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.