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Rush Grace Under Pressure album cover
3.69 | 1281 ratings | 132 reviews | 23% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1984

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Distant Early Warning (4:56)
2. Afterimage (5:03)
3. Red Sector A (5:09)
4. The Enemy Within (Part I of Fear) (4:34)
5. The Body Electric (4:59)
6. Kid Gloves (4:17)
7. Red Lenses (4:41)
8. Between the Wheels (5:44)

Total Time 39:23

Line-up / Musicians

- Alex Lifeson / electric & acoustic guitars, synthesizer
- Geddy Lee / bass, synthesizer, vocals
- Neil Peart / drums, percussion, Simmons SDS-V electronic drums

- JIm Burgess / PPG synth programming
- Paul Northfield / PPG synth programming

Releases information

Artwork: Hugh Syme with Yousuf Karsh (portrait)

LP Anthem Records ‎- ANR-1-1045 (1984, Canada)

CD Mercury - 818 476 (1984, US)
CD Anthem Records ‎- ANMD 1084 (1997, Canada) Remastered by Bob Ludwig & Brian Lee
CD Mercury - 534 634-2 (1997, US) Remastered by Bob Ludwig & Brian Lee

FLAC (2015, Ponomusic) Hi Res download in 48kHz/24bit lossless files from remaster by Sean Magee

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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RUSH Grace Under Pressure ratings distribution

(1281 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(23%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(45%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

RUSH Grace Under Pressure reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by 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

Review by Sean Trane
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.
Review by Menswear
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.

Review by chessman
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.
Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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

Review by daveconn
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.
Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.
Review by Guillermo
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.
Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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!
Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

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

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

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

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

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

Review by slipperman
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...

Review by E-Dub
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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

Review by WaywardSon
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, itīs 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.

Review by 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.

Review by 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

Review by OpethGuitarist
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.

Review by thellama73
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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?
Review by 1800iareyay
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

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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]

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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. Worthy 'Between the Wheels' 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.

Review by 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

Review by b_olariu
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.
Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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 hadnīt 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 wasnīt too impressed with Signals but even though Grace under Pressure follow the same eighties synth heavy formula as Signals itīs 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 Iīm afraid that it leaves a kind of divided impression of Grace Under Pressure.

The musicianship is outstanding. As a guitarist myself Iīve always been very inspired by Alex Lifesonīs playing on Grace Under Pressure. I love his grand sound. Neil Peartīs drumming is sharp and precise. One of his best performances IMO. Compared to his weak vocal performance on Signals I really enjoy Geddy Leeīs 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 Iīll 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 thatīs certainly also the case on Grace Under Pressure.

Review by 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 80īs 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 80īs. 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!

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
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.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
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.

Review by 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.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

Review by progpositivity
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.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by lazland
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.

Review by tarkus1980
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.

Review by Starhammer
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.

Review by Warthur
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).
Review by Chicapah
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.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
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.

Review by FragileKings
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.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
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.

Review by patrickq
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.

Review by Necrotica
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.

Review by Modrigue
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.

Review by SoundsofSeasons
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.
Review by The Crow
3 stars After the excellent "Signals", Rush consolidated his sound in the 80's with "Grace Under Pressure"!

For this they counted on the regular producer of Supertramp, Peter Henderson, together with a luxury team that includes the legendary mastering engineer Bob Ludwig. The album, how could it be otherwise, sounds luxurious, very rich in detail and leaving prominence for all the instruments. On this record Alex Lifeson's guitar is more prominent as on other Rush works, and perhaps for this reason it seems to me one of the guitarist's most outstanding works.

For the rest, we have a collection of songs that are somewhat more oriented towards radio formulas, shorter in length than what Rush had us used to, and with choruses that try to be catchy at first listen. They also delve a bit more into the use of synthesizers and certain pop and reggae influences that distance this album from what was heard in works like "Permanent Waves" and "Moving Pictures", "Signals" acting as a bridge between both sounds.

In any case, the compositional and instrumental level is so high that, how could it be otherwise, "Grace Under Pressure" is a good album, very good at times, but which in my opinion is below the great classics of the band, making a kind of break of the incredible streak that the group had had since the mid-70s.

In any case, Rush proved that they were still in pretty good shape in the mid-'80s, something many prog-rock bands that had their heyday a decade earlier couldn't say. Yes were putting out mediocre records, King Crimson weren't at their best, Emerson Lake and Palmer had all but disappeared... But Rush kept rocking out with good records, which was cause for celebration!

Sometimes, the Prog-Archives rating system is a bit unfair, because I consider that "Grace Under Pressure" is a clear 3,5 / 5 record.

Best Tracks: Distant Early Warning (a powerful and energetic opening), Red Sector A (best chorus on the record), The Body Electric (amazing bass and a great Lifeson guitar solo) and Kid Gloves (maybe not a great song, but I love its light-heartedness and rock energy and (again) the excellent guitar work on this one)

Latest members reviews

3 stars If "Signals" implied for Rush a clear evolution towards musical metrics more related to currents such as new wave and even ska in the eighties, with "Grace Under Pressure" experimentation along those paths gained even more strength. It is worth noting as an interesting fact that Peter Gabriel's ... (read more)

Report this review (#2930603) | Posted by Hector Enrique | Monday, June 5, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars 1984 saw the release of Grace Under Pressure, where the trends on Signals continued to grow stronger. Geddy introduced even more synthesizers and sequencers, and Neil incorporated electronic percussion into his already-immense drumkit. Meanwhile, Alex continued to utilize reggae-style guitar pattern ... (read more)

Report this review (#2904241) | Posted by TheEliteExtremophile | Monday, April 3, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Rush's tenth album Grace Under Pressure displayed a further evolution of the band's sound, eschewing the traditional "hard rock" trappings of their earlier records in favor of a more diverse, contemporary, synth/keyboard-driven soundstage. Albums like 1980's Permanent Waves and 1981's Moving Pic ... (read more)

Report this review (#2894079) | Posted by Hokeyboy | Wednesday, February 22, 2023 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Grace Under Pressure is the logical continuation of Signals and on this album, the keyboards and guitar rival each other. It has a really gritty feel from the ongoing cold war at the time and struggles within the band. At the time it seemed like this could have been their last album and Between ... (read more)

Report this review (#2673674) | Posted by Atomic Surf | Tuesday, January 18, 2022 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Review #90 RUSH in the eighties is definitely not something I like; probably I need to see their records more as Pop music instead of looking for the good old seventies Hard Rocky Progressive style. Neil PEART is with absolutely no doubt one of the greatest drummers of all time and in this album, ... (read more)

Report this review (#2543930) | Posted by Uruk_hai | Tuesday, May 18, 2021 | Review Permanlink

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 synthesizer ... (read more)

Report this review (#2171171) | Posted by thesimilitudeofprog | Thursday, April 4, 2019 | Review Permanlink

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 prog ... (read more)

Report this review (#1791001) | Posted by martindavey87 | Friday, October 6, 2017 | Review Permanlink

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 accent ... (read more)

Report this review (#1695650) | Posted by Walkscore | Tuesday, February 21, 2017 | Review Permanlink

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 tha ... (read more)

Report this review (#1585199) | Posted by maryes | Tuesday, July 5, 2016 | Review Permanlink

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 al ... (read more)

Report this review (#1536447) | Posted by Pastmaster | Monday, March 7, 2016 | Review Permanlink

4 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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1408464) | Posted by steelyhead | Tuesday, May 5, 2015 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1213488) | Posted by MJAben | Monday, July 14, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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 tenni ... (read more)

Report this review (#940165) | Posted by sukmytoe | Saturday, April 6, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#906469) | Posted by ster | Monday, February 4, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 'no ... (read more)

Report this review (#905324) | Posted by zeqexes | Saturday, February 2, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 wha ... (read more)

Report this review (#771349) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 expressi ... (read more)

Report this review (#625769) | Posted by 7headedchicken | Friday, February 3, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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 bęte 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 do ... (read more)

Report this review (#587376) | Posted by Vaz | Tuesday, December 13, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 h ... (read more)

Report this review (#521928) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Tuesday, September 13, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#463561) | Posted by criticdrummer94 | Saturday, June 18, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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