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RushrnBio And DiscographyrnOver the course of their decades-spanning career, the Canadian power trio Rush emerged as one of hard rock\'s most highly regarded bands; although typically brushed aside by critics and although rare recipients of mainstream pop radio airplay, the group nonetheless won an impressive and devoted fan following while their virtuoso performance skills solidified their standing as musicians\' musicians.rnrnRush formed in Toronto, Ontario, in the autumn of 1968, and initially comprised guitarist Alex Lifeson (born Alexander Zivojinovich), vocalist/bassist Geddy Lee (born Gary Lee Weinrib), and drummer John Rutsey. In their primary incarnation, the trio drew a heavy influence from Cream, and honed their skills on the Toronto club circuit before issuing their debut single, a rendition of Buddy Holly\'s "Not Fade Away," in 1973. A self-titled LP followed in 1974, at which time Rutsey exited; he was replaced by drummer Neil Peart, who also assumed the role of the band\'s primary songwriter, composing the cerebral lyrics (influenced by works of science fiction and fantasy) that gradually became a hallmark of the group\'s aesthetic.rnrnWith Peart firmly ensconced, Rush returned in 1975 with a pair of LPs, Fly by Night and Caress of Steel. Their next effort, 1976\'s 2112, proved to be their breakthrough release: a futuristic concept album based on the writings of Ayn Rand, it fused the elements of the trio\'s sound — Lee\'s high-pitched vocals, Peart\'s epic-length compositions, and Lifeson\'s complex guitar work — into a unified whole. Fans loved it — 2112 was the first in a long line of gold and platinum releases — while critics dismissed it as overblown and pretentious: either way, it established a formula from which the band rarely deviated throughout the duration of their career.rnrnA Farewell to Kings followed in 1977 and reached the Top 40 in both the U.S. and Britain. After 1978\'s Hemispheres, Rush achieved even greater popularity with 1980\'s Permanent Waves, a record marked by Peart\'s dramatic shift into shorter, less sprawling compositions; the single "The Spirit of Radio" even became a major hit. With 1981\'s Moving Pictures, the trio scored another hit of sorts with "Tom Sawyer," which garnered heavy exposure on album-oriented radio and became perhaps their best-known song. As the 1980s continued, Rush grew into a phenomenally popular live draw as albums like 1982\'s Signals (which generated the smash "New World Man"), 1984\'s Grace Under Pressure, and 1985\'s Power Windows continued to sell millions of copies. rnrnAs the decade drew to a close, the trio cut back on its touring schedule while hardcore followers complained of a sameness afflicting slicker, synth-driven efforts like 1987\'s Hold Your Fire and 1989\'s Presto. At the dawn of the 1990s, however, Rush returned to the heavier sound of their early records and placed a renewed emphasis on Lifeson\'s guitar heroics; consequently, both 1991\'s Roll the Bones and 1993\'s Counterparts reached the Top Three on the U.S. album charts. In 1996, the band issued Test for Echo and headed out on the road the following summer. Shortly thereafter, Peart lost his daughter in an automobile accident. Tragedy struck again in 1998 when Peart\'s wife succumbed to cancer. Dire times in the Rush camp did not cause the band to quit. Lee took time out for a solo stint with 2000\'s My Favorite Headache; however, rumors of the band playing in the studio began to circulate. It would be five years until anything surfaced from the band. Fans were reassured in early 2002 by news that Rush were recording new songs in Toronto. The fruit of those sessions led to the release of Rush\'s 17th studio album, Vapor Trails, later that spring. rnrn1974 – Rush – 320 rnRush\'s self-titled debut is about as uncharacteristic of their renowned heavy progressive rock (perfected on such future releases as Hemispheres, Moving Pictures, etc.) as you can get. Instead of complex arrangements and thoughtful lyrics, Rush sounds almost identical to Led Zeppelin throughout — bluesy riffs merged with "baby, baby" lyrics. The main reason for the album\'s different sound and direction is that their lyricist/drummer, Neil Peart, was not in the band yet, skinsman John Rutsey rounds out the original line-up, also consisting of Geddy Lee (bass/vocals) and Alex Lifeson (guitar). It\'s nearly impossible to hear the anthemic "Finding My Way" and not picture Robert Plant shrieking away, or Jimmy Page riffing on the jamfest "Working Man," but Rush was still in their formative stages. There\'s no denying that Lee and Lifeson were already strong instrumentalists, but such predictable compositions as "In the Mood" and "What You\'re Doing" prove that Peart was undoubtedly the missing piece to the puzzle. While longtime Rush fans can appreciate their debut because they never returned to this style, newcomers should stick with their classics from later years. rnrn1975 – Fly BY Night – 320rnPrior to one of Rush\'s first U.S. tours, original drummer John Rutsey split from the band, since he wasn\'t prepared to commit to the band\'s rigorous touring schedule. And it proved to be a blessing in disguise, since his replacement was to become one of the most respected rock drummers of all time, Neil Peart, who would also steer the band towards success with more challenging material — starting with Fly by Night. While the title track and the album-closing ballad, "In the End," still had Zeppelin roots, the album isn\'t as straightforward as the debut. Rush\'s first bona-fide classic, "Anthem," is included, while the over eight-minute "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" helped pave the way for the group\'s future epics ("2112," "Cygnus X-1," etc.), and introduced the fans to Peart\'s imaginative lyric writing, often tinged with science fiction themes. The reflective and melodic "Making Memories" is an underrated early composition, while "Beneath, Between, & Behind" is a furious heavy rocker. Fly by Night may not be one of Rush\'s finest albums, but it is one of their most important — it showed that the young band was leaving their Zep-isms behind in favor of a more challenging and original direction.rn rn1975 - Caress of Steel – 320rnWhen Rush finished their third album, Caress of Steel, the trio was assured that they had created their breakthrough masterpiece. But when the album dropped off the charts soon after its release, it proved otherwise. While it was Rush\'s first release that fully explored their prog rock side, it did not contain the catchy and more traditional elements of their future popular work — it\'s quite often too indulgent and pretentious for a mainstream rock audience to latch onto. And while Rush would eventually excel in composing lengthy songs, the album\'s two extended tracks — the 12-and-a-half-minute "The Necromancer" and the nearly 20-minute "The Fountain of Lamneth" — show that the band was still a ways off from mastering the format. The first side contains two strong and more succinct tracks, the raging opener, "Bastille Day," and the more laid-back "Lakeside Park," both of which would become standards for their live show in the \'70s. But the ill-advised "I Think I\'m Going Bald" (which lyrically deals with growing old) borders on the ridiculous, which confirms that Caress of Steel is one of Rush\'s more unfocused albums. rnrn1976 – 2112 – 320rnWhereas Rush\'s first two releases, their self-titled debut and Fly By Night, helped create a buzz among hard rock fans worldwide, the more progressive third release, Caress of Steel, confused many of their supporters. The band knew it was now or never with their fourth release, and they delivered just in time — 1976\'s 2112 proved to be their much sought-after commercial breakthrough and remains one of their most popular albums. Instead of choosing between prog rock or heavy rock, both styles are merged together to create an interesting and original approach. The whole entire first side is comprised of the classic title track, which paints a chilling picture of a future world where technology is in control (Peart\'s lyrics for the piece being influenced by Ayn Rand). Comprised of seven "sections," the track proved that the trio was fast becoming rock\'s most accomplished instrumentalists. The second side contains shorter selections, such as the Middle Eastern-flavored "A Passage to Bangkok" and the album-closing rocker "Something for Nothing." 2112 is widely considered by Rush fans as their first true "classic" album, the first in a string of similarly high-quality albums. rnrn1976 – All The World’s A Stage – 320rnThe \'70s may forever be remembered as the decade of the "live album," where many rock artists (Kiss, Peter Frampton, Cheap Trick, etc.) used the format for their commercial breakthrough. While Rush\'s All the World\'s a Stage is not as renowned as the aforementioned bands\' live albums, it is still one of the better in-concert rock releases of the decade, and helped solidify the trio\'s stature as one of rock\'s fastest rising stars. Eventually, Rush would polish their live sound to sound almost like a studio record, but in the mid-\'70s, they were still a raw and raging hard rock band, captured perfectly on A.T.W.A.S. Comprised almost entirely of their heavier material, the album packs quite a punch — "Bastille Day" and "Anthem" prove to be a killer opening combination, while over the top renditions of their extended epics "2112" and "By-Tor & the Snow Dog" prove to be standouts. Even their more tranquil studio material proves more explosive in concert ("Fly by Night," "Something for Nothing," "Lakeside Park," "In the End"). All the World\'s a Stage was a fitting way of closing the first chapter of Rush, as the liner notes state.rn rn1977 – A Farewell To Kings – 320rnOn 1977\'s A Farewell to Kings it quickly becomes apparent that Rush had improved their songwriting and strengthened their focus and musical approach. Synthesizers also mark their first prominent appearance on a Rush album, a direction the band would continue to pursue on future releases. With the popular hit single "Closer to the Heart," the trio showed that they could compose concise and traditionally structured songs, while the 11-minute "Xanadu" remains an outstanding accomplishment all these years later (superb musicianship merged with vivid lyrics help create one of Rush\' s best all-time tracks). The album-opening title track begins with a tasty classical guitar/synth passage, before erupting into a powerful rocker. The underrated "Madrigal" proves to be a delicately beautiful composition, while "Cinderella Man" is one of Rush\'s few songs to include lyrics penned entirely by Geddy Lee. The ten-minute tale of a dangerous black hole, "Cygnus X-1," closes the album on an unpredictable note, slightly comparable to the two bizarre extended songs on 1975\'s Caress of Steel. A Farewell to Kings successfully built on the promise of their breakthrough 2112, and helped broaden their audience. rnrn1978 – Hemispheres – 320rnWhile such albums as 1980\'s Permanent Waves and 1981\'s Moving Pictures are usually considered Rush\'s masterpieces (and with good reason), 1978\'s Hemispheres is just as deserving. Maybe the fact that the album consists of only four compositions (half are lengthy pieces) was a bit too intimidating for some, but the near 20-minute-long "Cygnus X-1 Book II - Hemispheres" is arguably the band\'s finest extended track. While the story line isn\'t as comprehensible as "2112" was, it\'s much more consistent musically, twisting and turning through five different sections which contrast heavy rock sections against more sedate pieces. Neil Peart had become one of rock\'s most accomplished lyricists by this point, as evidenced by "The Trees," which deals with racism and inequality in a unique way (set in a forest!). And as always, the trio prove to be experts at their instruments, this time on the complex instrumental "La Villa Strangiato." Geddy Lee\'s shrieking vocals on the otherwise solid "Circumstances" may border on the irritating, but Hemispheres remains one of Rush\'s greatest releases. rnrn1980 – Permanent Waves – 320rnSince Neil Peart joined the band in time for 1975\'s Fly by Night, Rush had been experimenting and growing musically with each successive release. By 1980\'s Permanent Waves, the modern sounds of new wave (the Police, Peter Gabriel, etc.) began to creep into Rush\'s sound, but the trio still kept their hard rock roots intact. The new approach paid off — two of their most popular songs, the "make a difference" anthem "Freewill," and a tribute to the Toronto radio station CFNY, "The Spirit of Radio" (the latter a U.K. Top 15 hit), are spectacular highlights. Also included were two "epics," the stormy "Jacob\'s Ladder" and the album-closing "Natural Science," which contains a middle section that contains elements of reggae. Geddy Lee also began singing in a slightly lower register around this time, which made their music more accessible to fans outside of the heavy prog rock circle. The album proved to be the final breakthrough Rush needed to become an arena headliner throughout the world, beginning a string of albums that would reach inside the Top Five of the U.S. Billboard album charts. Permanent Waves is an undisputed hard rock classic, but Rush would outdo themselves with their next release.rn rn1980 – Moving Pictures – 320rnNot only is 1981\'s Moving Pictures Rush\'s best album, it is undeniably one of the greatest hard rock albums of all time. The new wave meets hard rock approach of Permanent Waves is honed to perfection — all seven of the tracks are classics (four are still featured regularly in concert and on classic rock radio). While other hard rock bands at the time experimented unsuccessfully with other musical styles, Rush were one of the few to successfully cross over. The whole entire first side is perfect — their most renowned song, "Tom Sawyer," kicks things off, and is soon followed by the racing "Red Barchetta," the instrumental "YYZ," and a song that examines the pros and cons of stardom, "Limelight." And while the second side isn\'t as instantly striking as the first, it is ultimately rewarding. The long and winding "The Camera Eye" begins with a synth-driven piece before transforming into one of the band\'s more straight-ahead epics, while "Witch Hunt" and "Vital Signs" remain two of the trio\'s more underrated rock compositions. Rush proved with Moving Pictures that there was still uncharted territory to explore within the hard rock format, and were rewarded with their most enduring and popular album.rn rn1981 – Exit…Stage Left – 320rnRush was planning on releasing a live album after the Permanent Waves tour, but manager Cliff Burnstein convinced the group that they were peaking musically, and should go straight back into the recording studio — resulting in their finest album, 1981\'s Moving Pictures. So after the tour wound down, their postponed live album was finally assembled and released as Exit...Stage Left the same year. The album turned out to be the polar opposite of its predecessor, 1976\'s raw and direct All the World\'s a Stage; in fact, the performances often sound identical to the recently released studio versions. The contagious energy that helped make All the World\'s a Stage such a success is muted, replaced by workmanlike renditions that border on the uninspired. There\'s no denying the high quality of the songs selected — "Spirit of Radio," "Tom Sawyer," "Xanadu," "The Trees," "Closer to the Heart," "Jacob\'s Ladder" — it\'s just that the performances rarely catch fire. Compared to Rush\'s three other concert albums (the aforementioned All the World\'s a Stage, 1988\'s A Show of Hands, and 1998\'s Different Stages), Exit...Stage Left is probably the weakest. rnrn1982 – Signals – 320rnInstead of playing it safe and writing Moving Pictures, Pt. II, Rush replaced their heavy rock of yesteryear with even more modern sounds for 1982\'s Signals. Synthesizers were now an integral part of the band\'s sound, and replaced electric guitars as the driving force for almost all the tracks. And more current and easier-to-grasp topics (teen peer pressure, repression, etc.) replaced their trusty old sci-fi-inspired lyrics. While other rock bands suddenly added keyboards to their sound to widen their appeal, Rush gradually merged electronics into their music over the years, so such tracks as the popular MTV video "Subdivisions" did not come as a shock to longtime fans. And Rush didn\'t forget how to rock out — "The Analog Kid" and "Digital Man" were some of their most up-tempo compositions in years. The surprise hit, "New World Man," and "Chemistry" combined reggae and rock (begun on 1980\'s Permanent Waves), "The Weapon" bordered on new wave, the placid "Losing It" featured Ben Mink on electric violin, while the epic closer "Countdown" painted a vivid picture of a space shuttle launch. Signals proved that Rush were successfully adapting to the musical climate of the early \'80s. rnrn1894 – Grace Under Pressure – 320rnGrace Under Pressure was the first Rush album since 1975\'s Fly by Night to not be produced by Terry Brown, who was replaced by Peter Henderson (Supertramp, Paul McCartney). The change resulted in a slightly more accessible sound than its predecessor, Signals, and marked the beginning of a period where many Rush fans feel that synths and electronics were used too prominently — in effect pushing guitarist Alex Lifeson into the background. The songwriting and lyrics were still strong however, as evidenced by the video/single "Distant Early Warning" (a tale about nuclear war) and the often-overlooked highlight "Kid Gloves," one of the album\'s few songs to feature Lifeson upfront. Other standouts include a tribute to a friend of the band who had recently passed away, "Afterimage," the disturbing "Red Sector A" (which details a concentration camp), and one of Rush\'s first funk-based songs, "The Enemy Within." Whereas most other rock bands formed in the 1970s put out unfocused and uninspired work in the 1980s (which sounds very dated), Rush\'s Grace Under Pressure remains an exception. rnrn1985 – Power Windows – 320rnGrace Under Pressure was the first Rush album since 1975\'s Fly by Night to not be produced by Terry Brown, who was replaced by Peter Henderson (Supertramp, Paul McCartney). The change resulted in a slightly more accessible sound than its predecessor, Signals, and marked the beginning of a period where many Rush fans feel that synths and electronics were used too prominently — in effect pushing guitarist Alex Lifeson into the background. The songwriting and lyrics were still strong however, as evidenced by the video/single "Distant Early Warning" (a tale about nuclear war) and the often-overlooked highlight "Kid Gloves," one of the album\'s few songs to feature Lifeson upfront. Other standouts include a tribute to a friend of the band who had recently passed away, "Afterimage," the disturbing "Red Sector A" (which details a concentration camp), and one of Rush\'s first funk-based songs, "The Enemy Within." Whereas most other rock bands formed in the 1970s put out unfocused and uninspired work in the 1980s (which sounds very dated), Rush\'s Grace Under Pressure remains an exception. rnrn1987 – Hold Your Fire – 320rnHold Your Fire is an album in the purest sense; infinitely greater than the sum of its parts, it gradually draws in the listener by slowly revealing its nuances and secrets. While the use of keyboards is still overwhelming at times, Geddy Lee employs lush textures which, when coupled with a greater rhythmic and melodic presence from guitarist Alex Lifeson, results in a far warmer sound than in recent efforts. Of course, drummer Neil Peart is as inventive and exciting as ever, while his lyrics focus on the various elements (earth, air, water, fire) for much of the album. Opener "Force Ten" is the band\'s most immediate number in years, and other early favorites such as "Time Stand Still" and "Turn the Page" soon give way to the darker mysteries of "Prime Mover" and "Tai Shan." The multifaceted "Lock and Key" is quintessential Rush, and sets the stage for the album\'s climax with the sheer beauty of "Mission." As was the case with 1976\'s 2112 and 1981\'s Moving Pictures, Rush always seem to produce some of their best work at the end of each four-album cycle, and Hold Your Fire is no exception.rnrn1989 – A Show Of Hands – 320rnAlthough keyboards dominated Rush\'s 1988 double live set A Show of Hands, it\'s a definite improvement over its somewhat flat predecessor, 1981 \'s Exit...Stage Left. The band\'s music isn\'t as hard rock-based as it previously was, evidenced by the more modern-sounding compositions selected for this third live album (the first Rush album to be produced completely by the band). The only tracks from the pre-1982 period to be featured are "Closer to the Heart," which is expanded to include a jamming section at the end, and the spooky "Witch Hunt," originally from 1981\'s Moving Pictures. The remainder of the album\'s track list is comprised of Rush\'s best compositions from 1982-1987, such as "Subdivisions," "Distant Early Warning," "Force Ten," "Time Stand Still," and "Red Sector A," as well as several tracks that have been forgotten over time ("Marathon," "Turn the Page," "Mission," etc.). Also featured for the first time on a live Rush album is a completely unaccompanied drum solo by Neil Peart — the intricate "Rhythm Method." The inspired A Show of Hands is an excellent snapshot of Rush in concert during the mid- to late \'80s. rnrn1989 – Presto – 320rnAfter being slagged off for the electronic ambience of its predecessor releases such as 1985\'s Power Windows and 1984\'s Grace Under Pressure, Rush bounces back with their 13th release, Presto. Yet again the prog-rock trio proves that their tight guitar work and lyrical originality is not long lost or overlooked in an attempt to secure the latest technical flash.rnRupert Hine\'s production work totally brings things to the forefront by molding solid piano breaks instead of the typical adventure-like synthesizers into Alex Lifeson\'s spellbinding guitar work. The sound quality is strong and thick, making the sounds of Presto complete. Neil Peart also makes headway with his natural percussion power, and Geddy Lee\'s trademark delivery of Peart\'s lyrical complexities shine like signature Rush perfectionism. Songs like "Scars" and "Superconductor" are sonically firm, but "Show Don\'t Tell" is the album\'s infectious standout that\'s heightened thanks to Lee\'s stunning vocal wizardry. Presto intelligently leads Rush into the \'90s without musical bleakness. They weren\'t ones to be blinded by such creative mediocrity anyway. rnrn1991 – Roll The Bones – 320rnFrom a lyrical perspective, 1991\'s Roll the Bones is quite possibly Rush\'s darkest album (most of the songs deal with death in no uncertain terms), but from a musical point of view, the record treads territory (highbrow melodic hard rock) similar to its recent predecessors, with only a few surprises thrown in for good measure. These include an amusing rap section in the middle of the title track, a welcome return to instrumentals with "Where\'s my Thing?," and one of the band\'s finest songs of the \'90s in the gutsy "Dreamline." "Neurotica" is another highlight which lives up to its title, and though their negative subject matter can feel stifling at times, fine tracks like "Bravado," "The Big Wheel," and "Heresy" feature wonderful melodies and arrangements. rnrn1993 – Counterparts – 320rnBy 1993, alternative rock had arrived in a big way, and surprisingly, Canadian veterans Rush were game, releasing their most honest and organic rock & roll record in over a decade with Counterparts. Opener "Animate" is straightforward enough, but doesn\'t even hint at the guitar ferocity and lyrical angst of "Stick it Out," a song which undoubtedly polarizes Rush fans to this day. Intellectual melodic rockers like "Cut to the Chase," "At the Speed of Love," and "Everyday Glory" are also present (and less shocking), but diversity continues to rule the day with Geddy Lee\'s bass taking charge on the amazingly somber "Double Agent" and the giddy instrumental "Leave That Thing Alone." Pure hard rock resurfaces on "Cold Fire," but it is the largely acoustic "Nobody\'s Hero" which provides the album\'s most gripping moment with an impassioned plea for HIV consciousness and understanding. rnrn1996 – Test For Echo – 320rnBy 1993, alternative rock had arrived in a big way, and surprisingly, Canadian veterans Rush were game, releasing their most honest and organic rock & roll record in over a decade with Counterparts. Opener "Animate" is straightforward enough, but doesn\'t even hint at the guitar ferocity and lyrical angst of "Stick it Out," a song which undoubtedly polarizes Rush fans to this day. Intellectual melodic rockers like "Cut to the Chase," "At the Speed of Love," and "Everyday Glory" are also present (and less shocking), but diversity continues to rule the day with Geddy Lee\'s bass taking charge on the amazingly somber "Double Agent" and the giddy instrumental "Leave That Thing Alone." Pure hard rock resurfaces on "Cold Fire," but it is the largely acoustic "Nobody\'s Hero" which provides the album\'s most gripping moment with an impassioned plea for HIV consciousness and understanding.rnrn1998 – Different Stages - 320rnOn their fourth live album since their inception in the early \'70s, Rush\'s three-CD Different Stages: Live is similar in approach and feel to their first in-concert release, 1976\'s All the World\'s a Stage. Instead of overdubbing and cleaning up the performances as they did on their last two live albums (1981\'s Exit...Stage Left and 1988\'s A Show of Hands), the tracks are left raw and rocking. And with very limited use of synthesizers (which plagued A Show of Hands), the results are often extremely impressive. The first two discs are comprised of renditions of hits from Rush\'s past couple of tours (1994\'s Counterparts and 1997\'s Test for Echo), while the third is a long-lost classic show from London\'s Hammersmith Odeon in 1978. On discs one and two, such Rush standards as "2112," "Tom Sawyer," and "The Spirit of Radio" are joined by recent material ("Dreamline," "Stick It Out," "Roll the Bones," etc.) and obscure tracks ("Natural Science," "Analog Kid," etc.), which makes for a perfect balance of material. But it\'s the third disc that will have longtime fans frothing at the mouth — for the first time ever on an official release, live versions of "Cygnus X-1," "A Farewell to Kings," and "Cinderella Man" are presented. Even though no material from the mid- to late \'80s is included, Different Stages: Live will delight Rush\'s adoring throng of fans. rnrn2002 – Vapor Trails – 320rnMost longtime Rush fans realize that a new album from the Canadian trio in the early 21st century is quite an accomplishment. After drummer Neil Peart\'s much-publicized tragic turn of events in his private life not long after Rush\'s 1996 release Test for Echo (the death of both his teenaged daughter and wife less than a year apart), the group\'s future was understandably cast into doubt. Slowly but surely, however, the band regained their footing and issued their 17th studio album in 2002, Vapor Trails. You would think that a veteran band entering their fourth decade together would perhaps mellow out a bit, but this doesn\'t prove to be case — as evidenced by the leadoff track, "One Little Victory," while the majority of the album follows the same direct and hard-hitting sound as their past couple of releases (fans of the group\'s more synth-based and sterile mid-\'80s style will have to look elsewhere). Peart, who remains the group\'s main lyricist, opts to conquer such challenging subject matter as the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on "Peaceable Kingdom," while bits of the lyric to "Ghost Rider" ("Pack up all those phantoms/Shoulder that invisible load") leads the listener to believe that perhaps the drummer is sharing his personal healing process with the fans. Other standouts include the melodic "Sweet Miracle," the explosive "Out of the Cradle," the mid-paced title track, and "Earthshine," the latter of which showcases how fine Lee\'s voice has matured (especially when compared to his high-piercing shriek on Rush\'s early albums). All in all, Vapor Trails does an amiable job of signaling the welcomed return of Rush.rn rn2003 – Rush In Rio – 320rnSet for production as a live DVD from the Vapour Trails tour, the audio from Rush in Rio clearly stands as a startling historical and musical document. The live mix is simply superb and reveals the show as it happened, without overdubs or DAT splices. The band played in front of their second-largest crowd ever, 40,000 people on the final night of the tour. (The largest was 60,000-plus the night before in São Paulo in the rain.) Covering three CDs, this is one of those documents that can make a punter wonder why he ever doubted the glory, majesty, and heavy, overblown, pretentious rock power of Rush. Opening with thunderous crowd noise, "Tom Sawyer" — with complete audience participation from the git — it is somehow awe-inspiring to hear 40,000 people singing the song with Geddy Lee. These people are so crazy; they aren\'t left out of the mix because they couldn\'t be! But it works. There was no soundcheck that night due to production delays in the arena. This is the sound of a band going for it in spite of everything and on the wing — and the sound, very live, very real, extremely dynamic — and not only do they pull it off; they issue their best live outing ever. Seeing Rush live can be an experience, but only those people in Rio saw them like this: far from complacent veteran rock stars, they musically push their own envelopes to the breaking point and goad each other onto ever greater intensity. Lee\'s bass playing has never been this ferocious, so aggressive and driving — on a live album anyway. Neil Peart pushes the entire band with his polyrhythmic assault and overdriven flourishes and fills; knowing this is the last date, he gives it all up in every single track. And Alex Lifeson, ever the band player, is, on this night anyway, simply the greatest arena rock guitarist in the world. The program ranges over the band\'s entire recorded output. The majority of the material comes from Farewell to Kings and after, though "Working Man," "2112," and a medley of "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" and "Cygnus X-1" are present here. Versions of "Roll the Bones," "The Big Money," "One Little Victory," "Ghost Rider," "Red Sector A," and "La Villa Strangiato" are given something like their definitive reads. Again, on well-known tracks like "Closer to the Heart," "Free Will," and "Spirit of Radio," the crowd participation would normally be off-putting. In this context, however, it is an asset. One can hear how this adulation and frenzy literally feeds the band, forcing the issue and making these breathtaking performances. To round out the encores on disc three Rush has included "board bootlegs" of "Between Sun & Moon" and "Vital Signs" that are more than worthy performances. They were taken from shows in Phoenix and Quebec. For those for whom Rush is a secret and guilty pleasure, it\'s time to indulge it openly by playing this for friends who erroneously insist that Sonic Youth or Strokes concert bootlegs are the epitome of "big-label live rock." For the faithful, you\'ll know. This one is bloody great. rnrn2004 – Feedback – VBRrnThis is a riot! Rather than put out some windy and dreary box set to celebrate their 30th anniversary, Canada\'s seminal power prog band and one of big rock\'s most enduring units turns the tables and lays out hot and heavy covers of eight classics from the annals of rock & roll history. The track list is amazing, and the cool thing is that the arrangements of these nuggets are not all ripped up and mutated, either. "Summertime Blues" may begin as a nod to Jimi Hendrix\'s "Foxy Lady," but it comes roaring back as an acknowledged homage to the Who\'s Live at Leeds version. The version of Stephen Stills\' "For What It\'s Worth" begins as a slippery little acoustic tune but quickly turns into a heavy, droning rock orgy. "The Seeker" goes for the jugular in the same way that the Who\'s did; Geddy\'s sneer has a little less contempt than Daltrey\'s but it\'s just as hungry and desperate. "Heart Full of Soul" is pure psychedelic Yardbirds elegance with a bunch of space and dimension added to redeem the track for the 21st century. The backmasked guitars on "Mr. Soul" and Neil Peart\'s deliberate mix of thud and snap give the cut a solid footing for Alex Lifeson to unhurriedly coax Lee\'s vocal along the lyric. The ringing of Lifeson\'s chords that barely hold this side of overblown feedback is masterful in keeping the original spirit of the song while future-dating its sonics. Rush\'s read of "Seven and Seven Is" is much faster that Love\'s original, but its barely-on-the-rails tempo is welcome in lieu of the fact that these guys are all in their fifties and play like they\'re kids. "Shapes of Things to Come" is fun, and a real attempt to provide nuance to a great song, especially the cross-channel fading in the guitar mix. But on "Crossroads," the other bookend of this EP, Rush give a romper-stomper wailing performance of Cream\'s arrangement of Robert Johnson\'s seminal blues tune. Lifeson leaves Eric what\'s-his-name in the dust. Lee may not be the vocalist that Jack Bruce is but he kicks his ass as a bass player, and his moment of glory in this cut tears the roof off the song. None of these tunes are done with an ounce of camp. What the listener encounters is a Rush that has never ever been heard before: they indulge in the hero-worship and dream roots of the garage band that eventually became Rush, and they simultaneously search for the young garage band whose members never dreamed they\'d be playing these tunes 30 years later as Rush. Anyone who thinks that there is no life left in the classics of the genre needs to hear this. That something this wild and freewheeling could only be pulled off by a band with 30 years experience is not only worth noting, but celebrating. rnrn1990 – Chronicles – 128rnThough the band has since released four more albums on Atlantic Records, this double-disc set was the original, definitive Rush anthology, spanning the band\'s entire 15-year, 16-album relationship with Mercury Records. In fact, this set is virtually perfect, clearly illustrating the Canadian power trio\'s evolution from Cream/Zeppelin enthusiasts into a ground-breaking, progressive hard-rock unit. Acclaimed classics like "Finding My Way," "Fly by Night," "A Passage to Bangkok," "Closer to the Heart," "The Spirit of Radio," and "Tom Sawyer" are interspersed with less-well-known, but equally vital tracks like "Bastille Day," "La Villa Strangiato," "Limelight," "Subdivisions," and "Red Sector A" to paint a literal moving picture (pun intended) of the band\'s career. As a testament to its excellence, Mercury was incapable of improving upon this package when releasing the nearly identical Retrospective six years later on two separate CDs.rn rn1997 - Retrospective, Vol. 1 (1974-1980) – 192rnRetrospective, Vol. 1 (1974-1980) was designed to replace the double-disc set Chronicles, and it is, in fact, a better compilation than its predecessor. By concentrating on Rush\'s earliest albums — from 1974\'s Rush to 1980\'s Permanent Waves — the album draws an excellent portrait of the group\'s artiest work, leaving their hard rock radio hits for Retrospective, Vol. 2. Meanwhile, Vol. 1 contains nearly all of the highlights from their \'70s albums, including "Closer to the Heart" and "Fly by Night," making it a nearly flawless encapsulation of their early career.rnrnRetrospective, Vol. 2 (1981-1987)rnRetrospective, Vol. 2 (1981-1987) picks up where Retrospective, Vol. 1 left off, the time period when Rush became an arena rock sensation with each of their albums reaching the Top Ten. The set begins with several selections from their most popular album, 1981\'s Moving Pictures, and ends with 1987\'s Hold Your Fire. In between, many of the trio\'s most familiar songs — "Tom Sawyer," "New World Man," "Limelight," "Distant Early Warning," and "Time Stand Still" — are featured, making this an excellent overview of the group\'s hard rock heyday. rnrn1996 - Working Man – A tribute To Rush – 192rnAs far as tribute albums go, this homage to seminal Canadian rockers Rush is hard to beat. For one thing, Magna Carta has made an inspired decision to have each song recorded by an all-star lineup rather than letting one band handle all the chores (with one exception — Fates Warning gets sole credit for "Closer to the Heart"). Often projects of this magnitude are doomed to failure from the start as a result of inadequate rehearsing, a shoestring budget, and sometimes a lack of talent capable of handling the songs with the respect they deserve. Working Man is a rare instance of everything going right. Terry Brown has done an incredible mixing job considering nearly all of the songs were recorded in different studios. The musicianship rivals the original versions — occasionally besting them, particularly where the vocals are concerned. That, combined with the fact that many of these songs will be unfamiliar to casual Rush fans (hint: there\'s no "Tom Sawyer") would lead one to believe that the musicians involved were already quite familiar with the material. Complaints are few (singers such as Jack Russell of Great White and Mark Slaughter don\'t really belong here), but commendations are nearly overwhelming: Instrumental tour de force "La Villa Strangiato" is given an amazing rendition by Steve Morse and James Murphy; Sebastian Bach and James LaBrie turn in the most inspired singing of their careers; and mention should be made of Jake E. Lee\'s amazing leads as well as the solid drumming skills of Mike Portnoy and Deen Castronovo. Arguably the best tribute album ever made, Working Man will make a Rush fan out of many who may have written the band off based on their spotty \'80s output. rnrnMoving Pictures [Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab Ultradisc 2 version] - 320rnrn2112 MFSL Ultradisc LAME – VBR