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Rush - Grace Under Pressure CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.70 | 1153 ratings

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Tony R
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Quite an oddity for me and Rush this album, as it has quite a few tracks that I dont care for at all.

Perspective. It is 1984 and the atmosphere on the album matches the vision of Orwell's masterpiece: bleak. Having split with long-time producer and "4th band member" Terry Brown, not because as one reviewer notes "the poor sales from their latest album "Signals""(it went multi-platinum in the USA and peaked at #5 both sides of the Atlantic) but because the band wanted a fresh impetus and pair of ears, it was agreed that erstwhile U2 producer Steve Lillywhite would take the helm. Instead,they received an almighty slap in the face. As Geddy Lee observed at the time:" Steve Lillywhite is really not a man of his word. After agreeing to do our record, he got an offer from Simple Minds, changed his mind, blew us off and went and did the Simple Minds record. So it put us in a horrible position where we were on the verge of entering preproduction and suddenly we had no producer. All the while we were writing and arranging material we had producers flying in, like every week, to meet with, to talk to. And it was just horrible timing, after going and trying to venture out on our own without our father figure, Terry Brown." In the end they were forced to do most of the production work themselves and one-time Supertramp producer Peter Henderson was drafted in at the last-minute almost in desperation.

What's good? Well "Distant Early Warning" and "Red Sector A" are classic Rush songs and Peart's lyrics are at their darkest. In both songs he deals with Human extinction; Nuclear Holocaust in the former and The "Holocaust" in the latter.The Palm Beach Post has this to say about "Red Sector A":"Perhaps the most well-known of Holocaust- influenced rock songs ... the seeds for this harrowing rocker were planted 60 years ago in April of 1945 when British soldiers liberated the Nazi concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. Rush lead singer Geddy Lee's mother, Mary Rubenstein, was among the survivors. 'I once asked my mother her first thoughts upon being liberated,' Lee said. 'She didn't believe (liberation) was possible. She didn't believe that if there was a society outside the camp how they could allow this to exist... ' Lee related the story to band drummer and lyricist Neil Peart and also wrote the music. Peart came up with lines such as: 'Are we the last ones left alive?/ Are we the only human beings to survive?' 'The whole album,' Lee said, 'is about being on the brink and having the courage and strength to survive.'"(Rock and Roll Never Forgets Holocaust Horror,May 6 2005).The music melds well with the dark lyrics;pulsating synth and guitar and strident electric drums virtually sing out the menace and horror.

The rest? "Afterimage",which was dedicated to a friend of the band, Robbie Whelan and "Kid Gloves" are above average rockers,both with superb guitar solos."The Enemy Within" is another pseudo-Reggae number that doesnt quite come off."The Body Electric" and "Red Lenses" are like nothing Rush had done before and safe to say they never will repeat this horrible mistake.Last up "Beneath The Wheels" is a real grower,and probably the closest they get to Prog Rock on the whole album.Interestingly it was revived for the R30 Tour and was very well received by the fans.

So to sum up.Not a typical Rush album and not particularly a good one either.The problems with producers notwithstanding,there was really no excuse for this after an unblemished 6 album run of near-perfection.Average overall and probably deserves only 2 1/2 stars.

Tony R | 3/5 |


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