Thursday, April 06, 2006

Music Review: R30

Rush is a band in transition.

As a long time fan (since-ugh this is painful- 1979) I have watched Rush go through a few transitions already. From esoteric cult rock, to 80's radio rock, to a synthesizer sound that seemed purposely designed to alienate all those bandwagon fans from their 80's rock phase and back to a modern mature metal that would have been reminiscent of their 80's rock phase if there were any actual DJs left outside of the odd college campus with the power to play it.

Then tragedy struck the band with drummer Neal Peart losing his daughter and wife in a short span and a band that had recorded an album every 2-3 years for decades went 6 years without a studio album.

Although A Geddy Lee-produced live album was produced in 1998, the band went from 1996 to 2002 between studio albums. When Geddy Lee released a solo album and Vapor Trails, the band's 2002 "comeback" was followed by a greatest hits compilation, a lot of fans had to be wondering if the band was looking back with an eye to calling it a career.

I might have been one of them. But I'm not telling.

But boy was I (assuming I had any theoretical thoughts that the band might be winding down) mistaken. In the last three years Rush has released three albums.

First came Rush in Rio, a concert recorded live on one night without any overdubbing that showed that band hadnt lost a thing.

Including fans.

Having played before the largest crowd of their careers the night before, when 60,000 came out in the rain to hear the band in Sao Paulo, the band recorded Rush in Rio in front of 40,000 fans on the last night of their Vapor Trails tour.

Then in 2004 the band released Feedback, a cover album with songs that had influenced them when they were that struggling bar band. This album includes one of the best tracks Rush has ever recorded, a tight, heavy metal cover of Summertime Blues.

And then in 2005 the band was on tour again, for their 30th anniversary, when they recorded R30. Maybe the best live album I've heard. The album starts off with an instrumental called the R30 Orchestra, a tribute to the title track of 2112. This amazing instrumental includes snippets of half a dozen classic Rush songs including Finding my Way, Anthem, Bastille Day, Passage to Bangkok, Cygnus X-1 and Hemispheres.

Like Rush in Rio, R30 was recorded on a single night, proving the trio still has it in terms of muscianship and performance.

This is followed up with a second disc showcasing standout 70's concert tracks including such fan favorites as Finding my Way and La Villa Strangiato.

During this tour, the band let fans know that they weren't going to sit still for long after the R30 tour was done as well. They're back in the studio right now (Neal Peart recently revealed in his blog that 6 tracks were in the can for the new album).

And of course, the band has already revealed that once the new album is out, they will (wait for it) be going on tour again.

Nice.

Life is good. I'm not done, and neither is my favorite band.

Which is a good thing, because someone needs to continue writing the soundtrack to my life.

Chuck

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