It is with great regret that I must report that my Zune is STILL not being told by my computer that I’m still subscribed to the Marketplace, thus my player will not play all these free downloads of mine, even though I am paid up for this month. Since tomorrow is a day off, I will have time to trouble-shoot this problem with the internet and perhaps the legendary Microsoft help desk. Yeesh.
Until then, I’m forced to talk about albums I actually have in some physical capacity, so today, against my better judgment, I figure why not talk about one of the oldest CD’s I have? Sure, let’s talk about Rush:
Oh Rush, they’re the band one loves to hate, and hates to admit one loves. In this, their most popular album, apparently they went for a more “pop” song, clearly to great success since this album reached quadruple platinum, which is really the point at which they probably should come up with another metal to give to albums.
Who are Rush? Honestly, I don’t have much of an idea, I have done precious little reading about them, though I feel like I know the musicians as if they were nerdy uncles we don’t talk about at family dinners. I suppose that’s because many of my friends are avid Rush listeners, whereas I have only this album. I guess this is what it feels like to be friends with me when the subject of Johnny Cash comes up? Anyway, all I know about Rush I learned from this album and a few written materials.
Rush is pretty much a band of nerds, this much is known to the general public, one only need to listen to about 8 seconds of the album’s opening track to come to this conclusion. What you might also figure out real quick is that the band is made up of some extremely good musicians who really know how to fill up a soundstage with just 3 members incorporating (consistently) 4 instruments. They’re headed by Geddy Lee, a man whose singing style I must paraphrase from someone else’s quote as being “Robert Plant on helium”. Like other Progressive rock bands (seemingly), Geddy is also an accomplished bass player, at least enough to where they’re making “Geddy Lee Signature” Fender basses to this day. He also plays the rather lovely sounding synthesizers.
On the drums is the band’s fearless leader Neil Peart. Why yes, the band leader and main lyricist, at least for this album, is the drummer. I actually can only think of one other band I’ve come across where this was the case, and that’s the Newsboys (at least in their most successful years, Pete Furler was the band’s drummer, main lyricist, and acting leader before singer John James’ departure). Either way, Neil Peart is something of a legend among drummers, mainly for his half-hour-or-more long drum solos, solos so powerful that they release concert footage of just his drum solos to sell to drummers.
Then we’ve got Alex Lifeson, who is the guitarist, and nothing else.
For the songs, pretty much anything you, the general public, would have heard from Rush is right here. The album starts with “Tom Sawyer”, and I would be remiss to not mention a little something about this song.
“Tom Sawyer” is a good song, in its own right. Nobody can take that away from it. What they can do, however, is totally screw it up when they try to cover it. One of the most infamous versions of a bad cover of “Tom Sawyer” is in a best-selling video game, a little-known obscure title known as Rock Band. In it, since Harmonix did not yet have the city-sized banks of money to throw at musicians to get access to their original master tapes and distributing rights, they had a house band do covers of some of the songs, and they paid for the rest. So really good Rock Band players could eventually play through the entire original version of Deep Purple’s “Highway Star”, but right around the same difficulty tier (at least on drums) was the cover version of “Tom Sawyer”, which utilized a singer who simply couldn’t hit the notes in the chorus. Thing is, men should not be trying to put their health at risk by imitating Geddy Lee; Geddy has that certain… something (some experts call it a “vagina”) that allows him to hit those notes. It’s an anomaly among the male species, and I don’t care how much vocal training you’ve had, you’re not going to hit that note unless you just can. Anyway, you don’t actually have to get all the way to the end of the Rock Band game if you want to hear this terrible version of “Tom Sawyer”, oh no, it’s right there in the demo loop as the game sits waiting to be played. The problem with this was that the retailer I worked for in Austin had a demo of the game that was always on and I was always near it, so I got to hear the same no-account singer screw up the “Tom Sawyer” high notes every single time. In an 8 hour shift, the number had to be in the dozens to hundreds. For this reason, when I get to hear the original song, I let out a welcome sigh to the sound of the master of the “male” falsetto sing his little heart out about Ayn Rand-based tossycock.
Ok, so “Moving Pictures” has a bunch of really good songs, kind of a nerdy intellectual pop sound, where the instrumentation never quite hits the “What is even going on here” level of complex, and the album should be lauded for that. Also, “YYZ” (which I’m not even going to bother telling you the story about the title because everyone knows it by now) stands as one of the finest instrumentals in rock music. Not only does it have that awesome introduction with the trick timing, but it has those wonderful trade-off solos where even the bass is well-represented in solo form, and at some point they break glass at a perfect spot in the rhythm to really get the jam going.
Anyways, sorry if I didn’t really get to any of the songs on this album, I just wanted to pop off about Rush for a little while before popping off to bed, ending a marathon of staying up too late and working too much and not getting nearly as much music listening in thanks to my traitorous Zune. So, until tomorrow!