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Rush - Grace Under Pressure CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.69 | 1121 ratings

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Symphonic Team
2 stars Spirit Of Radio was the distant early warning

After the release of Moving Pictures - the last great Rush album - at the dawn of the 80's, it was all downhill for Rush. They still managed to make a few decent albums beyond that point though, but radical changes was made in the sound and approach from Signals onward. Indeed, Grace Under Pressure is pretty much Signals part 2 (and the following Power Windows album is Signals part 3). Even if there are a few good songs on Grace Under Pressure, the direction of the band at this time was more than clear - downwards! Rush was obviously adapting to the musical climate of the 80's with these post-Moving Pictures albums and while this is not a bad thing in itself it meant that they left behind progressive Rock in favour of a more New Wave and Pop Rock kind of approach. In other words: they sold out.

As I pointed out in my review of the Permanent Waves album from 1980, some songs from that album, especially Spirit Of Radio, was already pointing towards what was to come in the 80's. One could say that Spirit Of Radio was a "distant early warning" about what to expect on albums like the present one. The songs at this point became shorter and more conventional and the long, multi-part compositions of the 70's was already a thing of the past. The synthesisers was allowed to play a more dominating role from Signals onward and the drums, guitars and bass became less powerful. They were reduced to a rhythm section for much of the time and the instrumental work outs became fewer and further between. The production became more polished and fitted for radio play. It is fair to say that we are now in Rush's "commercial" period and even if, as mentioned, developments in that direction could be found already on Permanent Waves, it was with Grace Under Pressure that the transition was completed. Similar developments could, of course, be found in most Prog and Prog Related bands around this time (Queen's Hot Space, Yes' 90125, Jethro Tull's Under Wraps and Genesis' Abacab are just a few examples among many, many more).

However, commercial is not always a bad thing provided that the quality of the songs stand up. But sadly, Rush's songwriting became increasingly less inspired from this point onward. The songs sound increasingly samey to my ears. Tracks like The Body Electric, Kid Gloves and Red Lenses are downright boring and brings nothing new to what we already heard on Signals. The rest of the tracks are up to par with some of the better tracks on Signals, but it is not quite enough to save this album from a lower rating.

Rush's classic era had come to its end, and even if they would make a couple of decent albums further on, they never, in my opinion, fully recovered from the disease they contracted somewhere around this time.

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |


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