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Rush - Presto CD (album) cover



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5 stars Perhaps the most accomplished and polyvalent album they've ever made. The balance between the voice and the instruments is just perfect. The music is adventurous, atmospheric and dramatic at the same time.
Report this review (#20986)
Posted Tuesday, December 2, 2003 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album is good, but it is definitely not Rush's best. If you're a hard-core fan, then get it. If you're not, then you're better off with Moving Pictures or Permanent Waves. The Pass is a slow one, but definitely the best. I wonder how many lives that song has saved. War Paint kind of drags, as does most of the other songs on this album. It lacks spark or flair and sounds kind of flat. The bass is enjoyable, however, and the lyrics are good. Rupert Hine's keyboarding on Anagram is fun to listen to if you're in the right mood. Don't look for any Tom Sawyer's here, however.
Report this review (#20989)
Posted Saturday, January 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars I had such high hope for this one when it came out, some great songs here, Superconductor, Show Don't Tell, Chain Lightning, but the production was flat. Rupert Hine was a bad choice for producer. I wonder if Rush had looked at his resume, it includes Howard Jones, Thompson Twins, Tina Turner, Saga and The Fixx, all lame, I couldn't find one album in his resume I liked. Worst snare sound for Neil ever, sounds loose and flappy. Would have been great with another producer (like Terry Brown).
Report this review (#20992)
Posted Friday, January 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album almost seems to be a filler album but with high points of sweetness. The opening track "Show Don't Tell" is Rush with it's best ability of making good music with thoughtful lyrics. Followed by "Chain Lightning" which should be the title piece to the album because of it's great sound. And then comes "The Pass", a sad melody about suicide that is addictive to repeat for more listening which is also a great Rush song. "Superconductor" is in one word: fun. Neil's drum kit sounds better here than on most. A good Rush album for true fans.
Report this review (#20975)
Posted Sunday, February 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I love it for a couple of songs on it. Apart from Animate, they haven't wrote something like Show Don't Tell, Chain Lightning or Red Tide for their later albums. The sound may be a bit thin, but what an improvement to Power Windows and Hold Your Fire. Presto kicked the SAGA and TOTO stuff out of USH and brought in good songwriting. And isn't the title track a bit like Farewell to Kings for beginners? Love it!
Report this review (#20976)
Posted Friday, February 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars keyboards more in the background but sound is still very clear and vivid, guitar sounds little bit different than before but it works perfect here. There's one weaker song on this album and it's Scars (not enogh melodic) but the rest are really good. Listen with joy.
Report this review (#20979)
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This one is a logical progression from Moving Pictures. Although Geddy himself has dismissed this album, I find it one of their best. the fifth contender for best Rush album ever. Every track is superb. Comparatively weak is Hand Over Fist, but only comparatively! The album opens with Show Don't Tell, with amazing guitar work by Alex. Chain Lightning and The Pass continue this, and War Paint is a modern Rush classic. Great stuff! Presto is brilliant. SuperConductor has a tremendous riff, and Available Light is essential. A great album and one of Rush's finest. Listen to it and you will agree!
Report this review (#20981)
Posted Saturday, March 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Perhaps a misunderstood record; from tip to toe is a great solid album that has a great continuity, a great lyrics and a complex yet accesible music sequence. Starting with "show don´t tell" they embraces a whole new direction in their music, the guitars sound a little mellow and more straight natural sound than the previous decade, also, the bass has more pressence, and less synthethetized in here, and the drums sound greater than ever!!!. As many might say, this is a more pop oriented record, however, the band has clarified and returned to a more natural sound, setting the path to newer times, leaving the "synths" an the 80's in the past
Report this review (#20994)
Posted Friday, April 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ah, the magic had returned. "Show Don't Tell" slaps the listener around with its tight, sinuous mix of bass, drums and guitar while pushing the synthesizers back where they belonged. Credit coproducer Rupert Hine for helping RUSH rediscover where their true power lie: superlative musicianship, forceful imagery and rational exuberance. For the opening track alone this is the best RUSH album since "Signals", but "Presto" is not a case of top-loading the deck this time. The disc rocks hard from every angle, like the caged energy of "Chain Lightning", "War Paint" and "Superconductor." If you've been lulled to sleep by the synthetic softness of "Grace Under Pressure" or "Hold Your Fire", "Presto" is the wake-up call you've waited for. It'ss their leanest album since "Power Windows", but rendered with much more energy and technical skill. In fact, with this album RUSH began to show up in the heavy metal category (they did rock harder than Tull), joining borderline prog/metal acts like KING'S X and QUEENSRYCHE in that molten middle earth. There are still nods to their past work; "The Pass" sounds a lot like "Second Nature", while "Turn The Page" reappears in a few tracks. Of course, those were some of the better tracks from "Hold Your Fire", and it certainly does seem on "Presto" that RUSH and Rupert Hine were able to distill what was best about the band and replicate it across an entire disc. "Presto" and "Hands Over Fist" are also excellent cuts that rank with the best work from their last few efforts.

Having closed the '80s chapter with the live "A Show of Hands", "Presto" bodes very well for the future. Again RUSH had regrouped and revised their approach to stay relevant, once more proving that their vision of prog rock could take root anywhere, anytime.

Report this review (#20995)
Posted Monday, May 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars As a hardcore Rush fan, its sometimes hard to be objective. People seem to either love or hate the band with equal passion, with most rock fans feeling the latter emotion. Still, I'll try to be fair. PRESTO, although generally regarded as hailing Rush's fourth phase, feels more like the culmination of their third. Taken as a whole, it is the most pop feeling of their catalogue; not only because there are no extended compositions, but there are no musical chances here. For instance, even though the verses in 'Superconductor' are in 7/4 it is the chirpiest song on the album. The word that comes to mind is "bland". That's not necessarily a bad thing for any other band but RUSH has set the bar so high for so long. The best songs are "Show Don't Tell"( jazzy syncopated rocker), "The Pass" (with it's touchingly mournful lyrics), "War Paint" (who knew they'd ever record a sing-along!), and "Presto" (a stripped down new age, folk). I'm surprised at how "Presto" is so often overlooked, but it may be that it is indicative of how PRESTO sounds overall. The sound is spacious-owing to Rupert Hines production- with guitars, drums, keyboards and vocals crisply distinct and noticably echoed. Geddy's bass is the odd man out of the mix. A solid entry in the discography, PRESTO is an interesting segue to their 'back to rock' albums that follow. But may leave RUSH fans, especially those that are musicians, craving something more.
Report this review (#20996)
Posted Tuesday, June 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars A younger sister of Moving pictures and Hold your fire. This album I have found as a very serious one. It is about humans in the world that sometimes may seem strange and cold and therefore they often use to make some illusions around them. And this music is about these illussions on the one hand and about a real pulsing world full of fire, air, stones and water to touch and breath on the other hand. This pressure in music is strong and influencing. It is like a river of positive energy helping you to find a way through the fog of illusions.
Report this review (#21001)
Posted Monday, November 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Despite the disco/dance leanings of Chain Lightning, Hand Over Fist, Anagram---or perhaps, I hate to say, because of them---I really like this album. The music is tight, the lyrics are superb as usual, and the whole album fits together so well as a whole. It's a quality listen the whole way through. Some serousness here and there (The Pass, War Paint) as well as lots of fun (Chain Lightning [that's nice!], Anagram) give this album a good mix and make it a very interesting listen. Not only that, but every part of it is polished prog that somehow retains a gritty rock 'n roll attitude. Next to Moving Pictures, this may just be Rush's best album. A great comeback from a band that never really left.
Report this review (#21002)
Posted Monday, January 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I found this album quite dull. The songs are all very basic and similar to each other in their compositional structure, and the mandatory guitar solos are not very good. The album cover with lots of bunnies is quite funny though...
Report this review (#21004)
Posted Friday, April 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Presto, Rush's 1989 release is opened by a catchy/groovy "Show Don't Tell". Apart from its hard and deep progressive rock root, Rush's Presto is pretty much light musically and somewhat took a slight distance from its progressive sense and more into the commercial rock scene. Do I like it? In a way, yes I do. This one effort is pretty much fresh to my ears. Is Rush trying to play safe with this effort? I hope these lines don't describe them that way. ".who can you believe?/it's hard to play safe/but apart from a very few good friends/we don't take anything on faith/until later."

Other 'somewhat light' tracks can also be heard during their performances on "Chain Lightning", "War Paint", "Presto", and "Anagram". Not that those tracks are less memorable, but it is hard for one that had an expectation from a band such as Rush when they release a new album. However, "The Pass" penned a beautiful ballad with its lines ".proud swagger out of the courtyard/waiting for the world's applause/rebel without a conscience/martyr without a cause." I always love the lyrics penned by Neil Peart, especially of those on environment and social political issues. Another my favorite lines in this track is ".no hero in your tragedy/no daring in your escape/no salutes for your surrender/nothing noble in your fate/Christ, what have you done?"

"Scars" is a cool track with nice percussion touch. I guess this is one of their effort trying to get very much close with modern/commercial music. While "Superconductor" is a rock n' roll type track penned down by Alex Lifeson's rhythm guitar-driven signature. "Red Tide" for me is a 'skip-able' track. I almost got nothing out of it, while "Hand Over Fist" is slightly better than the previous one. I love these cynical lyrical lines ".you talk as we walk along/you never imagined I could be so wrong/humming your favorite song/you know I've hated that song for so long." the album is closed by a soft and poppy track called "Available Light". I think it is a good choice to do.

Presto was not their best effort up to date. Probably the music scene had affected them at that time or it was simply about creativity. But I salute them for surviving more than two decades in the rock music business. Probably it was for their ability to ".I'll go with the wind/I'll stand in the light." as penned down in their lyrics. Am I satisfied? Yes, I am. Several tracks are memorable to me and I always have the pleasure of having the rights to select any tracks I'd like to play in this cd. Perhaps you should do that too.

Report this review (#21005)
Posted Friday, April 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Rush is one of those bands that i have never been fan of, some friends of mine like them a lot and that is why i started to listen to some of their albums, one day in a local shop i fouind this album in a very nice price so i buy it and later exchanged it, why?, because this album is completely boring and lacks of originality and good music, maybe i am being a bit hard with it because i am not a Rush follower, but i have listened much better albums than this, maybe this album was contagied by the 80s pop era of music, this album shows a commercial side of Rush and i dont like it, the musci is not the best nor the worst, but i think they could have done something better, since i exchanged it, i have never listened to it again, and i am not willing to do it, just for fans.
Report this review (#21009)
Posted Tuesday, April 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A very underrated album that I particularly enjoy. This is at a point where Rush was at full flight in the 80's, doing what they do best. Neil Peart, Alex Lifeson, and Geddy Lee are masters of their instruments, and they talents still come through 11 years after their first masterpiece. The use of keyboards is heavy, but Geddy sticks with the vocals and bass as his first priority.

The album begins with Show Don't Tell, which could be a prequel to the upcoming behemoth beat of Roll the Bones. With a very upbeat and ear friendly chorus, they rip and roar through the piece with precision and skill. The next track worth mentioning is the emotional The Pass, a piece that Neil wrote about teen suicide. With a very emotional vocal line by Geddy and some emotional playing by Lifeson, you can't help but be brought to tears. The title track is also very good, with a hook line chorus, and some very interesting work by Geddy. The other track I particularly like is Superconductor. This is a very underrated track IMO. Alex's work never ceases to amaze me.

Overall, this album is very good. All of the members play their best and it shows on 50 minutes of music paradise. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who is just getting into Rush, but once you are a fan, this is an album you won't want to miss.

Report this review (#21010)
Posted Monday, May 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Over the years I've found that Presto never really got the credit for being as good as an album as it is. Sure the original signal levels left something to be desired but the essential qualities were there. The album comes acroos even better now that it's been remastered. Thought I'd add my opinion for the day.
Report this review (#35982)
Posted Friday, June 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars 3.32? wow- I guess my musical taste differs by a lot comapred to many- EVery time I listen to this CD I find a new favorite song- most recently "The Pass" These songs are all awesome- with wonderful choruses- and riffs- and the drumming? So tasty!!! This is quickly becoming my favorite Rush album- and its sad to see it rated so low. Oh well- I LOVE IT!! guess im a lucky one
Report this review (#37454)
Posted Friday, June 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Actual rating- 3.5

this is a pretty good album, its like synth era Rush without the synths. Rush turned a little bit away from prog with their music here, and became a little more pop rock. However, the melodiousness and great lyrics make up for this.

The album starts off with Show Don't Tell, a pretty good Rush song, although it's typical of this era. Then comes Chain Lightning, a great melodic song. Track 3, The Pass, is one of my favorite Rush songs, for its emotionally moving lyrics and great melodies. War Paint is alright, but the chorus is what makes this song. Track 5, Scars, is really good, with a rocking memorable chorus. Presto, the title track, is tied with The Pass for best song on the album. Actually it falls slightly short of the Pass, though it is still excellent. Superconductore, I think it is slightly overrated. It is still pretty good though. Anagram (for Mongo) is a great mellow song with clever lyrics. Then comes Red Tide, a super melodic song, very good. Hand Over Fist is another mellow one that I really like. Available Light is OK, but the chorus, which sounds pretty Reggae-ish is cool sounding.

So this is a good album for fans of Rush's 80's stuff, although there is less outstanding material on this one. Stand out tracks include Show Don't Tell, The Pass, Scars, Presto, Anagram, Red Tide, and Hand Over Fist.

Report this review (#38094)
Posted Thursday, June 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
2 stars In the end of 1989 Rush released the album "Presto". It contains songs with catchy melodics, subtle breaks, short but fiery soli and functional keyboards. I will never forget that I heard for the first time the album opener "Show don't tell", I almost cried like a baby who had lost his favorite toy! This confronted me with the fact that Rush was no longer interested in making long and varied compositions, I had to respect their musical choices but from now on Rush was no longer my band, I sold this album after two sessions... what a disappointment!
Report this review (#42286)
Posted Tuesday, August 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I really enjoy this album, and for several reasons. After the synth-heavy HOLD YOUR FIRE, Rush went back and thought things out a bit. PRESTO sees guitars coming back to the fore, with Lifeson sounding re-energized. I simply cannot find fault with any of the songs on this disc, except MAYBE "Anagram" sounds a bit too, well, clever-clever. But the music is catchier than the E-bola virus. "Available Light" is FANTASTIC; a towering monolith of emotion. As Geddy sings "I'll go with the wind, I'll stand in the light...", I get chills down my spine, the hair on my arms stands up on end, and I can't help but sing along in my most UN-Geddylike Geddy voice. On the whole, it's a flawless record, and so what if they decided to make the disc with Rupert Hine! His production skills are second to that of only Bob Rock, and that's it. To the people who are dissing this record: OH, PLEASE! Go back and listen to it again.
Report this review (#44536)
Posted Saturday, August 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I felt I needed to review this album, even though I never owned it and have not heard it since probably 1990 or so. The reason being that the year it was released was also the year I "discovered" Rush (by that I mean, actually realized what a great band they were.........I had been hearing their popular hits on the radio for years before this of course). In fact, this was the year I first came to prog rock in general in a big way (I had been into Floyd for a few years, but never realized they were considered a prog band and was not even aware of the fact there was a genre called prog). I was mostly focused on the album 2112, but also was getting into the early 80's material as well. So when my friends and I heard "Show don't Tell", it was something of a revelation to us. It seemed like Rush was returning to their prog glory days. Of course, when we finally listened to the whole album we realized that this was not really the case. But the album was still good, and to my ears at the time far better than the previous 4. Since this was also the only tour I saw Rush on (2 shows), it has some sentimental value for me. In fact, the first of the two shows, we got to see Neil make a mistake(!) on the song Superconductor, after which he proceded to play a completely different drum part for the rest of the song that was amazing and made the song far better than the studio version. Alas I never saw anything like that again from him, just his usual precision, but it gave a hint to just what this band could have done had they taken a different approach to live performance of their songs (i.e. not just playing the songs as note perfect recreations of the studio albums). So a decent album if you are a Rush fan, but certainly not a good place for a progger to start with the band.
Report this review (#58800)
Posted Thursday, December 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Honestly, I hated this album when it first came out. I thought it was way too Pop for the band. And don't get me started on "ROLL THE BONES" (a co-worker thought I'd like the Rap bridge on the title track, because I'm Black and was from New York. LOL).

Ten years later, I was about to sell it (clearing out some music), until I decided to give it another listen. And I found myself playing it again and again (also due to the fact that my GirlFriend at the time had "TEST FOR ECHO. The work that got me back inot RUSH again). I came to the conclusion that "PRESTO" was the most adult music RUSH had ever done. Rupert Hine (who at the time, I felt the WRONG choice for production duties) gave the group focus lyrically and musically. All the keyboarding from previuos outings fell into place on "PRESTO".

"PRESTO" sounded more along the lines of Beautiful, lush, New Age adult Pop. This was the same thing Joni Mitchel was doing with "WILD THINGS RUN FAST", "DOG EAT DOG", and "CHALKMARK IN A RAINSTORM" at the time. Geddy Lee voice especially went down a few registers. So it sounded more emotional. It was perfect for this record. And later outings.

I had to "grow up", in order to listen to "PRESTO"(other than the fact that Iwas doing Jazz, Folk, and more adult fare in radio). And I was glad I didn't toss it. I even changed my mind about "ROLL THE BONES" too.

I was hoping RUSH would stay this route for a bit. But like Miles Davis and Joni Mitchell, you either stay their musical course, or get off.

Report this review (#59047)
Posted Saturday, December 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars An underrated and overlooked album by Rush which hooked me on one of my first listens. This album deserves much more attention than it receives but it is not a complete progressive rock masterpiece, hence my rating of 4 stars. There are some stand-outs, like "The Pass", "Superconductor", and "Scars", while also having some underrated: "Presto", "Red Tide", and "Anagram". Overall, this album is full of very splendid Rush compositions and a few above average songs; it doesn't meet the masterpiece status of "Hemispheres" or "Moving Pictures". If you are interested in Rush and especially like their Power Windows/Roll the Bones-esque material, I wouldn't hesitate to purchase this.
Report this review (#59686)
Posted Thursday, December 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Having read all the Rush album reviews in this excellent web-site I just had to get stuck in and review my fav Rush album 'Presto'. I'm giving it 5 as its head and sholders above what any band could conjour up on their 13th studio album or 15 years into their recording career. And that's only one of many reasons for doing so, here are some more : Rush to me are the most consistent band there has ever been, Rush fans will mostly agree with me here, most Rush fans either love prog or hard rock or both, in my case both - name any other band who have came close to what Rush have achieved musically with such diversity& integrity add to that solid album sales and sell out shows year in year out since 1976 ie from '2112' onwards, not stopping at 'Presto' but to the present day. A candidate maybe not for best band on the planet (we fans do think they are) but certainly the favourites for most consistent band in the world over the past 30 years.

Now onto 'Presto' - probably the biggest musical change took place from 'Hold your Fire' to 'Presto' than with say 'Moving Pictures' to 'Signals' which was a big change in direction. The songs are strong in all ways, musically, lyrically, rhythm and mood, not a bad song on the album, Scars is my least favourite but i'd still give it 7 out of 10, most of them would get a 9 or a 10 from me, I have had certain friends who said 'Presto' was too good and they weren't even Rush fans, I don't want to go on and on about Presto but i am still getting something different with every listen and have been since I bought it in 1989, 'The Pass' thankfully is still played live and remains the sole song from this album that is, if only the band knew how good this album was and that the fans of this album would far rather hear 'Superconductor', 'Presto', 'Chain Lightning' etc than 'Tom Sawyer', 'Freewill' etc, we still love these classic songs but what a treat it would be....

Report this review (#64013)
Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Poof! Here they are, working out great songs, and playing great intstrumental breaks in them. My only complaint: those cutesy chimes in the title track, and how thin Alex's sound was (probably due to his use of the same old Gallien-Krueger amps he used on "A Show of Hands"). But Geddy is in full flare with the funky "Scars" (which my bassist brother is now obsessed with, for reasons you might know why). This album is made up of great musicianship, plastic CD materials (for a clearer remastered sound), and Rush's production values (don't get me started on Rupert Hine... shudder).
Report this review (#67382)
Posted Sunday, January 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars A low 3.

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

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

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

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

Report this review (#72491)
Posted Tuesday, March 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Good introduction to 'modern' period of Rush.

Starting with Presto, the final period of the band has a lot of appeal to the girlfriends of the Rush fandom; the easy listening period finally arrived and Rush has many radio staples per album, here The Pass and Show don't Tell (with both interesting videos).

Presto is also the start of the 'personnal' records of Rush, with much more deeper lyrics about man/woman, soul/society and humans/environnement. It's also the start of the 'super stylish art covers' with great pictures and incredible work of imagination and marketing. Peart is opening a bit more his heart and some pretty emotionnal stuff can be heard in the Pass for example. Rush got a lot more FM friendly this time but the overall product is again, above average. Althought technically, it's inferior to Hold Your Fire with a lot less keyboard and a lot more acoustic guitar and a clear 90's production.

For many this has been their introduction to Rush, but as a big, big fan, Presto is less interesting since the threesome lost almost totally it's 70's attitude.

Not 'in-your-face' anymore.

Report this review (#73984)
Posted Monday, April 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
3 stars Definitely one of their best '90s albums (though it came out in '89), "Presto" is a vast improvement on the overtly commercial leanings of "Hold Your Fire". True, there are easier moments here as well, but the presence of synthetisers is thankfully less obtrusive and Alex Lifeson's guitar once again a protagonist .

The opener "Show Don't Tell" immediately sets the scene, with its jagged rythms and Alex's aggressive riffing - clearly a much more complex offering than the catchier, chorus-orientated songs on HYF. "Chain Lighting" rocks harder and faster than most of the band's '80s production after "Moving Pictures"; while the slower, deceptively melodic "The Pass" deals in style with the thorny topic of suicide, as if introducing the darker subject matter of the album's follow-up, "Roll the Bones". Though not all the tracks are as good as these three, there are other gems to be found on this album, such as the ethnic-tinged, strongly percussive "Scars", the partly acoustic title-track and the brisk, dynamic "Red Tide". Even the weaker tracks, though, never reach the really low standards of some of the songs on "Test for Echo".

While it's true that Rush have never gone back to the longer compositions of their '70s glory days, there is a lot of merit in being able to write shorter yet interesting songs which are intelligent and progressive in their own way. "Presto" is obviously bound to be a disappointment to those who would have wanted the band to churn out clones of "2112" and "Hemispheres" until the end of their career (which has not yet come about, thank goodness!); though more open-minded listeners will appreciate its many strengths, not least the steady growth of Geddy Lee's vocal skills: no longer a Robert Plant clone (as he's often been unkindly labelled), but an articulate, expressive singer, the best possible vehicle for Neil Peart's lyrics. An excellent album, one I would recommend to all but, perhaps, the "absolute beginners". A solid 3.50 stars, this time rounded up to 4.

Report this review (#75264)
Posted Monday, April 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars An interesting release, this one. After the synth-laden "Hold Your Fire" and before the over-commercial "Roll The Bones", "Presto" is one of those Rush albums that stands alone (Grace Under Pressure, Counterparts, 2112 are such albums). It sounded fresh when released, sounding like no other Rush album before it (nor any album after it). Most tracks are very good : "Show Don't Tell" is probably the hymn song from this album, with an interesting rythmic structure and a nice bass solo.

"Chain Lightning" is a bit reminiscent of the old "Batman" television theme (only way much better), has good lyrics and a great drum part.

"The Pass" is probably Rush's most poignant song, a semi-ballad dealing with suicide, where the band sounds as delicate as they never have (remember Tears, Madrigal, Different Strings), better than Bravado on Roll the Bones in my opinion. The display of restraint and feel within this song is superb.

"War Paint" is ok, not very good nor very bad. Still sounding like nothing else they previously recorded.

"Scars" is definitely Neil Peart's stand-out number on this album (drum wise). The drums are as interesting as, say, in songs like Mystic Rythms and Territories, only even more so. So interesting in fact, that Neil incorporated one part of the song in his drum solo from there on. I am not sure, but I believe Geddy only plays synth and vocals on this track (the bass sound is so synthetic) and Lifeson's guitars are ethereal. An excellent mezmerizing track.

"Presto" was a pleasant surprise, with acoustic guitars that actually sounded like acoustic guitars (I believe the only other song Lifeson played acoustic guitar in the 80's was Mystic Rythms, and it did not really sound as an acoustic guitar). A light, catchy number, with a somewhat magical mood to it.

"Superconductor" is the album's rock track, the most upbeat song. When the album was released, I remember friends that either loved or loathed that song. I was among those who loved it. The most energetic number of the album.

"Anagram". Well, this song is filler for me. Even though the lyrics are exciting (altering words to form other words as the title suggests) I find that this has to be one of the two really weak tracks of this album, and one of Rush's weakest moments along with another song from this album which comes later.

"Red Tide" is a great song, environmentally engaged with great lyrics. It is also a great track musically, a bit more in the vein of Territories.

"Hand over Fist" is, to me, even worse than "Anagram" and wins the uncoveted "Worst Rush Song" award in my humble opinion.

Album closer "Available Light" is, once again, a very different song from Rush. A slow introduction with piano, evolving into a rock song, returning to a slow verse, with a great vocal melody.

Production wise, everything is crystal clear. Probably a bit too clear, at the expense of bottom end. While Alex Lifeson benefits from this, Geddy Lee's sound suffers from it, while Neil Peart's sound is very good, very in-your-face, just a bit too clear.

Forget tracks like "Anagram" and "Hand over Fist", and what you have here is a great album, unique in Rush's discography for it's approach and songwriting. The second best album of the period between "A Show of Hands" and "Different Stages". Overall, I think I even prefer this one to "Hold Your Fire". Keep in mind that this is not prog rock anymore (art rock instead), and you should not be dissapointed.

Report this review (#82442)
Posted Sunday, July 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
2 stars "Presto" has the band sounding more restrained and refined than ever before; each note sounds meticulous and the album's production is so squeaky clean you'll be wondering if the mixing board erased all the rock from the songs. Honestly, the tracks are all very good-- but they are also very dull.

Peart's lyrics are as smart as ever but, like much of the band's playing here, just can't generate the same excitement as before. There are few songs that you'll remember and even fewer that the band themselves perform live today. My biggest complaint, however, is the positively anemic sound of Alex's once majestic guitar.

I would say that this is their weakest album of the '80's; fun for dedicated fans of the band but a poor example of the group's virtuosity.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 2 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

Report this review (#116651)
Posted Thursday, March 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars This is one of RUSH's most commercial sounding records. And having Rupert Hine produce it will certainly help bring that about. This would be their last album of the eighties and the sounds and style we heard on "Hold Your Fire" can be found on songs like "Chain Lightning" and "War Paint". While "Anagram" may have seemed like a good idea at the time it has to be the worst song on this record. "Red Tide" brings to mind "Grace Under Pressure" with the meaningful, dark lyrics.

"Show Don't Tell" is a good song with a crisp, clean sounds and short instrumental outbursts. The synths are in the background, as they are on most of these songs thankfully (except the songs I mentioned earlier)."The Pass" is perhaps the best song on here and it's certainly the most meaningful as it touches upon teen suicide. They did a video for this one. "Presto" has some good tasteful guitar and I like the lyrics. In the liner notes you can see the humour of RUSH when they start to thank people. For example : "A wave of the wand to..." "Superconductor" is an upbeat, catchy tune about the effect famous people have on the public. "Hand Over Fist" is pretty good with that good beat. "Available Light" seems to work. Some interesting guitar from Alex 2 minutes in. Great drumming as usual.

An upgrade from "Hold Your Fire" but still not worth more than 3 stars.

Report this review (#120010)
Posted Friday, April 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Pop goes the Rush.

Though an album that has some very strong offerings, and some complete essentials, this is more one for the fans. This album definately has more of a pop taste to it as the 90s approachs, and where the late 80s and early 90s Rush had more experimental material happening this album is kind of lost, attempting rock, post-prog and pop music in a sort of mish-mash that Rush doesn't normally come out with. However, if you're a big fan of the Hold Your Fire/Roll The Bones era of Rush, don't pass this one up!

Some songs on this album are very friendly to the listener's ears, with SUPERCONDUCTOR and SHOW DON'T TELL being very often heard my local radio, each song is good, very catchy, but that's not what Rush and prog fans love about the band. There aren't really any low points to be had, but what makes me give this album the rating it's getting is the lack of high points. Most songs are fairly average, and where each one does have it's charm, you have to really appreciate the angle that each one is being told from. The few high points on the album include the solumn THE PASS, a song about teenage suicide, CHAINLIGHTNING, a pop-flavored prog track that is actually quite good a few times around, and the increadble diamond in the rough AVAILIBLE LIGHT. This is a track highlighted with increadable vocals and instrumention, which really is where the whole album should have been going, what an album that would have been!

In the end it's an enjoyable album that ultimately gets a 2.5 star rating for having less longevity than most of Rush's albums, and, really, being more of a fan only thing. Rush fans will find a lot to like on this album (I did), but prog fans looking to get into Rush had better avoid this one. Good, but fans/collectors would find it more enjoyable than others.

Report this review (#135011)
Posted Monday, August 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars I am huge rush fan...

every time I go to see them play I pray they don't play anything from this album. it'so frighteningly mediocre. Bad has its merits .. sometimes Led Zep get it horribly wrong, but hey, so what, they're pushing the envelope. This album hardly pads the's as if the band had been given a dose of soporifics.

Banal platiitudionus vacuous track follows banal platitudinous track. this is truly dreadful.

If I could wave MY magic wand I would consign this album to anals of history (whoops did i mean annals, no ...on relfection I think I got it right the first time).

I would love to have said that there was a passable B-side in this but ... hey you know I wouldn't

Time to put on some Temple of the Dog.......... Hunger Strike ... oh yes

Not such a bad evening after all

Pass the sherry vicar

Report this review (#137927)
Posted Wednesday, September 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars One of the good albums of Rush from the '80's but with lack of passion i might say. Not as good as the predecesor but still enjoyble. Not very much to add here, only if you enjoy Rush's music you must try this one. Anyway Presto is the last album of the eighties of this famous band, what is most obvious here is that the synths are in the background, that is not the story on previouses releases where the synths are very in front like on Grace under pressure or Moving pictures. Presto has high points and low points of greatness. For example Show Don't Tell is Rush with it's best ability of making good music with good lyrics and Superconductor, the best pieces from here, the low points are Anagram and Scars far more mediocre than any Rush songs from the '80's. So this album desearves 3 stars but nothing more.
Report this review (#163352)
Posted Friday, March 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars Presto? Someone please make some magic with this album. I'm not going to hold back. This is the sorriest production I have heard on any Rush release. Sonically, it is difficult to appreciate due to the tinny sound Rupert Hine convinced the band to keep. Too bad, some nice acoustic work by Alex Lifeson is present.

This album has one standout. The Pass. Not Prog at all, but an excellent song. It is one that belongs on a Rush Best of Collection. The song addresses teenage suicide. I once heard that Neil wrote it for his teenage daughter, in sort of a never give up no matter how difficult life gets vein. I think he was watching her grow up while writing this album because War Paint addresses vanity. 'The mirror always lies.'

There are three blatant throw away songs, lyrically speaking, in Anagram, Presto, and Hand Over Fist. Decent yet not truly memorable are Show Don't Tell, Red Tide, and Available. Superconductor is upbeat and almost catchy for a 7/4 tune, but it really goes no where. It seems a bit forced. Chained Lightning has no electricity.

As always, the musicianship is there and no matter how good Rush are, many of the songs here just can't conjure the spark of interest. Then again, maybe if it had better EQ. Ah, maybe not. Presto gets the lowest rating from this Rush fan. It's for collectors only. 2/5 stars

Report this review (#169412)
Posted Thursday, May 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is really a 3.5 score, cuz I consider this one of the better collection of post-80's songs Rush has compiled. By this point the band had devolved into an 80's synth band and abandoned any of the complexity and daring that marked their best efforts. Still, many of the songs here work very well, making this one of the better of the post-80's albums.

Highlights include Red Tide (with a terrific, urgent keyboard melody), Show Don't Tell (pretty much a standard Rush single at this point but good nonetheless), Chain Lightning (with a cool bopping guitar bit). The band had also learned the art of the slow rock single in such songs as The Pass and Hand Over Fist. Scars represents worldview song now present on every Rush release, but has nice drum rhythms.

All in all a solid effort but clearly not the band's best. From here forward, though, things did not get better.

Report this review (#174721)
Posted Saturday, June 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After returning to Rush and their studio albums after a 20 year hiatus, post Power Windows I can honestly say what a good move it was. While the tracks became shorter in composition the artistic magic and craftmanship is still there. Presto maybe an album largely panned by critics and band members alike but I have to say it sounds fresher than Power Windows, which sounded like the ideas were drying up. ' The Pass' is a superb Slow marching song, great lyrics and melody as well. Other great songs are the closing' Available Light' and the tightly woven ' Superconductor'. The first track ' Show Don't Tell' sounds like a rendition revisit of ' Spirit of the Radio' with great guitar licks from Alex Lifeson. Overall Presto has impressed after about half a dozen listens. Rush were still evolving and after finally accepting shorter compositions and less demanding concepts and atmospheres their music still sounds great. A solid three stars.
Report this review (#176446)
Posted Thursday, July 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Not a bad album at all! In fact, Rush music in the final of the 80's is very soft and not at all heavy-progressive. Lifeson's guitar sound is very good; there are some nice solos in the songs of the album. I considered this album very boring on my first auditions, but now I can say it's acceptable. There's nothing special, a little bit less electronic than HYF. I can hardly distinguish a few songs I like most. However. Show don't tell-nice chorus, Presto-nice lyrics, and the last one, Available light. Overall, over 50 minutes of synth-rock music Geddy Lee and co. created for us-the prog music listeners- even if not so epic and majestic as PW and HYF.
Report this review (#178361)
Posted Monday, July 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Presto begins RUSH's "Contemporary period" of 90's releases which include Presto (1989), Roll the Bones (1991), Counterparts (1993), Test for Echo (1996), and Different Stages "Live" (1998).

Presto represents many changes for Rush. A New Record Label (Atlantic), another new producer, Rupert Hine, and the band's first true compact disc length release at 52 minutes, breaking a long line of 40 minute 8 song albums. The records over-all sound is a definite change from previous offerings. Neil Peart's tighter drum sound, Geddy's almost mid-range bass, and Alex's semi-acoustic guitar riffs mark a shift to this "Contemporary period" for the band and the fans. Sorry, but I can only give this thing 2 stars. I only own it because I'm a Rush completist and have all their albums.

Presto is one of my least favorite Rush albums. Almost none of the songs ever really grabbed me. There are a few stand-outs, but also the un-sonic clarity of the sound of this album I think was also a turn-off. The band considers "The Pass" as one of the best songs they have ever written. Geddy Lee describes Presto as kind of a "warm-up" record to their next release, Roll the Bones, which has far superior writing on it compared to Presto.

Best Track: Show Don't Tell

Report this review (#182468)
Posted Monday, September 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars A kick up the their fans backsides ??

Although Hold Your Fire was the first Rush album I ever listened to...... and got me hooked on them, I never really liked Signals and their synth period. I got the A Show Of Hands live album, liked it and hoped for a return to more guitars and a bit heavier sound. Presto was the answer to my prayers.

In hindsight and twenty years later, Presto does not seems like the refreshener I once thought it was. It is not Alex in full flight. It still has a lot of synth. The songs are still a bit too pop for my liking. I may have developed as a person during these last twenty years. I may have become a man. Presto does not kick ass as it once did. Instead, it now have a lot of good melodies. Most of them are well known to me now. OK, I have to confess that Presto is not the album I have been listening a lot to during the last five years. I only dusted it off again after receiving a promo copy of the new Rush sampler.

Presto now has a lot of good songs and some weaker stuff. Too much of the stuff seems like throwaway stuff from previous projects. Other stuff are again pretty good. Rush seems to dislike this album and it is a bit of an oddity. Or perhaps not. In any case; Presto has a lot of interesting details and good songs. Show Don't Tell is a good opener. Superconductor is my favourite track from this album. The title track is very good too. Scars and Hand Over Fist is just horrible.

My conclusion is that Presto is a good Rush album. It is not great though. But I still enjoy it and will listen more to it during the coming years.

3.5 stars.

Report this review (#200815)
Posted Tuesday, January 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Presto is the thirteenth full-length studio album by Canadian progressive rock act Rush. The album was recorded at Le Studio in Morin Heights and at McClear Place in Toronto using producer Rupert Hine when producer Peter Collins ( who had produced the two previous efforts from the band) declined the offer. Hold Your Fire (1987), which was the last album before Presto, was a heavily synthezised affair and a step towards more mainstream pop/ rock according to many fans while Presto marks the transition towards the more guitar oriented style that Rush would follow in the nineties.

The music still has lots of synths and people who didn´t enjoy Hold Your Fire might still have a hard time enjoying Presto. There is more emphasis on the guitar though and songs like the album opener Show Don´t Tell and my favorite on the album The Pass are very enjoyable in that respect ( both were released as singles and both charted on the TOP 40 of mainstream rock tracks along with the third single from the album Superconductor). I have a soft spot for the pop oriented Anagram ( for Mongo) too and Chain Lightning is also a favorite. The first four songs on the album does stand out as being the strongest IMO and a couple of the later songs are pretty average. None are bad but they are rather forgettable.

The musicianship is outstanding as always. Great technically challenging drumming, strong and powerful basslines, grand open guitar chords and intriguing guitar solos which by then was a trademark in Alex Lifeson´s sound and Geddy Lee´s distinct high pitched vocals.

The production is powerful and very clean. Not a typical eighties production and it seems that Rush moved into the nineties before time.

Presto is not Rush best album IMO even though it contains one of my favorite Rush tracks in The Pass. I can´t give more than a 3 star rating though as there are simply too many average tracks on the album. Just short of excellent though ( which would mean a 4 star rating in my book).

Report this review (#204091)
Posted Monday, February 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Presto' - Rush (5/10)

Let me begin by saying there are some of Rush's most underrated songs here. The songs 'The Pass' and 'Available Light' are two of my all time favourite Rush songs, and are some of the most beautiful pieces they've ever done. There's also some more well-known material here that's great, such as the progressive 'Show Don't Tell' and the arena-rock song 'Superconductor.' What keeps this album from being really great is the fact that it's not really fun to listen to from start to finish. I listened to it about four times in it's entirity before resorting to focus on my preferred songs, while occasionally turning back to the backcatalogue songs... There's no flow to the album, which is a real shame, considering some of the songs are Rush classics.

Alex Lifeson can be heard here in much grander force than on the few albums that came before, such as 'Power Windows' and especially 'Hold Your Fire.' While it's nice to have Alex back at the forefront, I wish he could have simply done more with the role, and done some more lead work here.

While there are great songs here, there are also very forgettable songs. 'Hand Over Fist,' 'Scars,' 'War Paint,' and 'Chain Lightning' are definately nothing special, and definately would not be songs you would want them to play at concerts.

This is more or less a non-essential album, but the two 'underrated' songs (as I've mentioned before, 'The Pass' and 'Available Light') are too amazing to be missed by any Rush fan. If anything, check out those two songs. The rest of 'Presto' is alright, I guess... Money better spent on something else though, perhaps?

Report this review (#205992)
Posted Tuesday, March 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
2 stars Mixed feelings on this one. A very mediocre affair with perhaps 4 great songs and the rest to be discarded in the waste paper bin of banal popular mainstream radio blechh. There is very little to recommend as far as progressive - in fact it is further from progressive than most other Rush albums.

The sound quality of crashing clanging guitars is up to a high standard but the lyrical content and song structure is very forgettable. In fact it is difficult to find any particular highlights but of note, I guess, is Show Don't Tell, Chain Lightning, War Pass and Superconductor.

As for the rest... scrape it off into the paper bag and sell to the highest bidder.

I love Rush, the classics are indispensable - 2112, Farewell to Kings, Moving Pictures and even more recent works such as Counterparts are brilliant heavy prog works. However, Presto is as exciting as pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Some of it works and most of it does not - It is all so safe and superficial and devoid of that classic quality that is... Rush.

Report this review (#206767)
Posted Thursday, March 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars Not much light available here.

This album belongs to Rush's weakest. Most tracks are not only dull, but annoying for various reasons.

First, there is a group of awkward and cumbersome compositions: Show Don't Tell; Warpaint; Anagram. These tracks are definitely sub par - I got the impression they just picked those songs out of a drawer labeled 'discarded ideas'. They lost their way in those tracks.

Then we have a group of tracks that are just exercises in rhythms - pleasant to the ear at first but you'll long for the end after the second or third spin: Chain Lightning, Scars, Superconductor.

Lastly, we have a group of songs I like, but I can understand when others disagree: Presto, Red Tide, Hand over Fist. Presto I find pretty exceptional for Rush, but its a good, calm number. Red Tide and Hand over Fist have a good groove but might be not heavy enough for the avarage Rush fan.

Then we have the two classics: The Pass and Available Light. Those two pieces are flawless, IMHO. The Pass is a thoughtful number about a suicidal youth - and the music is on par with the high standard lyrics. Available Light cannot be placed anywhere but at the end. I believe this track is the kind of music they want and ought to make.

The rating: Ě'm in two minds whether to give this album 2 or 3 stars but since even the better numbers have nothing to do with prog, I think 2 stars are fair. Nice, enticing artwork, though.

Favourite songs: The Pass, Presto, Available Light

Report this review (#207084)
Posted Saturday, March 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Presto is quite simply one of the finest musical products of the 1980s, fusing popular sensibilities and sounds with smart songwriting. I gravitate toward this album simply because it's great music. Take it for what it is.

"Show Don't Tell" With relevant lyrics, Botox-tight drumming and bass playing, and some powerful guitar work, this stands as one of Rush's best songs of the late 1980s. Lee demonstrates that he has not grown lazy with four strings.

"Chain Lightning" The second song on the album boasts discordant chords and a somewhat discordant melody during the verse. The experimental guitar solo sounds weak, especially with the low-lying rhythm section.

"The Pass" Quite simply one of the best thing Rush did since Moving Pictures (and probably the best song of the 1980s proper), "The Pass" is always a joy to hear. Neil Peart's drumming is as fervent as ever, perhaps imparting additional power to his potent lyrics. Geddy Lee's vocal harmonies are simple but impeccable, while Alex Lifeson's guitar is smooth and welcoming.

"War Paint" Powerful music gives way to cheesy synthesizer on this one, unfortunately. The lyrics are also fairly substandard. Despite those shortcomings, Peart's drumming is outstanding.

"Scars" Inspired by African tribal drumming he experienced whilst on a motorcycle tour of West Africa, Peart uses both acoustic and electronic drums here. Despite it's nearness to Lee's bass sound, the bass here is actually a sequencer. The vocals are particularly forceful.

"Presto" The title track is somewhat cheesy, but tended to grow on me over the years. While I used to skip over it each time I played the album, I no longer can do so.

"Superconductor" That heavy riff in 7/4 is a great taste of the fun in store on this track. The chorus is nothing short of enjoyable, and even the synthesizer-laden middle section makes me bask in satisfaction.

"Anagram (For Mongo)" A song loaded with fun but relevant lyrics, the words dominate this track. The music is good also, but not as powerful as the words.

"Red Tide" One of the few Rush songs to employ the piano as a major instrument, this is largely a laid back song with a somewhat forceful chorus. An allusion to Dylan Thomas's most famous poem is a major part of this song. Lifeson shreds a bit, but his tone is one of his worst.

"Hand Over Fist" Thin clean electric guitar runs through the beginning of this amusing track, which I have always enjoyed. Aside from the typical radio-boasted tracks, this is one of those Rush songs I heard growing up, and it holds a place in my heart.

"Available Light" Another track that's heavy on the piano, the final track on the album is slow initially, but does not stay so. The refrains are beautiful and pertinent, and Lee sings at his most spirited.

Report this review (#209758)
Posted Wednesday, April 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars We are talking about PRESTO here. 3.10 poins. I think it deserves more....


I know that the Star system here is more about how PROG is the album, and if you compare Presto to Hemispheres it seems to be less prog. Here is where I don´t agree: I think it is DIFFERENT, different kinds of prog. Different styles in a same band, yes, considering HP is from the seventies, and PRESTO almost 90`s-

Just listen to show don´t tell, the way the album starts!!!! listen to geddys bass guitar while singing, listen to the tempo changes....

Lets move on chain lightining: what a great drumming, neil!. I LOVE the patterns he has chosen.

The Pass: one of the tenderest songs I`ve ever heard.

We go on.... I could write about all the tracks, but I`d be taking your chance to discover those cool things yourself.

I find it PROG, and GREAT PROG music.

Peace :D

Report this review (#213445)
Posted Saturday, May 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars After several albums where keyboards dominated Rush's sound, 1989's Presto showed a dramatic shift which would eventually lead to Rush's transition back to its roots through the 1990s. Keyboards now played a more discreet role in the band's overall sound. Although a few songs on this album have them as the prominent instrument, the album is decidedly guitar-centric. Everything else in the Rush sound hasn't changed much, from Lee's vocals and the usual complex bass lines to Peart's skilled drumming. It's nice to hear Lifeson's return to form.

The one major similarity with Presto and preceding albums is it still song-oriented and chiefly radio friendly material. It's sort of like Grace Under Pressure and Hold Your Fire combined, but with much fewer keyboards. No matter how much I wish they would return to their late 1970s sound, I can't fault them for more accessible, yet quality material. After all, this was 1989, a year where the word "prog" was practically non-existent. There wasn't much else worth listening to in 1989.

A good album, not in anyway essential and a far cry from the band's peak years. Three stars and a cool album cover.

Report this review (#221693)
Posted Thursday, June 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is definatly their second best 80's work, right behind Hold Your Fire. The only real reason that it didnt get the best vote was for the reason of production. There is a little too much high end and not enough bass end, though it still very upfront, but slightly too sharp sounding for my ears. The bass sounds awesome on this recording, I will say that though. I do wish it was little more bottom end because sometimes, even during some of the bass solos, you can't really hear it all that well. The guitar parts are really interesting to me. They are rythmic and possess some of the best riffs because of Alex and his guitar. Neil, well, Neil is awesome on this record. He plays with some nice passion and its really great. The album is nice....definatly a good one on the 80s side. The next album, a big suprise, might not be as good.

The first song "Show Don't Tell" is easily one of the best songs on the album, maybe behind only "The Pass" really. The bass solo is pretty good, and the keyboards are nice and mysterious, and, for a matter of fact, the whole song is very mysterious sounding because of the dark vocals and guitar chords. The drums are definatly strong. Neil is really pounding and playing really forcefully. There is a slight short guitar solo, that last for a few seconds after the main bass solo and the vocals are singing over it, its very nice though. "Chain Lighting" is even darker sounding than the previous track. The riffs are so dark to me, its a very different track too. The lyrics are interesting enough, really nice. The bass lines are pretty cool, nice and chordy enough. This was the era when Geddy really started to play with chords on the bass, making some different sounds that some other bassists don't do because they usually use one-note lines. The vocals are really nice, nice overdubbing of vocals too. "The Pass" might be the most important song on the album. It talks about teen suicide, and how big of a deal it is now. The music itself is definatly glorious, for one thing. The bass line is really nice and it kind of makes you feel inspired when you listen to it. The guitar knows the right place to play, thanks to Alex, the guitar solo is near perfection. Its not too fast, but it has the right slow pace that is awesome. The drumming is suberb. "Warpaint" is another great rock song, with some proggy lyrics, but thats the only prog thing. Its kind of a letdown musically, but its very good considering the rest of the album. "Scars" is another great track, with an awesome keyboard part that sounds alot like a Geddy bass-part, even though with no chords. The guitar takes a backseat for this song, and the keyboards, vocals, and drums stardout. Neil is so good here, its honestly amazing to me. I can't believe the African influence on this song, its sounds too cool for school to me. "Presto" is a bit too poppy sounding for my taste, but its alright at least. The music is nice, and the lyrics are awesome. "Superconductor" is really the last good song. Its got an awesome and upbeat riff that will not get out of your head, and the vocals are just simply to die for on this song. The rest of the album you can definatly forget, especially "Red Tide" for getting my vote of worst song on the album. Its not bad, its just not very good at all, though nice lyrics. Music is lacking on that song.

The album is definatly a good one, you will want to buy it.

Report this review (#244933)
Posted Friday, October 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
2 stars Rush has been my favourite band ever since I got to know them a good 25 years ago. Only recently they have found strong opposition from Opeth and especially Porcupine Tree. But for now, they still hold their ground. One of the reasons I like them so much is because they have constantly been evolving and following their own vision and inspiration. Basically I've found myself liking all the phases they went through.

Presto is from the era when, looking at the band pictures, we were all wondering if we had purchased an album from a new boysband instead of from our beloved prog guys. Damn, how slick and clean they looked! Well, if these guys have one weakness it is that their looks have followed whatever trend was around at the time. From hard rock hippies to the typical prog-look (long capes and kimonos alert on 2112) and then whatever the most horrible haircut was around in the 80's. Yes, those guys are true fashion victims!

Now, are you still waiting till I'm going to start about the album? Bad luck, I can summarize that in one sentence: it takes a while to get used to the poppy and flimsy bubblegum sound here, but actually, this is a decent set of songs that could please most of their 80's fans.

2.5 stars

Report this review (#250760)
Posted Sunday, November 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Okay, so Rush are my favourite band, so please expect this to be a gushing praise of the kings of music. I'm not a fanboy (believe it or not, they aren't perfect), and some of the stuff on here is a good sign of their weaknesses.

I'll just go track by track.

1. Show don't tell (5:01) - A pretty good song. Not at all the strongest on here. There's a great bass solo in the middle, though. The start is very cool though. 2. Chain lightning (4:33) - Great song, with a particularly great intro. The chorus slows down as little with fantastic lyrics. What brings this one down is the solo, which succeeds at being very chaotic but a little aimless. 3. The pass (4:50) - Awesome, brilliant song. Very good lyrics, great riffs throughout. One of my favourite Rush songs. The live versions really kick this rendition to shreds, though. 4. War paint (5:24) - Not so brilliant, in the same zone as Show Don't Tell. It's got a good outro, though. 5. Scars (4:07) - As a bassist I really appreciate this one. The bass is very prominent. Also, it's quite different from most other Rush songs, hard to compare it to anything they've done. 6. Presto (5:46) - This track has its charms. The choruses are so-so, and the vocals are especially good on this one too, as well as the solo and the outro. 7. Superconductor (4:47) - A very simple song with a fantastic riff. Generally fast paced except for a synth-y bit in the middle which brings it down a little. The choruses easily make it up, and the end continually builds up in power. 8. Anagram (for Mongo) (3:59) - I've always been fond of this one. It's very short, but I love the lyrics, the chorus and the bass. The main riff is also very cool. Sadly, it's actually rather forgettable and I barely think of it when I listen to Presto. 9. Red tide (4:30) - One of the best. Fantastic lyrics, and great riffs. Rush don't use much piano but it makes for a fantastic intro to this one, as well as a great ending. 10. Hand over fist (4:10) - This one isn't so fantastic. The guitars are the main attraction here with some quite cool riffs. The chorus is a bit weak, though. The outro solo is pretty rockin' though. 11. Available light (5:04) - Ah, a great ending song. Some more piano here. Generally slow, it explodes for the choruses and the ending. Very strong, excellent lyrics, and a fantastic instrumental section including a genuinely good solo from Alex (often his solos are quite forgettable). It's a pity it fades out. I'd love love love to see this live.

So, weaker tracks: - Show Don't Tell - War Paint - Hand Over Fist

Middling tracks: - Chain Lightning - Anagram - Presto

Great songs: - The Pass - Superconductor - Available Light - Scars

No, it's not long 10 minute songs any more, that departed long ago. I am very pleased Rush have kept evolving. If you think this review isn't positive enough for a 4 star rating, I probably haven't said it quite right. This album is excellent.

Report this review (#265118)
Posted Tuesday, February 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Yay, Rabbits.

Yea, after the abysmal period (yes I will say that), Rush came back with an album that was, actually a great album.Yea, this is a great achievement for Rush, after that dark and dank period they went through.

With a wee bit of prog and an excellent blend with pop between the 2, this album was very enjoyable.

1. Show Don't Tell - Pretty cool intro/ Very funly. Geddy's vocals in this song are amazing. Quite a catchy chorus. Great opener. I love the bass solo.

2. Chain Lightening - Their is quite an eccentric 80's King Crimson vivbe to this song. Pretty interesting. The chorus is quite nice.

3. The Pass - Classic Rush song. Amazing song with one amazing chorus. They do this song amazing live (Rush In Rio).Great lyrics. Amazing guitar solo. Basicaly one amazing song. Their is also a video for this song, which is a bit werid but quite cool.

4. War Paint - Reminds me of a more upbeatversion of Supertramp. Pretty cool song. I like the vocal harmonies in the chorus.

5. Scars - Amazing bassline. The chorus is graet and quite catchy. I love the synth atmopshere in the song.

6. Presto - The harmonies in the chorus are very nice. A nice laid back moment in the album. The guitar solo is pretty cool.

7. Superconductor - Quite a groovy song. Very cheesy chorus, but very effective. And yes, I love the other guys deep voice. A very catchy song. I love all the different key changes at the end.

8. Anagram (For Mongo) - I don't get what the title means. The chorus is so 80's, but it's pretty cool. Great song, very cheesy.

9. Red Tide - The intro sounds like Duran Duran. Pretty cool chorus. Quite catchy. I love the piano riff in the song.

10. Hand Over Fist - Very cathcy chorus. A nice cathcy song. Pretty cool guitar solo.

11. Available Light - I think there is a bit too much echo on Geddy's vocals in the verse. Great chorus. Good way to end the album.

CONCLUSION: A breath of fresh air from Rush. Thank god. Ohh, a nice breeze.

Report this review (#282493)
Posted Tuesday, May 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ignore what those have said before to some regard; this album, like any pop-influenced album, is more about songs than the album as a whole. There is a continuity here, yes, like there had been in every RUSH album since MOVING PICTURES (if you pick up the excellent coffee table book of theirs that is a compilation of every concert program, NEIL PEART says essentially that every album from MP forward is a concept album to some degree, even if they don't tell stories). However, the main focus is on the songs, and in that regard, they don't come up short. From "The Pass", which is one of their strongest tunes, to the triplet at the end of "Red Tide", "Hand Over Fist", and "Available Light", this album is riddled with songs that are great combinations of pop tonality, progressive rhythms and textures, and smart lyrics. This album begins the four-album period of schmaltz on Rush's part, to be fair, with the next several albums having songs or sections that just feel, well, cheesy, but these are easily avoided. I would say that there is no bad song here, though there are some that I typically skip ("Anagram" and "Chain Lightning", I'm looking at you). Overall, while this doesn't have any songs as great as, say, "Dreamline" or the title track from ROLL THE BONES, the album to which this is most frequently compared, it has more songs that I enjoy, over half, in fact, which makes me feel comfortable with a four-star rating.
Report this review (#409659)
Posted Monday, February 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have twelve albums by Rush. I am by no means a die-hard Rush fan, but I like rock music and particularly prog rock. So over the years I have collected a few. Presto was my first Rush album though, and it surprises me that it is so poorly rated on this site.

I can remember the day I bought it in 1989. It seemed really modern at the time. Most rock music in 89 was either thrash or big hair band so I remember thinking how mature this record sounded. I sought out Permanent Waves soon after and then Moving Pictures...

I revisit this album from time to time and it still sounds great to me. Nothing Rush has done since then comes close to it in my opinion.

Report this review (#428760)
Posted Thursday, April 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars This album has 1 really awesome track ("The Pass"), and one really fine track ("War Paint"). After that, there is little here that captures my interest. There is really little progginess here, it is more straight arena-type rock and much of it sounds very dated. 1989 is kind of obvious here. Most of the music on PRESTO is more radio-friendly than earlier Rush efforts and there are no "Hemisphere", "2112", type epics to be found. The period from about SIGNALS is where my Rush interest (and probably many other people) faded. This is not a bad album but it is at least average. Maybe 1 step below GRACE UNDER PRESSURE and a step above SIGNALS. 3 stars
Report this review (#432882)
Posted Wednesday, April 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars The most disappoint album ever released bu Rush, almost in pair with Test For Echo, but worse then their first album, that one without Neil Peart on drums.

After some excellent and challenging albums from the eighties, when they fooled around dangerously with pop-prog music; releasing a fabulous work like Grace Underpressure, a almost weak Power Windows and a well balanced Hold Your Fire, there was a moment for a great change in their musical direction. This expected change came upon us, but I think it was a miss in its beginning.

Presto sounds like a return to Rush presenting the heavier sound of earlier days. Gone are dominating synthesizers, back are guitars leading role. It may represent or not an escaping from progressive sound; but it is up to our three top skilled musicians to match all we love in progressive rock, no matter what instrument or level of heaviness leads the way. We all know we can be too heavy and deeply prog, Bob Fripp showed it on Red?

So, what is wrong about this album ? The answer is; we have a bunch of too poor songs and no strong ones to elevate the overall quality. This is the missing point here, compositions does not match Rush traditional superb quality. The disappointment begins with the weak opener, becomes a little better (just a little), with Chain Lighting and The Pass, but everything else does not convince that Rush could have done something far better. Even the undeniable dominance over their instruments and the fantastic way they as ever play it makes me avoid two and a half stars, rounded to two.

Report this review (#437406)
Posted Friday, April 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars After the soft and mellow Hold Your Fire Alex said "Hey I'm still here and i wanna riff on these songs" and oh boy did he. Presto is the start of a more heavy sounding Rush with more guitar and less keyboards. Songs like Show Don't Tell and Superconductor showed us that Rush could still rock but this album still had mellow tracks like Scars, Presto and Available Light. Surprisingly there is a good deal of piano on the later tracks like Anagram (For Mongo) and Red Tide. But overall, this album is very good and showed a new direction for Rush heading into the 90s. 4 and a half stars. Highlights: Show Don't Tell, Chain Lightning, The Pass, War Paint, Scars, Presto, Superconductor, Red Tide and Hand over Fist.
Report this review (#463567)
Posted Saturday, June 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars A kind of return to form, but not a return to Prog of any kind

The quality of Rush's output declined steadily (and substantially!) in the mid 80's, and though the band never again made anything to match the albums from their classic era (2112 to Moving Pictures), Presto was, in my opinion, the best Rush album since Moving Pictures. In many ways, Presto constituted a return to form as well as a return to Rock (as opposed to the New Wave and Synth Pop that crept in on the band's previous four studio albums). The trademark lead guitar, bass and real (as opposed to electronic) drums are back and the synthesisers are not yet abandoned (as they would be in the 90's) but rather refined. In addition, a wider array of keyboard instruments are used on Presto including grand piano and some symphonic sweeping synths (played by two guest musicians). Also, more acoustic guitars than before are present. Overall, a more loaded and complete sound than on previous albums is created. Presto somehow combines the best elements from the band's other 80's albums (but avoids most of their weaknesses), with the rockier elements of the 90's releases and the best material of post-Moving Pictures Rush. The only track I don't like on Presto is the tedious Superconductor.

Another aspect worthy of a special note is that although the band reached their peak in the late 70's, one aspect of their sound had continued to improve; namely, Geddy Lee's vocals. Lee was never much of a vocalist, but listen to the album closer Available Light and it becomes obvious how much he has improved from the band's early days.

It should be pointed out, however, that even if a return to form this album by no means constituted a return to Prog. As I pointed out in my review of the previous Hold Your Fire album, Rush's Prog-phase was long since over at this point in time and they have never since showed any interest at all in trying to revive it in any shape or form (apart from in concert, material from the classic albums is still performed live by the band).

Presto is a good Rock album and certainly one of the best of post-Moving Pictures Rush. If you gave up on the band after their classic era, Presto is a good place to rekindle the flame. Sadly, the next couple of albums by the band would be among their weakest ever.

Report this review (#484981)
Posted Monday, July 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars I gave Presto 5 star rating in 2011 and only now returned to back it up with some words. First of all I want to say that these five years have not changed my opinion. The following could have been written in 2011 but today is May 28, 2016. I think that it is the best 80s Rush album. Sound, lyrics, melodies are all top notch. The reasons offered behind low ratings completely escape me. What's wrong with short song format or effective melodies? I have been listening to Presto on and off for 25 years. It never disappoints. I can explain low ratings probably because of the influence of Rush members themselves, who apparently initially showed some criticism towards the album, on the listeners' opinion. But I can actually suggest Presto as an entry point to someone getting into Rush, from which you can move both ways depending on your taste in music. To the future if you prefer modern sound or to the past if you are prog traditionalist kind of guy. Both directions will offer a pleasant journey.
Report this review (#547578)
Posted Monday, October 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
1 stars The real trick lies in making it disappear...

This was the first truly low point of Rush's prolific career. Sure there had been hiccups along the way, but each of their twelve previous albums had enough great material to at least merit recommendation to fans. Presto on the other hand is an absolute bore-fest with some truly unforgettable songs. The only stand out track is The Pass, and by stand out I mean "at all worth listening to". It's a brooding, well thought out piece which really deserves a better home.

I guess the only saving grace is a certain level of musical innovation, especially when compared to their other albums of the '80s. But sadly, this intrigue is short-lived and Presto becomes a chore to listen to after only a handful of plays.

The Verdict: Not even magic could save this one.

Report this review (#593010)
Posted Wednesday, December 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars After Hold Your Fire and A Show of Hands, Rush realised they'd pushed their synthesiser- dominated post-Signals sound as far as it would go and it was time to shake things up. Presto sees them scaling back the use of synthesisers dramatically - restricting them to a few textures here and there - but though the return to guitars-bass-and-drums is welcome and refreshing, they don't have a top-class range of songs to offer here.

What we have here is not a return to the ever-memorable and exciting Rush of Moving Pictures or A Farewell to Kings so much as an attempt to make an album using Hold Your Fire-era songwriting practices using Permanant Waves-era instrumentation; the end result is pleasant enough and interesting to listen to, but not exactly memorable - the songs all blur together into one, which was something you definitely couldn't say about the pre-synth era the band were trying to recapture here. It's worth it if you are a major Rush fan, but it's not going to displace any of their classics any time soon.

Report this review (#593874)
Posted Wednesday, December 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Most Under-rated Rush album

Presto is my favorite Rush album since Hemispheres. Not to say that it is technically better, but it is more enjoyable then everything they've done, except the masterpiece Hemispheres. However, I have it 4 stars because it is not essential. Even being a HUGE Rush fan, Hemispheres, Moving Pictures, and Permanent Waves would be the only albums to get a 5-star essential rating. Presto's strength lays less in the technical power of the earlier albums and more in the emotional power and the strong song-writing. There are no stinkers on this album at all, but if I had to choose a weakest track, I'd pick either Anagram or War Paint.

Overall, not really a Prog album, but a great addition to anyone's music collection.

Report this review (#613499)
Posted Thursday, January 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars After Hold Your Fire, it was logical that Rush had to scale down their sound a little bit - if they'd continued to add more and more layers of synths and electronics, eventually all of the sounds would have cancelled each other out... or something to that effect. But they didn't completely go back to the time before they'd added any of those elements, it seeming to be that they took just a few of the sounds they liked most from the recent period to make a precise recipe. We have some synth pads, a few sparkly keys here and there, but nothing too fast or mesmerizing, and the ringing out trebbly guitars that were common on their other 80's albums, along with the typically impressive bass and drum playing you'd expect from Lee and Peart. Unfortunately, these are not some of their best songs! Surprisingly, there are a number of numbers here that seem uninspired, dull, or unsure of a direction. Don't get me wrong - it's not all bad. There's usually some point of interest that pops up every once in a while, they're the type of songs that you may appreciate quite a bit, if you're already a big Rush fan. And there are some true shining moments - dig that intro to "Show and Tell"! That's some impressive riffing. And "Chain Lightning" is a thrill to listen to - all excellent music there. "Scars" somewhat rises above the rest, while "Superconductor" sinks a little below the rest, "Hand Over Fist" is a pretty good song (I do admire the lyrics on that one a lot), and the album does happen to end on an extremely high note. The last song, "Available Light" is one of Rush's best. Moving, deeply personal lyrics, set to a dynamic, building musical backdrop that makes great use of their then new sound, all leading to a chorus that very effectively uses 5/4 time to convey a rich sense of emotion and spirit, with wonderful, moving singing from Lee - and then he sings "in the available light" in some of the highest notes he's ventured to in a long time, yet with decidedly the cleanest tone he's ever sang those notes in, and everything drops out to come back with a slower straight beat over melancholy piano chords. They've never made a song that sounds like "Available Light" before or since, and it does lift the overall experience of Presto, and leaves a much better taste in the listener's ears than if it wouldn't have been there. I would love to hear an album of songs like this one from Rush. These particular songs, presented in this particular order, with these particular performances and production is a good example of what I would consider 2.5 stars.
Report this review (#628336)
Posted Tuesday, February 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars 'Presto' marks the return of a more guitar oriented Rush as the band approaches the final year of the dreadful 80's. As a result (or is it the other way around?) the keyboard is found as a much less dominant instrument. While the pop of Power Windows and Hold Your Fire is still present to a great degree here, there is also a small hint of prog returning as well. Compositionally, the album is a bit more structurally and instrumentally diverse than the previous two albums.

Songs like Show Don't Tell and Chain Lightening are full of energy and reminiscent of Grace Under Pressure, while 'Superconductor' has a convincing riff in 7/8. If nothing else, these songs are lyrically strong, and Peart definitely shows his poetry skills along with his consistently impressive drumming throughout.

I would still say this is not a very favorable album, but it is a noticeable improvement over the disaster of the previous two albums.


Report this review (#771352)
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Maybe the band wouldn't have admitted it at the time, but I can't shake the feeling that the band members themselves felt like HYF was a bit of a dead-end, as this album is very little like the previous few. The most fundamental change is that, with this album, Rush basically abandoned any pretense of "artsiness" in the sound. There are still some synthesizers (along some piano), but they're largely shoved into the background and function just as window-dressing; the focus of the sound is definitely back on the power-trio core. Instead of hard synth-prog, the band presents us with "mature" pop-rock, with continued focus on Peart's various messages (and honestly, the lyrics are mostly fine on this album). As you can see from the rating, I'm not terribly impressed by this album, though I do like it much more than I used to. One thing I do respect about the album is that this album shows Rush, for almost the entire album, showing a great deal of restraint in its instrumental approach, as they largely try to let the songs speak for themselves and only use their arrangements for embellishment. Unfortunately, in doing so, they end up revealing that the songs aren't that great (particularly in the second half). A lot of the maturity on this album, to me, feels just as close to adult-contemporary as did some of my less favorite songs on the last two albums, and these don't even have the excessively dense arrangements that made those songs so notable for their goofiness. The thing is, this is the kind of album a band makes that can only be fully appreciated by a heavy fan of the band. You know, the kind of album where a fan raves about all of the little subtle touches, and the general feeling of maturity, and how it's an understated, underrated gem. I don't say this in a bad way; goodness knows I do that myself for lots of late-period albums of a lot of bands I enjoy. Unfortunately, this is also the kind of album that inevitably bores those who only like a band on a casual level, and who like a band's best stuff but could take or leave the rest.

I do generally like the first half, though. The arrangements are nothing special, and the style is almost totally unoriginal, but there are some decent riffs and melodies here. One song that totally eluded me my first few listens, but that I now really like, is "The Pass," a touching song about somebody contemplating suicide and how it's really not worth it. I don't get really moved by a lot of Geddy's singing or Neil's lyrics, but I definitely feel something in hearing Geddy sing, "Don't turn your back and slam the door on me" and other lines here. I'm also fond of the opening "rocker" "Show Don't Tell" (my former choice for the album's best), which has a very good chorus that easily sticks in my head.

Despite some of the silliness in the lyrics, I find "Chain Lightning" very memorable, and Lifeson has some effective uses of his standard arpeggiation throuighout. The title track is a little dippy lyrically, but only a little, and it has a mildly entertaining melody. And, well, "Scars" has a pretty strong hook in its chorus. "War Paint" isn't that notable to me, but it's still ok, and I don't mind when it's on. If the first half of the album (through the title track) falls on the level of "moderately above average," though, the second half definitely falls on the level of "moderately below average." None of the songs (except the really dippy "Superconductor," one of the dumbest "rockers" I've ever heard from Rush) are clearly awful, but he melodies are really non-descript, and the lack of hooks ends up emphasizing the adult-contemporary aspects all the more. It's just boring, and a band like Rush really has to entertain me for me to care much.

Let me stress again that I'm glad that the band abandoned the synth-heavy sound (largely for good), I really am. The thing is, Rush was never really meant to be a regular, conventional pop band (albeit with lyrics that are more sophisticated than those of a normal pop band); pop hooks, absent of hard riffs or bizarre synth parts, never were the band's main forte. I hear some good songwriting on here, but there's just not that much, and there's not a lot to make up the deficit. Fans will definitely want this, but I don't know about the rest of us.

Report this review (#822528)
Posted Monday, September 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars The damned thing stood up and gave me a bit of a shove! That's better - kind of like where the wrestler is seemingly down and finished but then you see his fingers spasm and you just know he is going to stand up and whup sum azz! Rush show signs of life in the twilight of the 80's. Stand out tracks - "Show don't Tell", "The Pass", "Scars", "Available Light". This is still, to the main, pretty innocuous stuff however there are definite signs that the band is coming back to life. I can't say that I disliked Rush through the mid to late 80's but neither can I say that they impressed me during the period. I have the albums and I'm happy that I have them but if I didn't I wouldn't be missing all that much. Another three star album for me but there are signs of hope that soon I will be bitten again by the music.
Report this review (#940357)
Posted Saturday, April 6, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Almost everyone has a "one that got away" in their past and I reckon that applies to rock & roll bands, too. In Rush's case this particular album, one that could've been a classic, slipped through their fingers for no other reason than sometimes it just happens. Somehow this persevering trio had survived the MTV virus-infected 80s intact and this was their last record to be released before the new decade was to commence. They'd broken all ties with their long-time label and were now working for the industry behemoth that was Atlantic. No doubt they wanted to make a big impression by delivering a masterpiece so they enlisted the help of producer Rupert Hine who'd done good things with the likes of Anthony Phillips, Stevie Nicks, Camel and Tina Turner to provide them with a fresh sound. The group wanted to move away somewhat from the synth-heavy focus that had characterized their last few offerings and return to their power trio roots to some extent. Their intentions were admirable and they'd done everything they could to insure that they'd knock the record business on its ear with "Presto" but the magic that the title implies simply failed to show up. Their muse was vacationing with Phil Collins in Cancun, perhaps. Who knows? What we have here is a slightly above average album but also one that doesn't stand out as being remarkable.

Neil Peart's light toms provide a sneaky intro to "Show Don't Tell" and they lead to a strong, tight, complex prog funk riff that's delightfully edgy and relatively raw for this bunch. Alex Lifeson's guitars are bright almost to the point of brittleness, Geddy Lee's vocal is confident and Neil's crisp drumming all add up to a promising, energetic opening salvo. I like Peart's noteworthy lyric, "You can twist perception/reality won't budge." "Chain Lightning" follows and it has a sort of Canadian rockabilly vibe going for it that's quite engaging in its own quaint way. Geddy seems to have found a mature singing comfort zone not only on this track but throughout the record that is a far cry from the screechy yelps of his youth. Alex's guitar ride is playful and pleasingly weird. "The Pass" is next and it is far and away the apex of the album. Lee's deftly played bass chords at the beginning are cool as all get out but it's the number's melody lines and thoughtful arrangement that cause it to shine so brightly. This song displays how far the band had come in honing their composition skills because I consider it one of their very best in their vast catalog of work. Neil's lyrics address the sensitive subject of suicide tactfully without being patronizing. "Can't face life on a razor's edge/nothing's what you thought it would be," Geddy sings with emotion. This cut is a gem worth seeking out if you haven't heard it. "War Paint" marks a return to a heavier-handed motif yet they keep their prog mentality in the recipe by including a lot of stunning dynamics. Peart drives the track hard while Lee croons "All puffed up with vanity/we see what we want to see/to the powerful and the wise/the mirror always lies." On "Scars" they really step outside their box. Behind a funky, synth sequenced bass line and a myriad of African rhythms they hit the road running. It sounds like they wanted to experiment with a single-key piece that would challenge them to embellish its simple concept creatively. The results are a mixed bag of successes and failures.

"Presto" starts with a startling blast of sound that leads to Lifeson's strummed and stacked acoustic guitars, setting the stage for some surprises in the way of contrasting aural textures and an array of prog-related movements. Alex's guitar work is tasteful enough but overall there's nothing concrete to latch onto and remember a half hour later. "Superconductor" sports a hard rock riff and verse in 7/8 time, then opens up into a 4/4 glide for the connecting bridge and chorus. It's a decent tune but I can't help but feel that Lifeson missed a golden opportunity to step forward and kick out the jams with an awesome guitar solo but it doesn't happen. Not sure why, either. The door was wide open. "Anagram (for Mongo)" owns a moniker that gives a clever nod to "Blazing Saddles" and, while some fans may not like it much, I find the track endearing. I like the polished structure of the song very much because they take no unnecessary risks. It's as if they knew they had an excellent composition on their hands and they made sure they didn't mess it up by overcomplicating matters. Sometimes less is more. One line sticks out. "The cosmic is largely comic/a con they couldn't conceal." "Red Tide" is yet another of their 80s-era work that shows how much they admired what The Police were doing in that time frame. The utilization of vocal harmonies widens the scope on this cut and on several more of the record's numbers. "Hand Over Fist" rides atop a plodding groove that lays down a solid foundation for what, unfortunately, turns out to be a mediocre song. At this point in the proceedings the slickness of the production becomes monotonous and detrimental. They end with "Available Light" and, of all the tunes presented, this one most exemplifies the problem I have with the album as a whole. The predominance of a standard piano at the start is a wonderful change of pace but it doesn't last long enough. The trio is too married to the tried-and-true, bigger-than-life Rush assault mindset that barges in and effectively ruins the moment. They could've held back and created something subtle and poignant instead and it seems to me the payoff would've been significant if not amazing. Kudos to Alex for some fine guitar work, though.

Released around Thanksgiving in 1989, "Presto" did okay by rising to #16 on the LP charts. It's hard to criticize that level of success (especially since music in general was in such a sorry state of affairs at that juncture) but we reviewers must call 'em as we see 'em. The tunes are top-notch and the execution is, as always, flawless but there's just something vital missing (except in "The Pass") in the eleven cuts that cause them to miss the mark. I read where Geddy Lee once said of this record that he wishes they could have a re-do on this one because they so sincerely believed in the material they'd assembled for it. I couldn't agree more but the sad fact is, the "one-that-got-away" never comes back. 3.2 stars.

Report this review (#1082012)
Posted Tuesday, November 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
3 stars RUSH got the message loud and clear with the backlash of "Hold Your Fire" that enough was enough in their little synth based fairyland so they seriously scaled back on keyboards on their 13th studio album PRESTO and focused more on the power trio guitar, bass and drum sound that they were more famous for. The sound goes back to a less controversial time but the songwriting seems to have stayed in tune with the last few releases in that the tracks are short, somewhat poppy rock and fairly middle of the road in the energy delivering department.

I could be the carbon-based life form who has listened to this the most. I happened to have this along on a major cross-country road trip with only a few other albums so this got more than its share of listening time one summer. This album does bring back fond memories of the endless desert highways of Nevada and Utah and the countless mountain ranges and valleys dotted by a smattering of small villages and lots of sage brush. However, after listening to this album a million times still doesn't make it a better album. It is definitely better than its predecessor but that wouldn't take a lot to be honest.

I really love the first few songs including "Show Don't Tell," "Chain Lightning" and "The Pass." The next few songs up to and including "Superconductor" are OK and have some parts that are interesting but I always find myself taking creative control while listening to this album thinking that they should do that, change this, take that out. Everything after "Superconductor" is boring filler. This album is the perfect example of a 3 star album. Good for a few songs and nothing more.

Report this review (#1188746)
Posted Sunday, June 8, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Most of us seem to look back on Rush's 80s catalog as the band simply trying to progress their established sound and usually succeeding at doing so. However, we also need keep in mind that back when these albums came out, many of the band's hardcore fans felt pretty betrayed by the excursions into pop territory and the heavy synthesizer use. Accusations of selling out were common, as well as accusations of the band forgetting the elements of what made them so great in the first place. But at the same time, many people also disregarded what made the 80s period of their music so good at points. Sure the arrangements were less long-winded and complex. Sure, Geddy Lee's synthesizers played a very dominant role in the instrumentation. And sure, the sounds of the pop and new wave artists of their time were creeping into their sound. But one reason that albums like Signals and Grace Under Pressure were so good was that they were so relatable. Not only was the signature Rush sound still present, but aided by the more personal and less fantasy-based lyrics that were already becoming a fixture in the last few albums. And the way the band's newly tightened songwriting was weaved in with their traditional progressive rock elements made for a successful formula.

Well sadly, they couldn't keep up this momentum for too long. Power Windows was a solid effort, sure, but it represented the band's most annoying feature at this period of time: too much goddamn synthesizer work. It was to the point that guitarist Alex Lifeson was getting pushed pretty far into the background, especially with the incredibly weak and watered-down Hold Your Fire. So naturally, Alex Lifeson ended up being the person who told the public that the next Rush record was going to be more guitar-driven and making a return to many of the band's traditional 70s musical traits. So with expectations being high, did Presto ditch many of the previous album's flaws? Well yeah it did, but it brought in other issues to take their place.

Presto actually shows a lot of promise with its first track "Show Don't Tell," which exhibits some of Rush's finest instrumental and songwriting chops in quite a while. Plus, Alex's heavy guitar tone is so satisfying to hear when in sync with Geddy's bass playing. However, right from the very first five seconds of its follow-up "Chain Lightning," you can instantly (and I do mean "instantly") tell what's wrong with the album. Namely, the sound is incredibly thin and sterile. I know it's been stated many times before, but Presto's production is absolutely horrible. While the watered-down sound is fine for mellower songs like "The Pass" or "Available Light," it doesn't even come remotely close to giving the faster and more intense songs the power and weight they probably deserve. This is the band's first album with producer Rupert Hine, and while he would do a better job on the follow-up record Roll the Bones (although only marginally better), this was just a lousy first effort. But sadly, this is not the only thing wrong with the album. The forgettable and boring nature of the record also extends to the songwriting, as the songs just seem to blend together around the middle portion. It's easy to forget you're even listening to the record as background music when you're not giving it a completely focused listen, which is a real shame considering the memorability of the band who made it. Some things do stick out, such as the simultaneously atmospheric and danceable "Scars" or the nicely off-kilter 7/4-time rhythm of "Superconductor"'s intro, but they aren't enough to salvage much of the record.

That is, UNTIL we reach the last four songs. Presto might have a lot of issues, but you wouldn't think so if it was just judged by these final tracks alone. From "Anagram" to the gorgeous closer "Available Light," Rush display some of their most inspired songwriting since Grace Under Pressure five years ago. "Hand Over Fist" benefits greatly from a great mix between quickly-strummed guitar chords and a fun melody from Lifeson, while "Red Tide" and "Available Light" can attribute their high quality to some really great piano lines that are integrated into the rhythms and melodies. These songs not only sound inspired, but very emotionally resonant as well. Also, as usual for Rush's standards, the musicianship of Presto is top-notch; for how simple and frustratingly bland many of these songs are, the band can find some pretty creative and impressive ways to give them life. While I already touched on Geddy and Alex's parts, Neil Peart is also great here. He might be limited by many easy 4/4 rhythms, but his willingness to make the best out of this format just displays more versatility and variety on his part. A drummer doesn't necessarily need to show off to be good, and Peart understands this concept very well.

So we have a bit of a mixed bag. Presto is just as flawed as Hold Your Fire, but the former is arguably more frustrating because there was the promise that Rush would be making some grand return to the glory days. On the other hand, Geddy Lee explained in an interview about the record that the band still decided to revert back to many of Hold Your Fire's pop elements and synthesizer-driven parts anyway. Perhaps they weren't quite ready to leave this comfort zone just yet and make another switch to their sound, but the lack of progression is still incredibly disappointing when given the album's potential. Luckily, things would turn around in a pretty big way with Roll the Bones.

Report this review (#1445878)
Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2015 | Review Permalink

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