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Rush - Different Stages - Live CD (album) cover




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4.34 | 423 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars Bravado!

If you happen to have read some of my reviews of the post-Moving Pictures Rush albums, you have probably noticed that I'm not a very big fan of either the Synth-Pop/New Wave sound they adopted with Signals in the early 80's nor of the Alternative Rock/Grunge sound they adopted with Counterparts in the early 90's. Even though there are a couple of good studio albums to be found in the Rush discography after the end of the classic period (1976- 1981), particularly 1989's Presto and 1996's Test For Echo, and that most of their albums hold at least some good individual tracks, post-Moving Pictures Rush have never been too interesting for me in general. In the studio, that is! As a live band, on the other hand, Rush has continued to be a force to be reckoned with over the decades.

Recorded on tour in support of the unfairly dismissed Test For Echo (Rush's best album of the 90's, in my opinion), Different Stages is a good live album featuring a fine selection of some of the best tracks from the band's 90's albums plus some from the 80's as well as a couple of 70's classics, including a storming rendition of the complete 2112 suite! If you lost touch with Rush somewhere in the mid 80's, Different Stages is a very good place to rekindle the flame. Indeed, this live album is in many ways a good replacement for the band's 90's studio albums from which the bulk of these songs were taken. If you get this live album, you don't really need studio albums like Roll The Bones, Counterparts and Test For Echo, as the best tracks from these albums are all here, often in improved versions. Three tracks were taken from Test For Echo, the best of which is the superb ballad Resist. As I pointed out in my review of that album, Resist is one of the very few post-Moving Pictures Rush songs, possibly the only one, that really sounds like a classic to me. Driven and the title-track are in a different division altogether, but not bad at all as such. Counterparts is represented with no less than four songs, the best of which is Animate and the semi-ballad Nobody's Hero. I was never a fan of that studio album, but I don't dislike what is here. Roll The Bones was another very weak studio album, but again they have managed to some of the better tracks from it here. Unfortunately, they did not remove the awful Rap-section (sic!) of the title-track, which is of course pre-recorded and played out to the audience from the speakers. Very lame, if you ask me! Another little blunder is the tedious, eight minute plus drum solo. Don't get me wrong, I have the greatest respect for Neil Peart and I think he is a truly fantastic drummer indeed. But while drum solos function pretty well on live videos, I have never enjoyed them on audio-only recordings.

To sum up. In my opinion, there is simply too much focus on the band's 90's albums and too little from the classic era for this live recording to be really essential. Only three songs are from the 70's (admittedly one of them is very long, but still) and these stand out so much from the rest that the decline of the band since then becomes painfully evident while listening to this album despite the fact that this set list is almost a greatest hits of the late 80's and 90's. In terms of progressive Rock, this album is not plentiful. The aforementioned 2112 suite as well as the great Natural Science from 1980's Permanent Waves represents Rush's progressive side.

Good, but non-essential

(I should mention that the bonus disc contains a live recording from 1978, that I have yet to hear.)

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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