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MAX WEBSTER

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Max Webster biography
This group was simply known as Toronto's best-kept secret, and it was not for trying to reveal this group to international status. Sadly, when they did reach it, their career was all but over. Hailing from a small city Sarnia, north of Toronto, this group started out as a quartet that evolved from two high school groups Yeomen and Grass Company. By searching well into bassist Mike Tilka's previous band, he also played with Daryl Struemer (first JL Ponty, then Genesis).

During the second half of the 70's, they would release a quartet of superb albums, much in the spirit of the times, using a progressive rock that can be reminded of early Queen crossing with inventive pop writings and a slight glam-rock visual touch (in the Sparks or Roxy music tone). Albums like High Class In Borrowed Shoes or Mutiny Up My Sleeve were full of extremely clever and well-crafted tracks, so inventive, that even if they were not really as progressive as their label-mate Rush, that they were, at least in spirit, very prog rock.

After a slightly quieter A Million Vacation album, they released a live album, Magnetic Air, which broke the string of excellent releases. At the start of the 80's, the group was falling apart, but Kim Mitchell forged on ahead and recorded Universal Juveniles; which attracted them international notice on the strength of the track that was recorded with Rush - "Battle Scar". Sadly, this did not stop the band from imploding, leaving leader and main-songwriter Kim Mitchell to pursue a solo career, which will be rather more straight ahead and commercial.

::: Bio written by Hugues Chantraine, Belgium ::::






Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
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Discography:
Max Webster (76) Anthem ANBD-1006
High Class In Borrowed Shoes (77) Anthem - ANR-1-1007
Mutiny Up My Sleeve (78) Anthem
A Million Vacation (79) Anthem AND-1018
Live - Magnetic Air (80) Anthem
Universal Juveniles (82) Anthem

Max Webster official website

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Max WebsterMax Webster
Import
Anthem Records 2007
Audio CD$5.74
$5.45 (used)
High Class in Borrowed ShoesHigh Class in Borrowed Shoes
Remastered · Import
ROCK CANDY 2012
Audio CD$12.81
$12.71 (used)
Mutiny Up My SleeveMutiny Up My Sleeve
Remastered · Import
ROCK CANDY 2012
Audio CD$12.82
$20.03 (used)
The Best of Max WebsterThe Best of Max Webster
Import
Antham Records, Inc. 2000
Audio CD$8.21
$4.00 (used)
20th Century Masters20th Century Masters
Import · Remastered
Universal Int'l 2001
Audio CD$5.97
$5.13 (used)
Diamonds DiamondsDiamonds Diamonds
Import
A&M Int'l 1995
Audio CD$19.80
$9.22 (used)
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MAX WEBSTER 'Paradise Skies' 1978 UK 7"/45 rpm vinyl single - KIM MITCHELL US $6.81 Buy It Now 6 days
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MAX WEBSTER discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

MAX WEBSTER top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.98 | 19 ratings
Max Webster
1976
4.13 | 20 ratings
High Class In Borrowed Shoes
1977
4.16 | 18 ratings
Mutiny Up My Sleeve
1978
4.16 | 18 ratings
A Million Vacations
1979
3.13 | 12 ratings
Universal Juveniles
1982

MAX WEBSTER Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.07 | 8 ratings
Live - Magnetic Air
1980

MAX WEBSTER Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

MAX WEBSTER Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Magenetic Air
1979
3.00 | 3 ratings
Diamonds, Diamonds
1982
3.00 | 3 ratings
The Best Of Max Webster
1989

MAX WEBSTER Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

MAX WEBSTER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Max Webster by MAX WEBSTER album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.98 | 19 ratings

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Max Webster
Max Webster Prog Related

Review by Nightfly
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Max Webster were a Canadian band perhaps best known for their Rush connection's - both bands came from Toronto, they toured together and shared the same record producer; Terry Brown. Unfortunately Max Webster wouldn't achieve the success of their fellow Canadian's despite releasing a string of very strong albums.

Their eponymous debut released in 1976 is a fine album with great musicianship, particularly the guitar playing from vocalist/frontman Kim Mitchell. Though their music had progressive overtones they weren't a prog band per se, though the clever arrangements and touches of quirkiness set them apart from the average heavy rock band at the time. Alongside the heavy rock they also displayed a keen ear for a strong melody which they would exploit more on future releases. Tracks like Toronto Tontos show the wackier side of the band - surely they had been listening to Frank Zappa while Blowing The Blues show them at their more melodic. Coming Off The Moon and Only Your Nose Knows captures them at their rocking best. They save perhaps the best for last. Lily is not only the longest track at just short of eight minutes but also the most progressive, the extra length giving them the opportunity to stretch out with some great playing and strong dynamics.

An excellent debut then which is as good as anything they released though follow up High Class In Borrowed Shoes is widely regarded as their all time best.

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 High Class In Borrowed Shoes by MAX WEBSTER album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.13 | 20 ratings

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High Class In Borrowed Shoes
Max Webster Prog Related

Review by Nightfly
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars High Class In Borrowed Shoes, the second album from Canadian's Max Webster followed pretty much the template laid down on their debut. I.e. heavy rock with prog touches and strong melodies. It's an excellent follow up, equal at least to their debut and is widely regarded by many fans to be their finest hour.

Where it perhaps differs slightly from their eponymous debut is more of an emphasis on the melodies at the expense of some of the quirkiness that album displayed. The band at this stage, no doubt with a watchful eye on their fellow Canadian's Rush (whom they toured with), were hoping to replicate some of the sales they were starting to achieve. Thankfully this is not at the expense of their trademark intricate and clever arrangements though the occasional song such as Word To Word almost enters pop territory. There's plenty of great heavy rock though - the album opening title track is a killer as is America's Veins. Oh War! Is a strong slow rocker with a driving groove and Rain Child has a great hook making it another highlight. Like their debut they save the best until last. In Context Of The Moon is based around a powerful and simple riff but has much more up its sleeve as is twists and turns through a series of changes with plenty of clever touches to keep the prog fan happy.

Another excellent album from Max Webster then and probably the best place to start for those wanting to discover this highly talented and under appreciated band.

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 High Class In Borrowed Shoes by MAX WEBSTER album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.13 | 20 ratings

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High Class In Borrowed Shoes
Max Webster Prog Related

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars MAX WEBSTER's sophomore album was produced by themselves and Terry Brown. Hugh Syme did the front cover illustration, but the picture of the band is what leaves the biggest impression, drawing a lot of laughs from anyone who has seen it. Nice platform shoes Kim ! I can't believe I actually wore platforms in grade 9. Did I just say that out loud ? Believe me, all pictures have been destroyed. I was reading in the liner notes where the band thanks RUSH and crew, but also Chum FM and Ric Ringer which brings back memories of that radio station when they played good music. Now you go to Q107 where Kim Mitchell happens to be a DJ now if you want some good Classic rock. Mitchell and Pye Dubois created all the songs here except for "Rain Child" which was done by keyboardist Watkinson, he also sings lead on it.

"High Class In Borrowed Shoes" is an uptempo rocker with Kim's unmistakable guitar runnung roughshod all over the place. "Diamonds Diamonds" is a slower tune with clever lyrics while harmonies and keys stand out. "Gravity" is my favourite. Humerous lyrics encouraging us to "Get a little savagery in your life" instead of playing it safe. Love the guitar late in this one. "Words To Words" features some guest piano and synths from Doug Riley.This is a ballad with acoustic guitar and light drums also helping out. "America's Veins" is one i'm not a big fan of. Riffs and vocals with attitude start the show and we get a keyboard solo before 2 minutes. Riffs come and go.

"Oh War !" opens with outbursts of drums until it kicks in with a steady rhythm with vocals. Guitar 2 1/2 minutes in is great. Kim drops the f-bomb on the chorus each time. "On The Road" is a top 3 track for me,there's something uplifting about this one and I like the lyrics. "Rain Child" is my least favourite although there is some good guitar at times. "In Context Of The Moon" has a darker, heavier sound to it at times early on. I like the floating organ 2 1/2 minutes in during the instrumental break.The guitar comes in screaming and then it turns kind of jazzy. Great sound.

I think MAX WEBSTER's first 4 albums are classics, I would rate this as my fourth favourite. It's hard not to think of spring when listening to this band's music.

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 High Class In Borrowed Shoes by MAX WEBSTER album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.13 | 20 ratings

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High Class In Borrowed Shoes
Max Webster Prog Related

Review by Gooner
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Welcome to the planet which is Max Webster! The zaniness really strarts here. Everything they tried to accomplish on their first self titled album meets the consistency/quality factor. Not a bummer in the lot. Every track makes a statement. It's worth mentioning that Max Webster is a band unto themselves, not unlike the Planet Gong. If you enjoy quality '70s rock, you can't go wrong with _High Class In Borrowed Shoes_. Who else would self-depricate themselves like this on an album cover like Max Webster? Maybe Procol Harum, but Max Webster is clearly a band for the converted. Side One is the spacy side, _Diamonds Diamonds_, _Gravity_, Words To Words_...lyrically bizarre thanks to the fifth unofficial member, lyricist - Pye Dubois(the same guy that wrote the lyrics to Rush's _Tom Sawyer_). Side 2 starts off with _America's Veins_, a heavy rocker with lyrical content observing the American dream in the '70s from the other side of the Canada/USA border. Then there's _Oh War!_, a must for every prog.rock fan worth their salt. Probably the most difinitive use of a keyboard since ELP's _Lucky Man_, yet you've never heard it on the radio. Just when you thought Keith Emerson, Mike Ratledge(of Soft Machine) or Dave Stewart(of National Health/Hatfield & The North) could come up with the most persuasive keyboard sounds, in comes Terry Watckinson to kick the door down. It hits you like a brick wall much like the guitar solo from Robert Fripp on Brian Eno's _Distributed Being_(from Eno's Nerve Net_ 1992) for those familiar with such a track. It's as though someone tapped Terry Watckinson on the shoulder and yelled: SOLO! Yep, the keyboard solo comes right out of nowhere. A real delight. Disclaimer: the f-bomb is dropped only once in this song. _On The Road_ is the definitive Max Webster ballad and _Rain Child_ has a 4/4 time drum intro that could only sound _progressive_ from the snare and kick drum of one Gary McCracken. _In Context The Moon_ concludes the album but begins the Moon-trilogy of the following album, then concludes on the album _A Million Vacations_ with the instrumental SUN VOICES/MOON VOICES. This is the beginning of three 5 star albums in a row from the Max Machine. This is where the curious prog.rock fan should begin.

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 Diamonds, Diamonds by MAX WEBSTER album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1982
3.00 | 3 ratings

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Diamonds, Diamonds
Max Webster Prog Related

Review by Gooner
Prog Reviewer

3 stars If you want an excellent sampler of Max Webster, this is the one for the curious as it includes almost every kind of genre in the world of Max Webster and their first 4 albums. DIAMONDS DIAMONDS is also the sampler for the Max Webster completist as it includes _Overnight Sensation_(great cowbell!) and the slacker _Hot Spots_ which predates the indie band PAVEMENT by about 20 years. The 2 aforementioned tracks were released solely on this compilation and no other album. The first 3 tracks are from the album _High Class In Borrowed Shoes_. _Gravity_ instantly engulfing the listener into the strange world of Max Webster. Probably the best track(re: Gravity) to show anyone who has never heard of Max Webster. A balanced assessment of their entire work. Also features the hit _Let Go The Line_ which darn near made Max Webster INTERNATIONAL pop stars. I kid you not. This compilation could have been better served with a one prog.rock classic, especially one of the _Moon_ tracks from their albums HIGH CLASS IN BORROWED SHOES or MUTINY UP MY SLEEVE.

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 Max Webster by MAX WEBSTER album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.98 | 19 ratings

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Max Webster
Max Webster Prog Related

Review by Gooner
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A great start for Max Webster. Features the oddball classic _Toronto Tontos_. How to describe it? Hmmm...The Little Rascals' _International Silver String Submarine Band_(google it) gone electric and embracing the infamous actor from Mel Brooks' BLAZING SADDLES as the vocalist. I'm talking about the actor with the one line: BADGES? WE DONT NEED NO STINKIN' BADGES! Yes, that is _Toronto Tontos_. Also features the annoying _Hangover_. Distorted guitars throughout and lyrics about having a massive hangover and waking up the drunk tank. What a great way to start an album. ;-) 2 aspirin, please.

Best tracks are the two about summer, _Summer's Up_ and _Summer Turning Blue_ giving everyone that late-July/early-August feeling most northern folk know about. Nothing heavy, just great songwriting. Only the band Max Webster can write tracks like this. Very much in the same way Caravan and Wigwam can wite amazing rock/pop. The track _Lily_ shows the Max-machine stretching out with some fine keyboarding by Terry Watkinson - approaching rock/jazz fusion territory much like Germany's Passport (no sax, though) or Steely Dan's ROYAL SCAM. _Here Among The Cats_ would please the hard rock fan, and _Only Your Nose Knows_ would please the lyrically astute. Recommended, but not the starter for anyone with virgin ears to Max Webster. The first is their most bizarre. Still...a solid 4 stars.

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 High Class In Borrowed Shoes by MAX WEBSTER album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.13 | 20 ratings

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High Class In Borrowed Shoes
Max Webster Prog Related

Review by Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars A sophomore album from beyond the moon.

Max Webster are somewhat of a strange band as they never lived up to the potential shown by all five of their studio albums. Even with shredder super-ego (and I mean that in a good way: a good stage persona) Kim Mitchell at the helm the band never managed to hit mainstream success outside of Canada until their final album which would have them break up directly afterwards, and even then the success could be mainly contributed to the fact that Geddy Lee would appear on the pseudo-hit Battle Scar. Rush and Max Webster enjoyed a certain amount of kinship in the 70s when they were two hard rock efforts out of Toronto Canada, Webster often being seen as Rush's little brother. Indeed, if Rush had a sense of humor in their music and a lower pitched singer the two would be nearly inseparable!

What we have, as with all of their studio albums, is a combination of top notch musicianship and concise songwriting. Webster's tie into the prog world isn't always totally obvious, although it's especially noticeable on their first three albums which walk the narrow line between Prog-Related and Crossover Progressive music. This album especially shows the band using their trademark keyboard sounds, their trademark moon tunes (which are all very progressive in nature with interesting time signatures and changes) and a multitude of other marks which earn them a prog banner which they flaunt only lightly before rocking out entirely.

Like their debut album, this is charged blues-rock at its best, especially when it mixes in the progressive tenancies. The best songs off this peculiar album are among the best in Webster's catalog, and can even easily compete with the best of Rush's. Take for example the absolutely sublime Gravity which shows Mitchell using the most odd of his vocal patterns along with an amazing and somewhat subtle keyboard arrangement by Watkinson. There's a well placed breakdown in the middle that shows the band temporarily wandering into psych before plummeting back into intelligent hard rock. Another song which succeeds in the same vein is Oh War!, a midpaced thinker which uses some slick riffs to make for a nice song of rebellion with a huge progressive lean. In Context Of The Moon carries on the band's tradition of having a ''moon'' track on each album, and this time it's the lengthiest. At nearly 6-minutes this one is hardly a progressive epic, but when you hear it you'll be surprised just how much these crazy Canadians are able to fit in that amount of time. Highly melodic and very impressive throughout the entire pseudo-epic, and hardly anyone can argue that this is art-rock at its very best.

Some of the songs are strait ahead rockers, and these are still pure gold. Anyone who knows Webster knows that even the most straightforward songs on their albums are still complex and incredibly memorable. The opening tune and title track, High Class In Borrowed Shoes flaunts everything that was great about their very bluesy self titled debut while adding a spice of near metal which makes for a mind blowing start to the fray. America's Veins is the other pure rocker on the album, and while this one may not be as ''high brow'' as some of the other tunes (if that could ever have been said about Webster) it still makes for a killer tune - and is especially excellent on their sole live album Magnetic Air.

Slower, more balladic songs on the album are brief, but effective. Diamonds, Diamonds is a reflective and slick song which is not so much a ballad as it is just slow, but its harmonized vocals in combination with simplistically complex arrangements make for a nice two minutes. Words To Words is probably the softest song on the album, but with well used keyboards sprinkled in for effect the song hardly ever grows old.

While this is a band which deserves way more credit than they ever got the least that anyone can do is check out any one of their very impressive albums. These guys had a ''classic'' streak going on for their first 4 albums, and this sophomore is no exception. Highly recommended for those who like a little more rock in their prog this one is going to get a 4 out of 5. An excellent addition to any prog collection, and very easily accessible as well - there's no trick to these guys. After all, they're just Max Webster, here to thin the thickness of your skin.

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 Mutiny Up My Sleeve  by MAX WEBSTER album cover Studio Album, 1978
4.16 | 18 ratings

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Mutiny Up My Sleeve
Max Webster Prog Related

Review by Gooner
Prog Reviewer

5 stars My favourite album by Max Webster is _Mutiny Up My Sleeve_. It embodies everything Max Webster set out to accomplish without the fame and fortune...although they were quite popular in the Americans' attic (Canada). Having toured 2 albums and opening for labelmates Rush really seasoned these guys. Produced by Terry Brown, this album has the same kind of sound quality and production feel of Ken Scott's work on Dixie Dregs _What If_. As the Dixie Dregs were to the United States, so too is Max Webster to Canada(both countries' _best kept secrets_). As much as I love Rush(1978-1982), if the chips were down...the Max-machine could dance circles around them, especially the musicianship on this album. For one thing, Kim Mitchell is one the guitar greats - at times sounding like Allan Holdsworth, Steve Morse, Frank Zappa and Larry Carlton in a span of 20 seconds. Check out the track _Distressed_ if you don't believe me. Gary McCracken is as good as Neil Peart, but has an Ian Paice quality about him(he can really swing!) Whenever I listen to this album, it puts me in a place not far removed to Camel's SNOW GOOSE. Whereas, Max Webster rock out quite a bit here, it's the fluid ballad-like tracks such as _Astonish Me_, _Water Me Down_ and the instrumental _Hawaii_(it's the wordless female vocals that send me to the Snow Goose land). _A Million Vacations_ was Max Webster's prog.rock album and probably the best place to start. _Mutiny Up My Sleeve_ is to Max Webster fans as _Countdown To Ecstasy_ is to many Steely Dan fans(arguably their best album). Also worth mentioning is the lyricist Pye Dubois - sort of like a frost bitten Keith Reid(of Procol Harum) without the maudlin tendencies of suicide and sea shanties (oh..stop it, already! -ed.). Pye Dubois has a lyrical fixation on the moon and you get the feeling he was that one weird guy everyone liked to party with but you were afraid to introduce him to your parents. Terry Watkinson comes off sounding like a cross between David Sinclair of Caravan and Kerry Minnear of Gentle Giant(and at times Pete Bardens of Camel... especially _Rain Dances_-era). Max Webster have always been a hard band to pigeonhole, often like Germany's PASSPORT(what are they? Jazz rock fusion, or prog.rock?). Not a bad track on Max Webster's _Mutiny Up Sleeve_. Solid throughout and a Canadian prog.rock masterpiece which stands tall beside FM's _Black Noise_ and Rush's _Permanent Waves_.

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 Universal Juveniles by MAX WEBSTER album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.13 | 12 ratings

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Universal Juveniles
Max Webster Prog Related

Review by Paul T

4 stars I've recently been compiling a top 30 all time favourite albums and for some reason 'Check' (Track 2) popped into my head so I revisited my vinyl copy of this once fav of mine. The result? it's a very serious contender for my top 30 and put a big smile on my face in the process. I bought it originally back in 1980 on the strength of the Rush duet 'Battlescar' but to be honest whilst that track is a belter it's not the most polished of them (I believe it was recorded 'live' ie a single take) with three out of the other four tracks on side A standing solidly against it (and two of those are definitely better). After buying it again on CD (just so I could get it in the car/office - something I rarely do if I've got the vinyl), I subsequently worked through their back catalogue, but whilst there are a few superb tracks amongst their earlier works - 'Gravity', 'Hangover', The Party', 'Oh War', and 'Research At Beach Resorts' - no one album matches this one for overall quality. As this is a mainly prog archive, and though it merits more than a 4, I feel that a '5' might just be a tad too much.

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 Universal Juveniles by MAX WEBSTER album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.13 | 12 ratings

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Universal Juveniles
Max Webster Prog Related

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This final record from MAX WEBSTER is my least favourite studio album from them, so no they didn't go out with their best stuff. Terry Watkinson has left at this point leaving Kim to pretty much run the show. Watkinson does play on the song "Battle Scar" but it wasn't recorded at the same time as the rest of the album. Gotta love the album cover with Mitchell on the run wearing a bright yellow body suit with white boots on. Haha.

"In The World Of Giants" opens with some speed of light guitar work from Kim before the rest of the band comes in. Not a bad uptempo tune. "Check" is one of my top three songs on here. It's a short pedal to the metal rocker. Guitar riffs to open as Kim tells his story with passion. Classic WEBSTER. "April In Toledo" has grown on me somewhat. I like the chorus and those earlier words "She's taking a break from my face." "Juveniles Don't Stop" is a straight forward rock tune. "Battle Scar" doesn't sound like it belongs for a reason. We have two bands in the studio (RUSH & MAX WEBSTER) playing this song together, so it's much more powerful. It opens with low end guitar and bass as heavy drums come in and then Kim starts to sing. Geddy comes in vocally 1 1/2 minutes ripping it up with those high pitched screaming vocals like he did in the seventies. Check him out 4 1/2 minute in as well. Great finale to this one. A friend of mine saw MAX WEBSTER at "Maple Leaf Gardens" on New Years eve play this song, and he watched in amazement as Geddy came out on stage playing his teardrop bass, and then he started to sing to the roar of the home town faithful. "Chalkers" features some nice bass throughout. The title of the album comes from a line in this song. "Drive And Desire" opens with some nice drum work as guitar comes in grinding then vocals. Good tune. "Blue River Liquor Shine" is my other top three track along with "Battle Scar" if your keeping track at home. Drum intro as vocals and strummed guitar follows. Something uplifting about this track. I think it's Kim's soaring vocals actually. "What Do You Do With The Urge" features in your face vocals with lots of piano. The best parts of "Cry Out Your Life" are the guitar solos before 3 minutes and 5 minutes in.

I would suggest any of their four earlier albums to this one, but RUSH fans will want to hear "Battle Scar" for sure.

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