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progismylife View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Rush - Progressive Rock?
    Posted: March 07 2007 at 14:32

Is Rush progressive rock?

First off they are progressive rock in the sense that they have the necessary albums to merit their inclusion (Caress of Steel through to Moving Pictures). This is not what this article hopes to discuss. I am more concerned about the later years (Signals to Vapor Trails). It has been said that these albums are not progressive albums but have progressive songs (meaning that the band has a certain element to them that can be considered progressive but the band is not, in fact, progressive rock). I disagree. The 1980's Rush output is just as prog as the '70's output.

For example, these albums may not have long songs with extended pieces in them but they do have a  theme about them. It is not a concept album but rather an album that has one singular theme in all the songs (sort of lie Dark Side Of The Moon by Pink Floyd). Grace Under Pressure is as the album title suggests is about despair and troubled times. Signals is about signals sent out in society and life. Signals being about life and societies views of what is popular and makes you "cool", Chemistry about the signals sent in the body (science stuff). Power Windows is about how power can be and is corrupted.

Now we come to what seems to be a weaker point in Rush's discography, Hold Your Fire. If you take a quick glance you cannot see anything behind the songs of this album. But once you look into the lyrics and keep the songs in context with one another, it is clearly seen that its theme is about life and aspects that come with that, Lock and Key being about the anger that dwells within us all and that we try to stifle that part of us behind lock and key.

At this point in time Rush decided to move on and progress away from the synthesizer period. Most people consider the synthesizer period as a pop side of Rush but pop means what was popular at that time and does not have connotations that it is not progressive rock music, it is just progressive rock that happens to be popular (like Pink Floyd) . If Rush was concerned about popularity they would have done what the public would want from them, more synthesizer music. But, being a progressive rock band, they decided to once again go in a different direction. It marks another section of Rush. The music changed but the theme based albums did not. Roll the Bones is about chances and Counterparts is about, well, counterparts to life. Rush may have returned to their roots, but this is not regressing. They decided to make music that was more guitar oriented that included mainstream style (a bit). But it was not mostly mainstream style. They took what was popular at that time and made it their own. They even strayed away a bit (with the instrumental tracks on Roll the Bones and Counterparts).

Clearly Rush is a progressive rock band by the way they changed musical style (a few times) and by their album content. If they stayed in the same style this would not be progressive rock since they would not be moving their music in different directions. And the fact that they have made many albums with theme based lyrics suggests that this is the work of a progressive rock band.

Thanks to Easy Livin' for helping me edit this a bit. What do you guys think?

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micky View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 07 2007 at 14:40
not bad Ben...  I'll leave my feedback for another time.. this is your stage.. not mine for my crackpot ideas on Rush hahahhaha.  I'd suggest something like Hugues EXCELLENT Jefferson Ariplane blog... take a gander at that.  That is the way to do a single group blog subject.  Tackle them album by album.. like any group worth it's salt.. and jokes aside... Rush is...  you can't pigeonhole them and theri sound evolved over the years which is a great complement in my book... regardless of how many people want Rush to revisit the 2112 years.. they have evolved past that.  Use your blog to trace that.  I'd be curious to what you see and think.  My two cents

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 07 2007 at 15:23
Thanks micky. I'll be sure to post reviews of Rush albums in the future(that are probably going to go into a little more depth than the ones on PA). As well as on my blog. Big%20smile 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 07 2007 at 15:47
Ben - well done. As Micky wrote you could go more in depth - and knowing you a bit, you will in due time. I agree with what you write in general, but would like to add that the fact that Rush used a bit of pop influence on their more recent albums could be considered progressive as well. Didn't they also dare to incorporate reggae influences in songs like The Spirit of Radio? Using what is new or modern (or pop if you will) and blend it into your own creative output is definitely anything but regressive. Clap

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micky View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 07 2007 at 16:03
Originally posted by progismylife progismylife wrote:

Thanks micky. I'll be sure to post reviews of Rush albums in the future(that are probably going to go into a little more depth than the ones on PA). As well as on my blog. Big%20smile 


my two cents...  disect a theme.. not meerly a rehash of  reviews. .pick a theme... like what I suggested.. the evolution in their sound.. and let that be the theme that runs through each album's 'review'  Unlike a standard review.. no one is going to care what you personally think of the album... is it good..bad.. prog?.. yadda yadda...    take a theme.. make it interesting. 

back off of the soapbox hahahha.
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progismylife View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 07 2007 at 16:06
Originally posted by micky micky wrote:

Originally posted by progismylife progismylife wrote:

Thanks micky. I'll be sure to post reviews of Rush albums in the future(that are probably going to go into a little more depth than the ones on PA). As well as on my blog. Big%20smile 


my two cents...  disect a theme.. not meerly a rehash of  reviews. .pick a theme... like what I suggested.. the evolution in their sound.. and let that be the theme that runs through each album's 'review'  Unlike a standard review.. no one is going to care what you personally think of the album... is it good..bad.. prog?.. yadda yadda...    take a theme.. make it interesting. 

back off of the soapbox hahahha.


I'll probably do what you suggest. Starting with the debut all the way up to their newest album (but I don't have Vapor Trails Cry )
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 07 2007 at 16:13
Originally posted by progismylife progismylife wrote:

Originally posted by micky micky wrote:

Originally posted by progismylife progismylife wrote:

Thanks micky. I'll be sure to post reviews of Rush albums in the future(that are probably going to go into a little more depth than the ones on PA). As well as on my blog. Big%20smile 


my two cents...  disect a theme.. not meerly a rehash of  reviews. .pick a theme... like what I suggested.. the evolution in their sound.. and let that be the theme that runs through each album's 'review'  Unlike a standard review.. no one is going to care what you personally think of the album... is it good..bad.. prog?.. yadda yadda...    take a theme.. make it interesting. 

back off of the soapbox hahahha.


I'll probably do what you suggest. Starting with the debut all the way up to their newest album (but I don't have Vapor Trails Cry )


you're not missing anything hahhahaha (3 posts is my limit without saying something about Rush LOL)  Talk with Tony and Raff as well.... they might have some good ideas as well.  That is a topic I find interesting.. but remember.. you should as well or you'll lose interest.  Personal experience speaking there from real life.
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progismylife View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 07 2007 at 16:14
Originally posted by micky micky wrote:

Originally posted by progismylife progismylife wrote:

Originally posted by micky micky wrote:

Originally posted by progismylife progismylife wrote:

Thanks micky. I'll be sure to post reviews of Rush albums in the future(that are probably going to go into a little more depth than the ones on PA). As well as on my blog. Big%20smile 


my two cents...  disect a theme.. not meerly a rehash of  reviews. .pick a theme... like what I suggested.. the evolution in their sound.. and let that be the theme that runs through each album's 'review'  Unlike a standard review.. no one is going to care what you personally think of the album... is it good..bad.. prog?.. yadda yadda...    take a theme.. make it interesting. 

back off of the soapbox hahahha.


I'll probably do what you suggest. Starting with the debut all the way up to their newest album (but I don't have Vapor Trails Cry )


you're not missing anything hahhahaha (3 posts is my limit without saying something about Rush LOL)  Talk with Tony and Raff as well.... they might have some good ideas as well.  That is a topic I find interesting.. but remember.. you should as well or you'll lose interest.  Personal experience speaking there from real life.


Lose interest? Me and lose interest in Rush?

But some good suggestions here and I'm working on one right now but I'll wait a while before I post it to make sure it works.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 07 2007 at 16:15
Originally posted by progismylife progismylife wrote:

Originally posted by micky micky wrote:

Originally posted by progismylife progismylife wrote:

Originally posted by micky micky wrote:

Originally posted by progismylife progismylife wrote:

Thanks micky. I'll be sure to post reviews of Rush albums in the future(that are probably going to go into a little more depth than the ones on PA). As well as on my blog. Big%20smile 


my two cents...  disect a theme.. not meerly a rehash of  reviews. .pick a theme... like what I suggested.. the evolution in their sound.. and let that be the theme that runs through each album's 'review'  Unlike a standard review.. no one is going to care what you personally think of the album... is it good..bad.. prog?.. yadda yadda...    take a theme.. make it interesting. 

back off of the soapbox hahahha.


I'll probably do what you suggest. Starting with the debut all the way up to their newest album (but I don't have Vapor Trails Cry )


you're not missing anything hahhahaha (3 posts is my limit without saying something about Rush LOL)  Talk with Tony and Raff as well.... they might have some good ideas as well.  That is a topic I find interesting.. but remember.. you should as well or you'll lose interest.  Personal experience speaking there from real life.


Lose interest? Me and lose interest in Rush?

But some good suggestions here and I'm working on one right now but I'll wait a while before I post it to make sure it works.


hahah.. not the subject.. the topic you knucklehead LOLWink
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 07 2007 at 16:20
Good job. Nice read.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 07 2007 at 16:24
Nice work Ben !
 
Rush has had such an amazing career so far one could write a thesis on the band's evolution throughout the years.
 
Still my favorite band after all this time !  Heart
"One likes to believe in the freedom of Music" - Neil Peart, The Spirit of Radio
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 07 2007 at 16:28
I myself would have waited an astonishing essay on how Rush would actually not be progressive rock (or art rock, haha to micky) at all. WinkLOL

otherwise nicely said. Smile
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 07 2007 at 17:01
Well Progismylife, Rush is one of my favorite bands (since I bought the just released A Farewell To Kings in 1977) but from the album Presto I stopped buying Rush records because their music failed to keep my attention, in my opinion they turned from heavy progressive and symphonic prog to an innovative rock band, always trying to sound really progressive but not really my cup of tea. I have done my best to appreciate their work after Presto but unfortunately I am still waiting for an album on the level of Farewell To Kings or Moving Pictures, perhaps the new Rush album will delight me?
 
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 07 2007 at 17:06
Erik you can call me Ben instead of progismylife (if you want to) and I hope the new album is like A Farewell to Kings too but also innovative, I would not like it if they just continued with one style and stayed that way.


Edited by progismylife - March 07 2007 at 17:06
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 07 2007 at 17:13
While I wouldn't mind something as Prog as AFTK or Hemi, I am not holding my breath. I know enough about the band that if they do any reverting, it is in thier sound, not their writing style. They have in the past tried to move forward into new areas, but never leave their abilities in the shadows. In this way, they are innovative to themselves, finding new ideas within. They progress in this fashion. I will start a new thread tomorrow based on something that occured to me today while listening to Vapor Trails.
 
For the new record, expect them to be songwriters to satisfy themselves musically. 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 07 2007 at 17:22
Good points StyLaZyn and I can't wait to read the thread! Thumbs%20Up
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 07 2007 at 17:26
A good summary, yes, well done.Big%20smile I must admit though, their late 80s and early 90s period is a problematic one for me- I'll offer my two cents.... I personally don't feel they 'sold out'- the music was perhaps more streamlined in some respects but lyrically, if anything, the band improved and didn't go down the bland ballad route- I think 'In Too Deep'(which is a guilty pleasure for me- it's soppy and AOR but I don't turn it off) and 'Invisible Touch' (which isn't...) by Genesis when I think of a prog band getting commercial- accessibility at all costs, little depth (imho of course). I don't even feel Yes went down the swanee marked 'commercial' in the same manner. 
 
Certainly Signals is as good an album as most earlier ones- I think Losing It is one of the most mesmerising and proggiest things the band have ever recorded, for example, and Subdivisions is an all time favourite.
 
However, Grace Under Pressure is a bit patchy, to say the least. I love Distant Early Warning, Red Sector A and Between The Wheels, but the rest ranges from OK- Afterimage- to average- Kid Gloves- to awful, imho, with The Body Electric and especially Red Lenses (sounds like The Human League or one of those synth-pop new wave acts to my ears!). They seem to be unsure of the direction here, imo.
 
I feel that Power Windows is a big return to form. The production is very 80s and as such, sounds a little dated, but some of my favourite Rush tracks are there- The Big Money and Marathon, which is right up there in my favourites- especially, and even the weaker ones- Middletown Dreams and Emotion Detector- would probably be better than most of what was on the previous album. One of the stronger albums I've heard from a prog band in the 80s- ignore my lukewarm review as I've totally re-evaluated this one over the past few months.
 
It's with Hold Your Fire they lose me. This was the first Rush album I ever owned and it was definitely the worst introduction I could have had (the second album I bought, Caress Of Steel, was no improvement, imo). I personally feel Prime Mover and especially Time Stand Still are the nearest the band got to AOR, and I just feel indifferent to most of the material on it, I'm afraid. Probably my least favourite, to be honest.
 
Presto, despite dispensing with the excess of synths, is little better. So much unmemorable material, imho- only The Pass, um, passes muster for me. Geddy Lee has rightly criticised the clinical, bloodless production. This is another album I feel blights the perception of their later work being progressive rock, the tunes are fairly standard rock tunes for the most part.
 
Roll The Bones is a slight improvement, with Dreamline being the best song I've heard from them since Mystic Rhythms, but again it tails off around the middle and I lose interest- a touch of sameness creeps in, IMHO.
 
Counterparts I rate highly, though. The most diverse yet consistently excellent album I heard of theirs since Power Windows. The production is gutsier, with far less emphasis on synths and the compositions are tougher sounding. I'm not sure if this is a prog effort, but it's a very good album nevertheless.
 
Must admit, I never bought Test For Echo due to the poor reviews, but Vapor Trails I did have. I felt it was better than its reputation suggested, but again, this is not a prog album, imho. The compositions are arguably musically the most straight forward the band had done since their heavy rock debut, imho. The songs were often pretty strong- Earthshine and Secret Touch I liked, especially- but I feel personally, greater variety was necessary. Again though, not a sell out because this isn't pop material- as I hinted earlier, a lot of the time my personal perception of a sell out is a lyrical one as much as a musical one. And the lyrics have always prevented Rush from that category, imo.
 
For their next album, I'm obviously not expecting AFTK/Moving Pictures style music, but what I would like is greater compositional variety and obviously, a production which is less heavy going on the ears, allowing the music the space to breathe.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 07 2007 at 17:38
As far as I'm concerned, there's never been any doubt that Rush are a progressive rock band. They have the long songs, the fantasy songs, the concept albums, the technical stuff. It's pretty straightforward to me. It's just a question of genre.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 07 2007 at 17:38
One thing to mention, it is my understanding that Rush, once writing Prog, continued to create "theme" albums, that is until Test For Echo. I remember this point being made about the band at the time of Counterparts, whose theme is obvious. So while the individual songs on an album may have different flavors, most noticeably on P/G, there was a common denominator. In this fashion, it is AOR with a Prog element.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 07 2007 at 17:39
If you are interested I can try and make my blog a team blog to add similar stuff (doesn't have to be Rush related at all).

http://masterliness.blogspot.com/

PM me if interested.

And good points salmacis Clap
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