s guitar preparing us to the exquisite sound and great time and tempo changes in this song, it is maybe the highest moment of the album.

But thats not the end, Freewill and Tom Sawyer were played too, a couple of popular and nice songs, after that, the last track, that incredible masterpiece called "La Villa Strangiato", what a truly masterpiece, actually that is my favorite song of Rush, in this case i love the most stiduo version in Hemispheres, because here the intro is not with gacoustic guitar, is with a powerful electric guitar, it sounds good but i prefer the other intro, anyway , the performance of this song is awesome, maybe the proggiest of the songs in this album, with so many changes and not only changes, but what a genial changes, the perfect song to ends this great album, now that i like Rush, i would prefered instead of Freewill maybe Limelight or The Camera Eye, and why not excerpts of 2112, and for this reason i think this album doesnt deserves to be a 5 star album, i love it and i highly recommend it to you.


Report this review (#75872)
Posted Saturday, April 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is my favorite Rush live album in all time, and my only complaint is: why can't we have a good re-release of "Exit... Stage Left" with a full disc of bonus tracks? I would like to listen a full Rush concert recorded in 1981, since we have a full 2002 concert in "Rush in Rio". I know that are some bootlegs recorded at this tour, but never had a chance to listen to any of it, so I must insist: please release "Exit..." as a 2CD now! This album is perfect from its beggining to its end, making it one of the greatest live albums of all time. "Spirit of the Radio", "Red Barchetta", "Xanadu", "La Villa Strangiatto" and "Tom Sawyer" all are highlights, and are presented here in superior versions, better than its studio counterparts. I remember buying this album in vinyl back in the eighties - it seems that all Rush fans must have a copy of "Exit..." at that time. More than 20 years later, I still listen to this album with a smile on my face - you'll probably do the same when you give "Exit...Stage Left" another listening.
Report this review (#78692)
Posted Friday, May 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This one plays like Rush performing their greatest hits album live. This has every essential track from their second chapter, all performed beautifully, and in the case of some songs, like "La Villa Strangiato", "Spirit Of Radio" and "The Trees" complete with an extended acoustic intro, stand as the definitive versions.

The band plays tight and Geddy's voice is infused with an energy not present on the studio albums making for a great improvement. However, the album sounds too polished and misses that feel and raw energy of that live environment. Instead it sounds like another studio album. Also the improvisation present on "All The World's A Stage" is gone and instead we have direct recreations of the originals.

A few flaws that nag me when I listen to it, but overall the album is a must have for any Rush fan, and a great introduction to the band for anyone.

Report this review (#81567)
Posted Tuesday, June 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars I know a lot of people like this album... so let's get started. I am not fond of the guitar sound on this "live" album (Rush fans know and admit it was "tinkered with"). It's fuzzy and has no high end. Geddy's bass is way to overdriven. The drums sound good. Geddy sings quite well on the album, but his synths are kind of muddy. I don't like the drum solo as much as "The Rhythm Method" or "Der Trommler" or "O Baterista". The songs on the album are good, but get them in their original studio form. Oy, vey.
Report this review (#84227)
Posted Thursday, July 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars My favorite Rush live CD! Exit.... Stage Left has Xanadu, and all the good songs! It was made at the right time! Right after Moving Pictures! So, therefore, it has alot of good songs on it. And, to top it off, Rush plays the music perfectly to the point that I love some of it more than the originals. The quality Rush is known for. Stage Left is brilliant, all the songs are done with presice greatness! All songs are worth listening to, plus, if your new to Rush, take a listen to this album, it's a good Greatest Hits in the eara of Rush to Moving Pictures! It has Trees, Xanadu, YYZ, Tom Sawyer, and Spirit of Radio! 5/5 to the best live band and cd ever!
Report this review (#93268)
Posted Tuesday, October 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is a good live album and a fair representation of Rush as they were when it was released. "YYZ", "Broon's Bane/The Trees" "Xanadu" and "La Villa Strangiato" are the stand out tracks for me. The rest are very good too but maybe lack a little something in this package.

Pick this one up for completeness but go for one of the more recent live offerings to really appreciate Rush at their best. Or, get hold of Rush Replay x3 in which new life is breathed into this collection of performances.

Report this review (#96237)
Posted Monday, October 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars A live album from the peak of their career.

Rush were at a high point following the release of their latest album Moving Pictures. Of all the Rush live albums, I think that this one offers a glimpse into the band at the top of their game. And while I prefer the sound of All the World's A Stage, for me it is too early in the bands career to consider it their best.

The problem that many people have is that the performances of the songs sound too much like their studio counterparts, with very little variation. I'm afraid that I have to agree on this point, if this wasn't the case then I'd award it with five stars. However it is also a testament to the genius of Rush's musicians that they were able to replicate these songs so well on the stage.

A great example of this is the epic "Xanadu". This would probably have been a complex enough song for a three-piece band to perform in the studio, let alone live! However it sounds superb, and always makes me imagine Lee and Lifeson with their double-neck guitars up on stage. Peart really shines on "YYZ" where he performs a great extended solo in the middle of the song.

Each song is performed brilliantly. The band plays through their most famous hits like "The Spirit of Radio", "Free Will", "Red Barchetta" and "Tom Sawyer" from the two most recent albums. There are also a few songs from older albums scattered about, such as "The Trees" and "Closer to the Heart". It would have been great if they'd included "Limelight" on the album though, as apparently it was recorded but not included in the end.

A solid four stars, all Rush fans should own this one.

Report this review (#100951)
Posted Wednesday, November 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Not much to add... but I'm a huge fan of prog live albums and this one is really a masterpiece. All songs sounds great with envolving rock "a la Rush" atmospheres, with a remarkable work of Geddy on vocals, bass and synths and of course the well known work of Alex Lifeson on guitar and Neil Peart on drums (the drum solo on YYZ is memorable).

Really a great live recording totally recommended to any music fan to listen what three guys can do on stage. Even when the entire album is brilliant, my highlights are Red Barchetta, YYZ, Jacobs Ladder, The Trees, the legendary Tom Sawyer and of course one of the best endings to a live album: La Villa Strangiato with all those twinklings to 50's cartoons.

"Exit..." sounds powerful, energetic, in the middle of prog and pure rock, with brilliant solos... Definetively one of the best live albums that I've heard...

Report this review (#103302)
Posted Saturday, December 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rush, in my opinion, is best on a live album than on a studio album. This one proves my point. The song selection is great, choosing timeless classics such as "Spirit of Radio" and "Tom Sawyer". Another great thing about this album is the addition of some of the more proggy tracks like "Jacob's Ladder", "La Villa Strangiato", and "Xanadu".
It is interesting to see "Beneath, Between, and Behind" which is an older track, it being on Fly By Night (Rush's second studio album). Alex gets some classical guitar work in with "Closer To The Heart" and "The Trees".
This albums ends on a great song, "La Villa Strangiato" possibly my favorite instrumental from Rush. An interesting fact is that Rush playd 2 instrumental tracks on this album. Doesn't matter that much as they are both excellent, especially "YYZ" with Neil Peart's amazing drum solo.

All in all a great live album with only strong tracks from this great Canadian trio. 4/5 stars.

Report this review (#109171)
Posted Saturday, January 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars RUSH has thanked MAX WEBSTER in the liner notes of each album from "A Farewell To Kings" up to "Moving Pictures". Kim Mitchell the lead guitarist and vocalist for MAX WEBSTER has said for years that they were RUSH's little brother. They opened countless concerts for RUSH in the early days and like the members of RUSH they have a great sense of humour, especially Kim. They called them the MAXOIDS when they thanked them in "Permanent Waves" and the MAX LOBSTERS in "Moving Pictures" but on "Exit Stage Left" it's just R.I.P.MAX WEBSTER as they had called it quits as a band. RUSH thanks again FM and if you don't have "Black Noise" by FM, do yourself a favour and get it. I also think it's really cool that on the front and back covers of this live album they have a reference to all their past records in one way or another. 4 of the songs here were recorded live in the UK while the remaining 9 were recorded live in Canada.

"The Spirit of Radio"s pretty faithful to the original and I don't know if it was the best choice to lead this record off with it as it seems uninspiring to me compared with the other songs. "Red Barchetta" sounds great as usual. Just a cool story that's all with amazing musicianship. "YYZ" is all about complexity and of course the incredible drum solo. It just sounds so intricate and interesting and i'm not into drum solos. Fantastic ! "A Passage To Bangkok" opens with the dark, evil guitar that sounds so great. Alex is truly on fire during this song. "Closer To The Heart" as Sean Trane says, really fills me with pride too, when you hear the audience singing along word for word. Very uplifting.

"Beneath, Between & Behind" features some great vocals from Geddy on a song i'm surprised is on here, but i'm thankful it is. "Jacob's Ladder" is freaking amazing ! From the mournful guitar to the way the song builds to the intoxicating main melody 4 minutes in. Oh, and the synths are terrific. "Broon's Bane" is a beautiful, tasteful guitar solo that blends beautifully into "The Trees". The bass on this one is nice and fat. This song seems to climax and climax. "Xanadu" is the longest tune here and words just do not do the song justice. Amazing ! "Freewill" is just the best song ever recorded. Geddy again is just awesome on bass. And after Alex's guitar solo the crowd roars it's approval. "Tom Sawyer" features some more ripping guitar from Alex as Neil does his other-worldly thing. "La Villa Strangiato" is the most amazing ride i've ever been on.Turn it up ! Again it's the best instrumental I have ever heard.

So there it is. It has it's flaws and it's not my favourite live album any more, but it's the live record I have played the most and I will continue to enjoy this excellent release. This sadly is the end of my favourite stretch of music. The five studio albums that precede this live one are unmatched in my opinion.

Report this review (#117286)
Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of my favourite Rush albums

Let's get one thing stright ... I am not a great fan of live albums. I love concerts. Concerts are for attending. Ok Friday Night in San Francisco floats my boat .. but generally I'm not a great fan of live albums ( OK so Thelonius Monk at the Five Spot Cafe is a cracker). No really I'm not a great fan of live albums. For example: All the World's a stage ... pants.

Look, if you have seen Rush then you know you get a polished well-rehearesd performance. Top-notch. it's not Lynott screaming "Is there anyone out there who'd like a bit more Irish in them?", or freddy (RIP) prancing round the stage like the great showman he was.

So why would you want to listen to this offerring?

Spirit of the Radio/red Barchetta/YYZ/Closer to the Heart ... great songs but yadda yadda the studio recordings are miles better. The same is probably true for most of the rest although La Villa is worth a second listen.

So why listen to this album???

Broon's Bane/The Trees/Xanadu

IMHO it's the best side of an album produced by this great prog band. I've dug this album out hundreds of times over the years (that's decades now, cripes!!!) and it is always this side that gets played again and again and again.

Or maybe I'm just biased because a quarter of my family are Canadian and I was conceived there (explains the prog leaings)... (ooh far too much detail)...

Report this review (#129563)
Posted Friday, July 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a very solid live album, and you won't get a better version of YYZ anywhere. Usually i don't like live albums because I prefer clean sounds, rather than raw, and therefore i really liked this one because it is just to smooth to be ignored. And with an allstar song group, all the favorites and then some, this album can only be considered RUSH LIVE in the truest sense. Whether or not you were even born, because i sure wasn't, when this concert took place you WILL feel as if you experienced it in its entirety after you listen to this CD. Unfortunately this is a little dull for a live album, as it doesn't feel very 'lively'. Basically no crowd noise at all, and the songs don't really sound anymore energetic than their studio counterparts.

Fantastic song choice, flawless production, and a special extended version of YYZ. Too bad it's not very spunky, and for a live album, that's a little bit of a downfall. Still a solid 4 stars, though.

Report this review (#130006)
Posted Monday, July 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars And the crowd went wild.

One of Rush's best known live albums is one that demands play after play after bloody play. This is the quintessential live album from Rush. Recorded in their classic era (1981) during the Moving Pictures tour this is Rush at their zenith of creative power and performance. Encapsulating their entire classic period started after their last live album this is one that's definitely worth every moment.

The track listing here is phenomenal! Almost every one of Rush's best and most popular tracks are played, including some excellent live renditions of old stagnating tracks given new life through the performance. Opening with a few spoken words Spirit Of Radio appropriately kicks the album into high gear. The sound of the audience screaming at the break down is just one of the many electric additions to this fine offering. Other points of interest include the lengthened YYZ which incorporates Neil Peart's drum solo which would later become The Rhythm Method (and later O'Baterista and later Der Trommler and even later De Slagwerker). Never tedious, Peart's drum wizardry soon gives way to the rest of the boys jamming way to finish the track. Beneath, Between and Behind proves that Geddy can still hit the super-high notes (but could he today?) as one of the only early songs played in the concert is given new life (and better than it's studio counterpart IMO).

Other standouts along the way?

While there's a bunch of tracks that would eventually gain many many live renditions (I think I have at least 5 or 6 versions of Closer To The Heart in my collection) there are a bunch of tracks here which are rarely recorded live and therefore are quite a treat. Jacob's Ladder is one of those tracks, and if you liked it before you'll love it now. Still dark and evil, the song incorporates all the aspects of live Rush to make a truly stellar version of the song. Xanadu is another one of those tracks, and it too is given a whole new shine. The Trees here is made more interesting by adding the Lerxt opening intro Broon's Bane (which has no studio counterpart) and La Villa Strangiato closes the album with one of Rush's best instrumentals.

Rush has always been a live band. Even in interviews they've said the material that they record is always tested to make sure that it's up to be played live. Not to mention that with every new live album and, indeed, performance the band tries to add their current style to their older songs so that nothing is ever the same twice (it's true... listen to all the live renditions to Closer To The Heart to see what I mean). This is Rush at their best, and while I rarely find live albums worth of a 5 star mark this is definitely one that earns it. Not too long that it can't be listened to in one sitting and with enough energy to blow your head clean off this is a live album that every progger should have.

Report this review (#165051)
Posted Wednesday, March 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Exit.Stage Left is the bands last album to fall into what I call their "Mid-Era Progressive" phase. These albums include: A Farewell to Kings (1977), Hemispheres (1978), Permanent Waves (1980), Moving Pictures (1981), and Exit Stage Left "Live" (1981). These albums make up a core group of RUSH's most popular and progressive offerings of all time. Except, of course, for "2112", but it falls into they're early phase.

For over 20 years, from 1976 to 1998, RUSH stuck to a pattern of 3 studio albums, then a live release. Inevitably, each one of those live albums seemed to mark the end of another "musical chapter" in the band's history. Rush ends their progressive phase with Exit Stage Left. A Live album that captures the band's latest and most extensive tour yet, the Moving Pictures tour. This rolled right into the Exit Stage Left tour in October of 1981. Featuring recordings from both the previous Permanent Waves tour and the Moving Pictures tour, Exit Stage Left is Rush's second official live release and is considered by many fans as the band's best ever live offering. The album offers a very nice cross-section of songs from their latest album to selected classics from their progressive era such as Jacob's Ladder and Xanadu, both extended length "sci-fi epics". We also get a couple of the band's best instrumentals: YYZ and La Villa Strangiato, the later clocking in at almost 10 minutes. My only complaint with this album is the recording quality. I have this on vinyl and compact disc, and the sound issue is the recording is very "bass heavy" with little high- end sound. I used to be able to fix this problem with a little bias adjustment on my cassette recorder to create a little artificial treble, but this can't be done with CD's. The remaster sounds a little bit better than the older first issue disc.

Report this review (#182074)
Posted Tuesday, September 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Exit.....Stage Left is the second live album from Canadian progressive rock act Rush. The album primarely covers songs from their second era ( A Farewell to Kings, Hemispheres, Permanent Waves, Moving Pictures) with a few exceptions (Beneath, Between and Behind from Fly by Night and A Passage to Bangkok from 2112. A Passage from Bangkok is only included on the Mercury CD remaster from 1997. It´s not on the original LP).

The performance is perfect. Too perfect IMO and I think it lacks passion and bite. Even some of my favorite Rush songs like Red Barchetta, Freewill and Tom Sawyer comes out sounding a bit weak compared to their studio counterparts. The songs are delievered in versions that are 100 % true to the originals and I could have wished for a few changes here and there to make this performance stand out. YYZ has a drum solo in the middle that´s actually one of the few drum solos I really find great. But it´s not really a surprise. I´ve always praised Neil Peart as one of my favorite drummers. Broon's Bane is a short acoustic guitar intro to The Trees. Good but nothing special.

The musicianship is outstanding. That three men can create such a complete sound live is amazing IMO. I could have wished for a more passionate vocal performance from Geddy Lee but it´s allright just nothing special.

The production is not very good. It needs punch, bite and more high end.

I´ve been searching for the right way to express how I think this album sounds and my best explanation is that is sounds like I´ve got cotton wool balls in my ears while listening to the original versions from the studio albums. These live versions of the songs are simply too close to the originals and they are delievered without much passion IMO. This makes for a pretty mediocre live album from Rush that from the outset looked so good because of the song selection. I can´t give more than 3 stars for Exit.....Stage Left and I would recommend that you purchase and listen to the four studio albums I mentioned above instead.

Report this review (#184379)
Posted Thursday, October 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars I really don't care for Exit....Stage Left, it dosen't offer a full concert (they could have released a 2 disc set, but they didn't) but, it has some good points, and some pretty bad points. One thing I might like to say is that it really sounds like an audience recording, and not taken directly from the soundboard, like All the Worlds a Stage. There are really good songs, with some good performances, but some aren't that great, which amazes me, because its not the performance. Its really the sound quality. It dosen't have any depth, or any, well, emotion, lets say, to it. I will now rate each song on a scale from 1-10. 10 being the absolut best, and 1 being the absolut worst there can be.

Spirit of Radio- The guitar is really the main problem with this song. Its bearly even there, and it gets drownded out of the mix by the drums, bass, keyboards, and vocals when being played. The only really good part about the opener song is that the bass, and Geddy, sound really nice. The vocals are captured almost perfectly, showing Geddys vocal skills, but does not show that Alex is a prominate player in their live performances back in the 1980s. 4.5/10

Red Barchetta- An okay live track, but it really dosen't standout in the CD like some of the other songs do. It really dosen't capture the recorded version, I don't get the spark that I usually feel when I listen to it on R30, or any other one. The bass, again, is really the most direct instrument being played at the time, with Alex being a little more upfront in this song, but not completely. Neil sounds pretty nice, the drums are very good, nothing to complain about with that portion of the song. The vocals are the drowning instrument, because when Geddy sings, it blows everything else. 7/10

YYZ- Probably one of the better tracks, behind A Passage to Bangkok and Xanadu really. The guitar is much more upfront than that of the previous songs, which amazes me to pieces. The one thing that ticks me on this record is that the quality ranges from great to bad, but this is one of the good tracks on the record, with the drum solo, one of the better ones. The bass solos are really great in this one, and the guitar solo is great as usual. 8/10

A Passage to Bangkok- Definatly the best from this record, no competion except for Xanadu coming in at a very close second. There is much more pop feeling to this song, its greatly captured, with the roiling basslines, again, being the highlight of the show. This was taken from a show in the Permenant waves tour, as with Closer to the Heart, Beneath, Between and Behind, and Jacobs Ladder. I really like having this one on the record, because its one of the stronger tracks from the record. 10/10

Closer to the Heart/Beneath Between, and Behind- Pretty good, but the acoustic is pretty low in the mix, for the Closer to the Heart portion of the songs, for the most part. The songs, themselves, are played really well live. I did mention, in A Passage to Bangkok, that this was one of the song that they played in their Permenant Waves tour, which was taken from soundboard. This isn't the most memorible set of tracks, but its pretty nice, for the most part, as I can say. 7.5/10

Jacob's Ladder- I've never cared for this song, and I really never will, but the serenade at the beginning really just hooked me on the live version. I really like how Geddy introduces the song, in his lazy voice, as I would like to call it, This is Jacob's Ladder. The live version is actually played very well, nothing to complain with the performances, because Rush always gives a good, tight, and consistant performance. But I really just can't stand to listen to this song, I really just can't do it, actually. 5.5/10

Broon's Bane/The Trees/Xanadu- The reason I linked these together is because they make a really good flow and feel with each other when listened together. This has to be the second best set of tracks, along with Bangkok being the first. The songs are all played very well that night, and Broon's bane really sounds nice, linking with The Trees makes it even better. 9.5/10

Freewill- I really don't like this live back in the 1980s. It sounds really way to poppy, and unenergetic to actually be a Rush song, it really dosen't give the feeling that I get from the studio version, actually. The bass sounds pretty good for the most part, but, astoundingly, the performance isn't really all that great, so that is why I'm going to rate this lower. 3/10

Tom Sawyer- This isn't really a gem or anything live, I just view it as Tom Sawyer being played. The sound really isn't that bad or anything its just that its to generic to actually be very enjoyable, because I really get that its uncomfortable for them to play. I don't know how I get the feeling, but I don't think that they enjoy playing it, so it turns on them. 4.5/10

La Villa Strangiato- This is another pretty strong track from the live recording. The instruments sound really nice on the recording. Geddy says some pretty funky stuff at the beginning of the second solo, but its actually pretty funny. I still really don't get the depth that I do get from some of the other songs that are on this, but it gets the job done for being an energetic and live performance. 8.5/10

I really question why bands release incomplete concerts, and this really is no keeper.

Report this review (#196199)
Posted Monday, December 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Exit... Stage Left' - Rush (9/10)

This is one of the few live albums that is worthy of five stars. Not to say that it's completely replacable for the recorded material (which should be purchased as well) but as far as live albums go, this is one of the best I've ever listened to. This album also has Rush's greatest performance on any release to date, which is their live rendition of 'La Villa Strangiato' which closes off the concert. There's a vivance about the live performance that was lacking in the recorded 'Hemispheres' version, but comes full force when played in front of an audience. In particular, the Lifeson solo is one of the greatest guitar solos I've ever heard.

As far as song choice goes, theres a great selection of their Progressive-era material. The only two songs I'm not in love with are 'Closer To The Heart' and 'Beneath, Between and Behind' which are skillful in their own right. Rush is careful to include some of their most popular prog-era work, including the epic 'Xanadu,' the technical rocker 'YYZ' and even some of their more well known songs, such as 'Tom Sawyer' and 'The Spirit Of Radio.'

Having a live audience really seems to make Rush pull out all the stops in their craft. Having been fortunate enough to see Rush live in person, I can testify that this live album captures the magic of what it's really like to go see the band on stage.

A great release, and one of the best live albums out there.

Report this review (#205304)
Posted Tuesday, March 3, 2009 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars My biggest grief with this live album is its muddy overall sound; Alex Lifeson simply uses too much flange and chorus effect for my taste, particularly on "The Trees." Other than that, there's little to complain about; one gets to hear songs generally not performed live anymore. Hearing "Red Barchetta" is a treat. "YYZ" sounds a bit too slow for me, but is a solid performance even if the instruments don't sound well-blended. I'd also say that the version of "Tom Sawyer" is the sloppiest version I've ever heard. "Xanadu" is exquisitely performed though, and is always a welcome aspect of this live album; in fact it was the live version here that got me into the song in the first place. All that said, I believe this is largely Neil Peart's show, even though Geddy Lee gets to show off his fairly new keyboards. Overall, the show is great, the crowd is riveted, and the set list isn't bad, but what's here is nowhere near the caliber Rush would achieve in future shows, both in terms of sound quality and performance. Still, for the Rush fan, this is a live album that does not deserve to be missed, and I'm glad it is in my collection.
Report this review (#213917)
Posted Monday, May 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
Crossover Team
4 stars For me, Exit... Stage Left was the best of the Rush live albums and this is chiefly due to the fine selection of material from Rush's most progressive studio albums from A Farewell to Kings to Moving Pictures. I admit it may have some technical difficulties in that Lee's bass sometimes overpowers Lifeson's guitar work, but I only find this to be a minor distraction.

You can't go wrong with this selection of songs, although I really would have loved it if this had originally been released as a 3-LP set including the two parts of Cygnus X-1. 3-LP sets were (as far as I can tell) quite rare in the 1980s and that's too bad because it could have Rush's answer to Yessongs.

A must-have for every Rush fan and a highly recommended addition for all other prog rock listeners. Well worth seeking out and easily worth four stars.

Report this review (#222321)
Posted Monday, June 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars After a next batch of 4 studio albums, Rush released another live album. They would follow that scheme one more time after the next 4 albums but then it watered down a bit. These days they rather release one studio album followed by 4 live clones...

Exit couldn't be more different from the previous stage album, fury is replaced by control, energy by tight musicianship, wild hard rock by thoughtful progressive rock compositions. One thing remained though and that would be the imperfect sound, this time the guitars lack punch and edge, and they are smothered by too much effects.

The bulk of this album is made up out of tracks from Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures that stay very true to their studio originals. Jacob's Ladder hast got a short playful waltz for an intro and YYZ is extended with a spectacular drum solo from Neil Peart that is probably my favourite on all their live albums. I prefer the songs from this era in their studio versions though. The sound here lacks bite and precision.

The most interesting moments on the album come from the older material though, A Passage To Bangkok is superb here, the guitars are a lot bigger and the song has a much larger feel then it's original. The Trees has been extended by a nice intro and is faded into a great rendition of Xanadu. Geddy's improved singing voice makes this version the one to have. On BB&B however, his powerful screetch is really missed. Also the goofy vocals on La Villa Strangiato are no improvement, even though the electrified take on the Spanish flavoured intro is spectacular.

Overal this is a great live album that a fan shouldn't miss, but this time I would rather recommend each of the 4 preceding studio albums over it. 3.5 stars.

Report this review (#256546)
Posted Thursday, December 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Rush have always been considered an excellent live band and after seeing them live during their Snakes & Arrows tour I can only concur with that statement. The band has released quite a few live albums over the years starting with All The World's A Stage right after their first four studio albums. With a band like Rush there isn't really a need to question their performances during live shows instead let's turn our attention to the balance between the raw energy and recording quality.

It's a fact that the recording technology has improved dramatically over the last 30 years meaning that a lot of the '70s live material that has been cherished by progressive rock fans might not be considered all that spectacular for anyone who wasn't around at the time. But beyond that nostalgia feel there is actually a legitimate reason to treasure them due to the raw energy that bands generally showed during their earlier stage performances.

For me Exit.....Stage Left is easily the best Rush live album out there since I tend to prefer balance in my music. Unlike the raw energy shown on All The World's A Stage that also had a subpar sound quality and the later live albums that seem more like a routine affair but with a superior live mix, this album maintains a perfect balance between the two. This was the time when Rush just released their highly successful album Moving Pictures and were concluding an imoprtaimt phase of their career. The set-list, or set-lists since the recording is taken from two performances, features almost everything a fan of the '70s Rush albums could ever hope for. I say almost since in order to satisfy me completely they would have to play all these albums in their entirety. The band even manages to surprise me by performing excellent versions of Red Barchetta and A Passage To Bangkok which I never really cared for in their studio incarnations. There are also a few other surprises featured here and there that I won't spoil for you since they're well worth experiencing.

In summary, Exit.....Stage Left is easily the best and most complete Rush live chunck of music ever put on a record. The later releases will all add new dimensions to the band's sound through excellent production or playing at a huge venue like Rush - In Rio but those albums lack the magic that was so apparent on their earlier albums. This is a must have album for everyone who is even remotely interested in Rush and an excellent addition to any prog rock collection.

***** star songs: Spirit Of Radio (5:11) YYZ (7:43) Jacobs Ladder (8:46)

**** star songs: Red Barchetta (6:47) A Passage To Bangkok (3:45) Closer To The Heart (3:08) Beneath, Between And Behind (2:34) Broon's Bane (1:37) The Trees (4:50) Xanadu (12:09) Freewill (5:31) Tom Sawyer (4:59) La Villa Strangiato (9:37)

Report this review (#280007)
Posted Friday, April 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars Rush out and buy it

Time for a Rush live album after a swag of studio releases as was customary for the band. It begins with the familiar roar and then Rush launch in to the lead riff that everyone knows of Spirit of Radio and we are on our way with yet another live Rush album. This one did not thrill me as much as "All the World's a Stage" but the power trio of Lee, Lifeson and Peart is still dynamic and brimming over with heavy crunching instrumental breaks and powerhouse vocals.

Red Barchetta and YYZ are familiar territory and as accomplished as ever; I always love hearing live versions of these especially the instrumentals . Rush were careful to include songs that had not been recorded live before for release and so we get unusual choices such as Beneath, Between and Behind, Jacobs Ladder and a drum solo known as Broon's Bane that segues instantly into stalwart favourite The Trees.

The 12 minute version of Xanadu is a knockout and a showstopper certainly, perhaps the best live version of this classic. The crowd can be heard singing this lovingly and there is a fabulous lead break on this complex riffing progalicious track. Three perennial favourites follow in Freewill, Tom Sawyer and the brilliant workout La Villa Strangiato.

The set list on this album is terrific featuring quintessential Rush and some nice surprises. I recommend this to any Rush fan without hesitation. The concert exists in DVD form and this is the best way to experience this concert but the audio is fabulous so enjoy this live gem.

Report this review (#286605)
Posted Tuesday, June 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is my favorite Rush album, and yes, I can understand where making that statement about what looks suspiciously like a Greatest Hits Live album could be considered the highest level of obnoxiousness by Rush fans. Rush Live doesn't differ much from Rush Studio, as the band's main goal on stage has been, for most of its history, to recreate its studio work as exactly as possible. Plus, my understanding is that these tracks received a LOT of overdubbing and doctoring of the original performances, so the album's value as a live document is dubious at best. Yet for all that, I generally find myself wanting to listen to the versions presented here more than the original studio versions. I really feel that the takes here are, at worst, equal in quality to the studio takes, and at best significantly better, even if they're still essentially the exact same tracks. Who knows, maybe I'm just a total sucker for echo.

A big help is in the strong song selection. Only two of the songs irritate me at all, and for 70+ minutes of Rush, that's a good accomplishment. The sole offenders are "YYZ" (which matches the original in the "regular" portions, but which also receives an extended "multi- cultural" drum solo), and "Closer to the Heart" (which takes a song I already disliked and makes it into an audience singalong), both of which would have been swapped out for "Limelight" if I'd had my way. Other than that, though, the song selection is virtually perfect, and as already stated, many of the performances here are better than the originals.

Indeed, it's hard not to be thrilled with "The Spirit of Radio" when the initial rolling guitar line sounds to me like it's exploding from Alex's hands. It's hard for me not to prefer this version of "Red Barchetta" when I actually feel some excitement in this one, whereas I felt that was largely lacking from the original. I also far prefer this version of the closing "La Villa Strangiato," all because of the breathtaking energy level. Gosh, they even improve "Jacob's Ladder," upping the intensity even further and making the storm seem that much more, well, stormy. And so on and so on.

And, of course, there's "Xanadu." I was skeptical when I originally read the gushing adulation given to this specific version in a comment on Mark Prindle's Rush page, but this track absolutely amazes me, possibly even more than the studio verson. If it's possible to create a perfect musical painting of a fictional place, Rush pulled it off in a big way here. This is clearly, to me, the best officially released live Rush performance ever, and that has to mean something.

As for the rest, you can check the track listing and refer back to the original studio album reviews (I'll also say that "A Passage to Bangkok" sounds better here than in the original, and it's a LOT of fun to hear "Beneath, Behind, Between" here). They're all good, and overall I prefer to hear them here. Plus, even if you disagree, you have to agree that the album cover (front and back) rules. I mean, YOU try to pull off a reference to each of your first 8 studio albums on one front-and-back cover!

Report this review (#332905)
Posted Wednesday, November 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Despite some flaws in the sound quality (we'll get into that later), this is a favorite Rush live album. That's mainly because it covers the best period of their studio career. 1976 through 1981 easily marks the most consistently progressive, and to my ears, most interesting time for Rush's music.

Although there are better perfomances of some of the songs, this album showcases Rush as a prog band more than any other live collection. YYZ and La Villa Strangiato are the highpoints, but there is prog in just about every track on the album. Immediately following this recording, Rush seemed to draw away from the more intricate aspects of their music (possible damanded by record company executives), and reorded more mainstream sounding music.

Much has been said about the mix of this album. And I agree. Primarily, Alex Lifeson's guitar is often plagued by overuse of effects, and sometimes gets pushed down in the mix. But at the time, I was in a band that played some Rush covers, and on these versions, the mix made it easier to hear what Geddy Lee was playing.

So, for a great set list, with great performances, tempered by the sound issues, four stars.

Report this review (#403966)
Posted Sunday, February 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars A long time friend of mine finally being reviewed.

There are live albums and there are compilation live albums. The first one is one gig, one recording with few or any overdubs made in studio. Then we have the compilation live albums where recordings is taken from various gigs. There are very few excellent gigs of the first category. How The West Was Won is taken from two gigs. Made In Japan from three gigs. So most legally released live albums is compilation albums from various live recordings which has been spliced and cleaned up in the studio. Judas Priest once famously released an album called Unleashed In The East which most people now only knows as Unleashed In The Studio due the extensive doctoring and overdubs it got in a studio.

Exit Stage Left is not as doctored as that. But I am not overly impressed with the compilation/splicing of this supposed-to-be-a-live album. It is rather shoddy work and a lot of life has been taken out of this album before it reached the shops. Not even remastering can alter that. And that is my only gripe with this live album, the second ever Rush live album.

The reason why Exit.....Stage Left is figuring high on both mine and others lists of great live albums is the quality of the music here. Exit.....Stage Left is like a battleship, unleashing all it's guns. Some of the songs here is jawdropping. Xanadu, The Trees, the interlude called Broon's Bane followed by Jacob's Ladder, YYZ and La Villa Strangiato. Goodness me, what a canonade !

The songs is what makes this album the classic live album it is. But it could had been a lot better in my view with a bit better production. But this is still a great live album.

4 stars

Report this review (#464557)
Posted Sunday, June 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Suddenly somewhat hooked on Rush after previous review (All the World's a Stage) I decided to go for my only other live album by them being this very famous one. And that's interesting really because I have great comparison so shortly after listening to their live debut.

I immediately detect a difference with AtWaS and that's the missing spark with this successor. Not that I want to call this live album flat or even disappointing and let's not forget I consider AtWaS a masterpiece. But compared to their live magnum opus this one sounds more dutiful and almost already a bit blasé. I mean, the great musicianship is still there of course and I even consider the line-up of songs on this one better than on previous live recording.

So it has to be the charisma of the album, the magic so to speak and however good and even great this one also is, it's just a bit less than my favorite Rush album of all times. So, nevertheless another jewel from the masters but missing out on the highest thinkable score. This one will have to settle for four (4,25). Still pretty good, right ?

Report this review (#465580)
Posted Monday, June 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars A farewell to kings

Recorded and released at the very culmination of their classic period (just before they were overcome by the "spirit of radio" and drifted away from Prog with Signals) and primarily featuring songs from their four most highly regarded studio records (Moving Pictures, Permanent Waves, Hemispheres and A Farewell To Kings), Exit... Stage Left is a respectable live album. Still, I feel that it does not add enough to what was already on the studio albums for it to be a really essential release. The performances are strong and energetic and it indeed is a fun listen, but it does leave something to be desired in relation to the brilliant studio albums from the same period. The only song here from the pre-Prog era is Beneath, Between And Behind from 1975's Fly By Night and the only non-album selection is the short but nice acoustic instrumental Broon's Bane.

The most recent studio album at the time of this live recording, 1981's Moving Pictures, is represented here with three numbers, two of which are the most commercial tracks off that album: Tom Sawyer and Red Barchetta. 1980's Permanent Waves - which is my least favourite album from the classic era (1976- 1981) - is equally represented with three songs here, again two of which are the most commercial tracks off that album: The Spirit Of Radio and Freewill. 1978's Hemispheres - which is my #1 favourite Rush album of all time - is represented with two great songs, but there is nothing at all from the brilliant, side-long title-track which is that album's strongest part in my opinion. Two numbers are taken from 1977's A Farewell To Kings - both great songs, but one of them is again a non-progressive one. It is difficult to complain about a set list with so many good and classic songs, but I think there is a case to be made for the view that Rush was already favouring their more commercial side here on this live album and thus pointing towards their imminent future. Indeed, I would say (as I have in other reviews) that Rush had already slowly been drifting away from Prog ever since after their progressive peak on Hemispheres.

Don't get me wrong though, La Villa Strangiato, Xanadu, Jacob's Ladder and YYZ are all here representing the truly progressive side of Rush wonderfully. But it is arguable that while the band's first live album, All The World's A Stage, was recorded too early in their career, Exit... Stage Left came a little bit too late. Personally, I think that the perfect time for recording a live album would have been just after Hemispheres. Imagine, for example, a double live album with the respective title-tracks of both 2112 and Hemispheres as well as the bulk of A Farewell To Kings. That would have been something! As it stands though, Exit... Stage Left is a good live album and an excellent companion to All The World's A Stage. But I would still say that the studio albums from this era are enough for most people.

A good addition to any Prog collection that already holds the studio albums from which the bulk of the selections were taken, but hardly an essential release in its own right.

Report this review (#500481)
Posted Tuesday, August 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Originally, Rush wanted a live account of the Permanent Waves tour but their producer at the time Terry Brown thought they were on a roll and told them to go into the studio and we got Moving Pictures. This time, they decided to record the Moving Pictures tour with Exit...Stage Left and Rush being a great live band this one sounded a tad to controlled and studio-ish compared to the masterpiece All the World's a Stage. Granted they have great live versions of Jacob's Ladder, Xanadu and more(see Highlights) this one is an acquired taste. Good 4 stars. Highlights: The Spirit of Radio, Red Barchetta, YYZ, A Passage to Bangkok(better than studio version), Jacob's Ladder, Broon's Bane, The Trees, Xanadu, and La Villa Strangiato
Report this review (#518826)
Posted Friday, September 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rush's second live album is a brilliantly chosen selection of tracks from the Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures tour, capturing the band at the climax of their progressive metal phase. Naturally, the focus is on material from the four studio albums released since their last live release, All the World's a Stage, though there are well-chosen selections from 2112 and Fly By Night rounding off the set list. Displaying the band's technical virtuosity, I was particularly taken with the version of La Villa Strangiato - it completely blows me away that they were able to pull it off on stage! - but also quite like the version of Hemisphere's The Trees on here, which is given a somewhat more sombre interpretation which is less grating than the overly twee fairy tale rendition of the studio version.
Report this review (#567858)
Posted Monday, November 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars These days Rush seem to release a live album and/or a DVD after every tour which many consider overkill. To their credit however, while some old favourites regularly appear they do make a decent attempt to vary track listings with a few gems seldom played live. Back in the days when Exit Stage Left was released - 1981, it was their second live album and we tended to get one from around every four studio albums.

Exit... Stage Left is an excellent live album. More sophisticated than the raw but totally compelling All The World's A Stage (still my favourite) but lacking the sterility of A Show Of Hands that would appear in 1989. While All The World's A Stage captured the bands heavier roots but including some more progressive material like 2112, Exit focuses on their most progressive era drawing from their two best albums, A Farewell To King's and Hemispheres as well as Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures which weren't too far behind. Only A Passage To Bangkok and Beneath, Between & Behind gives us a taste of anything from those earlier days. Fortunately it was released before any of their synth dominated 80's output, a period of Rush history I have little time for so we are spared any of that. While it can't match ATWAS for sheer power it does demonstrate a more dynamic performance showing a band that really knew their craft and on top of their game. The band barely put a foot wrong treating us to stellar performances of classics such as Xanadu (perhaps the album highlight), Freewill, Spirit Of Radio and Tom Sawyer as well as a great version of the notoriously difficult to play instrumental La Villa Strangiato.

Exit Stage left benefits from a great sound. I remember my initial impressions way back that it was a little muddy sounding after ATWAS but time has changed my view, it simply being less harsh. While there's been much fine Rush live material released since, Exit remains my second favourite live album from the band, in part it has to be said for the fact that all future releases would draw on a significant amount of synth driven songs from the 80's. An almost essential addition to your Rush collection.

Report this review (#633936)
Posted Tuesday, February 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars My first ever concert was seeing Rush during the Moving Pictures tour, so of course when this album came out soon after in 1981, I picked it up immediately. At the time, I was only slightly disappointed, both due to the sound (a bit muddy - spring for the remastered version if you can), and for an incomplete tracklist. For example, at the concert I went to, they opened with an exciting version of Overture/Temples of Syrinx - a much better version than what's on the earlier, rawer live album All the World's a Stage. They also played Working Man and Fly by Night. I know those appear also on the previous live album, but still... I also wish Limelight would've been included, which was a highlight at the show and a big song on the radio at the time. Finally, the concert ended with the 2112 finale ("We have assumed control, we have assumed control..."). I might be wrong, but I seem to remember Rush introducing a new song - Subdivisions. (I'm not 100% positive about this; maybe my memory has gone a bit soft.) Someday I hope that Rush will release an expanded version of Exit Stage Left, with all those tracks included. As for the album as it is now, I admit it has sentimental value for me, but I also love these versions of Rush's classics.
Report this review (#1480126)
Posted Wednesday, October 28, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rush's best live album?

After four studio records, one live album. Released in 1981, "Exit... Stage Left" concludes in a beautiful way RUSH's second period, often considered as their most progressive and creative. The set-list consists in extracts from "Fly By Night", "2112", "A Farewell to Kings", "Hemispheres", "Permanent Waves" and "Moving Pictures", recorded at concerts in UK and Canada.

The set-list is more varied and colorful than on the band's first live release, "All The World's A Stage". Still played with the same energy and virtuosity, the tracks have been quite reworked in the studio. Furthermore, Geddy Lee's singing sounds less juvenile and enraged, but rather mastered and fluid.

The cover art (front plus back) contains elements from all RUSH's studio albums from 1974-1981.

"YYZ" includes a mindblowing drum solo by professor Neil Peart, displaying his knowledge and technicality, whereas Alex Lifeson has sharpened his axes on "Jacob's Ladder". Not featured on any other live or studio release by the band, "Broon's Bane" is the novelty here. A nice short instrumental acoustic guitar piece by Lifeson, introducing "The Trees". With "Xanadu", the these two songs see their orchestration enhanced by the addition of cool synthesizers accompaniments. Same goes for "La Villa Strangiato", incorporating also great alternative guitar interventions. Unfortunately, these are also the first official released performances with the super soapy ballad "Closer To The Heart", which appearance will become recurrent at the trio's concerts.

Whether you prefer "All The World's A Stage" or "Exit... Stage Left" is just a matter of taste. The first live album represents RUSH's wilderness and youth, while this one represents its sophistication and maturity. The music of the first one is hard/heavy rock just beginning to turn progressive, whereas the second displays a wide panel of the Canadians' neo-hard-prog more elaborated compositions. As you prefer...

Anyway, both live albums are essential for every fan of RUSH, which won't be the case for the third one...

Report this review (#1583163)
Posted Sunday, June 26, 2016 | Review Permalink
2 stars Exit... Stage Left is comprised of live versions of songs from Rush's second quartet of LPs, A Farewell to Kings (1977), Hemispheres (1978), Permanent Waves (1980), and Moving Pictures (1981). Given that Moving Pictures is the band's finest album, there seems to be a lot of quality material a lot to draw upon for Exit... Stage Left. However, this overlooks the momentous differences between 1970s Rush and 1980s Rush.

In a nutshell, Rush progressed throughout the 1970s (through Hemispheres) from a Led-Zeppelin homage to a sophisticated pastiche of British symphonic-rock bands that still retained a bit of the harder, Zeppelinesque approach. Permanent Waves, recorded in the fall of 1979 and released a few weeks into the new decade, was transitional. It opened with "The Spirit of Radio," a bellwether of the new Rush, and one of the band's two masterpieces. The remainder of the album included other hints of the new direction, as well as tracks firmly situated on the group's 1970s trajectory. Moving Pictures embraced the "Spirit of Radio" tack; its first cut, "Tom Sawyer," is Rush's other pièce de résistance. The band's next handful of albums made it clear that Rush had moved away from its 1970s path: they were on a new course established by Moving Pictures.

While this version of the band's history suggests in hindsight that perhaps Exit... Stage Left should've been released after the Permanent Waves tour, the choice to release a mini-retrospective in 1981 instead of 1980 was surely based on commercial and practical considerations. Plus, Rush is a band which has always been conscious of its own history (consider, for example, the images on the cover of Exit... Stage Left). Although only the thinnest of precedents had been set, it seems likely that the group had already resolved that every fifth Rush album would be a live album comprised of songs from the prior four studio albums.* Their first fifteen albums (from 1974 to 1989) fit that pattern precisely, and the every fifth Rush album until 2003 was indeed a live album.

Anyway, because it collects music from two adjacent, but dissimilar, eras, Exit... Stage Left is an uncomfortable chimera, a cross between a Volkswagen and a Trans Am. Songs from the 1970s account for half of the album's 76 minutes, while the remainder is split evenly between songs from Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures. The material is well-chosen; most of the best songs from the band's 1977-1981 albums are here. But even staples like "Freewill" "The Trees," and yes, "Closer to the Heart," are throwbacks to an earlier time and don't make sense juxtaposed with, say, "Red Barchetta" or "YYZ."

It's probably unnecessary to say this of a Rush album, but I will: the instrumental and vocal performances on Exit... Stage Left are very good, and the arrangements stick pretty close to the originals - - although these versions aren't quite as reverential as the ones on their next live album, A Show of Hands (1989). This lack of variation means that Exit... Stage Left probably isn't essential to casual Rush fans the way Genesis's Seconds Out might be to casual Genesis fans. But for serious Rush fans, this is a must, at least until the group releases live albums more completely representing the group's late 1970s and early 1980s tours.


*once Rush had more than four studio albums in their discography - - i.e., beginning with Exit... Stage Left - - they also included one older song on each live album. Also, a new introduction to "The Trees," named "Broon's Bane," is listed as a separate track on Exit... Stage Left.

Report this review (#2262690)
Posted Saturday, September 21, 2019 | Review Permalink

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