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Rush - A Show Of Hands CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.51 | 425 ratings

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3 stars The "four studio = one live" pattern marches on. As one might expect, this album is primarily based around the last four Rush studio albums, which isn't exactly my favorite Rush era of all time. Even worse, there's only ONE song from Signals ("Subdivisions," done mostly the same as before, just like most of the stuff on here), which means that the album primarily concentrates on the very 80's Rush albums that I DON'T like. Throw in another stupid version of "Closer to the Heart" (I really, really, really don't like that song) and this album should utterly blow.

And in parts, it does just that, and yet the album manages to not suck. There are some serious stinkers on here (listening to "Turn the Page," "Manhattan Project" and "Mission" consecutively is my personal equivalent of entering the 8th circle of hell), as expected, but the song selection manages to please me about as much as it possibly could, once I recover from the presence of, again, only ONE Signals track. Bastards. But anyway, Grace rewards my ears with the two standouts ("Distant Early Warning," "Red Sector A"), and I'd go so far as to say that the live version of the latter manages to surpass its studio counterpart. The playing isn't different, but there's a level of intensity and OVERWHELMING desperation in Geddy's singing that the studio version could only hint at. As for the HYF stuff ... er ... well, "Force Ten" is here! Yay!

Best of all, though I never want to suffer through "The Manhattan Project" again, the band also makes sure to throw on the three Power Windows tracks that I loved oh so much. The differences between these and the originals are mostly in the semantics, of course, but if pressed I'd probably say that "The Big Money" is done as well as before, "Marathon" a little worse (the first verse drags a bit too much here) and that "Mystic Rhythms" somehow got EVEN BETTER. Perhaps it's just my ears playing tricks on me, but it almost seems to me that the band managed to loosen up just a smidge for this track, allowing a bit of flow and vitality to seep into the track that wasn't there before. Many might disagree, but I can easily see why the band put this version of the track on their compilation Chronicles instead of the original (which I still love, mind you).

The one big surprise of the album comes right after "MR" - the band brings back "Witch Hunt" (from Pictures) and it also has an energy that I largely missed originally. Alex suddenly gets some crunch back in his guitar, Geddy snaps out the lyrics intensely, and overall it was a large part of what made me go back and give Moving Pictures a bunch of extra listens.

Anyway, that's your album, (except for Neil throwing in the SAME drum solo that he gave on the past two live albums - yeah yeah, I'm sure there are some differences, but do we need this many versions of it??? Bleh). As much as it should bother me in general (I also get irritated at the cover - I don't want to see a cover that emphasizes Geddy behind keyboards rather than playing his bass), much of it manages to be surprisingly decent. At worst, it works as an ok compilation of the last few 80's albums - I'd recommend skipping Grace and HYF in favor of this, but that's just me.

Oh! I forgot about what is EASILY the funnest part of the album! The introductory music is Three Blind Mice! Let's give our Rush-men credit - even when their pretensions become goofily grotesque, they still find a way to not take themselves too seriously. What a bunch of good guys, dorky as they may be.

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |


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