WHAT’S IN THE BAG? (20, 21, 22)

Rush have never been cool, and never will be, but they are a large section of the soundtrack to my adolescence and have, in one way or another, been with me for 35 years. This is a bloody long time, though we did part ways in 1985 with the last thing I bought by them being Power Windows, which I really liked but I was heading in a different direction taste wise and have never listened to the next 9 albums. That’s not to say I won’t, but I think things began to get a bit keyboard centric for me at the time.

The bag contained three Rush albums, the first three, Rush, Fly By Night and Caress of Steel. Their first reminds me in perhaps too many ways of Led Zeppelins first. The songs don’t necessarily sound the same, it’s the feel of the whole thing that makes it reminiscent for me, from the minimal colour on the sleeve to there being rather a lot of riffing going on (which is not necessarily a negative).

Original drummer, John Rutsey, does a fine job, but he isn’t Neil Peart, then again who is? The difference is immediately evident with ‘Fly By Night’ opener, Anthem where the addition of Peart adds a complexity that wasn’t previously there. Of these three albums the third, Caress of Steel, is probably my least favourite, ‘I think I’m going bald’ is, frankly, annoying and I could probably do without 19 minutes and 58 seconds of ‘The Fountain Of Lamneth’, and in the entire Rush canon, i could also do without all Tolkien references and Tolkienesque lyrics (Such as Rivendell on Fly By Night). I don’t dislike this aspect as such, but now it all seems somewhat twee.

I have seen Rush live once, which was, I’m pretty sure, the ‘Exit Stage Left’ tour, oddly a tour to promote a live album. It was at Wembley Arena, London, in 1981. I remember two things most vividly about this concert, the first was the opening notes of Tom Sawyer and the second was wishing they’d hurry up and get to the end of ‘By-Tor and the bloody Snow Dog’, although I think that was because it was getting a bit late by now and I had a two hour train journey home afterwards. I do actually rather like the track. Out of curiosity I looked up the following:

  • Rush’s road manager Howard Ungerleider came up with the title at a party. There were two dogs at the party, one a German shepherd and the other a tiny white nervous dog. Howard used to call the shepherd By-Tor because anyone that walked into the house was bitten. The other dog was a snow-dog (white). So from that night on Howard called the pair of dogs “By-Tor and the Snow Dog.” The dogs belonged to Rush’s manager.

    from – Songfacts

There will be more about this concert in a future post, but for now I would like to say just a couple more things, I would really love to be cool and only talk about really hip bands, but bollocks to that, I love a bit of Rush. Also, I will probably give those missing 9 albums a go at some point as there’s a very high possibility that I’m missing out on some good stuff. Here are the first three albums for your listening pleasure

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Rush 8.2/10
Caress Of Steel 8.3/10
Fly By Night 8.3/10

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