Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Rush- Rush

Rush- Released in 1974 for Moon Records.
Best Songs- Working Man, Here Again, and Before And After.

So the story goes like this. In 1968, a bassist with a freakishly high voice (Geddy Lee) A guitarist who would be very responsible for Van Halen's guitar style, (Alex Lifeson) and a diabetic drummer (John Rutsey) formed a band. They performed in clubs and bars across Canada. After performing for several years, the band decided it was high time to put a recording out, and so they headed into Toronto Sound Studios to record their self titled debut, produced by Terry Brown.

The first thing you'll notice with the album is the sound. Unlike their later, more progressive work in the late '70s, or poppier sounds later on, this album is straightforward, somewhat generic hard rock in the vein of Led Zeppelin. Because of this, most people knock the album for being "A Led Zeppelin ripoff", but I have no problem.
(1st review, and i'm already going against the curve!) Geddy's vocals are more raw then they would be later on, but they're still great, Alex's guitar playing is brilliant as it ever would be, and John Rutsey's drumming is strong. And more importantly, the melodies of the songs, though not very "Rush-y", are all stellar, and every song's a great one.

The album really starts with a bang, with Alex Lifeson's fade in riffs leading you in to the first song on the album, the fan favorite "Finding My Way". It's a really great, headbanger of a tune, driven by great Lifeson riffs and a great performance by Geddy Lee, who is already giving a good showcase of his vocal chops. His "FINDING MY WAAAAAAAAAAY" scream near the end is really something. Lifeson's guitar solo in the middle is also pretty good. Overall, a pretty solid start.

After a somewhat sudden ending, we go into the next track, "Need Some Love". This is another solid piece of 1970s hard rock, with more great singing, great riffs, and a great solo. John Rutsey's drum breaks in the middle are also nice, and show that he can put on a great drum performance. The only problem is that it's too short, coming in at a little under 2 and a half minutes, but it's fine.

The third track on the album is "Take A Friend", and just like the last two, it's great. It almost reminds me of "The Ocean" by Led Zeppelin, and that is a compliment. The "Take yourself a friend..." chorus is nice, and the rest of the song is pretty great too, as the same positive factors of the previous songs are here. Rustey's drumming is also strong. I also find it pretty cool how it ends with the same riffs it begins with.

Next up comes a much more bluesy song, "Here Again". The bluesy melody is really great, but Lee's vocals in the opening part really make the song, giving one of the best performances of his career, as he really lets it rip, using incredible power and emotion. It actually has a similar feel to "Since I've Been Loving You" At 7 and a half minutes, it may be a bit overlong, but it's fine with me. Lifeson's guitar tone he uses for this is also pretty nice, and his solo is spectacular. Overall, a major highlight of this album. It's incredible that they were only 20 when they made this!

This then leads into the next song, "What You're Doing". As with "Take a Friend" and "Here Again" it sounds similar to a Led Zeppelin song, this time "Heartbreaker". (No, not that one, Pat Benetar or Rolling Stones fans!). It's still great though, with another wonderful riff leading the way.

Afterwards, comes live favorite, and the only Rush song about sex, "In The Mood". This song was played live all the way through 1990 or so, but is mostly hated by fans. However, I don't understand why. While kind of goofy, the song has a great riff, a nice chorus, and Lifeson really rocks out on the solo.

This song is then followed by the penultimate song on the album, "Before and After". The song starts out with a very pleasant, pastoral sounding first half, which gets harder when Lifeson's heavily distorted guitar, wah-wah enters the mix. It then transitions into another hard rocker, with yet another great riff. As usual, it's very Zeppelin, but hey, Zeppelin's good, so why can't this be either? The main highlight, though, is the almost "Frankenstein"-esque middle section, with Rutsey playing a driving beat over menacing guitar lines by Alex. Kind of derivative, but it's really awesome at the same.

The album closer is Rush's first ever hit, "Working Man". This song is easily one of Rush's heaviest, with a riff that wouldn't seem out of place in Black Sabbath. However, this is definitely not a bad thing. The riff is killer, and the melody is great. The main verses lead into a sick guitar solo (Lifeson's guitar playing is GREAT on this album), before a bass part leads into a instrumental jam, taking much of the song. Thankfully, it's a great one, with Lifeson going crazy on the guitar, Lee rockin' the bass, and John playing a steady beat beneath it all. This moment is easily one of Rush's finest jams, and shows their instrumental skills. It then effectively transitions back to the main song, before ending with an explosive finale. Killer!

Overall, an extremely underrated album. It may be a wee bit generic, but it's mostly 40 minutes of hard rock greatness. 5/5.

Despite the success of "Working Man", this album only charted 105 in the USA, but it was enough for them to get a deal with Mercury Records.
Unfortunately, Rutsey's failing health caused him to quit the band, and they got a mustachioed replacement from a car parts store…