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Rush - Moving Pictures CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

4.38 | 3161 ratings

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4 stars This was my first taste of Rush, and I'm definitely glad I started here. The album itself was a great starting point not only for this group, but getting acquainted with the prog world as a whole at a reasonable pace without feeling overwhelmed or at the same time feeling like there wasn't more out there worth exploring.

The album is a solid mix of songs. None of them are exceptionally dense or require obsessive studying to understand, but they each have enough depth to keep you interested with each repeated listen. Overall it's a very balanced release, and the tracks function very well when listened to by themselves or as a unified album.

Tom Sawyer is a song that, while having a tendency to become tedious if heard too often in a short span of time, is undeniably challenging to perform and guaranteed to grab a new listener's interested right out of the gates. The seamless transitions between 4/4 and 7/8 as well as between each section of the song show strong songwriting talent and group chemistry. It's a track that adequately sums up the strengths of the band and its members.

Red Barchetta has a wider range of moods than the previous track, starting soft and subdued, then ramping up the activity bit by bit with each new drum fill, change in sonic texture, and shift in meter and mood. This is one of the standout tracks on the album for that reason. It's arguably the one that has the most room for discovery and for that reason gives it the most longevity. It's also unique in the sense that there's no song out there that sounds similar to it.

YYZ is the second instrumental composed by the group. Their playing talents are showcased here very well. Unlike other instrumentals, this one contains very memorable themes and solos, demonstrating once again the exemplary sense of balance the group has here. It loses a bit of its magic after many listens though, as the sacrifice sometimes for accessible, similar melodies is a loss of variety and sacrificing the potential for discovering something new upon repeated listens.

Limelight is my least favorite track on the album. It moves along nicely, has good playing, the lyrics are good, and the parts flow into each other seamlessly. It just doesn't reach out and grab you as much as the others and seems to lose its power with more listens faster. It's still worth hearing though because the solo is good and has a nice atmospheric sound that adds nicely to the album as a whole. Again, not my favorite, but the album would be incomplete without it.

The Camera Eye was the last song by the group to exceed 10 minutes. Starting with stripped back performing forces and building through a variety of changes and themes, this diverse track employs a variety of moods and textures sure to pique your interest. It may take a few listens to get a handle on all of them, but they flow into each other so logically and organically you'll never feel the band is without direction or purpose even for a moment.

Witch Hunt stands out as the darkest track on the album with one of Alex Lifeson's most sinister guitar riffs. The lyric and vocal part match the ominous keyboard part that dominates the mix for much of the track after the brooding first verse following the ambient introduction. While it may represent a significant shift in the album's overall atmosphere, it provides a degree of variety that the album really benefits from as a whole I feel.

Vital Signs is a very effective closer to the album. On the surface it may seem much simpler than the other tracks. In a sense, this is true. No shifts in meter, more traditional verse- chorus formal construction, and no virtuosic displays whatsoever, but the song has a lot of drive and focus, which makes it a compelling track in its own right. It has a new-wave sound to it, serving as a precursor to the musical direction the band would adopt on its next few albums. The tune is solid. The intricate, active guitar and bass parts are very catchy and interesting. They never crowd the mix either, allowing the sparse, controlled vocal part to assert itself well when it presents itself, but also keep you captivated in the pauses between the sung phrases. The track fades away with repeated statements and variations on the song's hook (Everybody got to deviate from the norm) while a drone from the keys, moving bass notes, washes of guitar chords, and compelling drum fills summarize the balanced energy and drive demonstrated by the album as a whole.

This album has something for everyone to enjoy. I respect how well it preserved the talent of the group while approaching a more accessible style. I wouldn't say it's a masterpiece though. Overall it works quite well, but not every track is up to the standard of what constitutes in my mind a critical achievement in progressive music. Additionally, because a few of these tracks have a tendency to become tiresome or even annoying if I hear the album too often, I need to listen to it very sparingly. There was a time in my life when I didn't listen to it for years just because I heard it too often and got more burnt out than I care to remember. I've since recovered from that period and am happy to give it a positive review, but am taking this fact into consideration as I assign it a rating I deem most appropriate. A solid 4 stars for an album that will surely have something positive to offer for any progressive music fan. Some may take away more than others, but nonetheless, I definitely feel it's one very worth considering and everyone should hear at least (but preferably more than) once.

Neo-Romantic | 4/5 |


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