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Rush - Moving Pictures CD (album) cover




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4.39 | 2934 ratings

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4 stars If Rush has a masterpiece, it's Moving Pictures.

The performances are superb. For whatever reason, Moving Pictures strikes me as less self-conscious than any Rush album that came later. The synthesizer-guitar balance seems perfectly natural, and even the most intricate drum and bass parts don't feel overrehearsed until near the end of the album. This is drummer Neil Peart's finest moment, at least on the standard drum kit. It also features the best-sounding synthesizer sounds on any Rush album, as Geddy Lee stuck to tasty-toned Oberheims and Moogs.

The production is also top-shelf. Luckily, the post-processing never gets in the way of the performances. The album has what I'd call "clean" sound (though that's probably not the correct technical term), with good separation between the sonic elements. The songs generally don't have synth or guitar pads filling in the background, which is something that would become more common over the next handful of Rush albums. Of course, there are exceptions; parts of "Witch Hunt" and "The Camera Eye" have more of a "wall of sound."

And then there are the songs. Among Moving Pictures's seven cut are four Rush classics: "Witch Hunt," the first and best of the "Fear trilogy;" the instrumental workout "YYZ;" "Red Barchetta," which balances progressiveness with radio-friendliness and manages to cash in on two male fantasies at once: sports cars and science fiction; and the iconic "Tom Sawyer." Moving Pictures also features "Limelight," a bit of a throwback to Permanent Waves, and their first hit (#4) on Billboard's brand-new rock airplay chart, "Top Tracks," in 1981.

"Vital Signs," the album's closer, would be one of the strongest songs on Permanent Waves or Signals, yet here it's only the fifth- or sixth-best (of seven). My least favorite song on the album is "The Camera Eye." From a compositional standpoint, "The Camera Eye" is relatively unimaginative. Had it been a shorter song, that'd be one thing, but for some reason, this was the song they decided to make their long-form track. In retrospect we can see that Rush no longer needed 10-minute songs, that, especially after "The Spirit of Radio," they were capable of creating multi-faceted, genuine Rush songs in the space of five minutes. My claim, though, is that there just isn't ten minutes and fifty-some seconds of quality material in "The Camera Eye." I should remark, though, that "The Camera Eye" is interesting because it displays several of the band's influences so clearly - - Yes, Genesis, and The Who, by my count.

Everything, and I mean everything, that is good about Rush is here on Moving Pictures, and those idiosyncrasies which I find annoying about Rush are kept to a minimum. Perhaps not a "masterpiece of progressive rock music," it's pretty close, and is definitely an "excellent addition to any prog rock music collection."

patrickq | 4/5 |


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