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Rush - Fly By Night CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.36 | 1167 ratings

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3 stars Fly by Night is as of yet the earliest Rush album I own. This is an album which is still on the road to becoming the "Rush" we know and love on 2112 and beyond. This album is much more straightforward in its approach to rock than the later band and as a result the sound is simplistic and freewheeling compared to dense works like Hemispheres, Permanent Waves or the incredibly thick Snakes and Arrows. This is the kind of album I'd like to listen to on a road trip; mostly up tempo and easy to sing along with.

The album kicks off in style with what may be their best song pre-2112 in Anthem. The intellectual lyrics are starting to crack in here thanks to the presence of Neil Peart during the production process for the first time. They are really firing on all cylinders here. All three are living up to the power trio principal. Anthem is great hard rock track with some progressive elements.

After Anthem comes Best I Can. With the exception of some Neil's drumming this is a more generic rock entry. This still sounds good, the guitar is wailing and the bass is pumping. It is the perfect example of Rush's earlier Zeppelin influences. This one was written by Lee alone and lyrically it is apparent.

Much the same can be said for the follow up track Beneath, Between & Behind. I think it does err a little more into progressive territory, not as much as Anthem though. Peart is back on lyrical duties too.

By-Tor and the Snow Dog is the earliest Rush epic. It has a great driving guitar line. Overall this is a very good Lifeson track. Lee's singing is not at its strongest here though and Peart drums better elsewhere. It's really raw stuff. I would almost go so far as to call it "Garage-Prog". I do enjoy By-Tor's experimental qualities, like the soft almost Steve Howe style guitar work in the interlude, the tempo change-ups and especially the phased bass. Good early stuff, but not up to the standards of their later work.

Following By-Tor is the title track Fly by Night. It is the first of a few autobiographical tracks by Peart. This one focuses on his decision to go to England. It doesn't go into quite as much detail as the unfortunately dull Lakeside Park. This is another solid rock track; nothing terribly adventurous. Lee's singing is better again. Very radio friendly.

Making Memories is one the treasures of Fly by Night. It's mostly acoustic, but still up tempo. This is another autobiographical track focusing on their early touring days. Not too crazy but very enjoyable and well written if not entirely well sung.

The follow up is the very soft Tolkien inspired Rivendell. Most of the album with the exception of the brief interlude on By-Tor is fiery and exciting, making this one a black sheep. It's also really dorky. They really didn't work in the Tolkien references with the same ability as Zeppelin (Ramble On). I don't think that this track is essential to the album.

In the End picks up only slightly from Rivendell at first. Maybe it's to gently nudge those of us who've nodded off. It would have been most unfortunate if they chose to end in on that note. Thankfully this isn't the case. After the intro segment it turns into a slower but hard rocking and well sung track. It seems at times as though it might try to regain the energy of the first half of the album but chooses instead to stay as heavy as a tonne of bricks.

Fly by Night shows the beginnings for the Rush of the future. They are still good here, but only truly excellent in a few places; the easiest of which to pick out being Anthem. For the non-Rush and perhaps non-prog rock fans this is one their more instantly approachable works. For Rush crazed loons, like me, this is part of the journey. Musically it has its ups and downs but I think it's a good effort. I recommend it for anyone, but it wouldn't be the first Rush album I'd tell you to go out and pick up. Three out of Five. Might have been seven out of ten if we did it that way.

R-A-N-M-A | 3/5 |


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