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Marc Baum
4 stars Rush, one of the most original and intelligent bands in rock history evolved from early hard rock influenced albums to some kind of art rock in 80's. Music is full of synthetizers, keyboards and with no more long compositions. Rush started this experiment with previous release Signals, but with this album song compositions, sound and using of new elements (synths, keys) became finally complete.

Everything starts with the album cover, which is nice, atmospheric and very deep. First song on album, Geddy Lee's favorite "Distant Early Warning" has typical trademark for Rush in 80's, that means energic, but balanced guitar production and sound almost based on keyboards, what helps to create original and fantastic atmosphere. Don't get me wrong, keys are not lead instrument here, but their role is still very important. Geddy's vocals became with previous albums more listenable, and they are no longer so high-pitched and agressive. You can hear that he tried to get more emotions and tone into his voice.

I said there's no more long compositions. Rush left their long progressive opuses and turned into more conventional song structures, the length of songs is always about 5 minutes. Band uses this standard music elements to create something new, strong and innovative. Their creativity was incredible in that time, because with using only typical rock instruments (vocals, guitar, bass, keys) they were able to create trends.

The sound is really nice and deep. Another thing are percussions... always very inconspicuous, but important for the sounding of songs, and if you will be attentive, you will find their technical excellence. I don't want to dissect songs here, because the thing, that this whole album is about, is lyrics hand in hand with atmosphere. A must-have for any Rush fan and although an excellent addition to a proghead's collection.

album rating: 8.5/10 points = 84 % on MPV scale = 4/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Report this review (#20834)
Posted Wednesday, December 24, 2003 | Review Permalink
3 stars Not my favorite Rush album. It's good, and anything good by Rush is head's above what most bands put out. I have an issue with the heavy keyboard influance here and the lack of cohesive lyrics. Call me fickle.

Give it a go, but with fair warning.

Report this review (#20820)
Posted Thursday, January 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Everyone liked Distant Early Warning. After that, if you liked the albums Signals and Power Windows, then you'll definitely like this one. Afterimage has lyrics that are a cut above the rest. Red Sector A is very powerful -- you can see the bleeding fingers clutching the barbed wire fence. The synth on the Enemy Within blends well with the guitar and drums and you get lots of mental images. I didn't care for The Body Electric, but it got popular. Kid gloves was original and Between the Wheels tells it like it is in a powerful, moving way. Red Lenses is the only dud, but it doesn't miss badly. Every Rush fan has this one. If you're new to Rush, I'd listen to it before purchasing.
Report this review (#20826)
Posted Saturday, January 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars I HATED this album when it first came out. TOO MANY SYNTHS! Too techy. Where's the guitar? I have warmed up to it over the years, more out of a "retro" sort of mood than anything, mostly because a friend of mine loved this album and played it all the time when it was first released. I rarely play it though.
Report this review (#20828)
Posted Sunday, January 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
1 stars Slip and slidin awayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy. Le dérapage incontrolé. This one sounded to my ears almost new wave!!!!!. Warning and Sector A were sci-fi but to me this was all over . The fact that they tried this Fear on to two different albums even poked fun at Cygnus X-1. Maybe someday I will re-listen to those 80's album. Preferably after they put me Nine Feet Underground.
Report this review (#20836)
Posted Tuesday, February 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Too many keyboards? Sure. Uninspired 'flip side' (Body Electric, Red Lenses ...)? Probably. Not as groundbreaking as the previous three? Agreed. Yet - GUP has some of the best songwriting Rush ever did. The first four songs are plain terrific. There has never been a better first side to a RUSH LP than on this one - 'Pictures' and 'Waves' included. And, finally, each of us has a song which introduced them to RUSH, and some may have another one which made them die hard RUSH addicts. Enter Red Sector A. Enter Afterimage. They didn't get any better.
Report this review (#20837)
Posted Friday, February 6, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars All the reviews below are correct, but they seem to neglect one of the striking aspects of this album - the great lyrics. This is the album in which Peart really comes into his own as a lyric-writer, with lyrics that are poignant, poetic, nuanced, wordly and, perhaps most importanly, quite funny! Indeed, I think Mad magazine gave this album some award for the humour in its lyrics (tell me if I am wrong). Also, I should note that the keyboards are not nearly as up-front and annoying on this one as on Signals - the guitars are louder in the mix on most tunes.
Report this review (#20838)
Posted Saturday, February 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars this is my favorite Rush album, the guitar work is greatest I've ever heard. Alex Lifeson does not play simple chords here, his chords are rich and so much air is in this music, brilliant songs and great massive sound, this is very unique album in band's collection because songs have equal proportion of keyboards and guitar, brilliant record...
Report this review (#20840)
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Who gave Grace Under Pressure a bad review?

Huh? Who?

Man, some people should get a good wackin' for that. SOME songs are weak, like Red Lenses or Kid Gloves, but do you throw away an amazing side A for that? On top, the album ends up with a very exceptionnaly good Between The Wheels. This song has pressure, just like the tension during the 80's cold war. Distant Early Warning is a MAJOR tune. The whole album as a feel of a fear of the atomic bomb. It's another 'dark' album, like Signals or Moving Pictures. It' very sad that the lyrics of Afterimage now apply to Neil Peart's life. It's almost a sad song, and once again, Rush shows that their music carries feelings. Don't be afraid of the 'techno' sound of Red Sector A, it's THE song who aged the better.

Neil Peart stated one day that he nver understood why poeple snobbed Grace Under Pressure at the time. He thought it was such a record for 'the times' in 1984. And frankly, I agree 100%. Grace Under Pressure is actually a cry for help, the fear of the future is tastable in every song.

Listen to it, don't throw away gems before you hear what the're made of. You could throw away gold with this one.

Report this review (#20824)
Posted Tuesday, March 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars After the excellence of the previous album, we descended the heights a little with this. Less synth here, and lots more guitar. Alex is in superb form throughout this album! Two standout tracks on here - Afterimage and Between The Wheels. The rest is ok, as Rush don't really write bad songs. But the whole album left me feeling cold when I first heard it. A sort of futuristic/robotic album, where technique outplays feeling. It took me a long time to purchase it. (I heard it at my mate's house first.) Eventually I bought it and adapted to it. Not one of their best though. Not an essential.
Report this review (#20825)
Posted Saturday, March 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars On "Grace Under Pressure", the guitars, bass, drums and keyboards are quite different from the previous albums. I remember, in 1984, we were anxiously waiting for the release of this record: we were expecting a masterpiece like "Moving Pictures" or "Signals". Well, at the first listening, we felt completely disoriented by the ultra modern sound involved! So, a little disappointment emerged at that time. However, after many further listenings, we noticed that this record is absolutely excellent from beginning to end!

Geddy Lee really concentrates his effort on fresh & atmospheric state-of-the-art keyboards here; Alex Lifeson uses a very rock urban echoed rythmic electric guitar, sounding just a little bit like YES "Big Generator": the difference is that the guitar sound here is much more refined, rich and superior; Lifeson's solos have a very highly pitched sound: he produces one of his best sophisticated solos set ever recorded here, approaching the perfect ones on the "Power Windows" album: about one per track. Geddy Lee's bass is completely different here: no more Rickenbacker sound! He often uses the popping technique, like on "Body Electric", which is quite interesting. He also seems to use more bass pedals. Finally, Peart's drums are completely different too: he often uses electronic drums, which contributes to the modernity of the overall sound. On "Between the Wheels", his melodic solo is really OUTSTANDING, and it is just a prelude to the ones on the next album! The overall recording is not as good as on "Power Windows".

My rating: 4.5/5

Report this review (#20859)
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I have to admit that I didn't find this album to be very interesting the first few times I played it through and consequently put it on the shelf. After a few years I listened to it again and found that I liked it better than I had remembered. It has since become one of my favorite Rush albums. For me the dark, cold war overtones work well and give the album a cohesion that wasn't there on Signals. For new Rush fans I wouldn't recommend starting with this album, but don't ignore it either. I understand the fans who don't care for the synth era Rush, but give GUP a chance, it takes more than a casual listening to appreciate this one.
Report this review (#20843)
Posted Saturday, April 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars As cheerless a record as they've made, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Some have cited internal strife as the catalyst, others the choice of new producer PETER HENDERSON, but regardless of the underlying reason for the change, "Grace Under Pressure" marked the end of the teenage fantasy and the beginning of a darker (and more mature) world view. NEIL PEART emerges as a sullen sceneshifter, the weight of the world upon him (addressed in the opening "Distant Early Warning"), who finds his darkest voice in the concentration camp setting of "Red Sector A." The arrangements are less exuberant than past efforts, though still crafted with care and precision. The knock on "Grace Under Pressure" is a lack of standout songs; "The Body Electric" (which recalls The Who's "905") and "Kid Gloves" are a fair match for anything on "Signals", but beyond them only "Distant Early Warning" and "The Enemy Within" invite the comparison to vintage RUSH. The rest of the record bristles with a dry energy, restless and resentful music that offers no solution to the problems it poses. Oddly, some have found their own dark sentiments echoed in this wasteland, hearing in "Grace Under Pressure" an elevated musical dialogue. Superimposing the problems of the past on a bleak future strikes too close to the bone, which is probably why I never liked "1984" so much as "Brave New World". Perhaps seceding along similar lines, RUSH fans are divided over whether "Grace Under Pressure" is a step forward or a step back.
Report this review (#20830)
Posted Monday, May 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is definitely one of my favorites. In my humble opinion I think only "Signals" really outclasses it. You see, I like ALL of Rushs' music but am a particular fan of their synth work so albums like this one and the afformentioned "Signals" get priority with me. The album's guitar work is especially impressive as are the synths and drums but perhaps what most strikes me about this one is the cohesiveness of the overall sound. They really manage to "gel" on this one and get out their message and feeling as well. Just want to add that my least favorite track is "warning" with "afterimage", Red Lenses" and " Kid gloves" being the favored. I don't know why. I guess I never did like that song too much. Mabey, it's too ahead of it's time..
Report this review (#20844)
Posted Friday, May 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars GUP is my favorite album of all time, and the most intriguing album that Rush has ever done. Alex Lifeson's sonic guitar and Geddy Lee's keyboards speak to each other and convey emotions to the listener in a way that can only be described as otherworldly. Neil Peart's lyric writing continues to soar beyond what any mortal being could ever dream to think, let alone write. Distant Early Warning, Between The Wheels, Red Sector A all have the hooks, words, and massive sound that made Rush the Band of the 80's. Especially profound is Afterimage, written after the untimely death of a close friend of the group. "Grace" is a must have for every Rush fan, no matter which "era" of Rush is their favorite.
Report this review (#20845)
Posted Monday, June 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is my favorite album of all time. In fact it was the first album that gave me goose bumps when I first heard it. It was the album that got me to start playing guitar. Lifeson's massive, suspended and chorused out guitar is just awesome. The solos on this album still hold up as masterpieces ( futuristic chord/solo/harmonics combinations).
Report this review (#20846)
Posted Wednesday, June 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars "Distant Early Warning" is great! I have always liked that song. The lyrics are great and the song is very very cool. The rest of the album never quite hit it for me. This is the era where they seemed to be really into sounding like The Police, which, I guess if you were The Police, is one thing. I know they were both trios and I am more than sure there was more than a passing influence in that regard, but this is where they really lost me. Aside from "Distant Early Warning", which once again, I think is an amazing song, it was the end of my interest in Rush. I still to this day keep an ear out for what they are doing and still rank them high, but this whole 80's/hair cut/synth driven/Police inspired trip was not for me. The back cover photo is looks like some kind of class photo after they all got new haircuts. The 80's were not kind to a lot of 60's and 70's rockers. The 80's were not a good period for music in general, except for the underground rock & roll that was happening then.
Report this review (#20847)
Posted Tuesday, June 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
James Lee
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Even more bleak than the chilly "Signals", this album is the winter of RUSH's sound. The 80s were a pretty cold time, emotionally and socially, and this album is a testament to that era. At at time when most bands (even some progressive giants) tried to make upbeat pop songs that failed to evoke anything but artifice and commercialism, RUSH took the harder route by making an emotionally accurate soundscape. "Distant Early Warning" is much more indicative of the spirit of 1984 than, for instance, "Footloose" or "Girls Just Want to Have Fun". Peart demonstrates over and over how far his lyrics have come since "Fly By Night"; gone is the clumsy rhyming and struggling to fit concepts. As a band, RUSH got better with every album; the songs, however, lack the memorable immediacy of the earlier (and later) rock hits or the progressive factor of their classic period. Still, this is a consistently admirable, fascinating work and the last artistically satisfying whole album they would do for almost a decade.
Report this review (#20848)
Posted Wednesday, June 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars At first I really didn't like this album much, but it grew on me. It's one of those things. I would rate this a 3.5 but you can't get half stars. :( So ill give it a 4. :) Anyways, This album was one of the best ones that included synthesizers and all the effects added. Songs like distant early warning, red sector A, and between the wheels are great. I reccomend this album to anyone who is into the more syth style prog rock. It's a semi good rush starting album.
Report this review (#20849)
Posted Sunday, August 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars A sequence of songs - but I'd better say compositions - that reminds me the richness of the YES "Relayer". No way to say which song is better, after 20 years I keep discovering the beauty of meaningful hidden harmonies inside each one of them. The instrumental balance is perfectly tuned.
Report this review (#20850)
Posted Friday, August 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is my favorite Rush album because it reaches deep into the fears and traumas associated with the technology their music helps advance - the synthetic future, in which people must find their humanity in a world increasingly dominated by machines. We already understand that Rush play to the Reveal the Light. The trio are apostles of Good, whether in their (often sophomoric) lyrics, their fantastic blends of drums and thick chords, or in the sound of Geddy's highly pitched siren of sincerity. When they take on the futuristic landscape, as they do here, the results are noting but compelling. Long intros take their time to build up to the crisis, as if each instrument is a strange waking character. but once we are in full throttle - "1-0-0, 1-0-0, 1 - in distress" - there is no turning away from the musical urgency of their effort. Certain rhythmic motifs they conjure on this album are among the best they've ever done. I would give this five stars personally, but other listeners have their quibbles. Taste is subjective for the most part - only when we reach the heights of, say, most Led Zeppelin or Beatles albums do we move beyond argument to the fully-fledged classic zone.
Report this review (#20851)
Posted Sunday, August 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Grace Under Pressure proved to be a real debatebale album from Rush fans. I know I personally like it with songs like ' Distant early warning', ' The enemy within' and ' red sector A' but I can undertstand the frustration creeping in from a lot of reviewers. It still brings back fond memories and it is undeniably a very good album.Neil Peart's drumming very tight on here, as always I guess.
Report this review (#20852)
Posted Tuesday, September 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars It is incredible what three people can do! Obviously these three people must be three genius and this is the case of Rush who achieved the perfect fusion between prog-rock and '80 electronic sound with "Grace Under Pressure":it is a miracle! The song of this masterpiece arise a incredible number of emotions such as happiness, joy but also sadness, desperation, dissatisfaction with life:in this album there is the whole human interiority describded in all his complexity.
Report this review (#20855)
Posted Tuesday, November 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars The "Red Alert" album. This is a somewhat "dark" album with some good songs, not better than "Signals". I listened to this album for the first time in late 1984 (twenty years ago). My favourite songs from this album are "Distant Early Warning" (from which there is a video which I saw on T.V.), "Afterimage", "Red Sector A", "The Enermy Within" and "Between the Wheels" (the best of all). The year 1984 was a "dark" year for me, but this album, with a "science fiction" sound, it`s good. There was a video from the tour for this album, called "The Grace Under Pressure Tour", with better versions of some of the songs of this album. The video was made in September 1984, if I remember well.
Report this review (#20856)
Posted Tuesday, December 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Some Rush fans love this record...I just simply like this plastic. Interesting synthesizer work and catchy melodies and songs, but not a record I highly recommend, though it has one of my favorite Rush songs which is Between The Wheels... For the musicians themselves this could be an important record in their career, and proove of that is some of the songs of this LP are included in their show sets. I would say that is an important album of Rush, but I'm not a huge fan of this album...Sorry guys!
Report this review (#20857)
Posted Monday, January 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Although not a perfect album by any means, it is a bold step forward for a band that at the time was agressively looking for new directions in 1983, after releasing their masterpiece album Signals. They were not happy to rest on their laurels and repeat the same thing again. This is where this album is successful - it retains the classic Rush sound, and at the same is very forward-looking - Rush have successfully integrated some of the trademark New Wave sounds, like electronic percussion, super-crisp guitar chords and metallic picking, and digital keyboards providing eerie, disquieting atmosferics. The sound is much colder overall, but that is what's intended, and no apologies are needed. From the songwriting point of view, there are some innovations as well. There is an overall move to streamline the songs and inject them with a sense of urgency, however the band retains their musical and lyrical sophistication. Some of their best songs can be found on this album: Distant Early Warning, Kid Gloves, After Image and Between The Wheels - all Rush classics. There is not a single bad track here, and the level of inspiration is pretty high. The only drawback is that the album has an 80's sound, and therefore does not date as well as other Rush albums. But it is the last Rush classic - they have "lost it" after this.
Report this review (#20858)
Posted Monday, January 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I just bought this album yesterday, It is a good album. It might be to synthy for others but that is what Prog is all about. Gone are the hard rawness of previous albums. This album is a continuation of signals where the songs are shorter yet have intricate messages, like Red Sector A, The Enemy within and of course Distant Early Warning. At this point Rush had left stage 1 and now this is stage 2 of their Repetoir
Report this review (#20861)
Posted Sunday, February 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars There's some nice material on this album too, but somehow it lacks the power it two successors had. There are also few annoying songs here like "Kid Gloves", but the hits "Distant Early Warning" and "Red Sector A" are OK. The closing number "Between The Wheels" is specially very good, resembling the moods on the "Signals" album. If you liked that and "Moving Pictures" records this is a worthwhile album to check out!
Report this review (#20864)
Posted Friday, April 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars As a second follow-up to an arguable pinnacle of the band's early life, Moving Pictures, this one seemed like a letdown when it arrived. I remember sitting and listening to it (cassettes, how did we stand it?), and feeling some kind of disappointment at the relative narrowness of the sound. I imagine Pictures as an expansive soundscape of mixed beats and complex musical structures. But gradually I I say that Grace was a second follow-up because this is the album that really delivers on what Pictures promised, and what Signals failed to do. (I am not a big Signals fan.) Compare "The Body Electric" with "Limelight", "Kid Gloves" with "YYZ" and "Between the Wheels" with "Tom Sawyer." I may be in a very small minority when I say that side two (songs 5-8 for the CD) seems to me to be the better side. Those songs above, combined with the malicious funk of "Red Lenses", most effectively capture Rush's off-kilter, not quite prog anymore sensibility. I don't think they sound like they were having this much fun since Villa Strangiato. This is also the first album to really experiment and play with the noise they could make using synthesizers, voices, and full-stringed guitar. Even Peart sounds playfully mischievous on "Red Lenses." Whearas past experiments were with structure and layering of sound -- producing a feel that was close to the preciseness of classical music, this album is really where they took their instruments out on the freeway to open them up and see what they could do. Considering what the rest of the music world was doing at this time, this is an astonishing album.
Report this review (#20865)
Posted Thursday, April 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Before I make any evaluation I should do an introduction. Yes, Genesis and Rush changed their styles when entered the 80s. We call the hitherto period the classical or artistic and the later period the commercial or light. Still, there is a lot of art in their hits and vice versa, there is a lot of catchy light elements in thier highest opuses. Frankly, I had come across these bands within their light period as a teenager-begginer and I fell in love with this music (ie. 90125, Mama, Moving pictures). Afterwards, I found all the missing pieces of the jigsaw and I was really enchanted. These were definitely those of the moments determining I would love music for the whole my life (in addition to classic music). Nevertheless, as a young chap I discovered only the old works of Genesis and Yes. Concerning Rush, Moving pictures had been for a long time the only production I knew. Now, I do not understand why I was not attracted by the others in that time. It had been waiting for me till I was more than 30. And that was Some discovery then. Hold your fire, presto, roll the bones and so on. And also Grace under pressure. Just fantastic. Great, catchy songs after one another. And importantly, the simplicity and clarity do not prevent being musically brilliant and lyrically serious and profound. Breathtaking. Oh, the first track must be the best, no the 2nd seems better, no, the third takes it all, unless the fourth one starts to sound, and so on as long as till the end. From the very first listening I have been trapped completely. Simply great. And then, I got a nice present from my brother - all old works on CDs. So I started to discover them retrogradely. And now, I have to addmit that the older piece I examined the less I liked it. And still I am not in the beginning (not listened to the first three albums). And I tried more times, particularly the Farewell to kings which I had learnt to be the hallmark of the artistic period. No, I cannot compare this to later stuff, eg. Grace under pressure. Why? Actually, I do not know. I realize that FtK is the great music, perfectly played and composed, but anyway. I try to express it by a methaphore. Once upon a time there was an young very gifted musician. And he played his music and sang his songs and everybody was charmed because as he played and sang it was like he was telling 'listen, I am great, look what I can', and he reached the stars and music served him. But after years he grew wiser and found that not the music served him but instead, he was serving music to be born. His fingers and his voice were just a modest mediator..... nevertheless, the truth is likely different: I am simply to old to this type of heavy cosmic music and I enjoy much more simple common songs. Perhaps, if i had not missed that in that time (I was listening mainly Deep Purple), I would have loved it very much. But now, not. So, who do not know the music, do not let you be dissuaded. Grace under pressure....5* Farewell to kings..........3*
Report this review (#20866)
Posted Saturday, April 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I can understand why a lot of people don't like this recording ,it sounds just a little cold just like the cover illustrates,but really i believe this is Rush at its finest up there with Permanent Waves.No other studio album after this one contained so much power,and originality,this album just sounds as good and even better now than it did when it first came out.After Grace Under Pressure ,the wheels started to began to fall off for Rush.
Report this review (#20867)
Posted Tuesday, April 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Easily my favorite Rush Synth Era album. This has darker lyrics and themes, great guitar tones, great synths, and great drums. I read that before this album that Rush was considering breaking up, how lucky we were that they did not! At this time, Geddy had evolved into an acceptable keyboardist, offering more to that table in the synth department. Lifeson had been working with delicate guitar tones on the last album, and on this one, he uses ever more delicate ones. This is the first album in which we hear Peart with electric drums.

The album begins with Distant Early Warning, not the best song on the album, but a great one. With some great playing on Geddy's part, and great rhythym guitar from Lifeson, the song is played with such precision and ease, using organs to add texture to the already complex melodies. The next track is Afterimage, which has some very emotional Peart lyrics (Ironic really how later they would come to happen in his life). This track features some more great synths and great guitar. The next song is Red Sector A, featuring some of Peart's darkest lyrics. This is one of the first songs to feature Geddy entirely on Synths. The next 4 tracks are also very enjoyable. In those, you hear some great playing on everyone's part, and some of Peart's best lyrics. The finale to this great album is one of my personal favorite Rush tracks. Beginning with a haunting synth riff, and Lifeson playing some powerful guitar (the first time he uses different tuning if I'm not mistaken). With some Peart's best lyrics, and some of the best overall playing from Rush, the album ends.

Again, I recommend this highly to anyone who wants to listen to 80's Rush, and progressive Rock in general. 4.5/5.

Report this review (#20869)
Posted Thursday, May 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Another solid release from Rush. Heavy on synth and atmosphere, light on guitar and virtuosity, "Grace Under Pressure" sees Peart delve into darker lyrical subject matter. Although the songs never match the instrumental histrionics of earlier releases there is still enough going on here to elevate them above the "norm". The negative point for me is the lack of stand out tracks (particularly towards the end of the album). High points are the opener "Distant Early Warning", and the lyrically excellent "Red Sector A" (this track truly captures a dark, moving atmosphere). Recommended if you are a fan of 80's era Rush. Solid, but nothing outstanding.
Report this review (#20870)
Posted Thursday, May 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album definetly has all those Rush hallmarks: Brilliant drumming, great lyrics, catchy tunes and THAT voice. However, where this album fails for me is Alex Lifeson almost being pushed aside in favour of synths. Alex's playing has always been a core part for Rush, and on the previous album 'Signals' Rush managed to produce a fine balance between synths and guitars, but this album they lean to much towards the synth. Another failing for this album is that the synth work, while good, ends up being much too samey in the end. Rush managed to achieve a fine balance between synth and guitar again with Power Windows, one of their best albums in my opinion, but in this album their experimentalism went slightly awry. Don't get me wrong though, this album still has brilliant tracks such as 'Distant Early Warning', 'Red Sector 'A'' and 'Between The Wheels', but I can't help but feel they could have done better. Still, the price of admission is worth it just for those three tracks. The others, while not brilliant, are still worth listening to, especially 'Afterimage'. If you are into earlier Rush, I'd give this a miss, but if you're more a fan of synth-rock, I'd give it a spin. Myself, I'd give it four stars, but only just.
Report this review (#20871)
Posted Sunday, May 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I feel this is one of the best albums Rush has made. It does require however that the listener enjoy the 80's Rush being very different from the previous decade and moving away from the epic songs and into more shorter, synthesized pieces. This album begins and ends on great songs just like most of Rush's albums opening with Distant Early Warning and ending with Between the Wheels. The songs on this album all display dark emotions (Distant Early Warning, Afterimage, Red Sector A, The Enemy Within, The Body Electric, Red Lenses, and Between the Wheels); just about all of them! Kid Gloves is a nice poppy exception with an awesome chorus. This past summer (2004) I saw Rush's 30th anniversary tour and they actually played Between the Wheels. I'm only 21 so I haven't been around to see their previous shows except Vapor Trails and I missed T4E but I about died and went to heaven when they played that song because I don't think they play it all that often and it's a very underrated song. If there was a song i'd throw away from this album, it would probably be Red Lenses, and thats even hard to say. I don't see a weak point in this one, very consistent throughout the entire thing. A definite buy for the 80's Rush fan.
Report this review (#38769)
Posted Thursday, July 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars 2.5, actually.

Um; yeah. Rush goes pop, and the results disappoint. Terry Brown is not mentioned in the credits, which already makes me look at it with a critical eye. He is partially responsible for some of their most legendary work. "RED SECTOR A" is a haunting song, driven by electronic drums, synths and insistent guitar, but the music does no justice at all to the lyrics.

That has to be my main problem with GUP, and the reason why I give it such a low rating. The music, while still well-played, sound WAAAAAAAY out of sync with the lyrics. Peart's words have become colder, less heart-felt, more jaded, so it would reason that the music follows suit. Instead, one hears almost "happy" sounding synth lines, mechanical drums, and some of the thinnest guitar to even come out of the Rush lexicon. Note: remastering wouldn't help much.

One has to wonder: what the hell were they thinking? Granted, synth-pop was, well, POPular when this was released, but to my ears, it sounds like Pink Flyod and The Cars were duking it out in A Flock Of Seagull's rehearsal room. The results are truly disappointing.

Report this review (#41762)
Posted Friday, August 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I can see why this album has the lowest ratings and 'less appreciated' among the entire catalogue of RUSH albums.. Because this one is different.. Different sound, different atmosphere, different vibe, etc.. But for the lover of dark music (like myself) "Grace Under Pressure" will still have a special place in the heart.. The lyrics are of Neil Peart's best (and darkest), Geddy Lee's vocals are very emotional and Alex Lifeson's guitar works are totally amazing here.. The chords and the solos are totally beyond insane..!! I wouldn't be a RUSH fan without this album, even I have almost all their studio albums (except... "Vapor Trails" ;)).. If you can pass all the big synths and not trying to relate with the other RUSH happy anthems, this one is a masterpiece.. 5/5
Report this review (#42250)
Posted Tuesday, August 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars A good album this. I personally love synth era Rush just as much as their other stuff. All very emotional and whatnot. This is a very dark album.

1. Distant Early Warning- a good song with cool synth riffs, a mellow catchy verse and a more upbeat Chorus section. A good rocker.

2. Afterimage- a song about the death of a friend of the band. Catchy, sad lyrics and melodies and memorable riffs.

3. Red Sector A- this and Distant Early warning are the two songs which made me buy this album. Very very dark stuff, about a Concentration camp. Catchy lyrics and melodies, although after repeated listens it may get a bit stale.

4. The Enemy within- even though I bought this for tracks 1 and 3, this is the best song on here. Easily in my top 10 Rush songs. Features rousing Verse with fast playing and great lyrics, and the Chorus riff and melody combined with the terrific lyrics make this one of the best and most catchy choruses around. This is also part I of Fear, of which the Weapon and Witch Hunt (also excellent songs) are parts II, and III respectively. ANd the postchorus is mellow and great too, as well as the excellent bridge.

5. The Body electric- funk opening, with some cool mellow verses and another cool melodic dark chorus. This is a pretty gopod song. 5th best after tracks 4, 1, 3, and 2.

6. Kid Gloves is a happier song, with a more upbeat and positive chorus, but this song is a little too poppy and will take some time to grow on you. Second worst on here.

7. Red Lenses- this is probably Rush's worst song. I love almost all of Rush's songs, but this is the most bland, boring and uninspired song from RUsh I have ever heard. Worst on here.

8. Between the wheels- this is a rather good song, with a very dark and interesting synth intro. Good lyrics and melodies, and great playing make this a pretty good song. However it is the third worst on here, although its still really good.

So this album is great if you like synth era rush, its very dark and somewhat poppy, although it has many many great moments. Highlights include- The Enemy Within, Distant Early Warning, and Red Sector A.

Report this review (#42253)
Posted Tuesday, August 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
2 stars On this album producer Peter Henderson (known for is work with SUPERTRAMP) replaced the 'veteran' Terry Brown because Rush was very disappointed about the poor sales from their latest album "Signals". In april 1984 the band released "Grace under pressure", in my opinion Rush went again a few steps further away from their 'power-sympho sound'. They wanted progress (this is the definition of progrock!) so the new songs contained more modern styles and rhythms. Remarkable is the omnipresence of the electronics and the catchy sound from the trio. But only the tracks "Distant early warning", "Red sector a" and "The body electric" makes me feel a bit happy, to me all the other compositions sound too dark or without any tension or adventure. This is very subjective, I admit!
Report this review (#42283)
Posted Tuesday, August 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
Tony R
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.

Report this review (#42396)
Posted Wednesday, August 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The musicianship is top notch as usual my friends (or not amigos). We don't need to hear whether this is a dark or light album who cares whether a Rush album makes you happy or sad....their music is timeless It is beautiful music period. I've always given Rush a chance throughout their wonderful transitions and adaptations which you all should as well. This record is pure emotion at which the members were feeling at the time...The guitar solos are absolutely incredible (many millions I'm sure would agree how memorable they are!), the synths are incredible, the bass playing is awesome, as well as the drums (of course Geddy is nearly at his peak in vocal performance....PW...his best! The vocal themes are amazing....remembering friends, cold war, enemies, etc...please listen to it again.....I am talented Rush are....more than yer favourite band for the way look at the most gold albums ever for a band....ummm yes Rush, just behind rolling stones and beatles and oh wow.....most recently... Aerosmith No trio is like Geddy, Alex and Neil.....stay true and forget the've done it for 30 years and killed it!!!!
Report this review (#55997)
Posted Friday, November 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I remember this one. The first time I bought it, it was still LP's for me. And I went back to the store to report an error in the beginning of the first number. And they gave me a new copy. Went home, and back to the store again...the same error on this one. Well, I had to have the album anyway, so I just played it. Rush quality all the way. Phenomenal in every way. Later I obtaind a VHS cassette and there it was, the distortion in the first number, what did I know about EMP or whatever. What did I know what it all ment. Now I know and play it from CD, and I still play it over and over again. Specialy the bassline in The Enemy Whitin is one of the best. Luckely I've seen them preform live on the Roll The Bones tour (last time in Holland) and that's when they stole this progheart for ever. They played the numbers so ... well perfect is the word. So if you haven't heard of Rush (I can't imagine) you have to buy this album. But then again, buy all the Rush albums and enjoy the Godfathers of Prog - rock.
Report this review (#57705)
Posted Thursday, November 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I rate Power Windows as a master peace. Signals is a very good album too. This one came between those gems. Steve Lillywhite was supposed to produce this album at the time. He did a Talking Heads album instead. I wonder what would have been the result. I beleave a hit album like Genesis´s Genesis or Police´s Ghost of a machine. This is a low point for rush but maby an essential step in the evolution of the band at the same time. Not bad but not great eather.

Great songs:distant early warning, after image, red sector A, between the wheels(live r30 live in Frankfurt, the album version sounds booring)

Fine songs: the enemy within, the body electric Under average songs: kid gloves, red lences(sometimes enjoyable but really going no where)

Rating as a Rush album: 3 stars Rating compared to anything on MTV today:5 stars

Report this review (#59731)
Posted Thursday, December 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars A high 3, for sure.

'Grace Under Pressure' sees Rush straddling the line between 'Signals' and the full- blown synth-dominated slickness of the records to come. For fans who felt Alex Lifeson's guitars were too subtle on 'Signals', this album moves them up in the mix and into the soundpicture significantly. (Though Alex seems to be playing more like Duran Duran's Andy Taylor than his strange old self.) Where 'Signals' had some hints of the Rush power of old, mixed with their expanding embrace of synths and cold technology, 'GUP' further streamlines the band's sound with an almost monochromatic disposition. The production is warm enough, and perhaps more rounded than 'Signals', but the material itself lacks the hunger, edge and discovery of its predecessor.

In its own right, this is a very good album. Songs like "Distant Early Warning", "Afterimage", "Red Sector A", "The Body Electric" and "Between The Wheels" are among the best of Rush's '80s output. Full of tension, and in some cases darkness, they possess a curious new spark, a totally rebuilt Rush engine from the band heard on 'Moving Pictures' only 3 years earlier. But where these songs possess the awe of Rush's still-amazing performance and writing capabilities, songs like "The Enemy Within", "Red Lenses" and "Kid Gloves" move into the passive pop that would mar many Rush albums to come. The latter two especially embrace mod/romantic/new-wave sensibilities, and though it's a true reflection of the music the band was interested in at this time, it waters down the essence of what I, and quite a few other Rush fans, consider to be this band's strong points. Toss in some reggae ("The Enemy Within") and I'm outta there.

So, this is a record that I find enjoyable only if I skip past the two offending tracks ("Red Lenses" and "Kid Gloves" are awful..."The Enemy Within" has its moments, despite being below average). 'Grace Under Pressure' was the album that set Rush on a path they would really never return from. The guitar would dominate their material again years later, and they would even drop keyboards from their arsenal on 'Vapor Trails', but I can't help but feel things were never quite the same after 'Signals'. There is a confident new Rush here, and for what it's worth, there are some bright moments of greatness shining throughout 'Grace Under Pressure'. After this, though, it gets pretty dismal...

Report this review (#65338)
Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is pretty cool. I have heard some call this album "too synthesized" and "new wave". But isn't progressive rock about trying to blend tastes and explore new territories within your own genre (and even out)? "Afterimage", "Red Lenses", "Red Sector A", "The Body Electric" and "Kid Gloves" are all prime examples of great musicianship and experimental genious. Go listen to it, if you havent already!
Report this review (#67512)
Posted Monday, January 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Almost as good as "Power Windows" but along the lines of Signal, although Signal is much better as progressive music. Who gives a monkey about progressive or not, it's RUSH! They make Rolling Stones look like banjo strummers from outer Mongolia anyway. On this album they started to get a hold of Geddy's synth playing, very well done all over the album. A 4/5 without a doubt!
Report this review (#69955)
Posted Sunday, February 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I actually had a tough time accepting this album when it was initially released. It was such a vast departure from anything they had done prior, and thought it was too electronic (never got used to seeing electronic drums incorporated into Peart's kit). Overall, I liked it, but it never stood out.

I picked up the remastered version a few years ago, and now that I'm listening to it with more mature ears, it's turned out to be one of my favorite Rush albums. I love Signals, but thought that Alex Lifeson was just swallowed up. On P/G, however, there seems to be a more even balance between guitar and synths. Even on very keyboard heavy tunes like "Between The Wheels" and "Red Sector A", Lifeson is still able to really bust out. Even displays a little reggae edge with "The Enemy Within", and tear off one of his greatest solos on "Kid Gloves".

"Between The Wheels" was my favorite tune from P/G back then, and still is today. Thunderous synth intro to a song that really powers through with (again) nice guitar work by Lifeson. I do think with this one and Signals, Geddy toned down his 'wail' a bit and he never really hit those high notes again.

P/G isn't my favorite Rush, but it's in my top 5 or 6. Now that these ears are a bit more mature, I'm able to better accept it.

Report this review (#70829)
Posted Wednesday, March 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's hard to believe that a lot of Rush fans don't like this album. It may not have a rousing instrumental like "La Villa..." or "YYZ" or an instant classic like "Subdivisions" from the previous release "Signals (1982)". But what it does have are powerful, urgent songs from a past era urgent for change and stability.

The bleak and futuristic (while also retro) feel of "Distant Early Warning" is reflected in the Cold War-related lyrics. While this is probably the most solid song on the album, every song is excellent in its own unique way, and as a whole the album has a very dense, bleak, gray atmosphere, not unlike the outstanding cover art. This same feeling is conveyed in such parts as the sad and beautiful echo-ey intro to "Kid Gloves" and the bleak synth intro to "Between the Wheels".

In short, if you are looking for powerful, emotional, and dynamic 80s music, look no further. This album doesn't get old and actually gets better with each listen. If you're a Rush/prog fan and you don't let your biases towards the prog-rock of the 70s (which I also love) cloud your views, you should be in for a treat.

Favorite Tracks: Distant Early Warning, Afterimage, Red Sector A, Kid Gloves, Between the Wheels

Report this review (#74439)
Posted Saturday, April 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars In a way, this is an even better album than its predecessor, "Signals" - perhaps less accessible and definitely darker from a lyrical point of view, but containing a few real gems. The synths are still there (as they will be until the end of the '80s), as are the influences from reggae and new wave - something which irritates many fans of the band's heavier days, though, in my very humble opinion, it enriches and adds interest to their already stunning songwriting. Fortunately, chart-friendly numbers as the awful (sorry!) "New World Man" are absent from this album.

Geddy's steady improvement as a vocalist is evident from the opening "Distant Early Warning", one on the band's undisputed classics, with a definite reggae tinge and apocalytptic lyrics about the possibility of a nuclear holocaust - a constant presence in the 1980s. Geddy's vocals are distinctly lower-pitched, therefore more menacing and suited to the bleak subject matter. Another standout track is "Red Sector A", inspired by Geddy Lee's mother's experience in Nazi concentration camps. Lifeson's guitar really comes into its own on this intense, majestic song, backed by Peart's almost- military drumming. In fact, he uses electronic drums quite a lot, which lend their distinctive metallic sound to the overall feel of the album. The slow, brooding "Between the Wheels" (recently reintroduced by the band in their setlist for their R30 tour), driven along by Lee's pulsating synth riffs and showcasing Lifeson's atmospheric, emotional guitar playing, closes the album in style.

The other tracks are solid, if less memorable than these three. However, the overall result is an excellent, though somehow bleak and disturbing album, proving Rush's ability to change with the times (even at the risk of alienating some hard-core, long- time fans) and incorporate disparate influences in their output. "Grace Under Pressure" may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's undeniably progressive. Highly recommended - at least to those who keep an open mind.

Report this review (#74933)
Posted Friday, April 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This record deserves a better rating than what it has so far, for the following reason. RUSH has always been a product of their environment, regardless of how they seem to rise above all the other bands of their era. We forget that the 70's were at times a playful, optimistic time and experimental, thus we get RUSH songs that were such. A lot of the criticism people have for this album is that it is dark, cold, and bleak, too synthetic. They are all true.

Anyone growing up in the 80's and remembering the fear that Reagan's America and the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union instilled in a generation, will relate to this record. It more than any album captures "The Day After" zeitgeist. Is this a prog record? No, not in the traditional sense, because the record is bound to it's period, not ahead of it. However, it is something far more than being a progressive record, it is an important record. For a lot of reasons 1984 was looking to be "1984" and it wasn't until the 1985 Summit in Iceland did the two superpowers start to calm the rhetoric. RUSH like all the other people living in the middlelpower countries felt trapped "between the wheels" of the US military-industrial complex and the Big Red Machine. This was a warning call that the future is happening now and it's not pretty. The only way this album wouldn't sound dated or synthetic is if we actually had a nuclear war and it became fact.

Fortunately, an optimism prevailed and returned, and again this was reflected in RUSH's music. To use the cliche, hate the game not the player, if you think the subject matter is dark and depressing. The musicianship and lyrics are top notch with Alex's guitar work removing the ganja from his reggae riffs and replacing it with fear and paranoia. In doing so, he's took one style of music and melded it with another to form something unique sounding. Sounds like the essence of progressive music to me. The first side of the record stands up there with Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon; is emtionally and physically draining as anything from King Crimson and is the best first side of any RUSH album. There are no weak tracks, just not a pretty album to listen to on a sunny day (It's best played in late winter). If you remember the time, you'll realize that this album is simply brilliant. If you are too young for it, just be thankful. Best Hugh Sym cover to boot.

Report this review (#75290)
Posted Monday, April 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars What I love about Rush is their ability to blend attractive, accessible and a bit complex arrangements with excellent lyrics, written by Neil Peart who is also playing the drums. The band has traditionally had a chunky, heavy rhythms and screaming vocals delivered by vocalist/bassist Geddy Lee. But in since "Signals" and "Grace Under Pressure" he calmed down his voice so that it sounds softer than early albums. On top of music, what I like about Rush is that their passion to keep ahead with their music direction despite significant demand from its fans base to say course with what they did in the past with masterpiece like "2112", "Moving Pictures" "A Farewell to Kings" etc. "Grace Under Pressure" showed another move from the band by maintaining the keyboard-based music as "Signals" but this time with some more groove and funk style. Even, the first time I heard this album when it was released, I thought that Rush went reggae. Well, you might call that this album is poppier than previous one but for me personally I like this album.

Gone are the days with long epic and this album presents relatively short tracks but all of them are excellent ones. My best favorite track and in fact one of best favorites of Rush songs is "The Enemy Within". I t did not attract me the first time I listened to this track but it struck me right away after I watched their powerful "Grace Under Pressure" laser disc. In that live concert video, the band performed this track marvelously with attractive stage act by Geddy Lee where went back and forth from front stage to the right-wing side where the keyboard is located. It's a nice stage act. Since then I kept listening to this track.

I'm not giving in / To security under pressure / I'm not missing out / On the promise of adventure / I'm not giving up / On implausible dreams . / Experience to extremes . / Experience to extremes ..

Oh man . what a killing music segment with powerful lyrics!

The album opener "Distant Early Warning" is another favorite of mine. The music has a relatively continuous flow of rhythm section with a bit of electronic drumming - which is actually not. The music gives a sense of power in modern sound with the coming age of digital technology era. "Red Lenses" is also a wonderful composition with attractive combination of bass guitar, guitar and bass improvisations during music interlude. The music also gives a kind of surprise through tight bass lines after complex part. "Between The Wheels" gives keyboard and guitar a chance to play intertwiningly as the music moves with vocal line. "Red Sector A" is also another excellent track.

Listening to this album is rewarding whether or not you know Rush before. There are some complex segments in the music but overall this album is accessible. Recommended. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#75766)
Posted Friday, April 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars 'Grace Under Pressure' was recorded between the Autumn of 1983 and March 1984. Synthesisers play a significant role on the album, their style of use prompting some to label it a poor reflection of the eighties era of music. I however, disagree. There use is not crude, in the manner of eighties 'synth' pop hits, but helps to construct the landscapes onto which is placed the thematic material of the album.

First among these lanscapes is 'Distant Early Warnings'. Occasional chords sweep over a barren plain, the lyrics in verse one further illustrating this musical setting. The use of synthesisers on this song is perfect - indeed to an extent, they make it memorable. Just consider the song's rousing pre-chorus, such an essential component to many a Rush concert. Certainly 'Distant Early Warnings' is no mere radio staple. It's an essential part of Rush's repotoire; as handsome as the face of Absalom of the kingdom of Isreal, whose name mysteriously heralds the song's end.

'After Image' deals with the subject of bereavment. An emotional rather than physical landscape is created by the music. The lyrics reflect the confused jumble of emotions one feels when coming to terms with the passing away of a companion. Towards the middle of the song is offered a brief respite, before the closing statements of this fitting tribute to whom the album is addresed in memory.

'Red Sector A' is a remarkable song. Dealing with a subject matter close to Geddy Lee's heart, it is sung with profound depth of feeling. Again a landscape, this song has curiously had a comic book city constructed from it's musical foundation. In an unusual guitar arrangement, the chords played by Lifeson are often unconventional triads played high up on the fretboard, and there's a lingering digital delay. Peart's drumming is clinical (the cynic, not catching the irony, might possibly liken it 'disco'). 'Red Sector A' stands out even amid the splendour of 'Rush in Rio', and is certainly a reason to purchase 'Grace Under Pressure'.

'The Enemy Within' feutures syncopation, both in Lifeson's harmony and Peart's drum part, almost slightly reggae in character. It's no landscape, but there's an important message in the lyrics, just as there is an important message in the lyrics of 'Kid Gloves', making both an integral component to the album. Fitted snugly in between the two lies 'The Body Electric', which does once more see the invocation of a landscape, the setting to what are actually quite poetic lyrics.

'red lenses' (sic) is to my mind the only real letdown of the album. It's an anomoly for other reasons as well; why for instance, are the lyrics printed only in small case inside the coverslip? Certainly they are irritating to extremes, and the music likewise. Just what point is Peart trying to make here? Is this an attempt at irony, or a genuine decleration of communist sympathies? Not mind you, that I especially care, as long as I don't actually have to listen to it.

'Between the Wheels' is a fantastic song. Very atmospheric, it illustrates the tensions of the cold war era. Deep and penetrating, both musically and lyrically (how I love the lines "You know how that rabbit feels/Going under your speeding wheels/Bright images flashing by/Like windshields towards a fly..."), this song demands to be listened over and over. A screaming guitar accompaniment makes for a great pre-chorus, and we are treated by Lifeson to a fitting guitar solo.

'Grace Under Pressure' may not be especially proggresive as compared to 'Hemispheres', 'Permanent Waves' and so on, but the musicianship is nevertheless spot on, and the album is certainly valuable to listen to. The musical landscapes are every bit as tantalising as the abum's cover art, and I recommend it heartily with a four star rating.

Report this review (#76968)
Posted Tuesday, May 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Rush's best 80's output, retaining many progressive undertones, with synthesizers that sound proggy rather than 80's commercial, and a mix which still allows Alex's crunching guitar and soaring, heart-wrenching solos to shine through.

For those who see Rush as a cold, robotic trio I offer this album as a counterexample. "Grace Under Pressure" touches you both lyrically and musically, especially in aspect of Geddy's refined voice. Probably not what most Chapter 2 Rush fans are expecting but if you take the time to explore this album without prejudice you will no doubt be overwhelmed by its beauty. Geddy begins to become more of a lead keyboard player on this album rather than just adding atmosphere to the tracks. Grace has the strongest atmosphere of any previous Rush album, with the Alex taking a textural approach to his playing that very nicely compliments the synths.

This is the darkest of any Rush album. Peart seems to have lost his faith in human nature and both the music and lyrics reflects this sentiment. His writing is stripped down from the sci-fi ornamentation of the past and focused more on human relations and emotions. His bare bones, rather blunt lyrical approach, greatly adds a level of sincerity and power to the lyrics.

Grace Under Pressure ends the nearly unprecedented string of near perfect album from Rush that started with Caress Of Steel. The follow up Power Windows would have its moments but fail to capture the listeners imagination and emotions like Grace Under Pressure.

Report this review (#76979)
Posted Tuesday, May 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars When i brough the album a few years ago, i wasn't so sure about it, i didn't like the albums "Power Windows" and "Hold Your Fire", but the cover was beatiful and i really like the song "Red Sector A". To get that song i had to buy the album, it was cheap so i did it. It took me a couple of listen to get into the album but i finally liked it.

Then, one day wile making a greates hits for my portable CD player, i realised that most of the song that i wanted to put where from "Grace Under Pressure", i also realised that it had became one of my favorite album by Rush, with "Hemisphere" and "Moving Picture". Every song in here are A or A+, nothing under that, but my favorites are "Distant Early Warning", "Afterimage", "Red Sector A" and "Between the Wheels".

I know that this album may not be totally progressive in it's form, but the song are so well crafted. From PA i've come to realise that it's a love it or hate it album, but IMO it is Essential: a masterpiece of art rock music.

Report this review (#81317)
Posted Friday, June 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars I still remember when I bought this album all those years ago, and how utterly dissapointed I was in the direction Rush were heading. Looking at the new wave photo of the band on the album, I should have realized something was horribly not right!

The sound of this album is just too clinical and almost robotic. The only song that seems to have any emotion is "Afterimage", my favourite track by far. Songs like "The enemy within" and "Kid Gloves" just sound like songs from an electronic pop band.

The actual album cover is fantastic and so are a lot of the lyrics, it´s just a pity the music sounds so bland. After a long string of great albums from "Fly by night" to "Signals" it just seems like the wheels came off the wagon on this release.

Report this review (#87481)
Posted Wednesday, August 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Back in 1984, Grace Under Pressure, the 10th studio album by Rush, confirmed many fans' suspicions that the band were about to fully incorporate synthesizers into their sound - something which was hinted at on Signals (1982). Some might say that this caused a paradigm shift in the band's music, but in hindsight, the Rush that created this extraordinary album was, and still is, unmistakably Rush. Sure, they change their style every few years, but isn't that what we love about them in the first place?

The mood of this album is claustrophobic, cold, distant and harrowing, and the musical performance robotic but by no means unemotional. This album was the first without long-standing producer Terry Brown since the debut album. Supertramp producer Peter Henderson was the "objective ear" for just this one Rush album, but did a fine job. The songs really are the stars, though...

1) Distant Early Warning (9/10). As the title suggests, this song sketches some sort of apocalyptic vision of the future both musically and lyrically. The main musical hook is a synthesizer riff not unlike the one on "Subdivisions" from two years earlier. No complaints, though. This is a Rush album opener. I dare you to find fault. 2) Afterimage (10/10). A very emotional song dedicated to a personal friend of the band after his death. Starts off with a soaring verse and goes into a rhythmic synth flourish. Alex's swooning guitar adds to the emotional impact. 3) Red Sector A (10/10). A song just made for open-air stadiums. Once again a very emotional vocal performance with added synth and chopping guitars. An almost disco- like groove pervades (like Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" - sorry about this) 4) The Enemy Within (9/10) The fist part of the (at the time) lyrical triptych. A fast- moving rocker with amazing bass- and drum-work. An obvious musical equivalent is early Police stuff like "So Lonely". 5) The Body Electric (9/10) A song about a robot with a military beat and almost chant- like chorus which mimics its subject to a tee. Not bad at all. 6) Kid Gloves (10/10). A fast-paced track with a tricky time signature in the verse and the greatest chorus of the album. Oh, and the greatest guitar solo of the album as well. 7) Red Lenses (7/10). An interesting musical experiment that didn't fall flat on its face but didn't wholly succeed either. The best part is the instrumental part starting at about 02:10. Excellent bass-playing throughout. 8) Between the Wheels (10/10). Dark and heavy synth is the main draw here. A musical tidal wave and custom-made album closer (minor key, fade out). I never really paid that much attention to this song (and would have given it an 8) until I heard it live on the R30 DVD. There it just took on a new life and I rediscovered the song. Now it is probably my favourite track on the album.

Rush would amaze again in 1985 (and '87,'89,'91,'93,'96 and 2002 for that matter), but this is a unique gem in the Rush treasury and is just waiting to unfold its glory to OPEN- MINDED individuals.

Report this review (#88611)
Posted Thursday, August 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars With regard to lyrical content, this is perhaps the darkest Rush album thematically and I see the album as a mirror for the sterile musical landscape of the time. The charts were awash with electronica that lacked emotion and was becoming increasingly reliant on production to paper over the lack of ability of many artists. With the release of "Grace Under Pressure", Rush showed the world how to marry musical ability and technology to create something special but still human.

Excellent use is made of a range of synths and other electronic devices to generate atmosfear. Despite which, the guitars, basses and acoustic drums still shine through. The arrangements are still complex and still rock whilst retaining a great deal of progressive flair - even though the album's longest track is now less than 6 minutes long.

Without a doubt, Rush were (and still are) light years ahead of everyone when using technology to enhance creativity rather than as a substitute for it. This is yet another masterpiece by the Canadian trio.

Report this review (#96336)
Posted Tuesday, October 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars Overall this is a dark, bleak album with the holocost, death, fear and other depressing topics being addressed. I would strongly suggest you read TonyR's review of this record as it is both well done and enlightening.

The first three songs on this album are really good it's the rest of it that's hit and miss. "Distant Early Warning" has some great meaningful lyrics and a nice solo from Alex 3 minutes in. "Afterimage" is about a friend of the band who died in a car accident. The first line of the song is "Suddenly you were gone...". Great song ! The guitar melodies come and go.

"Red Sector A" has a good driving beat. The synths and drums are quite catchy. "The Enemy Within (Part One of Fear)" has some great technical drumming and is about the fear that is inside of us all. "The Body Electric" and "Kid Gloves" are both catchy and energetic, but forgettable tunes. "Red Lenses" has my vote as the worst RUSH song ever ! "Between The Lines" has a dark sound created by the synths and drums. Some good solos from Alex as well.

Good album overall but it could have been so much better.The first four songs are great, as well as the last one. 3.5 stars.

Report this review (#112150)
Posted Wednesday, February 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Although panned by many hardcore Rush fans due to guitarist Alex Lifeson's more subdued role on this album, I have long felt this is one of the most underrated releases in the Rush studio catalog. From its opening track "Distant Early Warning" we are quickly informed that this is Rush in evolutionary form, moving beyond the 'Permanent Waves' and 'Moving Pictures' era (and thankfully not acknowledging the very dicey 'Signals' album). No less than three of my all-time favorite Rush songs are on this album ("Between the Wheels", "Afterimage", "Kid Gloves"). Despite what many fans interpret as a reduced role by Lifeson, his soloing on most of the tracks incorporate chord-based leads which is a stark departure from his soloing on most of the band's previous releases. "Kid Gloves" is a tremendous track with an unforgettable intro by Lifeson. "Between the Wheels" is one of the greatest Rush songs of all time, right from its dark, plodding intro through its frantic chorus.

The only weak spot on the album (and sadly, it's a BIG weak spot) is "Red Lenses". Sadly it is so bad that it is enough for me to give this album 4 stars instead of 5.

This is an album/disc that should be in every prog-rock fan's collection.

Report this review (#114038)
Posted Friday, March 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars To start with, many Rush fans were happy to see the guitar take more space in the mix. It was a continuation of the sound first explored on Signals, it confirmed that Rush would "progress" as they would, & as they had before. They were open to the new music of the day, not in the sense of trendy followers, but just as they had admired Genesis & Gentle Giant in the 70s, they saw genius in groups such as Ultravox in the 80s. They built upon their roots & wrote Rush music. & Just as the first Rush album showed their Zep & Sabbath influences, but went beyond, they would attempt & in my opinion, succeed here also. I never did get into the groups that they would mention in interviews done at the time, but I was glad to see that they didn't want to stand still. Although in hindsight, the albums that would follow would leave me wanting. For myself, this is one of my favourites. I tend to attach myself to the "off" albums in their catalogue - Caress of Steel, Hemispheres, then this one, while still loving the more obvious hit smashes. So with my bias exposed, there stands my argument for this rating. Five stars & I'll fight for it !
Report this review (#115754)
Posted Tuesday, March 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
3 stars Fully embracing the technology of the times, "Grace Under Pressure" becomes Rush's first album to rely, in part, on synthesizers, creating a more layered and varied sound to their music while showing off their adaptability as players and song writers. There is a lot to like here, but it may take a few listens and lyrical read-through to fully appreciate it.

For starters, Geddy's monstrous bass playing does disappear somewhat as he concentrates more on his keyboard. For me, this makes the music less intense, but not more dull; the band is actually doing more than before, it just isn't as ballsy as on previous albums. Peart's drumming is taken down a notch in intensity as well, as it seems he is concentrating on finding new ways to change the bands sound (with his partly electronic kit, at this point) rather than making our brains explode with his trademark fills. Additionally, the tracks themselves are somewhat inconsistent, with the first half top- loaded with greatness with side B sounding a little weak in comparison.

These minor complaints aside, "Grace Under Pressure" is still a very good album, featuring some creative playing and lyrics different than most other Rush albums up to that point.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Report this review (#116638)
Posted Thursday, March 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars The death of Geddy's bass.

An album that makes me cringe, because the signature aspect of Rush is replaced and essentially lost. Grace Under Pressure is essentially a neo-prog album dressed as AOR. Geddy's monstrous bass lines that gave Rush its signature sound are all but gone and replaced by synth lines that are difficult to swallow even for the casual fan.

Speaking more plainly, theres a certain New Age quality to this album and a "stuck in the 80's" sound that will keep it from being a timeless artifact. It seems (unless history drastically changes) this will always be an 80's album. To compare it to A Farewell to Kings is to almost compare two different bands, especially considering the stylistic changes, and the mythical quality the band evoked in earlier albums.

I can't say with any confidence that any one of the songs are enjoyable. They are not played poorly by any means, but the sound to these ears is nothing more than average at best compositionally, and much worse given the overall aim of the album. Get this later in your Rush experience or be sure to avoid.

Report this review (#117253)
Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars I had a very hard time deciding whether to give this album 3 or 4 stars, but after another listen I had to go with 4, despite some serious flaws. Side A is beyond reproach, stuffed to the gills with catchy rockers like Red Sector A and The Enemy Within (my favorite track on the album.) The musicians are, as always, technically excellent, and being a child of the Eighties, I don't mind the synth. Peart's lyrics remain strong as well. Side B is where things start to fall apart a bit. The Body Electric, Red Lenses, and Kid Gloves are all pretty forgettable, and it's a shame that they didn't have more strong material to round out the album, but the album is redeemed, at least in my mind, by the closer, Between the Wheels, which gets better the more you hear it. It's certainly a different Rush than we saw on albums like A Farewell to Kings, but mustn't all great bands eventually evolve with the times or perish?
Report this review (#117285)
Posted Wednesday, April 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars My introduction to Rush was a rather odd one in that I fell in love with them with the Counterparts album and then just as quickly fell out of love with them with the albums that followed: Test for Echo and Vapor Trails. But then as I developed a taste for prog, I went back and looked at their older material and found that I really enjoyed 2112, A Farewell to Kings and Hemispheres. Now I am delving into the '80s.

Rush certainly creates an atmosphere with this album, with the spacey keyboards providing a good fit along with the overwhelming lyrical theme. The problem I have with this album is that it sounds very "dated." Twenty-three years after release, so many of these songs sound...well, 23 years old. That's not necessarily always a bad thing, but I find that in this case it really detracts from the quality of the music.

I find that I really like Distant Early Warning and Red Sector A (the two songs from this album which also made it onto the excellent compilation album Chronicles). I also enjoy the final song on the album, Between the Wheels. Everything else is forgettable, as far as I'm concerned. In fact, I find a couple of the songs just downright bad (The Enemy Within and Kid Gloves).

As much as I'd like to give this talented trio a higher grade with this effort, I can only recommend it for serious Rush collectors.

Report this review (#121957)
Posted Sunday, May 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Rush continued the new synth heavy sound they had on Signals with Grace Under Pressure, which is likely the most polarizing of Rush's highly polarizing career. Lyrically, this is one of, if not the strongest albums in their catalog. Every member of the band gets time to shine, but Lifeson loses a lot of the Limelight here.

The album opens with "Distant Early Warning," a cautionary tale about nuclear war. This has one of Geddy's best basslines and the lyrics are first-class. "Afterimage" deals with the loss of a friend. Alex plays his guitar with blues-worthy emotion. "Red Sector A" is strange at first because it has no bass in it. However, this Holocaust tale is one of the most haunting and moving Rush songs ever.This has added pignance when you consider Geddy's mother survived the Holocaust. "The Enemy Within" features the reggae that makes cameos here and there in previous albums. It has a great syncopated beat and riff. "The Body Electric" and "Red Lenses" are why this album gets a bad rap. They point toward the banality of Hold Your Fire. "Kid Gloves" is sandwiched between the two, and it's a fun number, if not very memorable. The album closes with "Between the Wheels," a synth era classic with dark lyrics.

Grace Under Pressure is almost as good as Signals, at it, along with its predecessor, is the highlight of the synth era. Highly recommended for established Rush fans.

Grade: B

Report this review (#127107)
Posted Friday, June 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars The first of my top three reviews is for an album by a band that are very special to me. Special, that is, in a different sense than the two bands who rank above them, because they paved the way for those bands' very existence. Canada's Rush, in the mid- 1970s, invented progressive metal. They fused the sounds of early metal bands like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple with the sound of British progressive rock in the vein of Genesis and King Crimson, effectively creating my favorite genre. My favorite album of this band is one that came out ten years into their career, Grace Under Pressure. Rush fans and n00bs alike have accused me of having poor taste in Rush, maybe because Grace could be thought of as the sequel to its precursor, Signals, because both albums tend to be dominated by keyboards, but further listens should reveal that this is an entirely different kind of animal, perhaps the most bestial metal experience Rush released from 1984 to the present, save for Vapor Trails.

Since this is also a thread about your three favorite bands, this demands a bit of background. I got into Rush when I was a wee lad of ten or eleven, listening to classic rock radio and hearing songs like "Tom Sawyer" and "Fly by Night". It took until two years later, when I finally got into metal, to buy my first record of them, Moving Pictures. It was an album that demanded your full attention, and that intrigued me. I was a prog nut before I even realized what prog was, and I was interested by the weird time signatures and experimental use of instruments. Rush meant much to me in my formative years, and they remain high on my favorite band list.

And so commences the review of the album, song by song.

1. Distant Early Warning- The album kicks off on a fresh and positive note, and the guitars and synthesizers are more or less evenly distributed in the production. That delicate balance is struck time and time again on the album, which is one of the reasons it is my favorite from Rush. Lyrically, Neil is at the height of his game, weaving a tale that can be taken as metaphoric for the Cold War tension of the time (Leonard Roberto, author of A Simple Kind Mirror, argues that Grace is a concept album about the East-West conflict). Geddy Lee's voice is truly great on this song and the album in general. This is a vocal from a short-lived era (roughly 1984-1991) during which he no longer utilized his shriek, nor had his voice begun to wither away. On an album full of gems, it's hard to say which one is my favorite, but this one just may take the prize.

2. Afterimage- This is a highly personal song. A friend of Geddy and of the band died in an accident during the sessions for the album, and he was immortalized in lyrics that read as a eulogy. Geddy recalls talking and drinking in the misty dawn, and skiing fast through the woods with this stranger to the fanbase but beloved friend to the band. Alex Lifeson, guitar god, steals the show on this, with his tasteful fills during the verses and equally tasteful take on an atmospheric interlude. The song is all in all a classic, and was probably my favorite one on the album on my first listen to the album.

3. Red Sector A- Wow. If you want to shed a tear listening to Rush, go for this song. It isn't a ballad, but it evokes twice the emotion of any power ballad you could name. Geddy's parents were both Holocaust survivors, and this song is a brutal description of the horrors which occurred during those years. The imagery is powerful, referring to "ragged lines of ragged gray" and depicting "skeletons, they shuffle away". As a personal crusader of teaching the lessons of the Holocaust and acquaintance of one of the Mengele survivors, this song truly touches the core of my soul. Musically, dreary minor chords dominate, and there is heavy synth use. The instrumental sections do just what music should, it conveys the message of the lyrics just as powerfully as the lyrics themselves. This song is another classic.

4. The Enemy Within- This is Part One, therefore the last song (Rush can count backwards because they have more money than you), of the "Fear Trilogy". The listener, after listening to a song about bereavement and a song about the Holocaust, needs this song. It picks up with a happy rhythm, and has a generally enjoyable vibe to it. The album's title probably comes from this song (that and Rush's high opinion of themselves ), featuring the line "I'm not giving in to security under pressure." The Fear Trilogy ends on a high note and the song is a wonderful way to end side one of the vinyl of the year, 1984.

5. The Body Electric- Kudos to Walt Whitman for writing "I Sing the Body Electric" and inspiring Neil Peart to write another technology-based song (the other great one has a twenty-one and a twelve somewhere in it). This is the story of an escaped humanoid trying to reprogram himself in the "hot desert sun". If you're curious, Geddy sounds very good in binary code. S.O.S.

6. Kid Gloves- Ignore the very stupid title and get to the actual lyrics (well, except the part that rephrases the very stupid title). You'll realize that Peart is sort of penning a sequel to "Subdivisions". The guitar is the showcased instrument (Except for the drums. I only haven't mentioned those because every single Rush song showcases the drums. Neil can't help it.). Alex plays an aggressive staccato riff and segues right into the powerful vocals that Geddy belts out over sustained chords and truly metal riffage. Rush were such forerunners. You can sense the Dream Theater itching to get out in songs like these.

7. Red Lenses- If there's a song that could possibly be linked to the Red Scare/Cold War/Communist theory that Mr. Roberto came up with, it is this song. Opening directly with Geddy singing, "I see red", this song seems to be a jaundiced look at the fear that was spreading the western hemisphere, and had been since the '50s. Perhaps he is wagging an accusing finger, perhaps he was joining in the fear. It's quite hard to tell. But children, beware, there may be Soviets hiding under your bed, according to this song. The song is, again, awfully metal, disproving the uneducated horses who try to accuse Rush of abusing keyboards on this album. This is the album's weak link, to be certain, but that doesn't keep it from being an incredible song.

8. Between the Wheels- Sure, it's keyboard-dominated, but this dreary showcase of skills is a perfect closer for a perfect album. If you want to see it in it's most incredible version yet, buy the R30 DVD. Geddy's vocals aren't as good, but Alex sounds great on it. The nihilistic theme reemerges, saying that the way mankind is headed, we could see "Another war, another wasteland, another lost generation." The song clocks in just under six minutes, and is fittingly epic for its length (the longest on the album, though it seems quite short). The soloing is downright insane during the instrumental section. Geddy's vocals on the chorus sound great too, especially the last time around. I can hardly explain just how good this song is. You may find yourself listening to it several times in a row without cease. Buy the album.

Do I have to tell you? 100%.

Report this review (#130104)
Posted Tuesday, July 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars How often can you hear songs like Afterimage and Red Sector A?

This is the first Rush album I listened to and it is not considered to be one of their representatives. It surely is one of their many best!

Dark lyrics and intelligent music input from the Canada supergroup who turned on a more pop like sound full of synths and great tunes. Surely an underestimated and misunderstood album.

Not to be missed!

Report this review (#130777)
Posted Monday, July 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Rush set aside the synthesizers and release the guitar! ... Well, kind of, anyways.

Where their prior release "Signals" saw Rush using more and more keyboards, making a more complex soundscape, they somehow managed to drown out the guitar. On this outting, there is still many synthesized parts, but the guitar is much more put to the forfront, letting Lifeson shine once more. This is all in all a good album, very enjoyable, but it's not as prog, since it's now the 80s. Songs such as THE BODY ELECTRIC and BETWEEN THE WHEELS are exceptional, increadable by any standpoint, others, such as AFTERIMAGE and THE ENEMY WITHIN are very heavy and good, but not quite as typically Rush.

This album took a while to catch onto me, and at this point it's likely that it's one of my favorites in the Rush catalog, however, it is not an essential album. If you're just getting into Rush, or are only looking for their best, you'd be better off with "Permanent Waves" or "Moving Pictures".3.5 stars, great album, but not entirely essential.

Report this review (#134116)
Posted Tuesday, August 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This stands as my all time favorite Rush album, and they're may favorite band of all time.

They really balanced the keyboard and guitar perfectly, after the keyboard-preferenced Signals. What is striking after repeated listens about this album is how there isn't one instrument that takes the lead. All parts melt together to form one, giant sound.

Geddy Lee has turned down the wailing vocals for a more calm, subtle voice that accompanies the lyrics about nuclear war and survival in a post-apocalyptic world.

Distant Eary Warning, Red Sector A, and Kid Gloves are all shockingly great songs that are all endlessly interesting and re-listenable.

Grace Under Pressure is definately one of their more complex albums, all though it may sound to many like a new wave sound, that's because they balance all parts together with such futuristic flawlessness that you almost forgot what you're listening to. The material is fantastic and it makes a rather short album go by fast.

A real Rush classic and my favorite Rush album, check it out, repeated listens will make this album as rewarding as it truely is!!

Report this review (#141626)
Posted Wednesday, October 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Grace under pressure album by Rush is very much dominated by sythesizers, but this is another strong album by the Canadian trio. An 80's album by Rush is usually talked down a lot by lots of fans but happen to be fan of them. This album has very little guitar from an amazing guitarist, lifeson uses his guitar more as a back up instrument, he still gives some solos like always. Grace Under Pressure is very dark album by Rush, the cover art on the album goes great with the music, nice job by Hugh Sym. The other only Rush album that is kind of dark is Caress of Steel and Roll the Bones. The opener Distant Early Warning is an amazing song, very well written lyrics by Peart. And Geddy got rid of his High pitch vocals on this one. Some other good ones are Afterimage, Red Sector A, Between the Wheels, and The Enemy Within. Rush really escaped their Proggy hard rock sound from the 70's, but it was the 80's and technology was changing and keyboards and Sythesizers were taking over music. For me Grace Under Pressure is very good album from Rush, one of the best from the 80's...this gets 4 stars
Report this review (#152455)
Posted Friday, November 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "You can so easily get disappointed." [neil]

"For instance, I thought that 'Grace Under Pressure' was the right album at the right time. It was a time of crisis in the world and I was looking around and seeing my friends unemployed and having a very bad time. Inflation was rampant everywhere and people were basically in trouble. The world looked dark. That album to me was a tremendous statement of compassion and empathy with the world and I thought because of this it would have a similar accessibility as '2112' or 'Moving Pictures' in their own eras. But it didn't have the desired impact because people do not wanna hear about sadness when reality is so gloomy. In the 1930's people didn't clamour for sad stories but absolute escapism and I realized that having the right feelings at the right time isn't necessarily going to be the best way of dealing with something, particularly in the so-called 'entertainment arts!'" [neil, metal hammer 1988 interview]

For my 300th review here I wanted to visit an old friend, a Rush album I purchased as a 70s throwback kid at the tender age of 17 in that spring of '84. From the perspective of my peer group at the time it was not Neil's reason in the opening paragraph that made us less than pleased with GUP. That might be correct for some people, but for us, the problem with Grace was that the image and sound abandoned our beloved 70s hard Zep flavored rock for (gasp) the hated 1980s. True this happened on Signals first but it was more pronounced on Grace. We didn't like the synths, we didn't like their clothes, their lame haircuts, or their refusal to play Hemispheres cover to cover at the show we attended that summer. We were not prog-heads at that time, we were unapologetic worshipers of 70s Rush/Zep/Sab who were truly distressed at the state of rock music. I recall being 3rd row in front of Alex at the Grace show and patiently sitting through 6 or 7 GUP tracks waiting for La Villa which never came. Their confidence in this material was clear at that time, instead of quickly peeling off 2 or 3 of the "new songs" they played nearly the entire album. While we longed to hear 2112 that night Rush were playing to a different audience. Their confidence in this album was correct. It didn't take me long to realize just how great this album is. I think that Grace was a logical place for Rush to be in '84 and while it doesn't have quite the overwhelming presence of invincibility that Moving Pics has it remains to this day elbowing for rank in the top 3 of my Rush fave list.

"My subject matter is drawn from other people, although it's nice to find a personal parallel if something upsets me. Anger is always a big motivation, and outrage gets me all fired up. But one thing I particularly hate is confessional lyrics, the one where people reach down inside their tormented souls and tell me how much they hurt -- that's really selfish and petty! If you have all that pain, by all means express it but be a little self absorbed about it and look around you at other people, because everyone has pain and frustration and you can find parallels if you look for them. For example, the song 'Distant Early Warning' (from the 'Grace Under Pressure' LP) contains the line 'The world weighs on my shoulders,' which is an expression of worldly compassion that any sensitive person feels occasionally. You feel so rotten, because the world is such a mess, so many people are starving and unhappy. It's an extreme that represents a feeling most people have from time to time. Yet I certainly wasn't going to put it in terms like 'Oh, I'm so depressed.' I wanted to get across the point of world-weariness and sadness rather than self-pity. [neil, metal hammer 1988]

While the style of the 80s Rush that is so evident on Grace can be debated by fans I find the album an amazing lyrical and musical success. It has done nothing but grow on me over the years as albums like 2112 have become a bit of a snore to me. GUP finds Rush delivering 8 very solid tracks crackling with musical energy and deliciously dark lyrical images. I love every second of it. It sounds like a cold (nuclear?) winter day with contrasting feelings of power and energy balanced by claustrophobic eeriness. Yes it does have the overly exuberant keyboard presence and sound that is a bit cheesy and dated at times but I am able to overlook this as a minor stylish flaw because the songs are so damn strong. Alex and Neil are just unbelievable in their energetic interplay on this album, finding new ways in every song to be monsters of their instruments while only adding to the overall texture of the track. Every song is an example of this but for specifics just listen to the guitar solo on "Kid Gloves." Jesus Christ, he can barely contain himself and the joy of the crunch just bubbles over. Where did this burst of energy come from? My guess is that Alex felt a bit constrained by Signals and you can hear his edgy redefined playing just smashing through here. Lyrically I have never been as blown away by Neil. For a friend of the band who died tragically too soon, the stunning "Afterimage".

Suddenly you were gone
From all the lives you left your mark upon
We ran by the water on the wet summer lawn
I see your footprings, I remember
I feel the way you would

Or from part 1 of Fear, The Enemy Within.

Every breath a static charge
A tongue that tastes like tin
Steely-eyed outside to hide the enemy within
And you, revolution or just resistance?
Is it living or just existence?
Yeah you, it takes a little more persistence
To get up and go the distance

"I think the joy of creation is very overrated. The irony of it is that the moment goes by so fast. At the end of it all, there's no joy of creation, there's no sitting back going, This is finished and wow, I'm so happy. Because you're so tired and drained from all of the mental demands you don't have anything left to throw a party. [neil, working musicians 2003]

"Distant Early Warning" opens with a feeling of dark clouds gathering. It rocks from the beginning and this album maintains a fierce pace throughout with crisp, concise songwriting that is as tight as the playing. Alex is always incorporating lots of picked open chords along with the chugged chords. Geddy's bass is a solid base below the keys and the drumming is ferocious. ("I see the tip of the iceberg and I worry about you.") Indeed. In "Afterimage" we hear the synths sounding so up front but if you listen closely the guitar and bass are right there as well blending together. The nice leads Alex plays during the ("I feel the way you would") portion are very emotional. His solo then combines the sharp new edge with a bit of the old Alex flash before going back into a chord progression picking, all very effective in providing a mood that looks forward with the sadness of losing a friend. "Red Sector A" speaks to the resilience of the human character and shows off some of Peart's most delicate of animated drumming, the percussion almost running a second lyrical story. "Body Electric" has so many cool little instrumental entanglements flopping all over each other that it's almost impossible to document them. It's a masterful job of layering to build a controlled power, no sooner does it break free and rock out that the initial main part pulls it back, even the amazing guitar solo falls into it the confines. You're almost breathless by the end of it. Perhaps sensing the tension overload the band loosens up a bit for the most fun rocker, "Kid Gloves." As mentioned before Alex has a killer solo here. "Red Lenses" is another showcase for Peart's outstanding drumming blending the traditional and the electronic. Geddy's bass is solid here as throughout, I really don't understand the criticisms that Geddy's bass sucked on this album, I think he does fine. "Between the Wheels" is a real highlight closing the album with the synths in the beginning very brooding and ominous. Alex has some great leads in the intro section and the vibe of the song is chilling. The melody of the chorus is beautiful and emotional before it slams back to the harsh verse section. Geddy's vocal is really heartfelt and pushes his own limits. Alex's final solo on the album is maybe his best here in terms of emotion and reminds me every time why I love his playing. The prophetic lyrics are chilling as they describe where we may well be arriving to:

Wheels can take you around
Wheels can cut you down
We can go from boom to bust
From dreams to a bowl of dust
We can fall from rockets' red glare
Down to "brother can you spare"
Another war, another wasteland, another lost generation.

In my country we have our next war and for many "brother can you spare" gets closer every day. Sure it's not the cold war Neil was referring to but still. The next generation is not yet lost but how much crap can we leave them with and expect them to handle. So much potential and so many resources, so casually squandered for the enrichment of the few. I think the anger and fear Neil expresses in GUP is perfectly relevant to our world today, the lamenting of lost promise, the pointlessness, the madness, the injustices. On a daily basis I struggle with maintaining hope after reading the news, though as dark as Neil is here I know he is also one to advocate pushing forward over giving up. I think the power of the music on Grace, as the title implies, is to convey the optimism of the human spirit despite the reality we see around us as conveyed in the lyric. As the written word gets us down, the spirit is in the music. A cool way to present material like this.

"I think we were just ready for an experiment and also there was the advent of new keyboard technology that I was really interested in. So, we decided we would try to make ourselves into a four-piece rather than a three-piece and Signals really represents that. It was an experiment that lasted for a number of years. I think we started rejecting that fourth person in the band right around the time we did the Counterparts record. That was the beginning of relearning how to be a trio." [geddy, ugo 2004]

I think it's very interesting that Geddy sees Signals-Counterparts as an experimental period for the band. I need to hear some of those others again with an open mind. I remember thinking Power Windows quite a drop in quality from Grace. But in any case Rush can be proud that while Yes, Genesis, Floyd, and the Zeppelin solo careers were stagnating and horrible around this time, GUP will be remembered by a few of us as forward thinking, classy, visionary, fresh, and biting, with great songs and amazing technical performances. Peart is right to question why some of the fans didn't like it. But he comes through as a perfect gentlemen in praising the "Rush fan" when asked how the three of them have managed to stay together for over 30 years:

"There's no easy answer for that, and yet it is basically a simple relation: We like each other, and we like working together. Still, nobody can choose to have an audience for 30 years - like dance partners, they have to choose you too. So we have always been delighted that as we pursued our goals in music, we managed to please enough other people to give us an audience. To say we'd be nothing without them is more than fatuous sentimentality - it's the plain truth." [neil, ugo 2004]

Report this review (#155796)
Posted Monday, December 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars It was 1984 and a lot of bad things were happening. Orwell's vision seemed to be coming true in the guise of an increasingly tense international atmosphere and an American cowboy-turned-President. Music as well was in a deep freeze, with such luminaries as Kenny Rogers, Duran Duran, Billy Squire and Madonna in command of the publics' attention. And Rush, the last intact bastion of a thinking person's rock, was not immune to these events. What little we know of this period is that the band wanted to 'make a change' and dropped their long-time producer/mentor Terry Brown in favor of Peter Henderson, a last minute replacement. But that wasn't the only shake-up; abandoned was the group's single-minded direction toward the fantastic, instead adopting a colder, regrettably sober image complete with bleeding cover art, bad 80s haircuts and decidedly dreary lyrical content. Of course little of that would've mattered if the music had been worth it.

This was all quite a shock, especially on the heels of the previous 'Signals', one of their best offerings. Had 'Grace Under Pressure' been the soundtrack to a Karate Kid movie it would probably have worked. But this was a new Rush album, an event, and the first chance many young people would have to see the band on tour. What we got was a grey, wounded, emaciated record with little of the magic we all hoped for and needed in those tense times. As fans, we desperately sought out the few good moments among the new songs. But it soon became clear that something had happened, something terrible-- grace under pressure, indeed... but what pressure? And this was graceful?

In fact, the album reached number ten on the Billboard charts, so, from the band's perspective, perhaps it all worked out. Opener 'Distant Early Warning' was an inexplicable hit, securing mainstream status with, ironically, their most uninspired work in ten years. The cut is a bit of a plodder with a soggy bass and thin drum sound. Guitarist Alex Lifeson has some of the better moments on the album having fully developed his new minimal style, lightly decorating the material with tasteful chirps, trills, squeaks and neat noises. 'Afterimage' though is a prime example of the forgettable work here, not bad as much as empty, a song that seems to evaporate as it plays leaving no discernible taste. 'Red Sector A' pumps with some promise but Peart's lyrics only remind us of what peril were all in with none of his usual light, and 'The Enemy Within' sealed this deal with a dreadful ska beat. A bit of uplift on the C3P0-like 'The Body Electric' about a wayward and all too human robot, one of the few genuine and unexpected moments, and rather good 'Kid Gloves' was a touch of the old Rush power and enthusiasm. But 'Red Lenses' is cringe-causing, a simply horrifying example of how far this great trio had strayed from their muses. 'Between the Wheels', the one really good thing here, comes much too late to save this languid release. Awesome in its disappointment, almost masochistically so, GUP has somehow become a favorite for many and remains a symbol of one of the darkest periods in progressive rock.

Report this review (#158189)
Posted Wednesday, January 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Very different than other albums of this band until that moment. Maybe a point of total u-turn in sound, which since than take a little more melodic path. Songs have a good stream, they fit together quite, with strong powerful outfits and gentle melodic songs. Sometimes and even together. For me, the best of their works...
Report this review (#162629)
Posted Monday, February 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Grace Under Pressure represent the natural, continued evolution of Rush from hard rockers to prog rockers to 80's synth rockers. Kimonos have been replaced by garish clothes, long-hair by goofy short cuts, double-necked Rickenbackers with modern headless bass guitars. Which would make one think the music would suck. They'd be wrong though.

The music has always been what Rush was about and this is no different. In many ways GUP is really Signals II, with the music little different. You get a lot of synthesizers, poppy melodies and clinical lyrics to go with clinical drumming. Still, as usual, it all works.

Perhaps most interesting is the evolution of Alex Lifesons guitar work. Always an outstanding, versatile player, by this point he has mastered a unique, rapid-fire staccato approach used to great effect on songs like Enemy within and Red Sector A. Geddy has toned down the high-nasal wail by this point as well, creating a more mainstream, accessible sound. Peart lyrics reflect much of the national mood at this time, with a detachment and sterile feel to them.

Rush release one outstanding release after another from 1974 (Caress of Steel) to 1986 (Power Windows) and I consider this among them. On the second shelf, perhaps, but still a very solid 4-star release.

Report this review (#174716)
Posted Saturday, June 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
TGM: Orb
3 stars Review 65, Grace Under Pressure, Rush, 1984


This reviewer, whose Rush discography is somewhat sketchy after Moving Pictures, and who considers Caress of Steel a timeless classic, but the acclaimed MP mostly mediocre, might not be expected to come out in favour of Grace Under Pressure. However, I admit to liking the album, and there are only a couple of weak spots in the otherwise solid synth-pop/rock we have on offer. Peart's lyrics are up to scratch, mostly, and feel quite natural in a lot of places, while the artsy edges are in place throughout the album. The first four tracks, at least, are pretty strong cuts, and while the second side trails off a bit, it is generally listenable, with a good closer, and all in all, it leaves a positive impression.

Distant Early Warning opens the album quite tensely, with some spacious work from the synths and guitars, as well as a clever bass part working away in the background. Geddy Lee delivers with surprising verve an enjoyable set of lyrics, and his bass is a highlight throughout the song, as even in the bright chorus, it adds something deeper in. The drum part is well-incorporated, leaving plenty of space as well as accomplishing fills. My only small criticism is that the synth-led sections sometimes seem a little feeble in comparison with the guitar-based ones with a nice synth ditty in the background.

Afterimage is another solid song, this time drawing a little more on Alex Lifeson's guitar, though the synths also add in more ideas, including growly noises, standard hums and piano-ish tones. Peart gives a good AOR beat without losing sight of inventive choices and a set of wistful lyrics. Much as the song itself is tolerable, the real highlight is the surprisingly atmospheric instrumental section, complete with an interesting guitar solo.

Even stronger, however, is Red Sector A, which combines some mesmerising rhythms with some damn fine lyrical lines ('shouting guards and smoking guns... will cut down the unlucky ones'). The percussion, the guitar riffs, the vocals... they simply rock. Oddly, the lead synths seem appropriate, and never pompous. The instrumental break, combining a weird but wonderful guitar tone with building synths, is well-handled. It is sad that the line 'I must help my mother to stand up straight' slightly damages the mood, but otherwise a damn fine song.

The Enemy Within is an utterly kitschy bass-driven song with synth paps and light guitar additions in the chorus, and yet, it is great fun. Geddy Lee's slightly screechy voice again hits the spot excellently, as do the percussion parts. Far too catchy, and I love it.

The Body Electric's sci-fiish themes without any mystery or real catch. The lyrics aren't irritating, just not nearly as interesting as I'd like them to be. Nevermind, onto the music. Again, it's quite non-distinctive, with a fairly repetitive drum part and a mix that simply feels like everything is playing loud, but not a lot goes on. The vocals also don't seem to match (erk, especially on '1-0-0, 1-0-0, 1-0-0-1 SOS', though Lifeson's quirky solo is up to scratch, as is the superb bass playing accompanying that. It's not really a terrible song, it just eludes the attention span completely.

Kid Gloves, however, does edge on the nerves a little, with its rhythm simply not catching like The Enemy Within, though the musical premise is pretty similar, and the lyrics, even I admit there's some merit in there somewhere, repeat too much, and has a catchphrase that simply feels off to me. Even the solo isn't very redeeming, just squeaky and technical. Again, I get the whole, everything loud, but not a lot going on, vibe, probably unfairly.

The tenser Red Lenses, carefully using sharp guitar lines and bass jabs, as well as a very quirky percussion part and a totally redundant synth (in the main part of the song at least). The lyrics and vocals have shaped up a little, and of especial note is an interesting instrumental section with tympani notes and a slightly more valid synth, even if I feel the song could have dropped them without hurting. Peart holds up a drum riff under a vocal quite well, and the song's overall mystery vibe works well enough. Overall a good piece, but it simply didn't need to bother with the synths at all, and they drag it down a bit.

The surprisingly dark Between The Wheels starts with an insistent synth riff and a killer guitar soloish that reminds me a bit of some of Howe's work on Drama (Machine Messiah, in particular, I think). Geddy Lee appears to have re-adapted himself much better to the tenser atmospheric vocals, and, despite what is a mixed set of lyrics, carries the song excellently. The instrumental work is excellent, and the mix again feels quite balanced, giving everything the space to shine. Peart in particular stands out, and the piece as a whole has a darkened vibe that lends the album a slightly greater credibility after a frail middle. Great ending.

So, a synth pop album, I admit, but a good synth pop album. Recommended for fans of Rush, or anyone interested in exploring some of the band's work after the obvious classics and Moving Pictures. I also have to confess that I genuinely like a lot of Peart's drumming on this album, while I'm more indifferent to lots of his more well-reputed part, so, something else to recommend there. Three well-earned stars from me

Rating: Three stars

Favourite Track: Red Sector A

Report this review (#179973)
Posted Monday, August 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Grace Under Pressure is part of RUSH's "Synthesizer Period". All of these albums came out during the 1980's and represent the band's post-Moving Pictures era. The albums are Signals (1982), Grace Under Pressure (1984), Power Windows (1985), Hold Your Fire (1987) and A Show of Hands "Live" (1988).

Grace Under Pressure was another turning point for the band. This was the first time the band members ventured off without their long-time producer Terry Brown. This decision ultimately led to many problems that the band had to eventually overcome. There were long delays in production. Notice the two year gap between Signals and Grace Under Pressure (hence the title, there was a lot of pressure on the band to complete this record). The band was actually in the studio for about four and a half months, longer than they had ever worked on an album before.

Due to the lack of a competent producer, Grace Under Pressure has a distinct sound and feel that no other Rush album ever had. Even though it is part of the band's "synthesizer period", Grace is less overtly synth- laden than Signals was. Grace seems to strike a better balance between the guitars and keyboards than some of the albums from this era.

I actually saw this tour and it was as entertaining as ever. But, it was the beginning of the end for me, and many other rock music fans who had been enjoying Rush music for a long time. From this point forward, the quality of Rush's musical output really started going downhill, and I was disappointed more and more with each subsequent release. Rush's synthesizer period starts off great with Signals. Then Grace Under Pressure, which is good, but sadly the worst was yet to come, just over the mid-80's horizon.

Report this review (#182235)
Posted Friday, September 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Rush - Grace under pressure from 1984. An almost new wave album with a lot of modern keys and flat synthesisers. Anyway Rush always knew toying with diffrent aproches of their heavy prog, from a Led Zeppelin sound in the early career , now reaching to a modern sound full of electronic elements , sometimes not far from Tomas Dolby but a little more edged. Well in my view this is not a bad album at all with fine moments like:Distant early warning, Afterimage, Red sector, The enemy within (Part I of Fear), these tunes keep the Rush sound but combined with a good dose of synthsisers and electronic keys. It's obvious , because in that days, mid '80's this electronic music was very popular, even an icon in prog like Rush tries to incorporate in their sound this elements, but for sure thay've done it much better than many other bands who only tried to combined these two opposite genre but never succeded (one ex Is Jethro Tull's Under wraps) Not among my fav Rush albums, even weacker than Signals, previous one, and not that intristing like the followers, Rush new to joggling with their possibilityes and talent, resulting a 3 star album for me.
Report this review (#186639)
Posted Wednesday, October 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Grace Under Pressure is the tenth studio album from Canadian progressive rock pride Rush. Rush made a big change to their sound on the last album called Signals. They started to incorporate synths to their sound in an excessive way they hadn´t done before and thereby entering the eighties. Permanent Waves from 1980 and Moving Pictures from 1981 still belong to the seventies era Rush albums soundwise IMO. I wasn´t too impressed with Signals but even though Grace under Pressure follow the same eighties synth heavy formula as Signals it´s a much better album IMO.

There are some excellent tracks on Grace Under Pressure and the album starts really well with Distant early warning, Afterimage and Red Sector A which are by far my favorites on Grace under Pressure ( and some of my alltime favorite Rush tracks). The quality drops a bit with The enemy within (Part I of Fear) which has an awful ska/ reggae off-beat rythm. Not my favorite here. The Body Electric gets back on the right track. Great song that one. The three last tracks Kid Gloves, Red Lenses and Between the Wheels are only average Rush songs and I´m afraid that it leaves a kind of divided impression of Grace Under Pressure.

The musicianship is outstanding. As a guitarist myself I´ve always been very inspired by Alex Lifeson´s playing on Grace Under Pressure. I love his grand sound. Neil Peart´s drumming is sharp and precise. One of his best performances IMO. Compared to his weak vocal performance on Signals I really enjoy Geddy Lee´s passionate singing on Grace under Pressure and his bass playing is as always intriguing and powerful. The synths are very dominant on Grace Under Pressure and it would be wrong to call them tasteful, but provided that you have a stomach for eighties keyboard sounds they sound pretty good. I think they fit some songs better than others.

The production is excellent. Much, much better than the way too bass deep sound on Signals. Everything sounds crisp and clean on Grace Under Pressure.

I really enjoy Grace Under Pressure and I would love to give it 4 stars but as I only feel that half of the songs are really excellent I´ll give it a BIG 3 star rating. Rush simply made too many fillers throughout their career IMO. But when they shine they shine like no one else. Rush has always been a unique band with a unique sound and that´s certainly also the case on Grace Under Pressure.

Report this review (#188141)
Posted Thursday, November 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars One of the most interesting and satisfying albums Rush ever done. It used to be one of my favorites in the 80´s and still is. Their previous efford, Signals, was a bit of disappointment to me at the time (although that album still had some pretty good stuff, it was a let down after the brilliant Moving Pictures). grace Under Pressure was a big return to form: they play harder, darker and stronger than most of their releases in the early 80´s. Ok, it is different, but the band always meant to experiment, not to record the same thing over and over again. Rush took risks all the time. Sometimes they succeed (like in Farewell to Kings) sometimes they falied (Hemispheres - with apologies to those progheads who like the album). But never released any crap. Like it or not you have to admit those guys were good and very especial.

Grace Under Pressure was melodic, dark, powerful and bold. the term progressive is very well suited for this work. One of the few Rush albums I hear all the way through without skipping one single track. I think a lot of people missed the point with this CD at the time (some still do). Still I find GUP to be one of their classic stuff. Highly recommended for any prog lover!

Report this review (#190486)
Posted Tuesday, November 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is the confirmation of some words i put down in a previous review-Rush were listening to all the musical variations of the first years of the 80's and carefully picked up those that were interesting and creative and adjusted them into their music. And so they managed to refresh their music without alternating their basic construction of their compositions. And really Grace Under Pressure is real jewel of the 80's. From the impressive cover, an element so important in progressive rock music, the album grabs you from the beginning. As for the music is another step forward for Rush as they were still developing their music. Here Lifeson's guitars are better produced and balanced with Lee's keyboards and together they create a beautiful sound scape along with Peart's didactic methods of drumming throughout the whole album. There are five songs here being a little bit of higher quality 1)Distant Early Warning 2)Red Sector A 3)The Enemy Within 4)The Body Electric and peaking,in my opinion, with 5)Between The Wheels with an exceptional guitar solo(in terms of structure and development) by Lifeson. By no means Afterimage, Kid Gloves and Red Lenses are filler songs as they provide to the cohesion of this musical scape. This was another very good album by Rush of the second period that started with Moving Pictures and ended in 1993 with the Counterparts album. And yes, despite some opinions which characterize the 80's as an uninteresting period for progressive rock, there was still interesting and very creative music back there!
Report this review (#190510)
Posted Wednesday, November 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#199702)
Posted Sunday, January 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars I thought that there were some good points in Grace Under Pressure, and most of the album is great. But, there are some parts of the album where I don't really know what is happening, and I don't feel that it is a really original and solid Rush album. The glossy guitars are an amazing touch, the lyrics are very impressive on this song (Mainly Red Sector A and Distant Early Waring for me). Most of the album is very messy though, and at times it is a tad hard to listen to. I will grade each song from a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the worst, and 10 being the best, lets get it on!

Distant Early Waring- Probably among my 2 or 3 favorite songs from the album. The bass is pretty impressive, and this song has some good keyboard lines. The music video for this uses Geddys son as the kid playing in the sandbox, and is stolen by those guys how take him to their aircraft thing. The guitar is very glossy, very much near techno/sci-fi sounding. The drum is very interesting, but the main thing about this song is probably the keyboards, as Geddy takes control of over 3 things at once. 9/10

Afterimage- This song is my least favorite from the album. I think that it was way to hardrock and too much into the keyboard thing to be a ballad. Its a song about the band loosing a very close friend, into a very hardrock song. It is way too heavy for my taste, and I think that it uses the keyboard element way too much, unlike the other songs were it seems to fit very perfectly. The lyrics are the only thing that get my going, with all the sadness in the lyrics, its very hard to beileve that this is a ballad by the music. This is one of the hard to listen to tracks from the album, and it really is. 4.5/10

Red Sector A- Another favorite from the album. Geddy uses all keyboards on this one, like Afterimage, but I think that this song is so much better and much more organized than that song. The guitar on this one is extra glossy, which is definatly great in this case. The lyrics mean something about the hollocaust, which was a very serious thing, so this is a very serious song. The lyrics are very thought provoking on this one. The drums are great on this one, and I think that this song is definatly great. 9.5/10

The Enemy Within, Prt. 1 of Fear- This song is pretty decent, not my favorite of the album, but I think that the song fits in well with the album. I quote Experience to Extremes to be one of my favorite lines from the whole song. The music is pretty interesting, but most of it is very dark, and I don't really care for the guitar on this one. The bass is okay, but nothing really sticks out on this song. 7/10

The Body Electric- One of my favorites, again, but this one is very underrated. The basslines and bass riffs are so amazing in this song, and Geddy really puts the slapping motion into this song into impressive use. The lyrics, I don't really know what they mean, but i really like the line 1001001, S.O.S! But the music here is definatly great. The guitar is definatly the lead in this song, which really amazes me with the whole 80s thing, and how the guitar was almost gone and the keyboards took over, but I think this has all of the elements that some of the songs on this album missed out on. Rock, and instruments. 9/10

Kid Gloves- This song hasen't ever really stuck with me. I think it is a little too country/new wave/sci-fi for me, a bad mix. The slinky solo in this song is pretty good, but I don't think that the overall music, lyrics, and music flucuation really work for me. I think it would be great if the keys weren't added to this song, and then I think it would be a great tune that we have here. 5.5/10

Red Lenses- I particually amazing bass song for me. The basslines on this song are so overpowering that I think that it overpowers the music altogether for me! The lyrics are a little stupid, meaning a person can only see red or something like that, but I think that overall this song is a very interesting bass song for me. The music is good, once the bass settles down. This song is one of the more listenable songs from the whole album. 7.5/10

Between the Wheels- Another great song from the album, and a great closer for the album at that. This song is so underrate, it really kills me. It was great to see the boys play this on their new tour, unlocking it out of the vault, and I really love it. The keyboard is very serious sounding and the sound overall is very dark, and much more mind provokng than any of the other songs from the album. This song also shows Alexs amazing guitar work, with amazing riffs and impressive solos that will definatly blow your brain. While this song might not have the best bassline for the album, I think that this is definatly one of the better tracks. 8.5/10

A good album overall, containing gloss and hardrock.

Report this review (#204377)
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This was the first Rush album not co-produced by Terry Brown and because Peter Henderson wasn't experienced produced band had to do everything mostly by themselves. The result? Returning to analogue mixing that was probably caused by difficulties band met while working on this release. It makes me wonder how it would sound if Terry worked with them still. Anyway while Moving Pictueres and Signals are ADD, Grace Under Pressure is AAD like in the old times. But Rush found their place in 80's and they sound more fresh on this release. Some say "oh those keyboards are cheesy". I don't know if they are cheesy but I know it doesn't spoil the whole image. The sound is wide and clear. Music is still pretty energetic and very vivid. Distance Early Warning, Afterimage, The Enemy Within and Kid Gloves are good example for that. It's very melodic and vital. The Enemy Within is in ska style but not far from what band presented on previous albums. It's still Rush. Just a bit different. Red Sector A and Between The Wheels are dominated by keyboards but it doesn't mean there's no place for guitar solos. Red Sector A is one of my favorite Rush songs and this guitar solo is simply excellent. Same goes to solo from Between The Wheels. Lots of good music. I don't really dig Red Lenses and I think it wasn't good idea to mix blues with such keyboard rock. Btw Red Sector A is song about holocaust and these lyrics were probably the closest to Geddy's heart remembering that his parents escaped from nazis. Whole idea for the album was to make something beautiful out of all that pressure band was under. So the lyrical concept is pretty disastrous at some points but it only makes the whole thing better. It's the last Rush album from their discography I rate by 5 stars.
Report this review (#211976)
Posted Tuesday, April 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
3 stars Compared to what a lot of bands were doing in 1984, this is an excellent album, even if most of the tracks are unmemorable. Largely the sound is dominated by Alex Lifeson's thick, chorused guitar. Geddy Lee's bass is lively as ever, and his vocals are strong. Neil Peart's drums take something of a backseat. Overall, this is a decent Rush album, but nothing that gets me excited.

"Distant Early Warning" My favorite song present opens this Rush album. It is full of energy, courtesy of an organ-like synthesizer and a bass line that refuses to settle down. I absolutely love that eerie opening and closing sound effect.

"Afterimage" Simple chords and a driving rhythm are what this song is all about. Lee engages in some convincing vocal work throughout this piece, and the synthesizers don't detract from the musical power that is Rush. Lifeson's guitar just washes over everything.

"Red Sector A" Another favorite of mine, this song deals with the horrors of the Holocaust. The chord progression is excellent and haunting, and Lifeson makes a great use of his whammy bar.

"The Enemy Within" This is closer to The Police, with that syncopated clean, chorused guitar and fast-paced beat. Instead of a guitar solo, which would have worked well, there is just some light synthesizer work.

"The Body Electric" The drums on this one sound horrible, like they're played in some teenager's bedroom. The arrangement, with all the stopping and starting, is a bit irritating. The guitar solo over what is effectively a bass solo (think "Freewill") is what scores major points for this song.

"Kid Gloves" That hokey guitar sound threw me off the first time I heard it. Otherwise, this is a good song with some fun parts, but not very memorable.

"Red Lenses" This is the worst and goofiest song on the album. Everybody seems to be doing their own thing here, so I've never gotten into this one.

"Between the Wheels" The introduction to this sounds like Lee just learned what a synthesizer was (and Peart just discovered drums), but fortunately, the rest of the song isn't bad, just simple. Lifeson's solo on this song, though, is his best on the album.

Report this review (#213430)
Posted Saturday, May 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars Ten studio albums in approximately ten years is an impressive feat, especially if the quality remains high. However, trying to keep up this rate of making roughly one album a year is not an easy task. On Grace Under Pressure, we learn that these three prog-gods from Canada may be mortal after all.

I'm not saying that this album is without some good material. "Distant Early Warning", "Red Sector A", and "The Enemy Within" represent the strongest tracks on this album. "Red Sector A", my favorite song on the album, is a great example of Rush musically setting a strong tone for the lyrics, in this case about the Holocaust. "Distant Early Warning" does this to a lesser extent. The strength of "The Enemy Within" lies in the bass line that drives the song and Geddy's vocal delivery.

The remaining tracks don't really connect with me. There are some nice moments in some of the tracks (Lifeson's lick in the chorus of "Afterimage", for example), but they are few and far between. "Kid Gloves" and "Red Lenses" are the two weakest songs on the album. Solid musicianship, but they have shown that they are capable of constructing much stronger material.

I can hear The Police influence in the band's performance on this album. This is probably most evident in Alex Lifeson's guitar work (in his rhythm playing and in certain leads found in songs like "Afterimage" and parts of "The Enemy Within").

I'm not exactly an anti-synth guy, but I feel that this album suffers from an overuse of synthesizers and synth effects. Some of the songs would benefit from a "stripping down" into a more traditional power trio format (guitar, bass, drums). I could imagine improvements being made to "The Body Electric" in this regard.

With a band with such a massive discography, put this album low on the priority list of Rush albums to purchase.

Report this review (#218039)
Posted Sunday, May 24, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Nothing more than a mediocre good...

To me, this album, GRACE UNDER PRESSURE, holds no diamants or gemms of any kind. At this point in their career RUSH have coursed their Roccinante away from the paths of long epic opera. They haven't drifted off and floated away from their skills, they play diffrently (for better or for worse - we are the judge).

I've listened to this album a couple of times now and still not one of the songs has remained with me, like a little bird singing on the windowsill, that flies as soon as you enter the room.

With this album RUSH have exstensively made use of synths and keys, Geddy Lee's softened his once-so-high-peaking voice, though I don't think he is made for the soft romantic approach of songs, he should, in my opinion, be screaming his lungs out of his chest! Anyway, all things considered, a good album has been released in 1984, though it is not good enough for me.


Report this review (#219838)
Posted Thursday, June 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars With Rush's 1980s sound now firmly in the shorter song format which evolved over their last three albums, Grace Under Pressure showed that a progressive rock band could adapt to the recording industry's pressures to chug out shorter stuff for radio and MTV. Unlike other progressive bands that released some of the most awful stuff in their long discographies, Rush was still releasing good quality material with inspiring, well thought-out lyrics, and incorporating various genre's styles into their own.

Grace Under Pressure is quite similar to their previous album, Signals. The major differences are a change in producers and Peart's incorporation of Simmons electronic drums and percussion. The production is vastly improved in my opinion and that's chiefly why I consider this a better album than Signals, but the songs also seem more powerful too. In the past I have not made any positive comments about electronic drums. I don't think they've aged well over time and consider it just another one of those atrocious fads of the 1980s. But Peart is a drummer like no one else and as far as my ears go, he may have been the only drummer to make use of electronic drums and still have them sound good. He clearly has a fine-tuned ear for his craft far exceeding his contemporaries who were... well, I'm not sure what they were thinking actually, from the likes of Phil Collins, Alan White, Carl Palmer, and even Bill Bruford.

Another excellent album in the extensive Rush catalogue and highly recommended for those of you who like more accessible prog. Still, not anywhere near as good as Moving Pictures and it's predecessors, but well deserving of four stars.

Report this review (#221304)
Posted Monday, June 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Grace Under Pressure' - Rush (7/10)

Put simply, this album has some of the best Rush songs in their repetoire. 'Grace Under Pressure' is very much an album of the times. The 1980's were looking a bit bleak and weathered. The music was bad, the economy was bad, and things on the political side of things were not looking too well either. What was the result was a highly politically-driven Rush album. There are a couple of songs on here that are direct cautionary warnings to war; appeals for peace.

In the spirit of peace and fear of destruction, 'Distant Early Warning' was born.

When one listens to this album and observes the spirit of the music, it's important to realize that the state of the world back in those days is not too fargone from our own. While the western world was worried about the Soviet Union, it is now concerned over the threat of terrorism, and North Korea. Self-annihilation still hangs wearily over our heads, and this music appeals DIRECTLY to that fear.

Musically speaking, 'Grace Under Pressure' is essentially an extension of 'Signals,' with a larger emphasis on guitar. Every once in a while, there is something unexpected thrown into the mix (such as a Ska-sounding theme on 'The Enemy Within') but if you have listened to any other Rush material from the 1980s, you should know what to expect. The music is however, a little bit darker than what you would normally expect from the band.

The only thing preventing 'Grace Under Pressure' from being yet another true Rush classic is the presence of a few weaker tracks that really seem to detract from the album's overall effectiveness as a unit. The songs 'Kid Gloves' and 'Red Lenses' in particular damage the album's quality. However, that's only a quarter of the album. The other six tracks range from being good to fantastic... 'Grace Under Pressure' even has some classic Rush tracks, such as the opening 'Distant Early Warning,' the electronic-prevalent 'Red Sector A' and the powerful 'Between The Wheels;' all three of which deserving the highest of praise.

'Grace Under Pressure' may not be as consistent as some of the true masterpieces Rush has dished out over the years, but it's definately a good, if not great album. Four stars.

Report this review (#222026)
Posted Saturday, June 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars One of the great things about Rush is that they make music that can also be appreciated by deaf people. It's true, you can totally imagine what the music will sound like just by looking at the band pictures on the album sleeves. Take those long hairs, capes and moustaches of Hemispheres and 2112, you can simply hear prog rock symphonies and shrieking guitar solos. In similar manner you hear no-nonse new wave from the 1984 look that Rush had adapted here.

This change in sound had began with Permanent Waves and reached it's final form here. The next Rush album Power Windows added some more layers of synths but that didn't make it more 'new wave' for me, but rather neo-prog, as it cast away some of the bleakness and grimness that prevails here.

For many, the change in sound was hard to stomach and the more synths Geddy added to his collection, the more fans left with bewildered looks and desperate sighs. Though I am not much of a fan of synths in rock music, I've always enjoyed the move Rush made in the 80's. They sound very much at easy in the shorter rock song format and especially on this album, the synths are very successful, adding a cold and bleak ambience to Rush's usual upbeat sound.

Most songs on this album are excellent, Afterimage particularly is very moving and boast one of the most enjoyable synths on any Rush album. Together with Red Sector A, the song contains synth bass parts in stead of Geddy's usual frenetic bass guitar. It's very effective and a nice change to their usual approach. Other tracks like Distant Early Warning and The Enemy Within have a more regular bass+guitar+drum sound.

As a teenager I didn't like side B of the album. It has grown well on me since then. The Body Electric is another excellent new wave track where Neil Peart experiments with his usual drum sound and plays more percussive. Kid Gloves is possibly Rush's most ear-friendly track, despite its unusual time signature. It's the first Rush track where I hear such clear influence of The Edge on Lifeson. Red Lenses is probably no one's favourite, with its funky vibe, the strange percussive sounds and the synth part around minute 2 that almost sounds like Siouxsie's Hong Kong Garden. It's quite fun and groovy really. Between The Wheels ends the album with a big epic gesture and will please most fans.

Grace Under Pressure is another excellent album and an important step in the continuing evolution of Rush's sound. It's quite unique and sounds like no other Rush album.

Not recommended for people with 80's phobia though.

Report this review (#256668)
Posted Friday, December 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Great band in a bad time.

Rush is a band that released one of greatest heavy prog album - "Moving Pictures". But after their "Signals" work I just missed interest to them. What doesn't means that they forgot how to play great music. I believe the reason is that just started to play DIFFERENT music. "Grace Under Pressure" is characteristic example of "new Rush music", and quite strong example!

First of all, their main sound there is keyboards and synthesizers. Even with same energetic, vocals and even some guitar work as before, keys based sound is a different thing. So, forget rockers, from now they are playing to mellow symphonic /over-orchestrated sound lovers. And they play it good! Just as a music fun, who grew up on rock sound and hated all pop-orchestrations, faceless sound walls and all cheesy and mellow songs , I could not be happy with this sound at all.

To be honest, even when playing this compromise -with-sales -increasing sound, the band stay at much higher position, than their new competitors. So, I feel respect to their roots and good rock-school, but it doesn't help me to love this music.

Possibly, one of good Rush albums during their bad time. Can't recommend it to real heavy prog lovers though.

Report this review (#265712)
Posted Friday, February 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Grace Under Pressure" is a great collection of songs. Lifeson continues to explore guitar tone and timbre at the expense of solos and riffs. That is not to say there are no solos or riffs but in general they defer to rhythm and coloration. At least the guitar is much more audible in the mix than on "Signals", a balance that is very welcomed.

During moments of Signals it seemed as though Rush had been trying too hard to duplicate the success of Moving Pictures. Not so on this outing. This time the band forges ahead with a truly unique sounding album, expressly 1980's, even new-wavish yet somewhat proggie as well.

Peart provided us a glimpse of a more mature thematic vocabulary on the song "Losing It" on "Signals". On this album he stretches further to explore cold war anxiety (Distant Early Warning), sensitive reflections upon mourning a death (Afterimage), even clinging to dismal strands of hope in a concentration camp (Red Sector A).

Has any other band completed a song trilogy starting with part 3 on one album, part 2 on the next and completing the prequel with part one on yet the next? (Fear Part 3, WitchHunt, Moving Pictures 1981, Fear Part II, The Weapon, Signals 1982, Fear Part I - The Enemy Within, Grace Under Pressure 1984).

Admittedly, a linear storyline does not quite unfold in reverse order during the trilogy. Even so, a logical progression of ideas does come into focus with part one exploring how fear affects us from within, part two exploring how fear can me made into a weapon, and part three how fear can be used to mobilize groups into a dangerous mob mentality.

Rush even tagged a Part 4 on song cycle with 2002's Vapor Trails but that strikes me as more of an afterthought. The forethought and the puzzle of figuring out the logical progression (or regression as the case may be) from parts 3 to 1 is a source of fun and fascination for me!

Overall, this is an excellent collection of intelligent and artistic rock songs.

Report this review (#280756)
Posted Thursday, May 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars 1984 was a poor year for prog but Rush continued to eclipse the rest

Ah, the enlightenment of the 80s; prog was really dwindling on the decline and becoming mediocre, but one band continued to release one great album after another; the power trio, Rush. The music definitely changed, the lengthy epics were shortened to 4 to 6 minute tracks and the synthesizers dominated the music, but somehow Rush had enough innovation and melody driven songs to produce an excellent album. This may well be the best prog album in 1984 but the competition was very lean in these difficult years of prog. Let's put this into some sort of perspective before settling on a rating for "Grace Under Pressure".

Here is a short exploration of the 80s. The bands that were producing the best prog albums of the year were neo proggers, Marillion ("Fugazi", and the live "Real to Reel"), eclectic pioneers, King Crimson ("Three of a Perfect Pair") and Solaris ("Marsbeli Kronikak"). Others that were making some sort of impact were Uzed ("Univers Zero"), Pallas ("The Sentinel") and Camel ("Stationary Traveller"). Queensryche were beginning to make progress ("The Warning") as were Los Jaivas ("Obras De Violeta Parra"), however progressive rock was being phased out gradually with the uprising of manufactured synth and electronica. I am not talking about the innovative prog electronica of Kraftwerk, this was a crystal clean sickly sweet saccharine sound adopted by 80s pop icons such as Prince, Culture Club, Chaka Khan, John Waite, Duran Duran, Thompson Twins, Sheila E, Cyndi Lauper and Eurythmics. The hit singles were dominated by the power ballad, noteworthy were 'Oh Sherrie' by Steve Perry, and there were the curios too of one hit wonders such as '99 Luftballons' by Nena. This is what Rush were contending with and few people were interested in the prog epic or songs with odd time signatures. Even classic prog icons Yes sold out with their album "90125" and Genesis who had a hit with 'That's All'. And metal was being split in half, mellowing to synth patterns with Van Halen's 'Jump' and ZZ Tops 'Legs' making it big on the mainstream charts, and becoming more defined and popular with such albums as Metallica's "Ride The Lightning" and Iron Maiden's "Powerslave". A year of transformation you might say.

Ok, history lesson is over but how would Rush answer this on their eagerly awaited album. They produced something with a distinctly 80s sound but it is endearing and melodic without selling out against a progressive sound. The first track 'Distant early warning' signifies the new approach to the Rush sound. Lifeson's guitar is layered with effects, lots of delay and echo, and the synthesizers are predominant from Lee. His vocals are layered at times but never imposing from the music. Peart really tends to hold back, without notable breaks but his drumming is consistent and effective. The lyrics changed too. Nothing to do with Greek gods, trees or Snow Dogs, instead songs about survival, protagonists in danger, and machines or techno phobia. I love the chorus; "The world weighs on my shoulders, But what am I to do? You sometimes drive me crazy, But I worry about you, I know it makes no difference, To what you're going through, But I see the tip of the iceberg And I worry about you..." The best tracks on this are those with strong melodies and creative approaches to the music with powerful lyrics. There is no filler material I am delighted to report.

'Afterimage' has a strong beat with fast rhythms from the drums and loud guitar chords. Lee plays a mean synth on this and his vocals are storytelling at his best; "I feel the way you would" he explains and the uplifting style enters the conscious. Then Lee continues to give meaning behind the themes; "Tried to believe but you know it's no good, This is something that just can't be understood, I remember The shouts of joy skiing fast through the woods, I hear the echoes..." The next section is very haunting instrumentation, bizarre effects on the synth and glorious riffing from Lifeson. He later plays a lead break with a lot of slide work. The riff at 4:05 is fabulous. So far the album is an excellent display of heavy melodic rock.

'Red sector A' is the best track on the album, I always liked this when I first heard it on "Rush: Gold" compilation. The guitars are stunning, lots of echo and hammering down on the strings, but it is a beautiful sound Lifeson emits here. The lyrics and melody are sensational; "All that we can do is just survive, all that we can do is help ourselves to stay alive." The next verse gives me the chills especially when I hear the section where lee sings, "I clutch the wire fence until my fingers bleed, A wound that will not heal, A heart that cannot feel, Hoping that the horror will recede, Hoping that tomorrow we'll all be freed..." There is an enchanting instrumental passage with harmonics and virtuoso chord and fingering on the guitar. The live performances I have seen of this are even better, Lifeson effortlessly twangs out the melodies. The mid range vocals and medium tempo are endearing, and transfixing. I would easily rate this track among the top ten tracks for Rush in their huge repertoire.

Another highlight is 'The enemy within (Part I of Fear)' that has a fast tempo and strong melody. The chorus has some great lyrics; "I'm not giving in to security under pressure, I'm not missing out on the promise of adventure, I'm not giving up on implausible dreams, Experience to extremes, Experience to extremes..." Then the track has a slow crystalline guitar and synth motif sounding like tubular bells, creating an ethereal atmosphere. The time sig changes slightly on the bridge until it returns to the tempo again. Towards the end there is an off beat reggae feel and it fades. Great track to revel in and not one you will hear often in concert.

'The body electric' begins with pounding drums and a guitar lick and then the trademark twanging of Lifeson crashes down. The track is memorable for it's chorus; "1 0 0 1 0 0 1, SOS, 1 0 0 1 0 0 1, In distress..." It has a terrific lead break that soars and dives with massive bends and arpeggios. It took a while for this to grow on me but I now think of this as another highlight of the album. The lyrics are fun too telling a story of technology taking over, "Memory banks unloading, Bytes break into bits, Unit One's in trouble and it's scared out of its wits.... It replays each of the days, A hundred years of routines, Bows its head and prays, To the mother of all machines." Not a power ballad thankfully.

'Kid gloves' has an odd time sig and a killer riff that plays constantly and locks into the melody. A sleeper track that is not played live often but I can get into this tuneful track easily. The half time feel is great and there is a wonderful lead break, with delay and some very nice drumming from Peart. The bass keeps the rhythm and then it merges back to the main motif.

'Red lenses' begins with "I see red..." and then the guitars crank out the familiar effects pedal laden riff of previous tracks. Some of this sounds a bit like 80s Genesis, particularly the keyboard riff that clicks into gear after the first verse. The time sig changes a few times during the track. I like Peart's rototum playing on this that suits it perfectly. There is a nice interlude of drumming and keys with some eclectic guitar twangs. The synth solo is excellent on this. There are some good lyrical content; "And the mercury is rising, Barometer starts to fall, You know it gets to us all, The pain that is learning, And the rain that is burning, Feel red...." Once again this might be misconstrued as a filler but it really grows on you.

'Between the wheels' begins with staccato keyboard playing that create a tense atmosphere. The disjointed rhythm works well as Lee sings the estranged lyrics; "You know how that rabbit feels, Going under your speeding wheels, Bright images flashing by, Like windshields towards a fly, Frozen in the fatal climb, But the wheels of time Just pass you by, Wheels can take you around, Wheels can cut you down, We can go from boom to bust, From dreams to a bowl of dust, We can fall from rockets' red glare, Down to "Brother can you spare...", Another war Another wasteland And another lost generation." The track has a solid powerful attack of synths and guitar throughout but the real feature is the instrumental break that launches into a brilliant lead break. The guitar squeals and presents harmonious parts of the melody in a unique style. The staccato synth returns after the next chorus, and Lifeson plays new variations of the main motif, making his guitar scream and dive. A highlight of the album make no mistake.

So at the end of this exploration of 80s sounds, Rush measure s up and maintains a progressive feel while keeping true to the new sound of the 80s. The result is the best album of 1984 and what an album it is. After a few listens it grows on you like osmosis, you become accustomed to the clean guitar crashes, and the full on synthesizer treatment. An excellent addition to your prog collection, I am certain.

Report this review (#283938)
Posted Saturday, May 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Finally we reach my favorite Rush album. It is not as "proggy" (can we say that ?), as Hemispheres, which is a strong and straight five star album; so I rate it four and a half star. As a favorite one, I will set it to five, in the same way I did to Permanent Waves.

I think Rush reached their peak right here. There are no songs here that does not matches any interest of being radio-friend, except the closing Between the Wheels, which IMHO is one of most memorable Rush song. Almost all others are high level songs; exception made to Red Lenses ? a poor song ? and The Body Eletric ? a little weak but a different song.

Side one is fully strong. Distant Early Warning and Red Sector A pairs with Between The Wheels among my best preferred songs. In Afterimage we have a lost opportunity; if it had a longer instrumental section in its middle, it would reach perfection. It is a wrong strategy when producers arrest bands in too short tracks, losing the chance of performing greater progressive moments here. A final comment goes to Kid Gloves, a harder and very good song that along with The Body Eletric gives an alternative mood to the album.

So this is Grace Under Pressure. If it had only six songs in longer way, or if it was a released in the middle of the nineties when 40 minutes to an album was not a standard anymore and que bunch of good songs here could have more instrumental development (something very easy to be performed by Lee&Lifeson composing skills); it would reach solid five star. As I said, it is for and a half; and I will set to five because I really love this work.

After Grace Under Pressure, I don´t think Rush released a really fantastic album as those many that we use to love so much. Here and there some very good songs, but they would not be so respected if their job was only from Power Windows on?

Report this review (#296642)
Posted Sunday, August 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Grace Under Pressure" is the 1984 album that pushed Rush into their synth-rock age. It began with some synths on "Moving Pictures", grew with "Signals", and now the synth takes the forefront of the band, pushing guitars into the background. This was the final straw for most Rush fans, but Rush did hit some right notes here. This is my track-by-track review of "Grace Under Pressure":

0) Artwork (9/10) Rush's best artwork; it is deep and brooding and while I can't really make sense of it, it is a piece of art.

1) Distant Early Warning, 4:57 (9/10) The album starts with a bang with "Distant Early Warning". In my opinion, this is the 2nd best synth-based song after "Subdivisions" off of "Signals". The synth pounds a magnificent rhythm that the guitar assists and the drums help carry. Lee's vocals are superb.

2) Afterimage, 5:06 (6/10) The second track is a bit long, but the beginning and end are relatively exciting and fun. In the middle, though, is repetitive. Edit out the middle and you have another good song.

3) Red Sector 'A', 5:12 (3/10) A perfectly forgettable song. Nothing in this song stands out, and it is pretty boring throughout. The worst song in terms of guitar on this album, which sounds like a session player trying not to be noticed by the listener.

4) The Enemy Within, 4:37 (8/10) Awesome bass song! Geddy rules this song, with the combination of excellent bass and strong synths. An excellent intro carries a strong tempo into a very enjoyable song. Unfortunately, not too much in terms of guitars, which prevents this songs from being a classic.

5) The Body Electric, 5:02 (6/10) A good drum song, but other than that not much to remember. Fairly slow and not much to say in terms of musicianship.

6) Kid Gloves, 4:20 (7/10) Another fun song that is carried by excellent drumming, and, yes, guitars! At around 3:00, Alex finally shows up on this album. A song that really belongs on another album, as it doesn't sound like the synth-based music of this album.

7) Red Lenses, 4:44 (5/10) Filler, I think. But, actually, listenable filler. Its an interesting song with good bass, but there are too many odd stoppages in the song (weird keyboard-like music) to make it a good song.

8) Between The Wheels, 5:44 (4/10) More filler. Just a average song overall, average guitars, average drums, average bass and average vocals. But for Rush, average is below average.

Overall, 48/80= 6/10=3/5.

Highlights: Disant Early Warning, The Enemy Within, Kid Gloves Lowlights: Red Sector 'A', Red Lenses, Between the Wheels

A decent album, but Rush can do so much better.

Report this review (#298177)
Posted Thursday, September 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars The natural successor to the excellent Signals album, and with a new producer in tow, the feel of its predecessor is continued, albeit with a far darker and almost at times apocalyptic tone. The album is, by far, the most political they had written and recorded, and is, largely, none the worse for that.

There are some genuine Rush classics on this album. The opener, Distant Early Warning, positively rips its way into your consciousness. The following track, Afterimage, manages the fusion of powerful synth lead with a resurgent Lifeson lead guitar, and this is followed up beautifully and powerfully with the timeless Red Sector A. Lifeson sets the tone from the outset with one of his best signatures in the band's long and glorious history, and it is a signature that more than amply backs up the doom laden, painful concentration camp inspired lyrics sung effectively by Lee, heavy synths in tow. Lyrically and musically, one of the finest tracks the band ever recorded.

The Body Electric is a great singalong piece with its 1001001 chorus, and more rather bleak lyrics dealing with technology taking over our lives and society. The opening drum roll is classic Peart, and, lyrically, it is as interesting as anything he produced during the bands "genuine" sci fi phase, and fans of that period would probably berate me for stating that, musically, this track has worn a lot better in hindsight over the years.

The closer, and, incidentally, the longest track on the album at 5:44, Between The Wheels, is a fine way to end the album and, more than anything, realises in glorious sound just how much Alex Lifeson had reconciled himself to the direction the band were taking. His solo is awesome, and the track's strength lies in its simplicity.

Not all of it, though, could be described as classic. The final part of Fear (by this I mean in recording sequence, as it is actually part one lyrically), The Enemy Within, is an experimental track with an almost reggae feel to it in parts, and it does not really work, as well performed as it is. Kid Gloves sounds as if it was thrown onto the album as an afterthought, is messy, and utterly out of phase with all else present. Very much a throwaway track. Even that, though, shines in comparison to Red Lenses, which is such a hotchpotch that it is virtually impossible to describe. The nearest I could state is that it sounds as if all three band members had an individual jam, and the results were thrown together onto the mixing desk after a particularly drunken session.

Rush do not make bad albums. This, to me, though, is probably the weakest of the sequence which had its roots in Permanent Waves, and, as such, deserves a solid three stars. A good album, but one that hinted at the need for a further reinvention in the future.

Report this review (#386308)
Posted Tuesday, January 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars With on of Rush's most bleak sounding records, no wonder this album gets such mixed reviews. I find the album increasingly successful over the years, as the band had hit a peak with their New Wave influences, albeit with modern (at the time) Progressive Rock and Art Rock infleunces. The band had put together it's most intense work of the 1980s.

1.Distant Early Warning - Easily a favourite of mine off of this album. The song has a sound effected delay intro, where the band leads off into an almost apocolyptic style of playing. The song isn't particularly played with aggressive motifs, yet the subject matter and the almost dull sound of the band work well together to make a synth drenched classic. Geddy Lee takes command on his new steinberger bass guitar, as the new shape of the bass allows him to move quicker with his large array of keyboards, while losing a bit of tone. Alex Lifeson seems to be a more background player on this song (as with most of the bands 1980s output), yet he adds a sharp undertone with his chorus infected sound. Neil Peart, as always, seems to be the most consistent of the bunch, even with flourishings of electronic drums. The forces of Lee, Lifeson and Peart come together to create this excellent track. (9.5/10)

2.Afterimage - After such an intense opening track, this song is surely a letdown. It's not as bleak as the above mentioned track, and dosen't seem to work as well instrumental. Lyrical subject is a bit underworked about the loss of a good friend and structurally flawed in both lyrics and music substance. Lifeson hard-edge guitar work is only made sloppier by the odd synth spurts from Lee, who actually turns in an excellent vocal performance. Peart seems to be playing his top game on this track, showing a bit of emotion by the awkward playing of the other two band members. A total disaster, to say the least. (5/10)

3.Red Sector A - The album seems to get back on track with this song. An almost droning effect from the band, Lee puts his newly obtained synths and keyboards to good work, while having an excellent vocal melody over the steady and pulsating beats. The sound of this song is huge, with large guitar shouts and heavy drumming from Lifeson and Peart, respectivly, adding to the whole synth and grey soundscape. The song, if I heard correctly, is about the holocaust and surviving everything about it, as Lee's parents were holocaust survivers. Thank god those Germans shaped up in the late 1960s and early 1970s with their great Krautrock! Back to the point...excellent and essential listening. (10/10)

4.The Enemy Within (Part 1 of 'Fear') - The most enjoyable of all the Fear songs, easily. Though most of the Fear trilogy is very New Wave influenced, it's got a huge dark overtone that makes the song at least interesting. I used to not like the song as I thought it sounded alot like the rest of the album, but it has grown on me into an above average cut from the album. Liquid synths over melodic guitar playing and tone-filled bass playing set the stage for Peart to keep his drumset occupied with excellent bearts. Lyrics aren't as thought out as the previous tracks, but the song, musically at least, works. (8.5/10)

5.The Body Electric - Possibly the happiest track on the album. Still New Wave infleunced, the band starts to get more energetic on this track. The song alternates between happy verses and strong, techonology infleunced choruses. Lyrics are almost cosmic and futuristic, almost something I would have expected Hawkwind to write in the mid-1970s. The huge "1001001, S.O.S." is extremely catchy and is some of the best use of hooks the band have written. A great track. (9/10)

6.Kid Gloves - Maybe the oddest out of the bunch. The song is really stale, with an optomistic guitar sound and riff, yet almost sarcastic with the dark lyrics. It dosen't really work, but you can tell that the band were getting some more emotional response into this song. It's a good song, it just dosen't seem to work in an odd way. (8/10)

7.Red Lenses - I have heard so many bad things about this track, so many negative commments about this one track. I really can't understand why. It's a very good song (even if it's definatly not a top cut from the album), with drenched synths flowing heavily over the sharp sounds of Lifesons razor-edge guitar and the soaring rhythm section of Lee and Peart. Talking about Lee, his bassline during this song is some of his best. He adds a totally grooving line that makes the song all the more intense. An extremely underrated track. (8.5/10)

8.Between the Wheels - The best song on the whole album. The band really save the best for last, as the lryical content and the musical context come together to create something almost majestic and near perfect. The synth droning from Lee is well used as the main riff, as it almost borders on total cheese, yet still seems realistic with the drop D guitar from Lifeson and the intense drumming of Peart. Lee sings with such intensity on this song, as his lungs must have been out after this track. It's a really underrated classic. (10/10)

Though the band have seen better days, the album is still excellent. The band would still produce great albums (except for a few black sheeps) and make awesome music. The album gets a 4 stars for a bit of inconsistency, but amazing music on this album. You really should get this album in your collection, as it has some amazing songs.

Report this review (#393473)
Posted Thursday, February 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars As I said before in my review for PERMANENT WAVES, this is right up there with that album and COUNTERPARTS, vying for my favorite RUSH album. I see this as the perfect of influences they brought in for their '80s sound. However, it also unfortunately continues the trend of Rush albums starting in SIGNALS of having a throwaway track.

"Distant Early Warning" feels like a song lifted from the MOVING PICTURES writing sessions updated with sparkling synths, darker lyrics, and much stronger vocals. On the vocals, I'd like to point out that it is this album that GEDDY LEE finally abandons his high pitched wails as his primary means of vocalization, instead settling into his middle range. This is part of what makes the album so great to me; his voice sounds pained and yearning and profound, like great U2 records. He really lets out the great voice he had inside him all along.

"Afterimage" became a profound song for me after a close friend killed himself. It continues the apocalyptic tone with ruminations on death and loss and features, once more, those New Wave and reggae elements that had let in, only merged much more closely with a prog rock kind of intensity. Nevermind people who say this isn't progressive; this is closer to MARILLION at their fiercest than THE POLICE at their poppiest (though I would argue that, at times, STEWART COPELAND's prog background with CURVED AIR gave some darkness and proggy flourishes to some Police record, particularly REGGATTA DE BLANC, but that's for another time). The lines "I feel your presence. / I remember" are one of the most powerful parts of any Rush song I've ever heard. The way they are sung and the music they are paired with feels precisely, to me, what it is like to lose someone you love.

"Red Sector A" is a song about the Holocaust and was one of the first Rush songs I ever got into. I made a mix CD as a kid featuring a bunch of prog that I would listen to while I mowed the lawn and when it got to this track, I'd normally leave it on repeat because of the primal energy of this song. It turns dance music into a kind of deathly, funereal dirge. It feels like TALKING HEADS circa-REMAIN IN LIGHT painted pitch black and sonically, I hear bits from "Another Brick int he Wall, Pt. 2" in its synthesized bassline.

The next two songs, "The Enemy Within" and "The Body Electric" are a bit lighter in tone, but are still incredibly bleak. "Kid Gloves" continues this assault with a rumination on how the kind will get crushed underfoot by the wicked, paired with the best guitar work of the album. "red lenses", properly stylized in all-lowercase, is the throwaway track I referred to before, being a mash-up of various sounds it seems they found while digging through the built in samples of their new electronic drums. I skip it. "Between the Wheels" is another intense, fiery song of apocalypse, death, and defeat paired with what feels like a song that could have fit perfectly on the first half of Moving Pictures, just like "Distant Early Warning". It closes out the album in a really bleak place, which I find adds great color to this album. Never before had they been so intensely focused on the darkness of the world around us, and when they finally turned to it for a full album, they really brought it to bear quite heavily. It makes this album feel somewhat unique in their canon; though they would touch on these themes again, they would never be quite this potent, I feel.

A note on the synthesized and electronic sound of this album: While some people are turned off because of how it took away the warmth of their organic instruments, I find it fitting that they took the music and even genres used to make stereotypical upbeat, cold, inhuman '80s pop and turned it against itself, fashioning these sounds and these genres into a big, bleak, yet still cold and inhuman slice of prog rock, with enough pop rock influences to infiltrate the radio. It offers an interesting commentary on these sounds and the vapidity of the Reagan/Thatcher era.

A perfect album, not just of the genre but in general. Five stars.

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Posted Monday, February 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album has always disappointed me, though my disdain for it now is much less than when I first listened to it oh so many years ago. The album more or less sounds like what I'd expect from a sequel to Signals, but I find myself getting irritated by the sound and the songwriting much more here than I ever did there. This isn't anywhere near a bad album, and some of the songs really grew on me over the years, but there's no question to me that it's a major step back for the band.

The first few times I listened to the album, I made the mistake of thinking the problem was that the synths had become too prominent, and that Lifeson was excessively shoved into the background. I was full of crap for thinking this; there's clearly a lot more guitar work on this album than on Signals, and I don't think there are many more synths on here than there. The big problem with the synths, I think, isn't that they're used too often, but rather that when they are used, they almost never work. The keyboards on Signals, to my ears, never once hurt the sound; on Grace, they sound painfully awkward almost every time they're used. They're almost always set on BIG DRAMATIC mode, but they never really enhance the songs, and at worst they really harm them. I have never liked the keyboard work on "Afterimage" or especially "Between the Wheels," and even in a song like "Distant Early Warning" I don't really see their point. Come to think of it, I'd be really interested in hearing a mix of the album that stripped out all of the keyboards.

Then again, it might not be that interesting even then. The band is as virtuostic as ever, and as I said there's a marked increase in Lifeson's presence (with some great parts from him), but there's an excessively sterile feel to all of the instrumental work here that really bugs me. Lifeson adopts a Synchronicity-style sound in a few of the tracks, and while that sound worked with the kind of tweaked pop songs The Police wrote for that album, I don't think it works as well here. Defenders of the album often point out that the lyrics are very bleak and depressing on the album, and that because of this it makes sense for the music to match it in bleak soullessness (and it certainly does). Well, I hate to be a presumptuous ass (more so than usual, anyway), but if these lyrics were going to require Rush to make its music sound this discomforting, maybe Geddy and Alex should have made Neil write some new lyrics.

Despite these problems, and despite the fact that I think over half of the songs on here are overlong by at least a minute, I still think there's a lot of strong material on here. Actually, come to think of it, the whole first side is good. The opener, "Distant Early Warning," is a bonafide classic, with decent lyrics about nuclear war, a nice vocal melody with a legitimate feel of desperation, and a lot of memorable guitar work. "Afterimage," then, is a song I used to completely dismiss because of the awkward keyboards, but I've come to realize that they're a relatively minor part of the song, so I should focus on the other aspects, which are quite good. The lyrics are a decent look at the emotions that surround losing somebody close to you in an accident, there's a nice (albeit somewhat overlong) instrumental stretch in the middle, and a great frequent guitar line that sounds like Steve Hackett on a very good day. "Red Sector A," an ode to holocaust survivors, is an up-tempo, almost dancable pop song, with decent interplay between the simple synths and the rest of the band in the main parts of the song and a great vocal melody to go with a great vibe of (again) desperation. The side closer, "The Enemy Within," is somewhat weaker, as the funky ska-portion feels awkward next to the heavenly synth portion, but it still kinda works, and I think the hooks are ok.

Unfortunately, my attitude towards the second half of the album veers between boredom and revulsion. "The Body Electric" has one of the dumbest vocal hooks I've ever heard, and I don't hear anything especially interesting in the instrumental work to make me want to hear it again. "Kid Gloves" is a mediocre pop song that I find neither catchy nor rousing, and it passes me by every time.

The last two tracks, then, really suck. "Red Lenses" is a play on all of the different ways that "red" can be construed, and a really dippy one at that; the production also just sucks the life out of this one completely, and the melody doesn't impress me at all. And finally, "Between the Wheels" is just a fall-on-your-face disastrous combination of bad synthesizers and ugly, UGLY instrumental passages, with a feeling of bombast that feels completely unjustified to me and only bits of enjoyable melody to speak of (I admit to somewhat liking the parts where it goes into "generic uplifting 80's Rush" mode). In short, there's half of a good album here (despite that half being plagued by the same problems as the other half), and half an album that shows a level of writing incompetence not seen since A Farewell to Kings. It's worth hearing for the best stuff, but I just don't get the appeal of the rest.

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Posted Thursday, April 7, 2011 | Review Permalink

Unlike so many other great prog bands from the 70s like YES or GENESIS, RUSH managed to reinvent themselves while still upholding the quality in their music. Their sound gradually changed from the hard rock-fused prog rock on most of their late 70s/early 80s work to a more atmospheric progressive "pop-rock" roughly beginning on SIGNALS from 1982. On GRACE UNDER PRESSURE this new era reached the highpoint. There is not a single sub-par song on this album, something that is very rare for RUSH, even during their hay days. The highlights consists of the introducing three tracks DISTANT EARLY WARNING, AFTERIMAGE and RED SECTOR A. A layer of lush keyboards, Lifesons new amazing atmospheric guitar sound and Lees emotional and sometimes foreboding vocals make these three songs in particular extremely enjoyable. The rest of the songs are also very good and because of the unique atmosphere you sometimes you get the feeling you are listening to the soundtrack to a post- apocalyptic story. This is definitely one of the best RUSH records out there, even though it differs a lot in style to the classic records such as A FAREWELL TO KINGS and HEMISPHERES.

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Posted Tuesday, April 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a favorite of mine. Ok, there's a wealth of excellent songs on it like Red Sector A or Distant Early Warning but you can find them on every best of; it's the great, almost lost, songs such as Between The Wheels (thankfully taken from the vault and performed live in the recent tours) or The Enemy Within that are dearest to me... and what to say about the excellent Afterimage? A song still missing from their live set even if I'm sure it's a very important song for Neil Peart as you can see for yourself opening the Different Stages foldout cd. Every Rush fan should have one copy!
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Posted Wednesday, April 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I know some people do not appreciate this synth-heavy and sometimes very 80's sounding album, but I have always enjoyed listening to it. I especially like "Distant Early Warning", "Red Sector A", and "The Body Electric". Those are, by far, the stongest songs, and most of the rest is not that great but it is not bad either. Being a 1984 release, which was not exactly a watershed year in the history of progressive music, this manages to pull itself to an above average album. I do like it more than some of their later works such as ROLL THE BONES. GRACE UNDER PRESSURE is, without a doubt, 80's synth/prog/pop, but it is still pretty good. 3 stars, maybe even 3 1/2.
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Posted Tuesday, May 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is their full on 80s album here but there isn't much keyboard action it is a very guitar- oriented album and the album has a very distinct sound. Now I'm one of the few people who would call this album a concept album because all but 3 of the songs discuss the Cold War and the rising fear (again) during the time. Now this album is my 2nd favorite of Rush's but I'll try to remain objective. Distant Early Warning is a great opener that is very upbeat and electronic in its sound but it works in its favor. Afterimage is a sad song about the death of an individual (Neil wrote for a close friend of his having a life-ending ski accident) it is mournful but musically is very good as well. With Red Sector A, Rush musically took a whole different route with Neil going at it on an Electronic Drum Kit and Geddy not touching his bass throughout the song. The lyric, which discuss's the Holocaust and people living in Concentration Camps at the time, is very powerful and emotional and leaves a big impression on you when the song is done. With The Body Electric and Kid Gloves they were honestly kinda plain songs but i do remember the latter for a great guitar solo from Alex that persists to this very day. Red Lenses, arguably my favorite track off the album, is also about the Cold War and how people in the Communist world only see red (interesting concept) has great drum parts and is a very funky song that i can groove to once in a while. Lastly, Between the Wheels is a great song that still holds up to this day. To me, a fantastic album that as a whole is fantastic but the individual songs slump once or twice. 5 stars. Highlights: Distant Early Warning, Red Sector A, The Enemy Within, Red Lenses and Between the Wheels.
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Posted Saturday, June 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars "The mother of all machines!"

This was the first Rush album since their debut not to be produced by long time collaborator Terry Brown. The style is even more dominated by synthesizers than it's predecessor, and the introduction of Peart's electronic drum kit leaves a strange ska/industrial fusion underlying the release.

The Good: The signature keyboard opening of Distant Early Warning is almost as classic as Tom Sawyer's. The other two standout tracks are The Body Electric and the darker, Red Sector A which references the experiences of one of Lee's grandparents in WWII.

The Bad: The rest of the tracks, whilst enjoyable, are far from essential listening and are typical of the quality which would become associated with Rush in the following years. I hesitate to use the world "filler" because they would still wipe the floor with most other hard rock tracks of the 80s, they just lack the consistency and ingenuity which made Rush one of my favourite bands.

The Verdict: Not as good as what came before it, but still better than what was yet to come.

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Posted Sunday, August 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars What new and interesting can I write about songs and an album which has been an important part of me since the early 1990s ? Not much, really. 100 words, it is then.

Grace Under Pressure is from their middle period where the synths was taking over a lot. But there is still a lot of guitars here too. The guitars was to a great effect used as distorted sound collages on some pretty dark songs about the end of the world and our planet.

The songs are mostly very good. Grace Under Pressure is by no means a great Rush album. I feel Rush was a bit lost on this album and more running on auto-pilot. Some reggae like tunes does go down well with me. But this is still a good Rush album, but not the most played album in my household.

3 stars

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Posted Tuesday, September 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Switching producers from Terry Brown to Peter Henderson finds the band bringing forth their synthesiser-led sound of the era with a little more clarity than on the rather transitional Signals, and with great compositions such as Red Sector A, Distant Early Warning, or... come to think of it, pretty much any song on the album there's a lot to love on here. There's points where the band actually seem to step back a little from the synth-dominated approach of this and the last album to get back to the prog metal they'd mainly left behind - most notably on the soaring, uplifting final track Between the Wheels. I wouldn't quite put the album on the same pedestal as Farewell to Kings or Moving Pictures, but I do think it is a mild improvement on its predecessor, and probably the best album of this phase of their career (running from Signals to Hold Your Fire).
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Posted Tuesday, November 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
1 stars There are no really awful Rush albums; and I would sooner listen to this one than any others by many different bands. But... This has to be Rush's bête noire. If we were in any doubt whether Rush were headed in a different direction from the hard, prog rock sound of the late 70s, GUP puts this doubt to bed: Yes, they were. Oh boy, were they ever. Ok, cards on the table; personally, I'm a sentimentalist and it's the 'old' Rush of the late 70s I really love, with Caress Of Steel through Hemispheres being my no-holds-barred, all-time favorites. I'm not averse to a new direction altogether, and I like some of the later albums, but this one stinks. It reeks of synth pop and bad 1980s hair-dos. It's the pinnacle of their 80s phase, and that's where this museum piece should remain: in the 80s. One star.
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Posted Tuesday, December 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars In 1984, Rush had moved into a sound that they would largely stick with for a while, with slight additions and modulations with each successive album. This sound consists of Geddy Lee's already persuasively punctuating basslines along with the lower range he'd been singing in to very expressively bring the necessary emotional intensity to Neil Peart's now fully globally concerned lyrics in an album that certainly has a purpose, all set to a backdrop of urgent, metallic guitars from Alex Lifeson, and layers of sparkling, frenetic keys and both acoustic and electric drums. These lyrics are the strongest on "The Enemy Within", the last (or first, if you listen to them in the order specified as opposed to chronological release) part of the "Fear" trilogy. The rest of that song's side is a stellar accomplishment, starting with "Distant Early Warning", a deeply concerned letter to troubled nations overseas (it seems to be a concept album about nuclear war), with a classic 7/4 intro and a wondefully emoted melody in the chorus. "Afterimage" keeps the pace going with a very strong groove, and sets up the moment when "Red Sector A" begins perfectly, by which point the listener is (hopefully) fully transported into the intense emotional world they've created with this album. "Red Sector A" is one of their most moving songs from this period (maybe from any period, actually) with a cold yet living atmoshpere over a pulsing beat. When Geddy sings "for my brother and my father it's too late/but I must help my mother stand up straight", the chills are unavoidable. The whole album actaully has a very dark vibe, with all but two songs being in a minor key, and even those two songs have a very serious subject matter. I think the music on Side Two is noticably less mindblowingly awesome than the first side, but only slightly noticably - it's still very good. (Any fan of this album should really hear "Between the Wheels" live, as a side note.) And all of the lyrics are great. 4.5 stars.
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Posted Friday, February 3, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Grace Under Pressure continues the synth heavy sound explored on the previous album Signals. Though the album sees Lifeson's guitar making a bit more of an impact, and the synth playing is not as bombastic. Compositionally, this is as strong, if not stronger than their previous as well. Perhaps what I like most about this album is that they manage to retain their heaviness but still sound musically relevant.

The album opens with the great 'Distant Early Warning' which is a great driving song with a great mix of guitar and keyboard. The song alternates between some more mellow parts with Geddy's vocals and some bombastic keyboard parts.

'Afterimage' is another up-tempo rocker that lets up slightly halfway through for a beautiful extended instrumental section.

'Red Sector A' isn't terribly interesting, but does features some amazing hi-hat work from Peart, and Geddy's synth and Alex's guitar seem to mesh well.

'The Enemy Within' is probably the highlight of the album, with a sound that is familiar to something that would come off Moving Pictures (specifically 'Vital Signs.') The bass is especially chunky and Lifeson's guitar gives off a Reggae feel in parts.

'The Body Electric' isn't extremely interesting, but it is exactly what I'd expect from Rush at this point, which is not a bad thing.

'Kid Gloves' is a fun song based on a killer riff in 10/8. Lifeson has a crazy solo midway through to mix things up a bit.

The final two songs aren't terribly interesting, but are still great Rush tunes. 'Red Lenses' has some great melodies and sounds like something they could come off their next effort. 'Between the Wheels' has a great rhythm section and is full of Lifeson's wailing guitar to provide a dramatic closure.

Overall, Grace Under Pressure is a solid Rush album that shows they can still write great music in a rather sonically depressing period. I can easily affirm that this is their best effort since Moving Pictures, and is their last great album.


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Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars This particular and very humble installment of my "better late than never" investigation of the prog juggernaut Rush finds me rummaging around in their contributions to the cause that came to light during progressive rock's dark ages otherwise known as the 80s. After Geddy, Alex and Neil had doggedly established a firm, solid rock foundation during the 70s that resulted in a glorious estate highlighted by the mass-appealing albums "Permanent Waves" in '80 and "Moving Pictures" the following year this trio took a more relaxed but still intriguing approach to '82's "Signals." That LP indicated they were pleased with their success but that they weren't going to be satisfied being predictable. Yet that record didn't turn out to be what they'd hoped it'd be so they bid a tearful farewell to their long-time producer Terry Brown and hired Steve Lillywhite to helm the sessions for the next project. We'll never know what that collaboration might've reaped because fickle Steve stood them up at the last minute and left the northern boys without a date to the prom. This forced them to oversee the development of their new disc themselves (with some assistance from Peter Henderson). The strain this situation put upon the shoulders of the members of Rush helped to give birth to the album's fitting title, "Grace Under Pressure," but methinks that this sink-or-swim experience only made them stronger and more self-reliant. Whatever the reason may be, the record has a sense of urgency that I felt was missing on "Signals."

By 1984 the vicious MTV virus had thoroughly infected the music world from top to bottom and even the non-compliant rebels in Rush were not immune. In their favor, however, I have to commend them for not shamelessly selling out without reservation (as many did) to the phenomenon's dumbing-down tendencies but, rather, selectively allowing only certain aspects of its pockmarked visage to infiltrate their style. By that I mean that innovative developments in guitar effects, electronic drum machinations and synthesizer technology were intuitively incorporated into their sound along with certain reggae, ska and world beat characteristics. They wisely bent but didn't break in the trendy breezes, putting their unique spin on current motifs rather than being spun by them. The more I come to understand this stubbornly independent trio, the more I respect their unwavering loyalty to doing things their way, no matter the fallout that may or may not ensue. That takes courage.

The album opens with "Distant Early Warning" and I'm immediately struck by Alex Lifeson's big, fat guitar sound and a forceful vibe that tells me they'd been listening to The Police. (Let me inject at this juncture that despite the 80s being largely musically vapid and demeaning, there were a handful of artists and groups that consistently used their imaginations and that talented blonde-coiffed threesome was one of the select few so I don't have a problem with Rush borrowing ideas from Sting, Stewart and Andy in the least.) Once again, as I was on "Signals," I'm pleased that Geddy Lee's singing is not as thin and brittle as it was on earlier LPs. I also can't help but notice that Neil Peart's drumming is stirringly intense. (Maybe he was still pissed over Mr. Lillywhite's no-show and took it out on his tubs.) "Afterimage" is next, wherein Alex's towering power chords erect an expansive panoply overhead, demonstrating that they were intent on rejecting the minimalist tactics that were still very much in vogue at the time. "Red Sector A" possesses a fine blend of synthesizers and guitar effects that culminate in a broadening of the song's sturdy base without overwhelming the essential ambience of the song. This tune is a great example of how Rush wasn't afraid to challenge themselves while allowing their art to evolve naturally.

They adopt a heavier mien for "The Enemy Within," resurrecting the edginess that personified their most popular records in the 70s. Neil's aggressive playing drives this number particularly hard. Speaking of Mr. Peart, the rocky groove he rattles the walls with on the intro to "The Body Electric" is electrifying. When Lifeson and Lee jump in the song takes off like a Navy F-14 fighter jet and I'm encouraged to hear that Alex hasn't forsaken his ability to energize a tune via a hot, stinging guitar solo. "Kid Gloves" sports a motivating 5/4 time signature that invariably grabs any dedicated progger's attention while they cleverly switch to a 4/4 pattern to keep it palatable to the commoner's ears. I'm still in awe of the relentless power they pump into every cut as well as their awareness of how details can make a difference, exemplified by this tune's dynamic ending. Neil's percussive instruments, gadgets and toys make "Red Lenses" more eclectic than the other tracks and I admire their willingness to leave some open spaces in the arrangement when others may have insisted on filling them up unnecessarily. Plus, Geddy's funky bass line is worth your time to notice. The closer, "Between the Wheels," is the apex of the album. Jazzy chordings from Lifeson lend an excellent tension to the atmosphere (A trick that Genesis pulled out of their collective hat often in their heyday) while Peart's vigorous, almost menacing drive captivates the senses. Kudos to Alex for his fiery, fierce guitar work throughout the song.

The most obvious change from "Signals" to this one is found in Lifeson's replanting of his colorful flag into the band's terra firma. I still like a lot about his tactful contributions to the previous record but I'm also happy that he didn't remain in the background for long. Neil's explorations into electronic drum inventions and Lee's continued interest in bringing synthesizers into their sphere of creativity also make "Grace Under Pressure" an enjoyable, often invigorating listen. To those who disparage their excursions into these New Wave-tinted territories I urge you to take into consideration the sorry state of popular music they were trying to survive and get through in the mid 80s. They deserve some props for sticking to their guns. The fact that this album cracked the Top 10 on the LP charts in an age when the world at large thought Michael Jackson and Madonna hung the moon should tell you volumes about its quality. (Oh, and dig the fantastic cover art. It's one of their best.) 3.8 stars.

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Posted Sunday, October 14, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3/5 Grace Under Pressure is Rush's 10th album, and features the radio-friendly synthesized sound that the band employed during the 80s. Rush don't really exhibit their full talent and prowess on this particular album (mainly because the 5 minute songs don't leave much room for instrumental 'noodling'). They do show, however, that they're able to write decent music, but if a person had only this Rush album to judge upon, they probably wouldn't be too impressed by the band. The lyrics on this album are alright, nothing special, but nothing too dreadful. This is an album which has some great songs, and some songs that really don't deserve to even be released. If I was to review this album in one sentence, I would simply say: "The first 4 tracks are great, the last 4 are bad". Elaborating on that a bit further, the first four tracks which take up all of side one have memorable hooks and riffs, and leave a good impression. The four tracks that take up side two are not very good, because they're boring and just overall uninteresting. Between The Wheels, the last song on the album, is the best on side two, but still isn't as good as anything on side one. Overall, this album is one that hardcore Rush fans should definitely own, but if you're just a casual listener, perhaps give this album a miss or just buy the first four tracks on their own.
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Posted Saturday, February 2, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Yes 5 big, fat stars!!! Sure this album has a lot of the much maligned synthesizers that polarized many Rush fans. Sure this is the album that dropped them out of mainstream rock. That was a good thing since hair metal was coming into prominence in 1984 and prog was as dead as dead gets as far as the mainstream was concerned. This album, being as dark and anti-commercial as it is and coming out during the time when Madonna and Michael Jackson ruled the airwaves, still cracked the top ten and went platinum. Based solely on the fact that it is a great album. People always say this is a commercial album using glossy synths. Make no mistake, this is a dark album reflecting on some bad times going on in the world and to the band themselves. But these are usually key ingredients to a great album and Grace Under Pressure is a great album. Nothing commercial about this record. It goes straight for the gut and never lets up. Neil Peart's lyrics tackle the issues of the cold war, environmental issues, death, decay and imprisonment with such fervor it perfectly embodied the zeitgeist of 1984. In fact that was supposed to be the name of the album until some other band who wouldn't know an Orweillian allegory if it jumped out of a Jack Daniels bottle used it. Alex Lifeson steps up a little more to the forefront on this album more than its predecessor, Signals. He sounds like a completely different guitarist than on previous albums. Amazing solos and rhythms that completely defy clichés. Always going through the back door and ripping original licks all over the place. The bass and drums are typically spectacular but its the original nature and the passion of the songs that carry this record. They were influenced by some New Wave, reggae and ska rhythms but were honed into a style all of their own. The first side, or the first 4 songs to the younger folks, has no weaknesses. From the power and fury of Distant Early Warning. The sad and raging reflections of a death of a close friend on Afterimage. The fear and horror of a prison camp depicted on Red Sector A to the probing of inner fears on The Enemy Within. The second side drops off a little but not nearly enough to pull this album down especially with the last song, the haunting "Between The Wheels." I bought this album on vinyl when it came out and despite thousands of spins, I still regularly go back to it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!
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Posted Monday, February 4, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars I love this album - it, to me, has some of the most powerful Rush tracks on it. "Red Alert" is brilliant and is one of my all time Rush favorites. "Afterimage" is even stronger and "dang it all" they're followed by "Red Sector A", possibly my favorite Rush track, I adore it - another top tennish track of all time for me. I can't describe the emotions that "Red Sector A" ignites in my head and I don't know where that vectors from - quite possibly due to my military time back when I was around 20 years of age - I identify internally with the track. "The Enemy Within" is another good reggae-ish track which isn't bad. "The Body Electric" is a good track. "Kid Gloves" is very good. "Red Lenses" is a fun track which I enjoy. Lastly "Between the Wheels" is a very good album closer. No throw away tracks here, I really enjoy this album and in parts I love it. It's easy for me to award this album the full five stars.
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Posted Saturday, April 6, 2013 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars RUSH took a couple years off after "Signals" to release their 10th studio album GRACE UNDER PRESSURE which takes their progressive synth pop style and channels it into a slightly stronger album with some excellent songs that pack a little more guitar punch than the last album despite having no solos. Perhaps they were influenced a bit by the jangle pop of The Smiths, R.E.M or other similar bands of the day. This is a much darker album with lyrics addressing worldly issues focusing on the pressure human beings face in the modern world which gives reference to environmental problems, nuclear annihilation and other less-than-uplifting themes such as holocaust survival.

This is actually one of the 80s RUSH albums I have listened to the most. I have always loved the songs on this album. "Distant Early Warning" and "Red Sector A" are two of my favorite RUSH songs and I find the entire album to be a very competent and a beautiful listening experience. The conceptual theme is well represented and the band really hones this particular sound and masters it in a way that makes it hard to believe that they were any else but a mere few albums prior. I'm sorry to see that this album generally doesn't get as much love as their earlier works and granted this is substandard to that era, but a substandard album of this caliber is much more than lesser bands could ever hope to achieve.

Report this review (#1187915)
Posted Saturday, June 7, 2014 | Review Permalink
1 stars A synth-washed nightmare, this is not the Rush I grew up with and loved. The music is light and tame, and overridden with synth, the guitar and drums take a step back and the bass is near gone. The is an 80's pop album, more than it is classic Rush, which is fine, I understand that this is an album of the times, but the times were a dark time for prog and even the prog that did exist were largely synth-overloaded, pop-imitating or both (as is the case with this album).

Perhaps I'm not being fair with this coming criticism but I've always felt that the weakest aspect of Rush was without any doubt Geddy Lee's vocals, he worked in the Power-Trio bombastic music of the past but he is NOT a pop singer (certainly not a good one).

I wouldn't recommend this album to anybody, if you are a fan of 80's style Rush then pick up Signals and Counterparts and ignore the rest (I would even recommend Power Windows over this calculatedly safe and banal album).

Only for Rush collectors or fans of 80's Pop, neither of which I am

Report this review (#1213488)
Posted Monday, July 14, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Right from the beginning of my album-purchasing days, I became familiar with Rush. "Tom Sawyer" was on my first ever cassette purchase, a compilation of hits from 1982. Geddy Lee appeared as a guest on my second cassette, Bob and Doug MacKenzie's "Great White North" album, a comedy album that included a song "Take Off (to the Great White North)" with Geddy singing the chorus. So I knew about Rush. However, once I started watching late night music video programs, the Rush I heard was "Grace Under Pressure" and "Power Windows". As a young lad who was into anything heavy metal, these albums did not impress.

It wasn't until the fall of 2010 when I was checking out Rush on Wikipedia, just out of curiosity, that I learned what an incredible career these three fellow Canadians had achieved. Always proud to support domestic talent, I braced myself and delved into the world of Rush, knowing that it would mean acquiring those eighties albums that had failed to stoke my interest back then.

"Grace Under Pressure" came in my first purchase of six albums (I actually already owned five Rush albums; I was just not a big fan) and hearing "Distant Early Warning" and "Red Sector A" brought back memories of those eighties videos. Surprisingly though, I found myself enjoying the music. Perhaps 26 intervening years of musical exploration and personal maturation along with a desire to welcome the music of Rush whole- heartedly into my life made it very easy to accept what had previously been unacceptable.

This is the first Rush album to have been recorded without long-time producer, Terry Brown. From "Permanent Waves" through to "Grace Under Pressure" the band was experimenting with shorter songs that packed a progressive approach into a more compact and traditional rock song format. In spite of this, you can still expect to find a few of the Rush trademarks including Geddy Lee's active bass and unique vocals, Neil Peart's crafty drumming and insightful lyrics, and at least a couple of signature guitar solos by Alex Lifeson. However, as with the previous album "Signals", the guitar sound has changed from the heavier rock sound of the band's earlier albums and become a tinny, New Wave pop slashing of chords with lots of echo and reverb. Also gone were the heavy riffs, replaced largely by these "schwaaang"-sounding chords. And of course there is the heavy use of synthesizers and electronic drums. It's funny how an album that sounds very seventies receives a compliment while an album that sounds very eighties receives scorn or derision, but I personally find this eighties style to be very treble focused and lacking in the bass department. The sound is not as balanced as seventies albums nor as rich as more modern albums. This I also find on Saga's album "Heads or Tails". I like the music of both "Grace" and "Heads" but the bottom end of the sound spectrum is missing.

"Grace Under Pressure" includes eight songs, though there are no longer any Rush "epics" to wriggle with excitement about; the songs range from 4:21 to 5:45, a fairly standard range for more intelligent pop rock. There does indeed seem to be a lyrical theme of "Grace Under Pressure" throughout the album. The Cold War theme surfaces in "Distant Early Warning" and "Red Lenses"; "Red Sector A" is a song about a Jewish prisoner in a concentration camp and was inspired by the real life experiences of Geddy's mother; "The Enemy Within" is about facing up to one's own inhibitions and living a more adventurous, regret-free, life; and "The Body Electric" is about an android attempting to free itself from servitude.

Musically, some of the highlights for me are the dramatic opening of "Distant Early Warning" and the overall quality of the song, along with Geddy's passionate expression; the eighties rock reggae sound of "The Enemy Within", which I also find is the most frantic and intense song on the album; and Alex's memorable guitar solo in "Kid Gloves" as well as his guitar work in "Between the Wheels", which is also the heaviest song on the album with a grinding-of-steel and gritted teeth quality to it at times. I also have always loved the cover art even back in the day when I had no interest in the music. I like the Asimov-themed story of "The Body Electric", too.

This music bears no resemblance to the great epic songs that Rush were known for in the seventies; however, I do believe we see the band progressing. Heaven knows the eighties were a challenging time for the seventies progressive bands, and music was changing in style, sound, and production. It is my opinion that with "Grace Under Pressure" Rush were evolving and progressing as they explored new angles and new possibilities with their music. Yes, the songs follow a more standard rock/pop format and are rife with the sounds and instruments of the often derided eighties pop scene. But Rush attempt to make them work here within the framework that is Rush, which happens to be a rather elastic framework capable of stretching and expanding to accommodate the whims and curiosities of three creative musicians.

Report this review (#1349101)
Posted Tuesday, January 20, 2015 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Team
3 stars After initially being disappointed with the sound of the album "Signals", I hoped that the old Rush was back with this album, but once again I was disappointed. At that point, I figured the old days of Rush were gone and I was unwilling to move on like Rush did. But I would always love their harder and heavier (and proggier) albums from before. It was quite a while before I started really listening to the Rush from the 80s, but now at least I enjoy some of their music from that decade. You do have to admit, that out of all the 70s bands trying to cross into the 80s, many of them didn't do so well and sounded even older and more dated than they would if they hadn't tried to change their sound. Rush was one band that made the cross over quite well, and survived it without hardly scratch, and they actually didn't sound dated, just different.

With Grace Under Pressure being the 2nd album after the big change, Rush had decided to go with a new producer. They also kept the emphasis on keyboards, but they did at least bring more of a guitar sound back to the forefront than they did with Signals. But the guitar sound was more 80s sounding and the hard sound was turned into more of a "Police" mentality in that it was more of a support for the vocals. The new production pushed back the sound of any particular instrument standing out or emphasized, yes even the vocals in my opinion. The lyrics were still top notch, but the overall delivery of vocals and instruments were evened out and this made everything more flat and similar sounding, as a result, not many of the songs stood out much either. You can listen to a Rush album from this decade and not remember anything about it which is completely opposite of how it was before.

After becoming more accustomed to the songs on this album, I can now say that there are a few that stand out more than others, but it took a long time for that to happen for me. For every good song, there are a few mediocre songs. For every "Distant Early Warning" there is a "The Enemy Within" and a "Between the Wheels" that was good and two that were nothing special. On this album, Rush also took to experimenting with sounds that were new to them like Ska/Reggae or Funk. Now, there is nothing wrong with that, it's just that at this point, there wasn't much to distinguish the different sound because, again, nothing stood out. So these new forays into new sound still sounded too much like the song before it. You had to listen really close to even realize they were doing something different from the track before it.

After listening to the 80s albums a little closer, this one comes out of the decade as not the worst of the decade, but not even close to any of the best from the decade's just slightly better than average because of a few good tracks. It's not quite good enough to give 4 stars to, but it's still better than average, so it comes out of it with 3 and a half stars, but I can't bring myself to like it enough to round it up , so 3 stars it is. Besides, the description really fits this one anyway, Good, but non-essential. A little better than average, but not much.

Report this review (#1398282)
Posted Monday, April 13, 2015 | Review Permalink
3 stars Of course I am a Rush fan and I NEED to have everything on my CD list and I have been reading some bad reviews about this outing. First things first: this is not their best material, but It is far form the worst Test for Echo. The main thing here is the usage of keyboards, they are everywhere, and sometimes the music is drowned, but beneath this the story is good and the drumming is superb, maybe one of the best from the master. So, try this one on a rainy day, I use It to jog and I, for one, find It excellent to listen while I see birds in the sky. Life is good. 3 and a half stars rounded down for the keyboards.
Report this review (#1408464)
Posted Tuesday, May 5, 2015 | Review Permalink
3 stars By the beginning of the 1980s, Rush had moved away from "concept albums," or at least away from long songs on albums that appeared to be concept albums. Supposedly, Signals was something of a song cycle, although it's unclear to me whether this was intentional, or whether it was the product of drummer/lyricist Neil Peart's mindset at the time he wrote the lyrics.

While Grace Under Pressure may not be a concept album, it is certainly a topical album, and its central theme is derivable from its title: how do people react when put under extraordinary pressures?

The theme is perhaps more overt on the first side of the album, whose songs deal with choices about the use of nuclear weapons, reacting to the death of a friend, the hopes of a concentration camp prisoner, and the balance between fear and daring.

The album is a mix of strong songs (tracks 1 to 5) and mediocre ones (6, 7, and 8), although these ho-hum tracks do fit the album well. Track five, "The Body Electric" is the clear standout. In typical Peart fashion, the lyrics are a tradeoff between clunky and clever, the clever part here being the chorus, which begins "one zero zero one zero zero one..." - - yes, this is indeed a song sung from the point of view of a robot. In case the listener misses this, though, Peart is careful to state that the protagonist is a "humanoid" and an "android" - - and that's just in the first five words. But who says that nerdy sci-fi songs need elegant lyrics?

This album continues the trend of Rush, a power trio, sounding more like a power octet in places. In terms of instrumentation, Grace Under Pressure is not much of a departure from its predecessor Signals, although there seems to be a slight reduction in synthesizer usage, and the guitar seems to be a bit more up-front in the mix. Nonetheless, Grace Under Pressure is one of the most keyboard-heavy Rush albums.

Among Rush's 1980s output, Grace Under Pressure has the most consistent mood and sound, although the mood is dark and, and in general, the sound is missing the "live" feel of albums as recent as Moving Pictures.

Overall, a solid offering from Rush. If you're a fan of early Rush, or late Rush, Grace Under Pressure should be worth a spin insofar as it's less poppy and commercial than the stereotypical mid-period Rush album.

Report this review (#1428319)
Posted Thursday, June 18, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars Looking back at the band's entire discography, Signals was probably the biggest risk Rush had ever taken musically. Even with a warmer reception in recent times, many fans remain divided on the album's foray into 80s synth rock and Alex Lifeson's increasingly subdued guitar role; even Rush themselves didn't enjoy the record, which led to them dismissing producer Terry Brown in favor of someone new. Many clamored for a return to the band's more hard rock-oriented take on progressive rock music, while others were becoming curious about Rush's continued experimentation and odd progression. And what did everyone get? Pretty much both and neither of those at the same time.

Let me explain what I mean. Yes, there's still a pretty large amount of synthesizers being used here. And yes, there's also a larger emphasis on Lifeson's heavy guitar work. But the way they're both used is drastically different from Signals or any previous Rush album; much of this comes from the atmosphere, which is easily Rush's darkest and most fascinating yet. True to the album's title, Grace Under Pressure tackles the theme of pressure and its varying effects on different people. There's a constant contrast musically between a richness and coldness, with Alex's resonant guitar chords and Geddy Lee's dark synth arrangements working off each other beautifully. But beyond the music, the "pressure" theme and the darker lyricism really give off a more human feel than in previous albums by the band. With 1981's Moving Pictures, Rush largely ditched their fantasy themes for more realistic subjects, and Grace Under Pressure essentially reveals the pinnacle of this lyrical style. The songs are usually incredibly bleak but never in an overly dramatic way, as revealed in "Red Sector A"'s gritty portrayal of concentration camps during the Holocaust; other dark stories include a loved one's death in "Afterimage" and one's internal fear and struggles with "The Enemy Within."

The music, of course, mirrors the lyrical content perfectly. The biggest reason this record surpasses Signals in terms of composition is that the synthesizers actually have more of a purpose here. Not only are they a bit scaled back to let the guitar playing shine, but they're also necessary to bring out the album's atmosphere. Most of these songs wouldn't be nearly as effective without the keyboards creating some bleakness or tension in the backdrop. "Between the Wheels" is one of the best examples, its intro combining an incredibly heavy Drop-D guitar riff with dissonant synth jabs so two moods collide brilliantly into one tense hard rock track. The initial atmosphere of "The Body Electric" actually introduces a slightly hopeful mood with it being in the key of A-Major and having slightly more calm vocals from Geddy, until the famous "1001" chorus brings back the feeling of fear and anxiety to the table. Of course, Neil Peart's drumming helps in numerous ways too. Not only is his technical skill still nearly unmatched, but his simultaneously more mechanical and yet refined style here makes for some mesmerizing work when combined with the other instruments. Whether it's the fast-paced hard rock of "Afterimage," the more progressive and tempo-shifting opener "Distant Early Warning," or the more new wave and reggae-influenced "The Enemy Within," Peart's work on the kit always fits each mood perfectly.

When discussing the most unusual or inventive Rush albums, Grace Under Pressure should be one of the first albums mentioned. While not sounding much like its predecessors, the record is a fascinating trip into the band's darker side and a more realistic approach to both their lyricism and their music. It's cold, yes, but that's what makes it so interesting and fresh. When it comes to progressive rock albums that are equal parts emotional and compositionally compelling, this is one of the finest ones of the bunch. If you're willing to take this journey, get ready for the most underrated album Rush have ever released.

Report this review (#1445875)
Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars Two years after 1982's Signals, Rush drifts farther down the river of synth and the 80's New Wave scene. Bearing smaller and smaller resemblance to their classic sound, the band has nearly completely embraced the 80's sound by this point. Despite that, Grace Under Pressure is still a pretty great album and includes some of the band's classic tracks.

Opener "Distant Early Warning" has always been a favorite of mine and one of the first songs I heard from the band, and really represents some of the best of the band's synth era material. The mini-guitar solo about three minutes through the song is surprisingly pretty metallic and almost Iron Maiden-esque, but of course that's the only reference to anything remotely metal on this album.

Speaking of that guitar solo, Grace Under Pressure still shows Alex Lifeson delivering some great guitar riffing and occasional solos. "The Enemy Within", "The Body Electric", and "Between the Wheels" in particular showcase great balance of the band's own sound and their incorporation of contemporary trends to keep up with the times. The only times that this balance stops and it fails to work, are with "Kid Gloves" and "Red Lenses". The former is honestly one of the most annoying songs in the band's discography with a real sappy-sounding guitar motif that reeks of the cheesiest bands of the 80's. The latter is substantially better, but something about it just doesn't work. It's catchy enough, but I can't say the pseudo-funky sound with Cold War lyricism really works that well.

Most of the music on the album is quite melancholy sounding, so it makes sense that most of the lyricism is on the darker side of the spectrum as well. Much of it deals with environmental disaster, nuclear war, paranoia, as well as loss of loved ones as heard in the touchingly somber "Afterimage". The album cover fits the mood well, as it's a somewhat gloomy contemplative scene with the use of lighter (yet pale on some editions) colors.

Grace Under Pressure continues the pretty good consistency from Signals, and the continuous slight updating of sound works well for the most part. The updating of sound would show to be a bit more drastic on the following album, but if you like Signals, chances are you'll like this one too.

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives) See review here:

Report this review (#1536447)
Posted Monday, March 7, 2016 | Review Permalink
3 stars Second signal

3.5 stars

Let's make it simple: "Grace Under Pressure" can be described as "Signals" bis, with a little more guitars and a slightly inferior quality. Pursuing the 'synthetic reggae-rock' approach of its predecessor, the band ventures again into new musical territories for them on some tracks, such as new-wave and ska. The keyboards and drums also sound colder, robotic, dehumanized, however this time Alex Lifeson plays a larger role: his interventions are more nervous and punchy than on the previous opus. Furthermore, and most important, the inspiration is still present.

The album title comes from the general theme of the songs: people's reactions when they're under pressure. The science-fiction and heroic fantasy stories of the 70's are now replaced by cold war, nuclear weapon and technology problematics. "Grace Under Pressure" can also reflect the particular conditions in which the disc was composed and produced, as the musicians separated from their historic producer Terry Brown, nicknamed 'Broon', before the recording.

The first side is very good. The powerful opener "Distant Early Warning" is the best track of the record. Referring a nuclear alert system, this reggae-rock song in the style of THE POLICE evolves into a true hard-rock piece, with ferocious guitar passages and an heroic finale. Great! Dedicated to one of the band's friend who had just passed away, "Afterimage" is a touching and melancholic synthesizer reggae-rock track with a cool solo from Lifeson. Inspired by Geddy Lee's mother experience during the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen camp, "Red Sector A"'s topic is the concentration camps and the Holocaust. Despite cheesy keyboards, it offers a nice alternation of electronic, rocking, epic and touching ambiances, even sounding new-wave. The Canadians made a ska incursion with "The Enemy Within", featuring different atmospheres and rhythms. Original and having its moments, but finally a bit uneven.

The second side is unfortunately less inspired. "The Body Electric" narrates the story of an android attempting to escape its programming. Despite its mysterious surprising opening, this electronic song is rather average. "Kid Gloves" contains an excellent guitar solo but the track itself sounds overall flat. As one of the oddest RUSH composition ever, "Red Lenses" is quite irritating as well as the only true weak passage of the record. One the contrary, "Between The Wheels" is the best song of Side 2 with its oppressive ambiance and icy heroic rock.

"Grace Under Pressure" is the continuation of "Signals", a little bit more unequal and 80's sounding. Like its predecessor, 'electronic reggae-rock' could be an attempt to describe the style of this album. Although it features dated synthesizers, the first side and the last track really rock. By incorporating a few new musical elements, the band proves they were still creative and daring.

This tenth studio offering from the Canadians will be the last truly good RUSH album of the 20th century. If you didn't enjoy "Signals", this one is not for you either. Otherwise, go for it without hesitation. Recommended to fans of "Signals", THE POLICE, or even reggae-rock.

Report this review (#1584036)
Posted Wednesday, June 29, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4,5 stars !!! "Grace Under Preasure" , how I've said in my review about the previous album from RUSH ( (#1568194) | Posted Friday, May 20, 2016 ), with the audition of this one I start to make a better appreciation of the new direction assumed by these incredible Canadian guys, which in that moment I presume was shows how to make more simple melodic themes becomes a great progressive rock music. Already on the first track "Distant Early Warning" with their overture theme you can feel this - the repetition turns a "tension point" which as the same "trigger" To guitar solo and the climax of the track ! Another intersting point in this album is the clear Alex's tendency of prioritize the chjords progressions in the construction of his solo melodies - this is present in track 2 " Afterimage" and track 3. "Red Sector A". Besides the last track "Between the Wheels" are simply outstanding (slightly above the other tracks) . In short a excellent album. My rate is 4 stars !!!
Report this review (#1585199)
Posted Tuesday, July 5, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a bit hard to rate as a Rush album. It breaks significantly with the sound of previous albums (even with Signals, which also broke with the sound before it). Alex Lifeson's guitar sound went from progressive rock power chords and fast solos, to ethereal echo-laden Andy Summers-like accents. There are no epics. Geddy is singing down the register. This album largely set the formula that would be followed on Power Windows and Hold Your Fire, two of Rush's weaker albums from the 1980s. Yet, Grace Under Pressure is really good! The songs have more potency and urgency than anything on either Signals or the other 80s albums. Neil Peart has said this album was made during a difficult time, emotionally, for the band. Perhaps that spurred to members to feel things more and to put their hearts into the compositions. The songs on this album are consistently good, even if very different from the style set by Rush's 70's classics. The lyrics here are some of Neil Peart's best, in my opinion (not only poignant, but full of double entendres, puns, etc - I even remember reading that MAD magazine had awarded them some award for the humourous lyrics). So, while for me Signals feels too safe somehow, this album feels like the band are taking some real risks and laying their creative souls on the line. The album flows exceptionally well as an album. While some tunes got more radio play, I think virtually all the songs on this one are very close to each other in quality, not "essential" but solid, with great lyrics. For me, this is one of the few Rush albums they did post-Moving Pictures that deserves four stars. I give it 8.2 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 PA stars.
Report this review (#1695650)
Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars Following on from where 'Signals' left off, 1984's 'Grace Under Pressure' sees Rush fully embrace the 80's synthesizer era of music, with some of their most radio-friendly and keyboard-driven pieces yet, but without losing any integrity or sense of identity. It makes for some easy-listening progressive rock, which can appeal to fans of the genre and non- fans alike.

Surprisingly, a lot of people were put off by what they consider Rush's "pop era", though personally I find this to be some of the bands most accessible material. Admittedly the second half of the album is a little on the weak side, but the first half is absolutely stellar, and consists of some of my all-time favourite Rush tunes.

'Distant Early Warning', 'Afterimage', 'Red Sector A' and 'The Enemy Within' (check that bass line!) are all perfectly crafted songs. Each one remains true to the band's sound while adapting to that periods musical trends. They're fantastic songs, incredibly catchy, creative, and well performed. Although, as mentioned above, the second half of the album does get a little stale. They're not awful by any stretch, in fact, 'The Body Electric' and 'Between the Wheels' aren't too shabby, but they pale in comparison to the previous tracks.

Well-produced to truly emphasize that glorious 80's pop vibe, Rush's 'Grace Under Pressure' is a fantastic album that shows a band able to keep with the times and avoid stagnation while delivering a product that is undeniably their own. Despite the weaker second half, I still consider this one of their finest releases.

Report this review (#1791001)
Posted Friday, October 6, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars Chronologically placed between Power Windows and Signals, Grace Under Pressure is the tenth studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released in 1984.

Grace Under Pressure" is the continuation of "Signals" but a little bit more unequal and 80's sounding. Although it features dated synthesizers, the first side and the last track are really standouts. By incorporating a few new musical elements, the band proves they were still creative and daring. With Grace Under Pressure, Rush moved a little further in the use of synths. It features the first song to have Geddy's play no bass (Red Sector A), and Neil plays electronic drums here for the first time as well.

The album kicks off on a fresh and positive note with Distant Early Warning, the guitars and synthesizers are more or less evenly distributed in the production. Lyrics deal with the fear of a nuclear holocaust. Afterimage- This is a highly personal song of the group. A friend of the band died in an accident during the sessions for the album, and was immortalized within the lyrics that read as a eulogy. Alex Lifeson, steals the show on this, with his tasteful guitar fills during the verses. The song is one of my favorites on the album. Red Sector A- Wow, this isn't a ballad, but it evokes twice the emotion of any ballad you could name. Geddy's parents were both Holocaust survivors, and this song is a brutal description of the horrors which occurred during those years. The instrumental sections do just what music should, it conveys the message of the lyrics just as powerfully as the lyrics themselves. This song is another classic. The Enemy Within- This is part one of the "Fear Trilogy". The album's title comes from this song. Awesome bass song. It's got a dark overtone that makes the song interesting. The Body Electric- This is the story of an escaped humanoid trying to reprogram himself and seek freedom. It is a decent song, but it fails to stand out as much as any of the songs that preceded it. Kid Gloves- Is upbeat nature, but it sadly fails to impress as much as any of the other songs on this album. Red Lenses-is the strangest song on the album; half funky singing, half proggy interludes, it is unimpressive and not very re-memorable. Between the Wheels- The nihilistic theme reemerges, saying that the way mankind is headed, we could see "Another war, another wasteland, another lost generation." The soloing is downright insane during the instrumental sections. You may find yourself listening to it several times in a row without cease.

Grace Under Pressure is melodic, dark, powerful and bold. Another album in the extensive Rush catalog which I recommend for those of you who like more accessible prog rock. Enjoy.

Report this review (#2171171)
Posted Thursday, April 4, 2019 | Review Permalink
3 stars Unlike many reviewers, i have no issues with this albums' heavy emphasis on synth sounds, i like all eras of RUSH, i wasn't even alive when this was released i hold no bias. This album has a few of RUSH's best songs, but also some of its' most forgettable. I appreciate that this album sounds quite a bit different than any other in their huge discography, aside from Signals, but sorry Signals just has better songs overall. The first half of the album is great material, and the second half are not. I saw RUSH live in 2007, and half the songs on this album didn't make the cut for their 3+ hour set list - i can understand why. I don't have much more to say than that, its' still RUSH which means its' almost always good, just average though for RUSH standards.
Report this review (#2240572)
Posted Sunday, July 28, 2019 | Review Permalink

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