Saturday, 10 August 2013

RUSH: Getting their due

Legendary Canadian progressive rock band RUSH, who were inducted into the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in December of 2012.
From left are Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart, and Geddy Lee.
Finally, after so many years, Canadian band RUSH has been elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Trailbreakers, trendsetters, and innovators, there was no band like RUSH.

Cousin Carl loves RUSH
Before I had the chance to discover RUSH on my own, it was another band that my cousin Carl introduced me to. Now he absolutely loved RUSH, especially guitarist Alex Lifeson. Every time I went to visit him in Lethbridge, he had a poster or album of theirs. That's where I first heard about the song "Tom Sawyer", the album "2112", and the live album "Exit…Stage Left". It was on a poster he had hanging by his weightlifting bench that I first saw RUSH's "star man" logo too.

The RUSH "Star man" logo.
RUSH re-discovered
When my cousin moved away, and my interest in music grew in the mid-1980s, RUSH faded from my view. That's because they were never completely mainstream or top 40, choosing to remain more independent and less about self-promotion.

In that period, the fall of 1984 and on, I started listening to radio station LA-107 FM, broadcasting from Lethbridge. It was an album-oriented station, so you really got to hear more than just the latest release from an album, and learn a lot more about the band too.

So, when RUSH released their 1985 album "Power Windows" I finally got my first exposure to RUSH. The first single was called "Big Money", and it was my first real chance to hear that unique vocal style of Geddy Lee's.

Actually, truth be told, my first exposure to Geddy Lee was when he was part of the group of Canadian musicians that made up "Northern Lights" to record the single "Tears are not Enough" for African famine relief. He had a brief spot where he screeched: "Oh you know that we'll be there!" It was unforgettable. It even caused producer David Foster to smile during the recording of the song. We were able to see the reaction in a documentary CBC aired on the making of "Tears are not Enough".

During the summer of 1986 I went to visit another cousin, this one on my dad's side, who was a musician and big into music. He had a huge collection of heavy metal music magazines, most notably "Circus" and "Hit Parader". One of those publications ranked musicians and there, sitting at the top of the drummer rankings, was RUSH's Neil Peart. Geddy Lee was near the top for both vocals and keyboards, and Alex Lifeson was in the top 10 among guitar players.

RUSH renewed
The album cover for RUSH's 1985 album "Power
Windows". It was the first time I heard RUSH regularly.
It was only as I entered my 20s and 30s that I began to hear all those old RUSH songs that had attracted so many loyal fans. Rolling Stone magazine likened their loyalty to Trekkies and the Star Trek phenomenon. I had a chance to really savour and enjoy "Fly by Night", "Closer to the Heart", "The Spirit of Radio", "Tom Sawyer", "Limelight", "New World Man", and the newer stuff such as "Mystic Rhythms", "Time Stand Still", and "Roll the Bones".

Looking at it as a whole body of work, gave me the opportunity to see how RUSH's music changed and evolved over time. Not only were they never afraid to experiment, they just kept on producing original material. I always admire artists who are prolific.

They were first eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. It took 14 years to be selected, and that was definitely too long, given the length and breadth of their career. Plus, so many artists cite RUSH as an influence or a favourite, ranging from Trent Reznor to the Foo Fighters, Metallica, Rage Against the Machine, and the Smashing Pumpkins.

It was time RUSH got their due.

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