An Introduction to Rush

Although never darlings of critics or conventional radio stations, Rush has one of the most devoted and largest followings in hard rock. 19 full-lengths and a multitude of stylistic approaches throughout their 44-year career make it difficult to dig into their discography, but most casual listeners already have a good starting point. It’s apt that “Tom Sawyer” is the band’s most popular song; it gives potential fans a decent grasp of the various approaches within Rush’s music. Geddy Lee’s notably high-pitched tenor leads over Alex Lifeson’s lively guitar work, which is often a mixture of numbing rhythm guitar and dazzling solos. His rhythmic guitar sections often allow the band’s famous rhythm section to shine. Lee’s bass and Neil Peart’s drums comprise one of the most legendary rhythm tandems in rock music, expertly blending jaw-dropping dexterity with concisely melodic hooks. Lee’s bass lines are often a heavy feature in the mix, as they are in “Tom Sawyer”; it’s a trademark of Rush’s hard-rocking but polished sound.

1981’s Moving Pictures is widely considered to be Rush’s greatest album, propelled by an opener in “Tom Sawyer” that immediately showed the group as willing to try a more radio-friendly approach without sacrificing the ambitious prog-rock that earned them a diehard fan base throughout the ’70s. Even casual listeners are aware of that track, though. The consistency of Pictures makes it Rush’s biggest success. “Yyz” is a technical showcase, where Lee succinctly mirrors his bustling bass lines with Lifeson’s soaring guitar solos. When a Rush fan picks up a guitar or bass for the first time, this is one of the tracks they aspire to play. A warm synth provides a quickly deceiving bridge, as the track swiftly turns back into the Lee and Lifeson show. It’s almost ironic how straightforward the subsequent track, “Limelight”, sounds in comparison – with its jangly chorus and crisply melodic guitar swipes. On the other end, “The Camera Eye” sees the band take a successful stab at synth-rock. All-around quality efforts like these exemplify the excitement of Moving Pictures; changes in direction never make the album sound dull. Here, Rush maintained their hard-rock approach while refining its edges, cohesively balancing virtuosity with radio-friendly appeal.

Moving Pictures represents Rush taking multiple approaches to their hard rock sound, noting the approaches of thumping prog-rock and melodic synth-rock. Several of their other releases show a more linear approach, but the first example of their ingenious ambition was displayed on 1976’s 2112. A futuristic theme is prominent throughout, and especially on the epic self-titled opener, which is a 20-minute display of Rush’s flexible song dynamics. The first half is pure build-up. Acoustics flutter over the gentle stream of a creek, slowly increasing in tempo as Lee begins to assume his arena-ready grandiosity. The track’s first half is gentle and developmental, while the second half presents the fast-paced tightness that has become a trademark of their sound, instantaneously furious and melodic. Crunchy guitar riffs flow over Lee’s hopping bass lines, and listeners are treated to one of Rush’s peaks. Everything on 2112 is worthwhile, but it’s the bookends that make it Rush’s first classic. Closer “Something for Nothing” plays with halted thunderous guitar riffs, with Peart’s hastily brilliant drum fills providing the perfect accommodations for Lee’s vocals, which take on more squealing emotion than ever.

2112 and Moving Pictures are excellent representations of Rush’s earlier career, and their release dates show another Rush tendency; they usually release one outstanding album every five to ten years. 1989′s Presto followed up Moving Pictures by eight years, after a middling ’80s period that emphasized synths and ambience more than most fans would have liked. At the time of Presto’s release, Rush were no longer a band that could put out a quality track with the intensity of guitar attacks or a technically inclined rhythm section alone. That didn’t mean it was forgettable, though. A track like “Superconducter” balances a super-catchy chorus typical of ‘80s rock, resembling Squeeze and Prefab Sprout more than hard-rock. But it was still polished and well-executed; “Superconducter” touts some of the most frequent hooks of any Rush track. Other highlights included “Show Don’t Tell” and “Scars”, the latter almost resembling a Tears for Fears pop mold with a more advanced rhythm section. It sounds oddly invigorating. By 1989, Rush were no longer the Rush of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, but they were still producing quality songs nonetheless. Though they are more of a live attraction now, Rush still reap sold-out shows due to a dedicated fan base that never tire of albums like 2112, Moving Pictures, Presto, and others that provide wonderfully massive set lists.

Zac Brown Band, Rush, Dixie Chicks Highlight 2013 Ottawa Bluesfest Lineup

Zac Brown Band, Rush, Dixie Chicks Highlight 2013 Ottawa Bluesfest Lineup

This year’s Ottawa Bluesfest is certainly not only focused on the blues with one of the most eclectic lineups to be announced recently, highlighted by Zac Brown Band, Rush and the Dixie Chicks.

This year will mark the 20th anniversary of the Canadian Festival, and other notable performers include B.B. King, Wu-Tang Clan, Weezer, Belle & Sebastian, Tegan and Sara, fun., She & Him, The Tragically Hip, Grand Funk Railroad, Skrillex, Neko Case, Matthew Good, Solange, Alejandro Escovedo, Los Lonley Boys and Animal Collective.

The festival will run from July 4-8 and then pick back up July 10-14. The event will be held at the Lebreton Flats Park in Ottawa, Ontario.

“We consider this year’s line-up to be one of the best of any across North America – it reaches out to a wide-ranging demographic with cutting edge performances as well as festival favorites,” said executive/programming director Mark Monahan in a press release.

Monahan also spoke to Metro News about the festival.

“It’s always nice when it comes together,” he said in the interview. “I think I’ve got a pretty good mix of top level arena acts like Rush and Zac Brown and Dixie Chicks, with some current leading-edge acts.”

He also says that he wants the festival to cater to the tastes of those that live in Ottawa and the surrounding area, which he calls “very much a classic rock town.”

“People like to go out and have a good time and they love to see the Hip every second year,” he continued. “I’m not trying to be a Coachella or an Osheaga or a Bonnaroo or some destination festival. I’ve got to do something that people in Ottawa are going to enjoy and want to come out to every year because it’s not a one off thing.”

Organizers also said they plan to make this year’s event the first Ottawa Bluesfest that is smoke free.


Rush Returns to the Road with 2013 Tour Dates

Rush toured fairly extensively last year behind its 20th album, Clockwork Angels, and the band has announced that “due to overwhelming demand” they will continue the tour into 2013.

The new dates kick off April 23 at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, and the band will remain on the road until May 11 when they perform at the Etess Arena in Atlantic City. The legendary Canadian trio will also visit Ft. Lauderdale; Orlando; Nashville; Raleigh, North Carolina; Virginia Beach; Baltimore and Uncasville, Connecticut.

After those dates, the band will head across the Atlantic for some European stops, and come back for a second North American leg beginning in June. Dates and venue information for that portion of the tour will be announced at a later date, but the band is expected to visit Chicago, Boston, Vancouver and Denver, among others.

The group also can use the tour to celebrate their entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Late last year, it was announced that the band finally would be inducted into the Hall after being eligible for 14 years. The induction ceremony takes place on April 18 in Los Angeles.

Clockwork Angels was released in June of last year and peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 albums chart and number one on the Canadian albums chart. Rush frontman Geddy Lee told Rolling Stone recently that the band has been feeling very good about the reception of the album on tour.

“We’re kind of in a groove right now,” Lee said. “We feel really good about the way we’re playing. We feel like we’ve raised our game in terms of musicianship and our level of chops. We’re also very excited about the way Clockwork Angels turned out. The fan acceptance of it has been very cool. We’re happy to go out and bring it around the globe.”


Rush, Public Enemy Among 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class

Rush, Public Enemy Among 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class

Rush has been eligible for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for 14 years now, and in that time the group’s fans have been lobbying for the band’s inclusion. The Canadian prog-rock band will finally be inducted next year, along with Randy Newman, Heart, Public Enemy, Albert King and Donna Summer.

The induction list was announced by Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, where the induction ceremony will be held next year. Non-performers inducted next year will be producer Quincy Jones and label executive Lou Adler.

Flea spoke of the honor during the nominations announcement, and referenced his own induction which came earlier this year.

“I love halls of fame,” he said. “I love to pay homage to people who work in the arts, academics or sports. If these people feel remotely as honored as I did, it’s a beautiful thing.” Flea was inducted this year with the rest of the Chili Peppers – others inductees this year include Guns N’ Roses and the Beastie Boys.

Part of the reason Rush may have finally been included is that this is the first year that fans have been able to participate in the selection process. In the past, Rush fans have created Facebook pages and online petitions to promote the group’s induction. Guitarist Alex Lifeson recently spoke to Billboard about the passion of the band’s fans.

“I know for me, and I would say it’s true for all of us, we felt that you’ve got to enjoy every moment that you’re out there doing this,” he said. “It’s a privilege to be able to play music, especially for your whole life. And it’s an even greater privilege to have such a fantastic audience who’s willing to support you and listen to what you’re doing and become so passionate, like Rush fans always become. You know, it’s really, really something special and it’s never lost on us.”

Rush, Joan Jett Among Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees

Rush, Joan Jett Among Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees

Rush and Joan Jett lead this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees.

Rush joins a long list of first-time nominees for the coveted honor that also includes Deep Purple, Public Enemy, N.W.A., Procol Harum, blues guitarist Albert King and the Marvelettes, a Motown group.

Joan Jett and the rest of the nominees have all been nominated at least one time in the past. R&B group chic have been nominated the most times, with six previous nominations, and the late disco singer Donna Summer will be on the ballot for the fifth time. Additionally, a slew of artists are up for the honor for the second time. These artists include Randy Newman, Kraftwerk, Heart, the Meters and Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

Alex Lifeson, guitarist for Rush, previously spoke of the Hall of Fame nominations to Billboard magazine.

“It kind of has nothing to do with us, you know?” he said. “We feel there are even other bands that should get in there before us, so we just really don’t worry about.”

The Canadian group already has been inducted into their home country’s songwriter’s hall of fame.

Ian Gillan, frontman for Deep Purple, also previously spoke about the Hall of Fame honors after Metallica singer James Hetfield endorsed the group at the 2009 ceremony.

“That’s very flattering that they care,” Gillan said. “We probably deserve it, but… we didn’t start making music thinking of honors and halls of fame, and we still don’t.

The ballots will now be mailed to the 600 Rock Hall voters, and the induction ceremony will take place next spring. This will be the 28th induction ceremony, and will be held April 18, 2013 in Los Angeles at the Nokia Theatre. HBO will tape the awards show and broadcast it at a later date.

Artists are eligible for nomination 25 years after the release of their first recording.

Rush’s New Album ‘Clockwork Angels’ Hits June 12, Tour Details Coming

Late last year, Rush bassist/keyboardist and lead singer Geddy Lee revealed that he hoped the band would have a new album out sometime this year, and official details for that album were recently released.

The tentative title Clockwork Angels has been confirmed as the official name of the album, and it will be released June 12 on Anthem/Roadrunner Records. It also was announced that a new single, “Headlong Flight,” will precede the album and be released April 19.

The statement announcing the album also said that a full-scale North American tour is being scheduled to support the album. More details on the trek will be announced soon.

Rush began recording the album in April 2010, and the group worked with Grammy winning producer Nick Raskulinecz, who previously has worked with the Foo Fighters and the Deftones, as well as on Rush’s last studio album, 2007’s Snakes & Arrows. Recording for the album took place in Nashville and Toronto.

The statement says the lyrics of the album chronicle “a young man’s quest across a lavish and colorful world of steampunk and alchemy as he attempts to follow his dreams. The story features lost cities, pirates, anarchists, an exotic carnival and a rigid Watchmaker who imposes precision on every aspect of daily life.

Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart is working on a novelization of the album with science fiction writer Kevin J. Anderson.

After recording began in April 2010, Rush went on the Time Machine Tour, where they often performed two new songs, “Caravan” and “BU2B,” which were widely speculated to be slated for inclusion on the band’s next release. Sure enough, these two songs show up as the first two tracks on Clockwork Angels.

The Time Machine Tour also resulted in a live DVD, “Time Machine 2011: Live in Cleveland. The video was the first time the band had released an official full-length performance video.

Rush Revives Time Machine Tour for Spring 2011

This spring Rush, the progressive rockers from Canada, will be reviving the “Time Machine” tour.  They will focus on markets in North America that the group missed during the trek last summer.

The tour set lists will feature Rush performing their album from 1981 “Moving Pictures” in its entirety.  They performed it this summer as well.  They will also be playing other favorites.

The dates for North America currently are scheduled to launch in Ft. Lauderdale, FL on March 30.  Additional performances have been confirmed to April 22.  According to Rush’s website, additional shows in North America are being planned for June, including visits to Los Angeles, Vancouver, Austin and New Orleans.

For each ticket sold the band is donating $1 to benefit various charities working on Haiti relief efforts, including the organization Doctors Without Borders.  In addition, part of the proceeds for the band will be donated once the tour is over.

Rush is working on their new album called “Clockwork Angeles.”  There has been no release date announced yet.  In June the band released a new single called “Caravan.”  The B-side is “BU2B.”