Saturday, January 16, 2016


My rating system is on a scale of one to five. Here's how it goes.
5/5: Excellent, every song ranges from good to outstanding.
4/5: Good. A few stinkers, but mostly solid.
3/5: OK. Some songs are good, some are bad.
2/5: Mediocre. Most songs are poor, but a few diamonds in the rough.
1/5: Bad: Every song is mediocre to abysmal.

When reviewing an album, I will mostly just take into account the quality of the melodies. I don't really mind bad lyrics in a song. 
I also don't give a damn about if an album is "influential" or "Legendary" or whatever. I only pay attention to how good the songs are.
I will review music by band, not by album.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Rush- Caress of Steel

Caress Of Steel- Released in 1975 for Mercury Records
Best song- The Necromancer.
In 1975, Rush looked poised for a mainstream breakthrough. They had some significant hits on their hands, they were touring relentlessly, and people talked about their rising stardom. It seemed a breakthrough was coming. And thus, Rush headed into Toronto sound Studios for work on their third album, Caress of Steel. Terry Brown produced as usual, and he would produce all albums through Signals. Of course, the album was a massive flop, and generally is regarded as one of Rush's worst, if not their worst. 

But why? All the songs are top-notch, and the singing and instrumental work is as brilliant as ever. If you like Rush and Fly By Night, i have no idea why you wouldn't like this, and have NO clue why everyone hates this album so.

The album starts out with another great hard rocker, in the vein of Anthem, entitled "Bastille Day", and it's a great one. Lifeson's riffing has bite immediately, and the main song really rocks out, with a great melody and great singing from Geddy, delivering a very agressive performance. Neil's drumming is great as usual, and so is the guitar solo. The slow part at the ending is also fantastic. A great start.

The next song on the album is "I Think I'm Going Bald". Don't be fooled by the stupid name and stupid lyrics though! It has great riffing, similar to "In The Mood", and a nice melody. Everyone hates this song because of the stupid lyrics, but I don't mind it, and find it a great song. The guitar solo is... oh come on! I don't need to say that it's great again! (Lifeson is an amazing guitarist) 

Afterwards, we get "Lakeside Park". This is another song everyone likes to hate due to it being an apparent "Fly By Night" ripoff, but i'm fine with it. The melody is great, Neil's drumming is nice, the guitar solo is nice,(Yeezus, will there ever be a Rush song with no guitar solo) and the singing is good! Do you really need anything more? The softer, more laid back middle is also pleasant. Good start!

We then get the first of two epics on this album, the three part, 12 and a half minute "The Necromancer". The first part, "Into The Darkness" starts poor, with pitch-shifted narration by Peart over a BORING backing beat. It then gets better though, with a cool, trippy section (4 minutes and 20 seconds long! Coincidence? I think not!) that almost sounds like Pink Floyd. It then picks up in intensity, but stays similar. This part is really good, with great lead and rhythm guitar and nice drumming. We then go into the next section, "Under The Shadow". This section starts with more terrible narration, but then goes into a really cool section, mostly silent, with sparse guitar hits, and It sounds awesome, especially as they become more consistent. We then have the vocals enter for a bit, before a nice guitar solo. We then go into another instrumental section, with more great riffs. Some weird sounds lead into some fast paced riffing, which sounds good, with some Yes esque parts. We then go into the final section of the song, "Return of The Prince", which starts with a nice, soothing, guitar riff. Even Neil's narration doesn't sound bad over it! it keeps this laid back tone, with some soloing over it, and it sounds wonderful. Overall, "The Necromancer" is another brilliant epic which is recommended. 

The album closes out with the massive, 20 minute epic "The Fountain of Lamneth" which apparently tells the story of the lifelong quest of a man to find the titular fountain. We start out with the acoustic chunk "In The Valley", which is supposed to represent birth, followed by childhood. It starts with a pleasant acoustic melody with Geddy singing. It then picks up, with several guitar hits heralding in a harder section, before going into a faster tempo section, which sounds really nice! It then goes back to the softer part, and the transition is seamless. It then goes back to the harder section. This transition between light and hard works really well, and sounds awesome. It keeps doing this a few times. It then leads into the second part, "Didacts and Narpets". DEAR GOD, is this part pointless. It just consists of a random drum solo over which random words like "Work!" and "Live!" are shouted. The definition of filler. 

After that disaster, the song has nowhere to go but up, and it does with the third part, "No One At The Bridge" which represents young adulthood. This section features great, emotional singing by Geddy, with a great, midtempo melody backing it. The arpeggio guitar riff is wonderful. As like "In The Valley" it alternates between harder and softer parts, and it works well. It then transitions to a vocal/guitar unison part, similar to the one in "Beneath, Between, and Behind" and it works just as well, with great interplay. Geddy's desperation in his voice is great too. This then leads to another great guitar solo. Then, birds chirping leads to the next part, "Panacea", which is supposed to represent finding love. Geddy does some of his lowest singing here, and the melody is nice and pleasant, but kind of boring. It can stick around, however. The fifth part is "Bacchus Plateau", which represents a mid-life crisis. This song is more uptempo, and it's still good, with another good melody. The drumming is nice as well. 

We then finally go to the closing part, "The Fountain", which is supposed to represent old age and death. This part reprises many of the themes from "In The Valley" , and they're just as good here as they are there. It then has another simple acoustic part, ending with another guitar swell, representing death. Overall, it has some weak parts, and is not as good as "The Necromancer", but "The Fountain of Lamneth" is another spectacular epic.

Overall, a strong contender for most underrated album of all time. Everyone loves to hate on this album, and loves to call it one of Rush's worst, if not THE worst. However, I love it! Songs like "The Necromancer" or "Bastille Day" are among the greatest Rush songs of all time, and the rest are great. A wonderful album. 5/5.

Rush- Fly By Night

Fly By Night- Released in 1975 for Mercury Records.
Best song- By-Tor And The Snow Dog.

After the hit of "Working Man", Rush managed to get signed to Mercury Records, and also managed to be able to go on tour.

Unfortunately, drummer John Rutsey's diabetes was taking a toll on him, and he was forced to quit. His replacement would be a mustachioed car parts dealer, one Neil Peart.
With Neil, the band headed back into Toronto Sound Studios to record their second album, Fly By Night, again produced by Terry Brown.

The addition of Neil would change the sound of the band significantly. As part of being the drummer, Neil would also start writing most of the lyrics for the songs. His book-smarts would heavily alter the lyrics, with the "Hey now baby, well I like your smile"'s of the debut giving way for "We marvel after those who sought, wonders in the world we wrought".

The second change would be in the music. The Led Zeppelin infused barroom fare of the debut would give way to a much more complex sound influenced by progressive rock bands like Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, and King Crimson, though still primarily based in regular rock. And it's top-notch, the band adapting well to this sound. Neil, of course, would become an awesome drummer, and even at this early stage his skills are in place, Geddy's singing is top-notch, and Alex is brilliant as ever. The songwriting is a slight step down from the debut (2 songs are okay, but not special, while one's really bad) but it's still good for the most part.

This transformed band is showcased on the first, and one of the best, song on the album, "Anthem", another favorite among Rush fans. Starting off with Lifeson playing a complex riff in an unusual time signature (it's definitely not 4/4), which transitions into a simpler section where Geddy Lee sings wordy lyrics well above the sane limits of male vocal range. And it's awesome! Lifeson's opening riff really sets the mood, the main verse sections are great, the guitar solo is great, and Geddy really lets it rip! ("WONDERS IN THE WORLD WE, WROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUGHT! is awesome). My favorite part of this awesome song is the ending part, with Geddy screaming out "WRO-OUGHT! "WRO-OUGHT!" "WRO-OUGHT" over guitar hits. A really great way to start this album, and it works even better live.

The explosive start of the album is then followed up by the much simpler, more straightforward "Best I Can". It's kind of a mixed bag, unfortunately. The melody is great, but Geddy's singing really distracts me. He tries to put on a more masculine, gruff tone, and it sounds weird. Still, the song's fine overall, and Lifeson's guitar solo is brilliant as ever.

The third track on the album is "Beneath, Between, and Behind" . It's only 3 minutes long, but it's great while it lasts. The melody has interesting interplay between Geddy's vocals and Lifeson's guitar, with them hitting the similar notes and flowing together well. It really works, and the guitar solo is nice.

Next up, we have Rush's first attempt at a multi-part epic, live favorite "By-Tor And The Snow Dog". Though "Working Man" and "Here Again" also exceeded 7 minutes, they didn't have any specific parts, while this does. The main melody of part 1, "At The Tobes of Hades" is awesome, with great drumming by Neil Peart, great riffs, and great singing. What more do you want? This then leads into part 2, "Across the Styx" which is more of the same. After a brief instrumental part called "Challenge and Defiance", a powerful scream by Geddy brings us into the main instrumental break, "7/4 War Furor", which i guess is supposed to represent a battle. The weird guitar noises throughout kind of dampen the mood, but overall, it's pretty neat, with great guitar and drum work. This then leads into a cool guitar/drum battle sequence, which really rocks. After a crash of noise, we head into a peaceful section called "Aftermath". It's a very trippy, cool section that almost reminds me of the later "Xanadu". It then builds up into an epic, guitar led section, with Neil's funeral drum esque beat driving. After a cool sounding drum solo, we go into a slow, rock section, called "Hymn Of Triumph". It features another awesome, guitar-led melody. This might be my favorite part, as the melody is EPIC! We then finally end with "Epilogue", a reprise of the main theme at the beginning, ending with wind chimes. (Fun fact, on vinyl, these would be put in the run off groove in side 1, which made them go on forever!) Overall, a spectacular epic, and a clear sign of things to come.

This is then followed up by the cheerful, poppy title track, Rush's best selling song. It's a great one, with a nice guitar riff, a solid melody, and an overall great sense of optimism. The guitar solo is neat too, and the bridge is nice, with cool phasing effects on Lee's voice. Overall, it's not hard to see it's success.

Next up is a much more obscure song, "Making Memories", which is a much softer, folkier song. It works well, with a nice melody and good guitar solo, but it's not one of the highlights of the album.

It's still better than "Rivendell", which is the only bad song on the album. The song's main melody is REALLY pleasant and beautiful, but it drags on FOREVER! It's only five minutes long, but it feels like 50. It's so BORING! Rush would do good softer songs later on (E.G "Madrigal" and "Tears") but this is not one of them.

Thankfully, the album closes on a high note with another epic, "In The End". It starts off with a softer section, which is great, with nice singing by Geddy Lee and a great melody.  It then moves on to a more hard rock section, which keeps the same basic melody as before, but harder rocking. The rhythm guitar in the background is great, the singing is great, and the arpeggio guitar melody is great. Nice! The guitar solo (Man, does EVERY rush song have a guitar solo?) is good too. It ends with another soft section.

Overall, a bit less consistent then "Rush" (5 great songs, 2 ok to good songs, 1 bad song) but it's still great overall. 4/5.