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Rush - Fly By Night CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.36 | 1180 ratings

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3 stars Rush's second album, "Fly By Night" is similar in a way to Judas Priest's "Sad Wings of Destiny" and Metallica's "Ride the Lightning". All three albums were sophomore releases that included the final pieces of material written with founding members who had since departed. Judas Priest included some final bits of material written by Al Atkins; Metallica included some parts claimed by Dave Mustaine; and Rush included a last couple of songs written when former drummer John Rutsey was in the band. Yet while the efforts of Judas Priest and Metallica would go on to have profound impacts on the growth and development of heavy metal, Rush's impact on metal and prog would not leave a huge impression until two albums later with "2112".

Rush's eponymous debut was a good solid hard rock album with some wonderful heavy guitar work. With Neil Peart now on board not only providing an added dimension to the drums but also lyrically taking the band in more intellectual directions, Rush released for their second album a tight rocker with budding progressive tendencies. With songs like "Anthem", and "Beneath, Between & Behind" the band was raising the bar for fast- paced heavy rockers with a higher degree of complexity. Conversely, "Best that I Can", "Making Memories" and "In the End" still sound like the old Rush of a few months prior with "Making Memories" featuring some slide guitar and acoustic guitar that remind me of Nazareth.

The title track was a song I heard frequently on the classic rock radio station along with "In the Mood" and "Closer to the Heart" but none of those songs ever impressed me. Now I really enjoy this song about Peart's time he spent in the U.K. becoming disappointed with the reality of the music business. The guitar solo is a classic seventies rock guitar showcase, and Alex Lifeson, in an interview a couple of years back, listed this among his top ten favourite solos that he has ever played.

The song that was really intended to make headway into prog territory was the mini-epic, "By-Tor and the Snow Dog", a multi-part narrative about two arch enemies who encounter each other and commence battle. The song describes the events that lead up to the battle which is then played out with Lifeson's guitar playing Snow Dog and Geddy Lee's bass growling as By-Tor. The battle is ferocious but at one point it seems Snow Dog might be defeated. The music becomes sparse while little chimes tinkle like ice crystals. We came imagine the two combatants bloodied and out of breath, By-Tor perhaps looking on as Snow Dog seems worse for wear and potentially defeated. But the music returns to power as the Snow Dog does likewise and at last Snow Dog is victorious while By-Tor flees.

The one odd track on this album and indeed one of the oddest in Rush's catalogue is "Rivendell". Featuring only acoustic guitar, soft electric guitar notes, and Lee's voice, the song relates the comfort and joy of staying in Rivendell from Tolkein's "The Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings".

This is still Rush in their first phase, the seventies hard rock one. Though they began experimenting with more progressive approaches to writing music, this was only their first step. Nevertheless, this album walks with a foot firmly planted on each side, one in the heavy rock of the mid-seventies and one in heavy prog. A step up from the debut and looking strong.

As a prog album, good but not essential. As a rock album, excellent!

FragileKings | 3/5 |


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