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Rush Power Windows album cover
3.56 | 1122 ratings | 95 reviews | 22% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1985

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Big Money (5:34)
2. Grand Designs (5:05)
3. Manhattan Project (5:04)
4. Marathon (6:09)
5. Territories (6:18)
6. Middletown Dreams (5:15)
7. Emotion Detector (5:10)
8. Mystic Rhythms (5:53)

Total Time 44:28

Line-up / Musicians

- Alex Lifeson / electric & acoustic guitars
- Geddy Lee / bass, bass pedals, synthesizers, vocals
- Neil Peart / drums, acoustic & electronic percussion

- Andy Richards / keyboards, synth programming
- Jim Burgess / synth programming
- Andrew Jackman / choir arranger & conductor
- 25-piece choir
- Anne Dudley / strings arranger & conductor
- 30-piece orchestra
- Peter Collins / co-arranger, co-producer

Releases information

Artwork: Hugh Syme with Dimo Safari (photo)

LP Anthem Records ‎- ANR-1-1049 (1985, Canada)

CD Mercury ‎- 826 098-2 M1 (1985, US)
CD Anthem Records ‎- ANMD 1085 (1997, Canada) 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 Power Windows ratings distribution

(1122 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

RUSH Power Windows reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by lucas
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A great album by one of the greatest progressive bands!! This record is closer to neo prog à la Marillion than to their hard rock roots à la zeppelin. Geddy Lee's voice is clear (unlike the 70's rush albums) and the music is very keyboard-oriented, close to Saga's Behaviour. Bombastic elements added to a passionate voice make this album a must for everyone searching for a delightful and beautiful music. This record, along with 'Hold your fire', is to my mind the best Rush work of the eighties.
Review by Sean Trane
1 stars I had a real hard time admitting to liking Rush at a point in my life when this came out. They could not make their albums on their own anymore , they had to have guests ;-)). Just kidding but really this does not get better. Most of the first hour fans around me had by this time also given-up , other were resigned and still supporting the band, but everybody agreed that Rush was not stealing money for these were simply well made albums, interesting art work and well produced music, just not our taste at all. For my part , I was busy unearthing sixties stuff as Quicksilver MS, the Dead, Miles Davis , Mahavishnu etc....
Review by chessman
5 stars Wow! This is my fourth contender for best Rush album ever! For a long time, it was my favourite Rush album. Every track is flawless. Power chords abound here, but the melodies don't flinch an inch! Not stand out track, and no weak one. Just an astounding level of consistency! Very radio friendly (not that I think that essential, but it helps) yet still recognisably Rush. This album shows how diverse the band could, and can, be. Unfortunately, lots of Rush fans tend to be in one camp or the other. Either fans of the band before Permanent Waves, or fans of the band after it. I prefer to treat each phase equally. ( Yes, despite what some fans think, the band can be neatly split in half, Hemispheres ending the first half). Buy this and enjoy!
Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars On "Power windows", the dynamic, crystal clear & powerful sound of the instruments really take all its dimension: Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson create impressive & powerful atmospheres with a superb sonority, never attained before: the sound quality is comparable to the Saga's "Heads or tales" album. The electric guitar is absolutely sharp, nervous, loud and highly pitched: actually this record has one of the best echoed guitar solos sounds ever made by Rush: it is not exaggerated to believe Alex Lifeson sounds at his best here! The amazing bass popping amplifies its presence and its speed. The difference with "Grace under pressure" is that here the omnipresent modern, atmospheric & crystal clean mood is highly superior and at its best! The echoed drums are VERY varied and really sound modern, barely electronic. Geddy Lee's voice is much more dynamic and on the higher notes than on some previous records.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by daveconn
3 stars A lean winter wolf of an album, sinuous and cunning. "Power Windows" recaptures much of "Signals"' energy, best exemplified on "The Big Money", so in my mind it's always had a slight advantage over the bloodless "Grace Under Pressure". It's not a complete return to form, but it is a better balance between old and new. The rhythm section of GEDDY LEE and NEIL PEART is superlative in every since of the word, while the subject matter is classic RUSH: preserving the personal in an impersonal system bent on domination and destruction. However, it's clear that the synthesizers and ALEX LIFESON's shimmering guitar style are here to stay. I miss the saturated sound of vintage RUSH, the unbridled enthusiasm of their arrangements, the idealism of their vision, but those days passed with the '70s. The new RUSH -- clinical, cynical, mechanical -- is the byproduct of musical evolution. We shouldn't equate familiar with attractive, especially when the change in appearance enabled the band to remain vital without sacrificing integrity. (I can't think of any prog band that's aged as well as RUSH over the years.) "Power Windows"' failure is a weary familiarity from song to song, a brittle inflexibility that ironically costs the music its own individuality. "The Big Money" is handily the album's money shot; the fact that the thoughtful "Mystic Rhythms" was tested as the second single testifies to a lack of viable alternatives. Over time, the songs will assert their own personalities, but for the effort you could have already warmed up to "Signals" or Hold Your Fire.

If you're bent on buying every RUSH album (and I'd actually recommend it), you'll look into "Power Windows" yourself eventually. Because the album can sound awfully dry on vinyl, spend a few extra bucks and go for the compact disc.

Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Hmm, Ann Dudley guest stars on a RUSH album...Trevor Horn has already infiltrated YES...the next step would be J.J. Jeczalik joining PINK FLOYD, and the ART OF NOISE crew will have successfully brought down the prog genre! Just kidding, of course, but by 1985 the great prog bands have seen the writing on the wall; digital synthesizers, trendy haircuts and streamlined pop-music structures are the style of the day. RUSH seems to fare much better than the others, having gradually incorporated such elements into their sound for half a decade already. Of course, they are almost a second-generation prog band, having started later and following a different path than the original prog masters, so it's no wonder that "Power Windows" is a lot more likeable than "Big Generator" or (shudder) "Invisible Touch". Nevertheless, it would be the last new RUSH album that I am excited about, except for a slight interest in "Vapor Trails" almost two decades later. The production is too slick and the songs too similar in feel, apart from the designed-for- release "Big Money". The homogenous and yet unique sound of "Signals" and "Grace Under Pressure" has been smoothed out even more, and the result is that the good songs on this album (the majority of tracks) could all be mistaken for each other. RUSH still rocks, and will probably continue to rock until they die, but "Power Windows" is conclusive evidence that they are now focused on making good solid songs rather than exploring any new musical territory.
Review by richardh
5 stars This could almost be an ELP for the eighties with it's massive pompous semi orchestral sound and dynamic drumming.Peter Collins and the band did a masterfull job with the production.Songs wise it takes a while to get into.The lyrics are very wordy even by Rush standards.This is NOT an album of pop songs!!
Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This was the most disappointing RUSH album I have heard yet. It feels like the ideas of their early 80's period have flattened, and there hasn't been any great new innovations yet to reassess their course. There are some good elements in the songs, and the lyrics are fine, but there some kind of annoying overall feeling in this album, that I must admit that I sold this away after trying to listen it some times.
Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After the overly keyboard Signals and the overly guitar drenched Grace Under Pressure, Rush entered 1985 and created an album that had a stable balance of keyboard and guitar. While not the best album they ever did, it certainly is the best of the 85-89 releases. Filled with catchy riffs and synth lines, some intricate bass lines (although no where near the quality of the 76-82 period), and some precision drumming, there couldn't be much more for a fan to ask for.

From the opening drums of Big Money to the catchy fade out to Mystic Rhythms, there are a mixture of good and mediocre songs. All songs are linked with a specific theme regarding power and how we abuse it. Highlight tracks are The Big Money, with it's catchy verse and catchy bass work, and some great lyrics and drumming from Peart. Territories features some precision drumming, insightful lyrics, and a great riff from Lifeson. Manhattan Project deals with nuclear arms and features a catchy chorus, precision drumming, and more great riffing from Alex Lifeson. The finale to the album, Mystic Rhythms, is a triumphant track that begins a bit somberly, but picks up pace as the track evolves.

Overall, Rush fans should not be disappointed. However, this is not an album to give a person trying to get into Rush. It's a good album, but not necessary to all fans of progressive music. 4/5.

Review by erik neuteboom
2 stars Mid 1985 Rush released "Power windows", the sound is very impressive but many songs sound too similar. Alex Lifeson almost drowns in his wide range of pedal-effects! Nonetheless, songs like "Manhattan project" (about the atomic bomb), "Marathon" (about the persistence you need to make your dreams come true) and the compelling "Mystic rhythms (featuring ethnic atmospheres) are lush and elaborate compositions. After a few sessions I had very mixed feelings about Rush, I was afraid that one of my favorite bands was slipping out of my hands because they wanted to sound progressive and to develop themselves instead of making 'prog' like on "A farewell to kings" and "Moving pictures", what a paradox!
Review by Bob Greece
4 stars The power...the swirling keyboards...the high-pitched voice. It was 1985 and I was 15 years old, hearing Rush for the very first time, I knew that this was something very different and very special. OK, it's not really progressive but it's very clever hard rock that would give many neo-prog artists a good run for their money. The album starts with the very powerful introduction to The Big Money. It continues with quality hard-rocking keyboard-driven tracks. The only poor track IMO is the last one Mystic Rythyms, which is a bit lame but the first 7 tracks really grab your attention.

It's not a masterpiece and not that progressive but it's certainly a great album and one that will always mean a lot to me.

Review by slipperman
2 stars I've listened to this album 20-30 times. That's a little over once a year for the past 20 years. Considering it's one of my least favorite albums by one of my very favorite bands, I believe I have enough experience with it to confidently give it a low rating. 'Power Windows' is Rush's coldest album. It is terribly mechanical, engulfed in the digital technology of the day. I hear sounds all over this album that remind more of Duran Duran, The Fixx, Ultravox and Modern English than Rush. Indeed, not only is the production totally of its era, but the writing and playing veers into that new- wave/new-romantic/pop/MTV thing that was, next to heavy metal, the sound of the day (1985). Fair enough, because I recognize that all true artists evolve, but I never thought Rush sounded quite right in this guise.

As a production piece, 'Power Windows' is amazing. Peter Collins and the band definitely captured the atmosphere that the songwriting calls for. Whether or not you like their chosen style at this point, there's no doubting the quality of the recording itself. But I still hear a weak album filled with weak songs; not even the performances of the insanely talented members pull it through. Geddy Lee's voice veers into a disturbingly complacent, bland area that took him years to grow out of. Neil Peart's continued use of electronic drums sucks a lot of life out of his performance. And poor Alex Lifeson, once again drowned out by an enormous bank of digital synths and electronic drums. When he does rear his head, it's usually in washes of pastel chords, all brittle and thin.

Many of the songs seem interchangeable, many sounding alike. That fact that I've listened to this well over 20 times and still can't recall anything of "Grand Designs", "Middletown Dreams" or "Emotion Detector" is telling. But there are two moments of magic here. "Marathon" is gifted with a chorus of profound emotional weight, musically and vocally. Despite Geddy's white-funk bass slappin' and poppin', the rest of the song supports the grand chorus well enough. And final track "Mystic Rhythms" has enough brooding atmosphere in its exotic character to pull it through. A dramatic, engaging ending to a sadly unengaging album. Both of these songs would've fit well on 'Grace Under Pressure'. More of their kind is sorely needed here, as I find the rest of it flat, chilly and uninspiring.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is another excellent album from Rush with much more involvement of keyboard work which becomes intensified. The opener "The Big Money" was planned to be a radio hit and the video clip was made in a great way. In fact, it's a great track. I like especially Geddy Lee's bass guitar work which provides excellent textures for the song. "Grand Designs" is another track with more intricate arrangements where Alex Lifeson's guitar style has moved forward into a softer one augmented with keyboard sound effects. Neil Peart also gives dynamic sounds especially with his toms. "Manhattan Project" is the band's favorite live track with ambient music background. In this track Geddy starts his voice in relatively low register notes with power. "Marathon" has a combined style of medium tempo at first but it moves into faster one with tight bass lines.

"Territories" starts off with electronic drumming followed with keyboard and guitar and bring the music into arrangement full with keyboard effects. The song moves into complex composition with soaring keyboard and guitar sounds. Geddy's bass lines are great! "Middletown Dreams" is a good track with Geddy's tight basslines combined with keyboard sounds. "Emotion Detector" starts with keyboard and electronic drumming; guitar provides sounds at the back. The song moves in electronic drum beats. "Mystic Rhythms" closes the album with another keyboard-based music. I also like Lifeson guitar rhythm work accompanying Geddy's vocal.

It's another excellent addition of any prog music collection. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Marc Baum
4 stars Probably Rush’s most 80s sounding album, Power Windows has a lot of synth on it. While Hold Your Fire had plenty of synth, it came off to me as more mature and refined in sound. Lyrically, this album deals with different forms of power whether it be money or nuclear bombs. So technically this is a concept album. I am a fan of concept albums as long as the songs are strong enough to support the overall concept. While the songwriting here is good, the resulting sound of most of the songs bugs me.

"The Big Money" is exceptional. The slap bass line rocks in the verses, it’s probably one of the better bass lines he’s written. The guitar solo in the song it great, although it doesn’t sound quite as strong as it should be. This is probably due to either the production or the type of guitar he used at the time, plus I’m comparing it to the Rush in Rio version where the guitar sounds much fuller.

The next track is "Grand Designs". This is where the synth and chime sounds are overdone. The beginning alone is enough to make you cringe. It sounds very . . . joyful. Not that sounding happy is a bad thing, however it feels like something that would fit on a kid’s TV show. Other than that, the verse of the songs works well. The guitar has a reggae-like quality to them.

I don’t have a problem with Rush using synthesizers to complement the music, it appears that here they decided to use it way to much. Listen "Middletown Dreams", "Mystic Rhythms" and "Emotion Detector" for the ‘dated’ 80’s sound I am referring to. I’m sure back then it might have sounded fine, but twenty something years later, it doesn’t come off as ‘cool’ sounding.

Besides the negative points, this is a Rush album so you can expect worthy performances by each member of the band. I wish the guitar’s sounded a bit thicker to make the music for driving, but the solos here are worthy to be called Lifeson’s own. The bass lines, as mentioned previously, as quality. Neal Peart sounds like he began experimenting with electronic drums, as the album has some drumbeats that vary from the typical drum kit possibilities (see Mystic Rhythms).

All in all, "Power Windows" is another great Rush album worthy for any prog collection. I prefer the predecessor Grace Under Pressure, since it has the more appealing songs for my taste, though I must gratulate Rush for a worthy successor. This one has grown on me the more I listen to it. Try to put the synth in context and enjoy the album.

album rating: 8/10 points = 80 % 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 Menswear
2 stars After the cold war reflexion of Grace Under Pressure, this was a shock.

Boy, what happened between records? Rush got much more lighter, with powder blue suits , super sweet synths and ponytails. Not cool. Just watch the Big Money video and tell me about it after. The song itself is kinda lame, but only in subject. Musically, Power Windows is du jour, with keys, drums and guitars of the era. It sports nice melodies, but the whole thing is a bit too melancholic for my tastes. This is actually the first time that I put a Rush album in the shelf.

Some songs are great values like Mystic Rythms, Territories and Manhattan Project. But for the rest, this is light pink filler. the sound is good for the times, but they did much better with Hold Your Fire.

After the grave lyrics and anxious atmosphere that was Grace Under Pressure, this is a trip to a pastel world.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. Once again there are some baseball references in the liner notes as the band thanks a lot of people including those"On the mound" as well as those "At home plate". This is such a polished record with 8 songs all 5 to 6 plus minutes in length.

"The Big Money" has been a favourite of mine for a long time. Geddy's vocals are outstanding in this one that opens with lots of synths and drums followed by bass, guitar and vocals.There are some really good bass lines on this one although each member of the band gets to show their chops. "Grand Designs" features some higher pitched synths that really annoy me and the vocal melody before the 4 minute mark is disappointing. So this song is a letdown for me.

Things get a lot better with "Manhattan Project", I like the way it speeds up with Alex's guitar melodies as Neil is pounding away on the skins. "Marathon" has a good chorus and a nice guitar solo as well. "Territories" features uptempo synths and guitar that come and go. The song ends with a bass solo. "Middletown Dreams" features short guitar outbreaks with lots of keys and steady drums until the chorus where synths and vocals are the focus. Another good guitar solo 3 minutes in. "Emotional Detector" features this long, emotional guitar solo from Alex that is by far the highlight of this song. "Mystic Rhythms" opens with...surprise, rhythmic drums as well as some good vocals in this contemplative song.

There is a lot here to like and it's well worth checking out.

Review by Modrigue
1 stars ... Or how RUSH went down. One of their most cheesy albums.

The Canadian trio changed their musical direction roughly every 4 albums, managing to adapt, to evolve and to create their own style. "Power Windows" started a new musical direction period after "Grace Under Pressure". However, the magic and the progressive craft are now gone... No catchy heavy riffs, no epic moments, no futuristic synthesizer or no jazz-rock passages either. All tracks here sounds similar, poppy and commercial. The second half of the 80's has not been quite a favorable period for RUSH, as for most 70's progressive rock bands.

The Canadians will a little rectify their musical style four years later, with "Presto" and "Roll the Bones"...

Review by Prog Leviathan
4 stars Rush follows up "Grace..." with just as much synth, but with a needed boost of adrenaline as well. "Power Windows" is a slight return to form, with the group sounding like they've figured out how to merge their big rock sound with the improving technology to create a more solid, interesting album than its predecessor.

Geddy splits up his duties a bit more evenly between keyboards and bass, turning out some monstrous licks (particularly on "Big Money") as well as dynamic synthesizer work. Peart, while still using lots of digital drumming is much more precise and interesting here than on their last album; his lyrics begin to show his growing love for homonyms as well. Alex is, well, Alex-- his guitar work wants for nothing. Stand out tracks include the aforementioned "Big Money", "Grand Designs", the very smart and political "Territories" and the symphonic "Mystic Rhythms".

A big '80's sound that holds up well today (although you'd never know they were written then if you get a chance to hear them performed now) and features a lot of songs to sing along to and think about.

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

Review by OpethGuitarist
2 stars Power Pop

Rush continue to disappoint here, with some of the most uninspiring stuff since watching paint dry. I think most classic prog fans will find these derivative synth lines and melodies completely boring and unbearable. Some of Peart's drumming is still quite good, but the rest of the makeup is just so laughable as to make an almost impossible serious listening.

I suppose that might be the only thing to take solace in. I'm really not sure what Rush was trying to achieve musically during this period, but it certainly put off a great many of their classic fans. Those who would like to experience some really good Rush, check out material from Moving Pictures and earlier.

Review by Zitro
3 stars This is Rush trying to survive the musical abyss of the 80s. As expected, the sound of Rush is much more digital, polished, tight, and drowned with technological [dated] sounds and guitar pedals. The keyboards take a bigger role than in their 70s period and include digital synthesizer, electric piano, and typical keyboards. The guitar is reverb-heavy and Alex Lifeson tends to use the pedals quite a lot. Geddy Lee avoids the falsetto, plays the keyboards surprisingly decent, and keeps using a big bass sound. Neal Peart luckily has good taste and doesn't leave it all to dull electronic drum sequences. His drum sounds are a bit synthesized but they fit and Neal plays the heck out of them! The first half of the disc is especially inspired and you might enjoy those first four tracks if you accept the fact that they sound very different to classical Rush.

Rush starts the album with a bang: the energetic rocker "The Big Money." It has all the elements I described above and the rhythm section especially shines. "Grand Designs" is a poppy tune dominated by Geddy Lee's vocals and keyboards. Pay attention to the short piano solo halfway, it sounds complicated and caught me off guard. Rush's composition skills are shows in "Manhattan Project", which features good melodies, instrumental breaks, and dynamics. in "Marathon", Geddy Lee shines again in all areas, especially his bass performance.

Unfortunately, it doesn't sound very original after the first half. "Territories" has good parts but it sounds too much like a hybrid of "Grand Designs" and "Marathon". despite the interesting bass lines and guitar solo, "Middletown Dreams" is quite boring during the singing parts. "Emotion Detector" is easily the bottom of the barrel here, a dated-sounding mediocre pop song. Fortunately, "Mystic Rhythms" is a quite solid track with good guitar-synth interplay and another moment where Geddy Lee shines. great vocals in the choruses and great use of a synthesizer that manages to be emotional.

If you're interested in Rush and don't mind a mellower and more keyboard-oriented album, give it a try.

1. The big money (B) 2. Grand designs (C+) 3. Manhattan Project (B) 4. Marathon (B) 5. Territories (C) 6. Middletown dreams (C-) 7. Emotion detector (D) 8. Mystic rhythms (B-)

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Uh oh, the 80s finally caught up with the Rush boys...

...but is it a bad thing? Not necessarily! This is a surprisingly strong release from Rush, albeit a bit different from their classic era. It seems that after whipping out the guitar in Grace under Pressure the boys decided to put it away behind the synths again, if this time less than on Signals. Musically, Rush starts to dance on the borders of Rock, Prog and New Wave, creating a fairly interesting mix. None of the songs dip under 5 minutes as well, making for some fairly solid compositions. It's clear here, though, that the times have changed, but Rush was always good at adapting.

The album starts off on an off note. THE BIG MONEY is a song that will surely make the prog fan's ears bleed if they're not prepared for what's coming. One guitar chord, then synth notes scream in an 80s fashion as Geddy shouts big money goes around the world!. Not exactly the swords and Shields stuff that made Rush so famous. However, as is the case with most Rush music, the music itself is enough to save this song. Geddy's bass line on this one alone is enough to make any critical audience stop and think, 'Oh, okay, they still know what they're doing... you guys scared me, though.' The next track, GRAND DESIGNS, is along the same sythed path. Starting out with a synth riff that's a bit more pleasing to the ear than the last, this song starts off a bit more.. calmly. It's a great track as well, likely one of the standouts on the album, and also one of the more progressive points. Better playing by Lifeson on this one, if still low-key. Geddy is one again the focal point, however, as his bass and voice are really the two things that drive the song.

The rest of the album is also littered with gems. The dark and eerie MANHATTAN PROJECT is the next song up. Lyrics based on the Hiroshima bombing leave one with a sense of unease as Neil tells the story of the race to build the bigger bomb. MIDDLETOWN DREAMS is a song with the same amount of darkness, if with a little bit lighter subject manner. TERRITORIES is another track worth the listen, a tale of patriotism and '...greener on the other side' school of thought.

There are a couple classic Rush tracks to be had yet. MARATHON is easily the best song on the offering. Once again driven by Geddy's bass and voice this is a track that's midpacedly blissful to listen to. EMOTION DETECTOR is another great, if lesser known, with some great lyrics accompanying a very well arranged musical section. However, aside from Marathon, the next best thing on this album would have to be the coda MYSTIC RHYTHMS. Another very dark track with interesting lyrics tat's bound to catch the ear of the prog-head.

Concluding now.

3 stars is what this album gets! Good, not amazing, but good. Fans of 80s Rush will delight in this one, fans of only their 70s stuff will likely be thrown off. For everybody else the album is hit and miss. You might love it and you might hate it. Recommended for those who want something good in the 80s.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Power Windows is the eleventh studio album from Canadian progressive rock act Rush. Released between Grace Under Pressure ( 1984) and Hold Your Fire ( 1987) the album has a little of the sound from both Grace Under Pressure and Hold Your Fire. The perfect link between those two albums. Grace Under Pressure contains some of my favorite Rush songs but that album also has a couple of very average songs that will never make it unto my list of favorites from the band. Power Windows is a notch sharper and more exciting IMO and all songs are excellent ( well almost all).

The sound on Power Windows is synth dominated but still with great bass, drums and guitar playing. There are actually some very good guitar solos from Alex Lifeson on the album. Very inspiring IMO. You have to have a strong stomach for eighties synth to enjoy this album, but it´s not a problem for me. I think it sounds great.

The album starts with The Big Money which I think is a great and powerful song. Other songs worth mentioning is Manhattan Project and Marathon but as I mentioned above all songs are excellent except for Emotion Detector which is a bit average. The beautiful Mystic rythms ends the album in grand style.

The musicianship is excellent. Neil Peart´s drumming is as inspired as always and Geddy Lee´s vocal performance is sharp and delivered with attitude. The band had at this point in their career reach a level of perfection that most bands will never reach.

The production is wonderful IMO. The bass is quite high in the mix and it suits me fine that you can hear the powerful basslines this clear. The synths are high in the mix as well and that´s an aquired taste if that will please you. I think it fits some songs better than others just as I stated in my review of Grace Under Pressure.

Rush eighties albums alienate many. Even some fans of seventies Rush dislike their eighties output. Mostly because of the excessive use of synth. My introduction to Rush was through their eighties albums so for me those albums have a special place in my collection ( except Signals which is not a favorite of mine). Power Windows is an excellent album and deserves a 4 star rating from me. Rush have corrected almost everything I wasn´t fully satisfied with on Grace Under Pressure and for that they receive the fourth star.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
1 stars "Style without substance" and "run of the mill" are very fitting expressions featured among the lyrics of this album

I think it is more than fair to say that Rush were stuck in a rut in the mid 80's. With Signals, Rush tried something new, and even if the band's classic era ended with Moving Pictures - their last great album - Signals was still somewhat fresh and interesting to these ears. Even so, Signals was the start of a downward spiral for Rush that continued with Grace Under Pressure and culminated with Power Windows. If Grace Under Pressure was Signals part 2 then Power Windows is Grace Under Pressure part 2. It seems that they stopped developing at this point and instead were content with doing more of the same.

More of the same can sometimes be a good thing though if the template is strong enough and it is done with passion and energy. But it is here that Rush failed so terminally. The songwriting is really weak here and every single track sounds like a bleak and uninspired copy of some song from the two previous albums. Signals and Grace Under Pressure - even if they were no longer Prog Rock album - still featured some classic Rush tunes. Power Windows, on the other hand, does not feature a single song that can be said to belong to Rush's best, not even the best of 80's Rush. This is simply run of the mill or Rush by the numbers. It all sounds like something we have all heard before a million times and the result is one of Rush's most uninspired recordings ever. Even the cover art is awful!

Thankfully - as it was pretty much impossible to make a record worse than the present one - Rush would again start to improve with the next couple of albums. Power Windows was the first time they hit rock bottom.

Review by crimson87
4 stars "Power Windows" is by far, the album that produces most encountered opinions between Rush fans. Long gone were the sci-fi epics and the band was fully embracing 80's sound motives and production. This fact alone does not mean that "Power Windows" is a mainstream oriented album or an uninspired one since the band was still exprimentating and changing their sound as usual. This release was the peak of their so called "synth period"

In my opinion this is the last Rush album I can enjoy from start to finish. Among this 5 minute songs Peart delivers some of his most inspired drumming. Moreover, there are some interesting lyrics here. As an example you could read the ones from "Manhattan Project" or "Marathon" which also happen to be two of my favourite 80's Rush numbers. Lifeson manages to put some memorable solos among the synth fest on songs like "The Big Money" or "Emotion detector".

The only flaw I seem to find on this record is that it's a little bit monotonous on its sounding. The band could have put some acoustic piece in the middle to break the pattern this record holds. But overall, "Power Windows" is proof that even in the dark ages the 80's were, there was still place for some good material out there.

3.5 stars. Exellent addition to any Rush lover collection

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Power windows from 1985 , an album dominated by soaring keyboard , but don't expect to be something symphonic prog a la Zaragon (danish band) for ex. They incorporated very well that key passages with heavy prog that use to listen on their previous albums. The mid '80's caught Rush in a synth period like Signals or Grace this album is a good one all the way , with some finest moments they ever done, just listen to the powerfull pieces Manhattan Project , Marathon, Territories or Mystic rhythms , some of the best Rush tracks ever. A big album to me, better than Grace in many places, quite intristing and damn well played. And another thing the lyrics are awesome on Manhattan Project, and aswell on the rest. So, a big Rush album for sure that pleases me every second, 4 stars for sure, among their best ever. Rush knows how to survive in that period and compose a great album.
Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
4 stars With almost consistent similarities between Rush's previous albums, Grace Under Pressure and Signals, Rush took another somewhat significant departure in their sound. The song lengths were still short making them meet the qualifications of 1980s mainstream radio, but Geddy Lee took his synthesizers to new heights, so much so that they dominated (some might say overwhelmed) Rush's overall sound. To my ears, this is a neo-progressive album. It may not keep to the Genesis-inspired stuff other neo-prog bands were partially doing at the time, but nevertheless it has its feet firmly planted in accessible, synth-dominated prog.

Taking a back seat is Lifeson's guitar. Like many guitarists in the 1980s, Lifeson experimented with echoey chord bursts and thin leads. The heavy use of keyboards doesn't bother me much (in fact, I like good keyboard melodies and backdrops), but Lifeson's experiments I found disappointing. You could see hints of this same type of guitar work on their previous album.

The songs are still elaborately arranged, Peart's drumming (even with electronic drums thrown in for good measure) is it's usual quality of excellence, Peart's lyrics are still well written and thoughtful and often covering subject matter much lacking from the fodder being played on 1980s radio stations.

For an album called Power Windows, where the themes tended to be about power, one wonders why the music lacked this power, often leaving the feeling of coldness. If it wasn't for that one quality lacking, I would rate this a masterpiece. Still it was exceedingly better than other neo-prog releases from 1985. Four stars for an exceptional, but somewhat flawed album.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Another album that is hard to judge objectively for me. Looking at the artwork alone already conjures up nostalgic emotions from back when I was 14 and big brother arrived home with his newest Rush trophy. At that particular time we only had heard Signals and 2112 so this wall of synths was another shock. But what a pleasant one! The song writing and execution on this album is impeccable. Yes it's bombastic, and appreciating Moving Pictures is no guarantee you will be able to sit through this album, but if you can stand the 80-ties invasion in Rush's sound, you'll sure confirm that it is one has some of their best song writing ever.
Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Being relatively a newcomer to Rush, meaning that yours truly wasn't around during the '70s and '80s, I began exploring their material by going through the discography one album at a time starting with their '70s albums. After exploring all of their albums up to Moving Pictures and hearing a few samples from their later albums I hesitated making any more purchases. This fact made a few of my friends a bit unhappy and after having a long discussion about it I was lent a copy of Power Windows which was suppose to represent everything that was so great about the band's '80s output.

After listening through this album on a few occasions my opinion on the matter remains the same as it was before. I'm simply not convinced by the music offered here. Let me be clear on one thing though, there is nothing particularly wrong with these compositions from a general point of view and all of my objections are only based on difference of personal taste that restrains me from seeing Power Windows as anything more than a fans only release.

This album is literally drained in layers upon layers of generic synthesizer sound which I found charming when it was used sparsely on the early '80s albums. For me, the essence of Rush lies in their ability to perform highly technical rock music where each member is exceptionally great at their particularly instrument. Unfortunately the emphasis has now been shifted by placing the skill in the background while basic keyboard patterns occupy the foreground. There are a few good songs that still manage to get past these limitations but overall my objection stands for most of this album. Just listen to the intro of The Big Money where Neil Peart begins the album with a magnificent drumbeat which then becomes completely overshadowed by the simplistic keyboard sounds.

The direction that Rush was heading for during the '80s might have been considered hip at the time but hopefully most fans can agree that this material hasn't aged as well as some of their earlier material where the band was relying more on their skill which sometimes instead resulted in some questionable choices in the sound department.

**** star songs: The Big Money (5:34) Manhattan Project (5:04) Territories (6:18)

*** star songs: Grand Designs (5:05) Marathon (6:09) Middletown Dreams (5:15) Emotion Detector (5:10) Mystic Rhythms (5:53)

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars My first Rush album and one of my first ventures into Prog territory. I remember that 27 months ago, when I was first listening it, I didn't like it that much. This is one of the very first albums with which I started. I was looking on wikipedia's page about Anti-War songs and Manhattan Project was the track.

I eventually started to like it quite a lot.

Lyrically, this album is very high. Targeting serious topics (nothing like Yes lyrics here and not Zepelinesque as debut album's words), it's not bad musically too. The point is that Rush were never so bad (they don't have "depth" from which they would leap to the (if not) top, or simply higher. It's half caused by the fact that they simply started later than other groups (in early 70s rather than in late 60s) and lasted longer, but it's also caused by their relatively consistent quality.

Flow of songs here is interesting, there's probably no weak track as well (maybe the worst would be Middletown Dreams - I'm glad that we don't have this kind of suburbs in Czech Republic, one house looking exactly like another, in perfectly designed row), even it's not as good as their top albums (Moving Pictures to name one) and I'm aware of that difference.

4(+), that's it.

Review by Sinusoid
2 stars Sometimes, I really wish I was in my diehard Rush fan mode so that way I can enjoy albums like POWER WINDOWS much more, but I'm not and I can't. Hearing SIGNALS last, I was pretty worried about the direction Rush was heading with the more conventional song structure choices and impeding of too many '80s sounding synths. POWER WINDOWS embraces those ideas and leaves behind many of the prog aspects that got me to love them in the first place.

None of the three men shine quite like they used to in an instrumental sense; rarely do we hear a standout performance from anyone. They also seem to abandon the use of odd metres (I can't find any here) that gave earlier classics like ''YYZ'' some flair. Tracks 3 through 7 sound like totally anonymous '80s pop; ''Grand Design'' starts with one of the worst keyboard lines I've ever heard.

''The Big Money'' sounds like any other pop song, except with insanely tricky basslines, a respectable guitar solo and a memorable hook. ''Mystic Rhythms'' is the only track here that could compete with the Rush classics; it creates the best atmosphere on the album as it is very haunting and...well, rhythmic. Sadly, these two tracks don't cut the mustard comparing to classic Rush in it's glory. Leave POWER WINDOWS for the curious fans that can mine a hidden gem or three out of this; I haven't found much.

Review by lazland
3 stars An album which marked a departure from the phase that had begun with Permanent Waves and ended with Grace Under Pressure, this was Rush in by now full-blown 1980's power pop/rock territory, and, inevitably, it was a phase which divides opinion amongst fans and critics alike.

I think the first thing to say about this album is that it is very good, well performed, with the trio sounded as tight as ever, and, perhaps more importantly, trying out new ways of recording and playing without ever wishing to "sell out", as some of its protractors would tell us.

It features three of the finest tracks the band have ever recorded. The opener, Big Money, as good an example of power rock as you were likely to get in this period of time, Marathon, featuring perhaps Geddy Lee's finest musical contribution to the band (which is saying something), and, the absolute highlight, the album's closer, the intense, sublime, and exotic Mystic Rhythms.

Elsewhere, amongst tracks which strike one as being a little bit too close to mediocrity for comfort, only the brooding, and intensely played, Manhattan Project comes even close to hitting the three aforementioned tracks heights.

In hindsight, this album can, perhaps, be viewed as one of the band's works which marks a transition, and, hence, them seeking to find comfort in that new direction. Certainly, its successor, Hold Your Fire, would find the band sounding and looking far more comfortable and consistent.

As I have said before, this is a good album, but nowhere near consistent enough to mark it out as an excellent piece of work. The highlights, though, do make it a purchase worth having in your collection.

Three stars for this, from a band who have never made a poor album in their entire career, which is perhaps the finest tribute one could possibly pay.

Review by tarkus1980
3 stars This is one of the most frustrating albums I've ever heard in my life; it is extremely rare for me to simultaneously like and dislike so many things about a single album. On the one hand, while I was iffy about it at first, I've come to really like the general sound of the album. The way the powerful and simultaneously precise mix of solid production, interesting guitar lines (Alex is really at the top of his game here, both in ambience and in riffage), GREAT basslines (even by Geddy's standards), aggressive drumming (Peart's drums are heavily electronically enhanced, but they produce a lot of cool rhythms) and dated-as-hell mid-80's synths (that took me aback the first few times but which don't seem overdone at all now) makes this album almost sound like it was done by a machine, and I mean that as a compliment. If ever there was a Rush album that deserved to have "Power" in the title, this was it.

On the other hand, the songwriting starts falling off a cliff on this album. The more up- tempo/rhythmic songs (and parts of songs) sound great with this new approach, but the style of a few of the songs has creeped into the land of generic adult pop, and no amount of busy arrangements can really save them. The one I like the least is the fan favorite "Manhattan Project;" I no longer consider it the worst song they'd done to this point, and I've actually grown to like the up- tempo parts with the "big bang came and shook the world ..." vocal melody, but oh man I hate the main portion of that song. I'm sorry, but I just cannot see the appeal of a generic adult contemporary melody singing hackish lyrics about WWII and the atomic bomb. I just can't buy the idea that singing about a "serious" topic makes a song with such a weak musical skeleton better; to me, it can only make it worse. The ending orchestration definitely only makes things worse.

Switching gears, I have to say that, after many, many listens, I still have trouble finding much to praise in "Grand Designs," "Middletown Dreams" or "Emotion Detector." Ok, "Grand Designs" has a really intricate arrangement of interlocking synths and guitars, and one mildly ok hook, but I can barely keep my attention focused on it when I'm listening to the song, so retaining much more from it once it's done is a nearly impossible task. "Emotion Detector" has a decent up-tempo chorus, and "Middletown Dreams" has some passion in its more "heavenly" moments, but that's largely all I retain from these two tracks. The sound is still cool, but the hooks are largely absent, and that strongly matters to me.

The other four tracks, though, are freaking amazing, and because they've impressed me more and more over the years, I've boosted the album's rating a good deal above where it was. The opener, "The Big Money," demonstrates all of the album's strengths in ample form (with amusing lyrics to boot). I mean, you have the amazing opening barrage of riff-interplay from the guitars, drums and synths; you have a fun vocal melody; you have a great mid-song jam, with all of Lifeson's skills on display. I know some who consider it one of Rush's cheeziest singles, and they may be right, but it's still extremely entertaining. As is the first-half closer, "Marathon," a rousing anthemic pop song with a nice vocal melody and a chorus that may be based in cheezy 80's pop but is still extremely well-written (and so much fun to sing along with). The synths are way too quintessentially mid-80's, and the lyrics are a bit silly, but I find the song great despite these two small flaws.

The second half starts off with "Territories," a track that sounded impressive the first couple of times I heard it, then became less so (once I realized how similar the main guitar line was to guitar lines in the title track of King Crimson's Discipline album), then became more interesting as I realized it had other cool aspects as well. The lyrics are a decent jab at the concept of nationalism, and the way the music alternates between the "hypnotic" main guitar line and more aggressive parts is quite impressive. It's a little overlong at 6+ minutes, but it's a nice song. It pales in comparison, though, to the concluding track, "Mystic Rhythms," which I simply adore and so should you. It's extremely different from anything the band would ever try again in their career, but there are just so many great things about this song - that simple yet catchy "African" beat throughout, the "mystical" lyrics, the FANTASTIC chorus (with terrific guitar and synth interplay) ... I mean, I don't even mind the lengthy fadeout! As far as mid-80's Rush goes, music does not get much better than this.

After all is said and done, if you're really desperate for mid-80's-style Rush, you'd be much better off getting Signals. But if you've consumed that album as much as possible, then this should be the next stop. At the very least, I can say this - for what's largely a generic mid-80's album, this sure has a unique sound, and that's enough for me.

Review by Starhammer
3 stars Venetian blinds...

With the band's eleventh studio album we have entered their nondescript phase proper. I don't mean that in a particularly negative sense, its just that from here on every album can be broken down into good songs, quite good songs (a few rubbish songs) and with not much else to say. With total running times of ~50 minutes and track times of ~5 minutes Rush might even seem a bit generic if it wasn't for the variations in style between albums and the legacy they had already established. I am a huge fan of the band and enjoy (most of) these album very much, but it does seem a bit strange that even after so many listens there is so little I am able to highlight as being particularly good or bad.

The Good: The Big Money, Manhattan Project and Territories

The Bad: Nothing much.

The Verdict: B+

Review by Warthur
4 stars Rush's Power Windows was a first for the band in one fatal respect - it was the first album since their debut in which their sound had not appreciably evolved or moved on compared to their previous album. Although I find their first few albums hit-and-miss and Hemispheres a bit of a stumble compared to the otherwise excellent run of albums from 2112 to Grace Under Pressure, I have to give Rush credit for growing and evolving their sound constantly over the course of their first ten albums. Power Windows, by contrast, sees them doing something they'd never done before in their career - playing it safe.

Essentially, if you've heard Signals and Grace Under Pressure, you've heard all the tricks the band have to offer here - it's yet another synth-heavy version of Rush's music with a focus on shorter songs. (Heck, Middletown Dreams is even - lyrically speaking - a rehash of Signals' Subdivisions). There is admittedly a slighter harder edge to it this time than Grace Under Pressure, which over time I've come to appreciate as giving it a slightly different style from its predecessor (whereas the compositional style has evolved sufficiently from Signals to save it being a rerun of that), but it feels like a smaller increment than usual for the band's evolution, like their movement forwards has started to decelerate.

Perhaps the most successful song here is Marathon, which at the halfway mark breaks out into a guitar-focused instrumental section which feels like the band are finding ways to work sounds they'd set aside for Grace Under Pressure back into the format without making it sound like a reversion. I'm reminded a little at points in Marillion of this; it's notable that Rush had toured with Marillion back in 1983, and then invited them to be support on the Power Windows tour, so perhaps there was some fruitful cross-fertilisation of ideas happening here.

In the end, I think Power Windows is still a very solid 1980s synth-prog album; it's not going to be to the taste of anyone who only likes Rush when they leaning on a hard rock or metal-adjacent sound, like in their late 1970s phase, but the same can be said for the two previous albums. I'd rank it below Grace Under Pressure, however, and I think it's because the synth era of Rush seems to start slowing down here that I had been harsh on it before.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Overpowering 80s synths create an underwhelming experience.

After 10 glorious studio albums, 5 of which were revered as masterpieces, Rush produce this and the 80s swallow them whole and they spit out an album that really is not great. I love Rush but have to take stock when they produce this type of non-prog radio friendly matter. There is too much mediocrity and forgettable material on this album that mars an otherwise great experience.

Well, I guess I better focus on the highlights. It certainly begins well with the great rocking 'The Big Money' which has a fantastic melody and there is Lee slappin' de bass. Lifeson is terrific on lead guitar and Peart keeps a consistent tempo that drives it along. The presence of synths is overpowering but it works well enough. The production on the album is treble turned to the max and sounds a bit gutless in the bass department. It is 80s to the max and as a result thins out the heaviness replacing it with crystalline clean textures which is not a good thing for Rush. A bit of dirty guitar would not have harmed the sound but all is restrained and Lee hardly troubles his distortion pedal.

'Marathon' is a wonderful song with an exceptional melody and I love this most of all I think on this album. the lead break is killer and if only they would stick to this formula. I mean we all love hearing Lifeson blaze away on his guitar, don't we? The synths are dominant but here it works beautifully. The chorus is one of the all time great Rush melodies. It has a majestic sound and I can never tire of that uplifting tune. Thank heavens for songs like these which save this album from a very low rating.

'Territories' is another one I have rarely heard but it has a cool drum beat and ethereal synths. It sounds unique on the album, as the music is played differently using subtle variations of instrumental style. Lee sounds very good on vocals. Lifeson's guitars are pitchier and he plays more aggressively especially on the riff leading to the second section. The melody is well executed and overall I really like the song, though is not well known.

Now for the songs that are not so good, and there are too many of them for my comfort. 'Grand Designs' is downright filler material, dull and drenched in synthesizers. There are loud chimes of guitar and it all seems so happy and upbeat and as a result annoying. The Partridge Family were never this happy. 'Manhattan Project' is a forgettable song but at least it rocks, the treble is so thin it hurts my ears though. Man, where is the bass sound, guys? Lee's vocals are overdone and really I would rarely return to this mediocrity.

Rush's overuse of synthesizers on songs like 'Middletown Dreams' and 'Emotion Detector' have not dated well though I am sure in the 80s it blew everyone's socks off. No? Oh well. 'Middletown Dreams' is so crystal clean, sudsy and streamlined you can clean the bathtub with it. The sound screams 80s and the synths are just overpowering throughout. It is little wonder why they don't bother to play this song live anymore, they would clear the building. In all fairness Rush are a product of their time back in the 80s and it is easy to criticise but I only wish they had taken it easy on the radio friendly synth pop. Heck, even Ultravox were darker and heavier than this.

'Emotion Detector' continues in the same vein, synths to the wall and crystal clean pitchiness to blow your ear muffs off. The jangly guitar is relentless but at least the synths are not so demanding. The sound is crisp and happy but at this point I could have done with a distorted blast or a blistering riff, and none are forthcoming; the band are not interested, as they are now sons of the 80s and damn the critics and die hard fans.

'Mystic Rhythms' saves the day with a great closer, not to the standard of the opening tracks but still very good. The electronic percussion makes me take notice of Peart who has been in the background. The melody is better here, the synths are in the background, except for those interminable trumpet blasts. This still has a great feel overall especially the chorus.

"Power Windows" is not the worst Rush album but like "Hold Your Fire", "Roll The Bones" and "Presto" it is among them. Thankfully the 80s would soon be over and Rush would come out the other side with a heavier sound that made them so great in the 70s. 4 decent tracks so it deserves at least 3 stars but of course you would be better off getting hold of any of the previous 10 albums if you want to hear Rush at their absolute best.

Review by Chicapah
3 stars My beloved wife is a wonderful woman but she does have a few tendencies and peccadilloes that sometimes prove to be bothersome and/or unproductive. One is that when she and I discover some previously un-sampled entrée or snack to be absolutely delicious we, quite naturally, develop a hankering for more of said delicacy. In my case I'm happy to simply make a mental note that the next time I have a chance to eat it I will take full advantage of the opportunity. In her case she feels compelled to buy up the entire stock at Walmart and consume it daily until we can't stand it anymore. I think that's what happened to Rush when it came utilizing synthesizers on "Power Windows." They overindulged.

In their defense I should point out that the field of electronic keyboard technology and innovations in the mid-80s was erupting like a musical Mount Vesuvius, putting an almost infinitesimal variety of fantastic sounds at the fingertips of anyone who wanted to (and could afford to) explore that colorful realm. Evidently Rush's bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee was their Ponce De Leon in that area and the other two members gave him enough rope to hang himself. Whereas Geddy's tasteful and inventive foray into the world of synthesizers made 84's "Grace Under Pressure" a well-crafted album that tactfully melded their traditional sound with a more modern, "New Wave" approach to prog rock sensibilities, his unrestrained obsession with them turned "Power Windows" into a classic case of excessive audio enhancement. The band's decision to turn the producing reins over to the eager-but-still-green-behind-the-gills Peter Collins didn't help to curb Lee's addiction to synthetics, either. I'm not saying it's a bad record, just a slight misstep on their long, successful road that continues to this day.

Rush does the right thing by opening the disc with their strongest offering, "The Big Money," wherein they charge right from the gate with Alex Lifeson's huge power chords exploding through the speakers. The immediate presence of Geddy's heavy synth embellishments indicates that the trio was completely committed (for better or worse) to his vision of integrating a multitude of keyboards into their progressive art. This song in particular makes me think of where The Police would have ventured if they'd "gone prog" at some juncture. Due in no small part to Neil Peart's drumming there's certainly no lack of intensity, especially during Alex's guitar lead in the middle section. Next is "Grand Designs." On this cut the production is extremely bright and clean but not at the expense of the lower frequencies, displaying that the group had wisely learned the experiential lessons of how to make the recording studio work to their benefit. The tune's glossy synths and deep reverberations are cool but the songwriting involved is somewhat average. Speaking of depth, "Manhattan Project" has it in fathoms. Lifeson's precision is remarkable in erecting an un-ignorable wall of guitars to back up Lee's impassioned vocal while Neil, as usual, provides the necessary high-octane fuel.

The following track "Marathon," is where I began to suspect that the synths were intent on taking over. While they stop short of making the number's overall ambience appear timidly saccharine or trite (mostly because of their reliable and edgy bass, drum and guitar foundation that bolsters the vital dynamics that sets them apart from the herd) their unnecessary dominance is unnerving at times. I admire that Rush stays true to their prog roots, though, by continuing to utilize odd time signatures and unorthodox riffs and also by tacking on a grandiose soundscape at the end that satisfies the insatiable symphonic prog monster dwelling in so many of us. "Territories" doesn't fare as well. The tune comes off as a strange mixture of late model Genesis and ever-so-briefly-hip Duran Duran pop. I find the way the synths rudely intrude into the number's personality a bit garish and startling at times, setting the track on an uneven keel from start to finish. "Middletown Dreams" begins with another blast from Alex's 6-string arsenal, leading to more Police-inspired rhythmic patterns. (Being a fan of that influential band, I don't mind much at all.) Further kudos to Lifeson for employing an array of different guitar effects to keep the tunes from sounding identical yet the deficiencies in the composing keep surfacing the farther one travels through the album. In essence, melodies manufactured to fit into jam-induced arrangements don't always translate to "memorable."

"Emotion Detector" is next and it's at this point I finally have to agree with so many of their critics (and die-hard fans, for that matter) in announcing that Geddy's synthesizers had become obstructive, overemphasized to the degree that they cloud the view. This is where an experienced producer would've insisted on injecting some modicum of restraint into the proceedings but perhaps Peter Collins was exhorting Lee to take it to the limit, thus compounding the problem exponentially. Despite its shortcomings, however, this cut features the best of Alex's guitar rides found on the record. On "Mystic Rhythms" Peart's booming toms grabbed my aural attention from the get-go and I hoped that the band would take me out on a high note. Alas, though I kept yearning for something spectacular and thrilling to occur, nothing does and I was left with a feeling of still being slightly hungry.

One major flaw in "Power Windows" is that Neil's always entertaining drums are consistently positioned down in the mix and that in itself is inexcusable. Bringing them up to their rightful volume could've cured a lot of ills. But, having said that, I don't want to give the impression that I find this collection of prog tunes to be un-listenable. On the contrary, in light of what else was being released in the autumn of 1985, this record was downright exemplary in comparison. The prog waters were running pretty shallow in that era and Rush at least had the guts to follow their envelope-pushing muse wherever she led. The album reached #10 on the LP charts and kept them afloat so there's a lot to be said for that alone. It is what it is. 2.8 stars.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
3 stars The beginning of the great decline. I'm pretty much a fan of everything RUSH from the non-progressive hard rockin' debut album to the wonderful synth rock incarnations of SIGNALS and GRACE UNDER PRESSURE. However, this album percolates into my attention span simply because it is RUSH. If this was any lesser musical entity I wouldn't have the time of day to even entertain this mediocrity. Not saying this this is a horrible album as evidenced by my 3 star rating but geez, once you've gone to the musical heights that RUSH achived with many albums in the previoius ten years, how in the world do they possibly think this is an acceptable album even if they want to go the synth route? It simply boils down to the songwriting being extremely substandard and the classic conundrum of making money by appealing to the masses to making music that will appeal to the elite extreme musical literate. Apparantly RUSH felt they paid their dues to the latter and started the attempt to appeal to the former. It's an OK album. I find some of the tracks like "Big Money" and "Manhattan Project" to be acceptable but this album just reeks of mediocrity. A very sad moment indeed considering the artists here.
Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A victory lap before the showers

Power Windows is the last album by peak-era Rush. Sorry if that's hard for their many fans to swallow but it's true. The initial glorious run of albums that were both kickass and interesting, largely start to finish, ended here. Some would argue it ended much earlier but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. Nevertheless, despite such proclamations this is still a very decent album that entertains with relative ease. Some have called this album part 2 of Grace and there is some truth to that. They have their similarities although Grace is a more focused and intense, while Power Windows ever-so-slightly loosens the pit bull grip to the neck. I used to prefer Grace by far, these days I appreciate Power Windows more.

The album begins with a Rush "classic" in Big of those songs I remember exactly where I was when I first heard it. My friend and I had purchased the new cassette and tore the cellophane off, running for his car stereo to hear the new Rush! We though this track was promising, only to proclaim most of the rest of the album garbage. We wanted to like the new Rush and Yes albums but we were 70s throwbacks trapped in the 80s even at our young age. We were immersed in total self-hatred of our decade which in retrospect doesn't look so bad. The 80s had its moments, from D Boon to D Byrne. Today Big Money still presents the band in a good light with a spirited mélange of tastes and textures in a largely rocking meal. In several tracks Geddy's bass playing is just phenomenal and Alex quite inventive. He can still rip off a nice solo too, check out Marathon!

The rest of the album maintains a consistent appeal after all this time. I enjoy the melodies and catchy choruses along with the period sound, the big synths and echoey guitars don't bother me at all. I lament the lyrical changes Neil is going through, as we move from poetic science-fiction and literature/philosophical themes to the stylishly whiny bleeding-heart lyricist of Manhattan Project, Territories, and Middletown Dreams. But otherwise there is a sense of fun here within the music that was missing in the two previous albums, even though they may have been stronger on the whole. There's a bit more variety than Grace and more flair than Signals. There is a hard to describe haunting melancholy along with hope, dressed in a sound that is stylish and ambitious.

These three albums form the 80s Rush in my mind, they capture the band in the final throes of their peak. Starting with the next album the band began to sound increasingly formulaic despite proclamations of constant change and the eventual, nearly constant siren song of the "return to form." There has never been a return to form because that is no more possible than McCartney returning to White Album, or the Stones to Exile. That isn't to say there wouldn't be more worthwhile albums, I simply maintain this one was the end of their most vital period. Ignore the terrible reviews that cry crocodile tears about synth overload--this is good stuff.

Review by Guillermo
2 stars If there really was a definition of the "very typical sound from the eighties" I could say that there are some "very typical albums from that age". I could define that typical sound with the next "ingredients": the use of heavy reverberation; the heavy use of digital keyboards; the heavy use of electronic drums; the very "digital bright and clear" production of the sound; a tendency for the music to sound somewhat "plastic"; the tendency of the music from some Prog Rock bands to sound influenced by Pop Rock Music...

This is one of those very typical eighties albums which also has all the "ingredients" that I mentioned above. Other albums that have the "eighties formula" from more or less the same period are: ELO`s "Balance of Power"; ASIA`s "Astra"; GTR`s album; YES`s "Big Generator"; GENESIS`s "Invisible Touch"; A-HA`s "Hunting High and Low"; PETER CETERA`S "Solitude / Solitaire"... The list is very big, in fact. It was like there was not really a diving line between musical genres. Many producers used the same "production formula" during those years, even in the Pop and Rock music from the Spanish language countries (I can mention one Pop album in that language which sounds very similar in the use of that "production formula": the debut album from a female singing trio called FLANS, very far from my musical tastes, but I recognize that the album, which was recorded in Europe, has an excellent very typical eighties production).

Another thing in those years was that many bands and soloists still recorded an album each year. So, they worked harder than many bands and soloists do in the present days to record an album per year and also dedicated a lot of time to touring. So, sometimes it was inevitable that they repeated some musical ideas which they used in previous songs in new songs for new albums. This happens in this album from RUSH. I can listen to some ideas being repeated like a tired formula from previous albums like "Grace Under Pressure" and "Signals", like the heavy isolated guitar chords and some keyboard sounds and arrangements and the use of some electronic drum parts. But the main difference between those albums and this "Power Windows" album is the even more heavy use of keyboards and reverberation, even in a saturated way, and the songs tend to sound more influenced by Pop Rock music than by Prog Rock music. So, the heavy reverberation, in my opinion, is the main feature of this album. Also, the album as a whole sounds very processed by many technological means, sounding musically "cold" like many albums from that period. In my opinion, RUSH sounds a bit tired in this album, trying to join the eighties fashion in musical style and sound. There is only one song that I really liked from this album, and it is called "Emotion Detector". So... sorry, but this is not an album which I would like to listen to again.

Review by patrickq
2 stars Despite the presence of two strong songs, Power Windows is the low point of 1980s Rush. To many fans of "heavy prog," that's a pretty damning indictment, given how this era of the band is viewed. Here, probably more than anywhere else, Rush seems to be in search of the perfect pop song. That's not a problem per se - - the Beatles were on the same quest - - but Rush succeeds at a low rate in such endeavors. "Marathon" is a successful attempt at a pop song with universal applicability, but it comes at the cost of unsuccessful attempts like "Emotion Detector" and "Middletown Dreams." "Manhattan Project" is an unlikely mix, a catchy art-pop song focused on the grey areas of an enduring historical and political question. "Grand Designs" and especially "Mystic Rhythms" have very similar aspirations, but fall flat to these ears.

The remaining songs, "The Big Money" and "Territories," are a bit harder to place on a one-dimensional successful-to-unsuccessful continuum. Each is a more enjoyable listen than "Grand Designs," "Mystic Rhythms," "Emotion Detector," or "Middletown Dreams." But in both cases, much of the enjoyability is derived from conspicuous elements whose impact is blunted upon repeated listens.

My complaints here deal with both the production and composition of the songs on Power Windows, and in terms of composition, both the lyrics and the music; this isn't a simple case of lyricist Neil Peart falling down on the job. Long before Power Windows, Peart's lyrics were an integral part of the Rush package, and they're of roughly the same quality as those on Signals or Grace Under Pressure. The issue is probably something like this: Peart's lyrics lean a bit toward the figurative and the universal, and as a result, are relatively straightforward. The music created by composers Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee also leans a bit toward the straightforward, and is decidedly upbeat compared to the somewhat moody Grace Under Pressure. As lyrics and music were adjusted to fit each other, these two small deviations may have had a multiplying impact. Interestingly, the band did not give up their "popular" ambitions, for which they were eventually rewarded with songs like "Time Stand Still" and "Mission" on Hold Your Fire.

I'm not aware of a Rush compilation that could render Power Windows redundant by including both "Marathon" and "Manhattan Project." However, both songs are on the live A Show of Hands, and these renditions are just as good as the studio versions.

Rush released seven albums during the 1980s, most of which I consider good, three-star albums. Unfortunately, Power Windows isn't one of these. But neither did Power Windows represent the beginning of the end; this band had a few good albums left.

Review by Necrotica
4 stars By the time Grace Under Pressure came out, it was clear to fans and critics that Rush were skilled in displaying their own takes on trending musical styles. Their first two albums saw them successfully (in hindsight, at least) deliver heavy, driving guitar riffs in the vein of Led Zeppelin and Cream, the 1976-1981 progressive heyday displayed that the band could join such genre giants as Genesis and King Crimson, and both Signals and Grace Under Pressure showed us that the band could throw that style away for something more synthesizer-oriented and lyrically personal. Basically, Rush can adapt to the times exceptionally well. With that said, you could definitely say that 1985's Power Windows is likely Rush's most 80s-influenced album, as it explores many of the synthrock and pop sounds of the era... specifically, the huge emphasis on Geddy Lee's synthesizer work. After all, why deny the opportunity for reinvention yet again?

As soon as "The Big Money" makes its grand statement with a blast of synthesizer chords and Alex Lifeson's mix between chords and rapid-fire lines on the guitar front, you can already tell you're in for something both bold and oddly distant. Power Windows is a pretty bizarre album because, while many of its lyrical themes are personal and social, and the guitar work has a tone that cuts through the production to reach the listener on a more personal level, the synthesizers end up pulling you away at the same time. Songs like the electronic drum-oriented ballad "Mystic Rhythms" and the dreamlike tune "Manhattan Project" have a bizarrely expansive and cold quality that, strangely enough, inspires more intrigue and warrants repeated listens just to catch every little nuance of this experimentation. However, Rush do make plenty of room for both more progressive and poppy arrangements to offset these darker moments. "The Big Money" is incredibly fun (despite its message of greed) because of how bubbly and fast-paced the instrumental work proves to be once the grand opener. The same can also be said of my personal favorite tune on here, "Marathon," which combines fantastic instrumental work in the verses (primarily that wonderful bass line from Lee) with a wonderfully inspiring chorus that features Geddy Lee at his best vocally. And of course, there's that great message about getting through the marathon known as life, and how tough the run can be.

Unfortunately, just like with Grace Under Pressure, many Rush fans will likely be turned off by this incarnation of the group. Even for these ears, the synthesizer experimentation gets pretty old after a while. Once at the 6th or 7th song, one might just wish for a break from the ridiculously frequent keyboard use and instead go for some more guitar-oriented Rush music. Granted, there are a few songs that break the pace a bit in this regard, like the more hard rock-oriented tune "Territories" or even a good chunk of "Marathon," but some may wish for more of Lifeson's guitar playing. However, the bright side is that he does have a larger presence here than he did on Signals, which almost cut him out entirely. Regardless, if you're in the mood to check out some of Rush's oddest material and you feel adventurous, Power Windows is a nice bet. It takes Grace Under Pressure's dark, cold sound and expands upon it with more synthesizers and overall experimentation. It's multifaceted, sparse, dark, and high in replay value. It's worth playing multiple times just to, once again, hear something you didn't catch the first time around. Just don't expect it to immediately be one of your favorite Rush albums... go in with the right mindset and you'll be all good.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Rush's response to the techno-pop dominated "prog" of the mid-1980s (including The Fixx, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Simple Minds, Re-Flex, and Trevor Horn's ever-expanding posse of production clients)--and to YES' 90125.

1. "The Big Money" (5:34) nice bass play. Nice SIMPLE MINDS-like guitar sound & solo in the fourth minute. Definitely a demonstration that Rush have joined the techno-80s. (8.667/10)

2. "Grand Designs" (5:05) nice keys, bass, vocal performance (and lyrics); weird to hear all those gated drums and FIXX/FLOCK OF SEAGULLS-like effected guitar sounds. Weak "oh-oh-oh" section in the last 90 seconds (filler/a waste of time). (8.667/10)

3. "Manhattan Project" (5:04) a more quiet, subdued sound palette, despite the "big" synth sounds/fills. More FIXX-like sounds from Alex after the stylistic shift in the second minute. I like the melodies used throughout. (And I LOVE the Fixx!) A top three song for me. (8.75/10)

4. "Marathon" (6:09) bombastic start before some fretless jazz bass line and FIXX-like guitar strums take over. SIMPLE MINDS synths fill a lot of the spaces. A relaxed and effective vocal performance from Geddy. Very nice guitar, synth and drum performances in the instrumental "C" part. Some cool atmospheric effects help fill the audiosphere. Another top three. (9/10)

5. "Territories" (6:18) another song that sounds like someone else (SIMPLE MINDS, ABC, FRANKIE GOES TOI HOLLYWOOD immediately come to mind), yet there is a cool vibe and pace to this one--with some of my favorite percussion work from Neil. Horrible chorus--both musically and vocally. (8.75/10)

6. "Middletown Dreams" (5:15) another FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD beginning before the Jamie West-Oram FIXX guitar sounds and strums enter. Otherwise, a solid Rush song more in the vein of true Rush-ness. (8.667/10)

7. "Emotion Detector" (5:10) interesting 80s entrance and intro with some sad, totally synthed music--even the drums are electronically effected! Still, mature (if imitative) songwriting (SIMPLE MINDS, THE FIXX). Nice guitar and bass play during the instrumental passage in the fourth minute. (8.5/10)

8. "Mystic Rhythms" (5:53) from the studios of JIMMY JAM & TERRY LEWIS? Or THE RE-FLEX? If you like the musics of either of the aforementioned artists, you'll love this song. The overly familiar (derivative) video of this song confirms the band's desire to fit into the techno-pop era of the 1980s. My final top three song. (8.75/10)

Total Time 44:28

The effects used on Geddy's voice, Alex's guitar, and even Neil's percussives, have become so processed and effected (so 80s). Can't really blame them for joining the party--trying out some new clothes: FRANKI, THE FIXX, and SIMPLE MINDS had been really successful (and sounded really good). The sound is still good--the compositions polished and the lyrics relevant and impactful. It even stands up okay over time.

B/four stars; not bad--especially if you're a fan of some of the better, more proggy techno pop of the mid-1980s. A nice, if dated, addition to any prog lover's music collection.

Latest members reviews

3 stars In both "Signals" and the subsequent "Grace Under Pressure" the synthesizers had a preponderant role, and with "Power Windows" the Canadians would submerge themselves even more in that universe of endless textures, colors and atmospheres. A universe that, according to Geddy Lee, they had not fin ... (read more)

Report this review (#2931611) | Posted by Hector Enrique | Friday, June 9, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Rush followed this album up with Power Windows in 1985. The opening "The Big Money" demonstrates some differences with the sonic qualities of Grade Under Pressure. Geddy's keyboards have more varied tones, and his bass has a much funkier tone than usual. Lifeson's guitar is also mixed lower, much li ... (read more)

Report this review (#2904242) | Posted by TheEliteExtremophile | Monday, April 3, 2023 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The 80's era of Rush often gets criticism for Geddy Lee's use of synthesizers and the more mainstream sound. But underneath that, there is some very good songwriting and lyrics. On Power Windows, each song tackles a form of power ie. "The Big Money" - the power of money, "Middletown Dreams" - th ... (read more)

Report this review (#2672662) | Posted by Atomic Surf | Saturday, January 15, 2022 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Don't get me wrong this album is incredible but not from a progressive standpoint On my way back from seeing a friend in Dallas I had a 3 hour lay over in Houston. While waiting for my flight I thought about what I would consider to be my favorite Rush album (and yes I do think about stuf ... (read more)

Report this review (#1224495) | Posted by Meegan | Saturday, July 26, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Where do I start... I figured this is as good as any to do my first review on, being my personal favorite album of one of my most highly coveted bands of all time. Power Windows is in my opinion the most melodic and lyrically complex Rush album out there. The music is rich and very layered wh ... (read more)

Report this review (#971249) | Posted by Encoder314 | Tuesday, June 4, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I don't dislike this album at all, in fact I find it to be very pleasant listening. Gone is the biting edge of the music though and this is much more standard fare than I'm used to from this band. Nothing really stands up and grabs me however nothing makes me want to use the cd as a coffee cup ... (read more)

Report this review (#940344) | Posted by sukmytoe | Saturday, April 6, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars There's something about this album that I just can't get enough of. Let it be known first that I do not disapprove of the large keyboard focus of this and other albums from the 80s Rush did, some of their best written songs came from this period. And besides, I thought prog was about trying ne ... (read more)

Report this review (#835705) | Posted by Tarn Valor | Wednesday, October 10, 2012 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Power Windows is the album where the sonic influence of the 80's finally catches up with the band. So far their 80's albums have been doing an admirable job of dodging the cheesiness of the decade, while still incorporating the keyboard to success. Unfortunately the band is no longer prog (and i ... (read more)

Report this review (#771350) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Power Windows finds Rush at the top of their writing and playing ability, with an album of all very well-written songs performed impeccably, and produced tightly with a distinctive electric rock sound with very specific and uniform yet decorated arrangements. The melodies are all strong, all ... (read more)

Report this review (#626438) | Posted by 7headedchicken | Saturday, February 4, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The eleventh album from Rush. I am not that keen on the middle era Rush. The era starting with the excellent Permanent Waves, but then tailing off after that with some albums. Power Windows is probably their least great album from this period. Opening with one of their heaviest songs ever; B ... (read more)

Report this review (#567824) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Monday, November 14, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars When I first heard this album it was my least favorite Rush album. There was something about it originally I didn't care for at all but after a few listens it has been able to grow on me and become a good album. It does contain my least favorite Rush song ever made (Emotion Detector) but does ... (read more)

Report this review (#463564) | Posted by criticdrummer94 | Saturday, June 18, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars RUSH - POWER WINDOWS (1985) - 3,3/5 With POWER WINDOWS, Rush continued their new atmospheric era that begun with Signals in 1982. Even though the sound generally has changed for the worse (the drums are mixed in a more mainstream fashion for instance) the songcrafting still remains strong thr ... (read more)

Report this review (#431395) | Posted by Caprianders | Tuesday, April 12, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars As has been said before, it is here that RUSH decided to really look into their pop rock elements and see how they could be incorporated even further. If GRACE UNDER PRESSURE represents the pinnacle of poppy progressive rock pieces by the group, then this represents the pinnacle of proggy pop rock ... (read more)

Report this review (#409655) | Posted by Gorloche | Monday, February 28, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Perfect Album? For me, well it comes pretty close. People LOVE to hate on Rush's digital 80's period and I can respect that, but these people are missing out, because there are some damn good tracks on this album. So I guess I would consider this the Peak of Rush's Electronic period. On Signals, ... (read more)

Report this review (#312537) | Posted by Phoenix87x | Wednesday, November 10, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 1. The Big Money (5:34) 2. Grand Designs (5:05) 3. Manhattan Project (5:04) 4. Marathon (6:09) 5. Territories (6:18) 6. Middletown Dreams (5:15) 7. Emotion Detector (5:10) 8. Mystic Rhythms (5:53) How opinions differ from reviewer to reviewer. I'm no pop fan and see this and Hold ... (read more)

Report this review (#296868) | Posted by gingernut | Tuesday, August 31, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This probably isnt the best Rush album ever, but it is pretty good. Most of the 1985-1988 era of Rush was mostly pop-rock stuff, with progressive music, but too much pop. Geddy Lee is a much better singer in these 1980's albums though, he has grown into a less falsetto range and I think he d ... (read more)

Report this review (#242036) | Posted by Rushlover13 | Tuesday, September 29, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album should be called 'Peter Collins and Rush in Power Windows'. Alex Lifeson once said he had to rearrange most of his parts cos Peter decided to fill lot of space with keyboard sound. Peter Collins was pop produducer at the time and he just finished working with Nik Kershaw. This is the ... (read more)

Report this review (#212083) | Posted by LSDisease | Wednesday, April 22, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Wonderful album created by this tremendous trio from Canada! This is, IMO, the most important RUSH album from the synth-rock period of the band. After two albums (Signals and GUP), the band reached the pinnacle. Excellent music structures, various themes used in lyrics, such as the power of ... (read more)

Report this review (#186286) | Posted by Sachis | Saturday, October 18, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I group the bands third set of releases into what is known as Rush's "Synthesizer Period". All of these albums came out during the 1980's and represent the band's post-Moving Pictures era. The albums are Signals (1982), Grace Under Pressure (1984), Power Windows (1985), Hold Your Fire (1987) an ... (read more)

Report this review (#182559) | Posted by Analog Kid | Tuesday, September 16, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Power Windows represents so much in the Rush catalog. First, I consider it underrated b/c I place among the best of their releases. Second, it is their last truly great release, with all following albums suffering from a lack of great songs. Third, it represents the musical highpoint of the sy ... (read more)

Report this review (#174717) | Posted by MrMan2000 | Saturday, June 21, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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