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Rush - Fly By Night CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.36 | 1182 ratings

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4 stars Wow. Neil Peart comes into the picture, and the band releases ... a really, really good album!?! I waver between giving it a *** and a ****, but every time I listen to it I come away happy and pretty impressed. In a coup for Rush, I don't consider a single track on here bad, and I find some of them just terrific.

You know what I like most about this album overall? It's the FABULOUS production, which I think may be the best the band would ever have. The equalization is almost textbook for mid-70's hard-rock, as all of the instruments jump out at and throttle the listener without ever suffocating the listener in unnecessary heaviness. Not only that, but I'd say that even a die-hard Geddy hater would have a difficult time saying that Lee ruins a single one of these songs, as his vocal screams often propel the sound forward in a way that couldn't happen otherwise.

Just as important, though, is that quite a few of these riffs and melodies are good. The best of these, of course, comes from the opening "Anthem," which might be in my top five tracks from the band. Sure, the lyrics annoy me in that wonderful Peart manner (the song is named after an Ayn Rand novel), but I cannot ignore all of the marvelous riffs that jump out throught these heavenly four minutes. Plus, I just adore the way that, as mentioned before, the band uses Lee's vocals as a way to catapult the jamming forward, especially when the "Wonders in the world! Wonders in the world! Wonders in the world! AAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRR ... *riffs*" part pops up. The guitar solos are great, too.

Originally, I thought the album was basically just "Anthem" with a bunch of filler, but that was a mistake. The title track is a great pop song; I mean, the riff is good, the guitar tone is solid, the vocal melody is memorable in a good way, and the chorus is very nice. "Beneath, Behind, Between" is somewhat neglected in the hierarchy of great Rush tunes, but I think that it has a great main riff, and having the vocal melody largely move in parallel with the guitar lines actually helps out the song. And finally, I'm very fond of "In the End," which I rarely see touted as a good song. Yes, it's seven minutes, and its mid-tempo, and it's largely based on a single chord sequence on guitar, but I like the chord sequence, and I like the vocal melody Geddy sings over. Yup, if I was going to pick a song as "most underrated Rush song ever," this would be a strong contender.

The other four tracks are a step down, but still not bad. "Making Memories" is an acoustic number with a lot of drive, kinda sounding to me like something Led Zeppelin would have had as an outtake from the III sessions, and I generally like it. The slow, quiet acoustic ballad "Rivendell" (yet another evidence in support of this era of Rush being a bit of a Led Zeppelin knockoff; the obligatory Tolkien-influenced number) is kinda dippy, not really going anywhere, but I don't find it offensive, so it can stick around too.

If the album has clear weak links, it's in the remaining two tracks. "Best I Can" isn't horrible, but it dwells too much on the lyrical message (penned by Lee, not by Peart) at the expense of solid hooks or riffs, and it doesn't impress me much. And, of course, there's "By-tor and the Snowdog." Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad song. The big problem I have is that, given that Geddy has repeatedly stated that Yes' Relayer is his favorite album, it's very difficult for me not to end up trying to compare this track to that album's Gates of Delirium (the structure is largely the same, except for a reprise of the opening vocal melody at the end). Putting it mildly, that's a battle that By-tor just can't win. Still, the song is pretty funny, and I only find it really annoying when the band starts to show off its ability to start and stop on a dime, as if they think that that's enough to make them impressive as a prog rock band. It would improve live, anyway. But all complaining aside, I'm perfectly content with this album. I consider it the studio peak of the early, hard rock epoch of Rush, and I really think it belongs in any decent collection of 70's hard rock.

tarkus1980 | 4/5 |


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