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  3. Reg ranks and briefly talks about all 19 Rush studio albums

User Info: Reg

Reg
4 weeks ago#1
So, doing this is something that's been in the back of my mind for a very long time. I wanted to do songs, but actually compiling the list even to just a point where I can say "I'm happy with this even if it may not be perfect" (even if I cut it to, say, 50) would be a large undertaking for me and frankly I would to not leave the list undone, nor take f***ing forever to finish it.

At any rate, anybody who's a fan of the band knows that drummer, primary songwriter, and all around great guy Neil Peart died on the 10th. And since then, I have listened to a ton of Rush (even relative to how much I usually listen to them) and thought that this was a good time to do it.

I got into this band about 12 or so years ago. While that seems like a little late to be saying this, it really does feel like I grew up with this band's music and really found myself throughout my high school and college years with their music. I also had the absolute pleasure of getting to see them live twice (2011 with the Time Machine tour and 2015 with R40), and one of my biggest regrets will probably always be that I wasn't able to see them when they came to town in 2013. I f***ing love this band more than just about anything else in the musical sphere.

Regardless, I don't really intend to use this space for full-blown reviews of the albums, I'm not a music critic, etc etc. But I do want to take this chance to talk about a topic that means a fair bit to me, honor my favorite musician and band, and maybe use that as a chance to share and discuss with you guys. And since this is Board 8, the list format is pretty obligatory tbqh. This topic is basically going to go as quickly (or as slowly) as I write about the topics. I have no idea what pace I'm going to go at here, as I haven't pre-written anything beyond this post LOL

For now, I'll just jump right in and get the least-good one out of the way.

19. Test for Echo
What's Great: About half the album
What's not great: The other half

For the band, Test For Echo is pretty famously the last thing they did before various circumstances drove them into hiatus in the mid-90s. For me, this was the last pre-Clockwork Angels Rush album I actually got and listened to, just because as I was exploring the rest of their discography, pretty much everything from the 70s and 80s had a song or three that gave a good reason to prioritize checking it out, and Snakes and Arrows/Vapor Trails were the latest. So 90s Rush kind of fell by the wayside, and Test For Echo more than Roll the Bones or Counterparts, which probably hurts it a lot here. It just didn't have the same impact pretty much anything else I heard from them did. And in retrospect, this album also 'feels' really 90s to me. Like if I were to imagine the stereotypical 90s rock album, it probably wouldn't be far from Test For Echo.

Ultimately, this album is most notable for having most of the very few Rush songs I actively do not like - Virtuality, Dog Years and Driven are the negative standouts here. On the flip side though, the title track and Resist stand out as notably good among the band's work, with the acoustic guitar versions of Resist that were played live definitely elevating that song to another level. Meanwhile, Test For Echo is just flat out a fun listen, with the lyrics being a relatively on-point commentary even now, though they also occasionally feel pretty cheesy to me. And honestly, being fun is the best way to win my heart, whether it's music, books, games, whatever. Once you get past those two tracks though, you just wind up with an album that is ultimately very forgettable and mediocre when put up next to literally everything else the band did, and I find it hard to envision what kind of reception this album would get if it was done by some other band without the legacy and sheer amount of great stuff Rush has done.
(edited 4 weeks ago)

User Info: NBIceman

NBIceman
4 weeks ago#2
Never clicked the "Track Topic" button so fast in my life.
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Spurs - Yankees - Eagles - Golden Knights

User Info: Reg

Reg
4 weeks ago#3
NBIceman posted...
Never clicked the "Track Topic" button so fast in my life.
Glad to hear it! Even without the topics about Neil's death I knew we had at least a few fans on the board, which is one of the reasons I actually went through with doing this. Even if it's at least as much an exercise in self-indulgence, getting a few things off my chest and semi-publicly sorting out some emotions as anything.

18. Rush
What's Special: Working Man
Why So Low: The lack of Peart shows and hurts.

Anybody who's enough of a fan of Rush to know their history doesn't need me to tell them that before Peart joined, they were basically Led Zeppelin disciples. Which was fine. All three of the guys had the technical skill to pull it off. John Rutsey will basically never any respect as a drummer because he was replaced by the greatest drummer to ever live, but this album shows he was at least technically solid - there's really nothing to complain about with the instrumentation and performances on the album. The failing, though, is that Geddy and Alex are not nearly as good of song writers as they are performers, and a lot of these tracks fall into "So stereotypically 70s rock that they don't quite feel like Rush" or "A bit cringey in the lyrics department" (Shoutouts to In The Mood). This album ultimately suffers from a lot of the same forgettable-ness as I complained about with Test For Echo, even if it's more excusable in this case because it was a group of guys in search of a style, and not a long-established band that had been playing together for 20 years.

Ultimately, this album does mean a fair bit to me. As I would imagine is fairly common for younger folks who are into older bands, I was introduced to Rush by my dad, who had two Rush CDs. This one and a greatest hits collection. And he absolutely loves Working Man. Or more accurately, as a blue-collar family man type of person, he very strongly identifies with that song. Thanks to him, I was listening to it long before I knew basically anything about music, let alone things that weren't played on the radio. And as I discovered and got into Rush 'properly' as a teenager, it really wouldn't even be a mistake to say I bonded with my dad all over again using this song, just listening to it with him (And using it to get him to listen to some of the lesser-known tracks on other albums) while we sat around and talked about nothing of consequence. If I were ranking individual songs, it'd place far higher than it probably would objectively "deserve" to (And it would deserve to rank decently high to begin with) just on account of that.

Unfortunately though, that's just one song. And for my money, the only other standout great song on this album is Finding My Way, which is a fun, high-energy piece that I think best captures the Pre-Peart style of the band (Relatively generic as it may have been), with cool riffs and the best vocal performance on the album IMO. On another relatively high note, Here Again is the band's first attempt at a ballad, and while it doesn't hit the mark nearly as well as some of their later attempts it's definitely good in its own right and does a good job of breaking up the rest of the album and keeping it from being a straight up parade of 70s hard rock. Aside from the aforementioned utter cheesiness of In The Mood (Which can still be fun to listen to, but requires a very specific, well, mood), the rest of this album is solid-but-unspectacular. Which is fine, though if it were the first Rush album I actually sat down and listened to in full (I didn't, even though it was the one my parents actually owned at the time, because I was a dumbass teenager LMAO), I may not have fallen in love with the band the way I did. Even at that age, I was familiar with all of the typical classic rock radio hits courtesy of my parents (I was actually about as big a fan of the Eagles as I could've been at the time considering my age and interest in the finer points of music), and I may very well have written them off as "ordinary classic rock band, with higher-pitched vocals than most bands". Instead I've got something I can respect as the band's roots, and something that gives me a lot more appreciation for Peart's songwriting talents.

And even though some of this sounds pretty critical and negative (especially in context of the low ranking), I feel the need to note that I still enjoy this album. I am simply holding it to a far higher standard than I would if $Generic70sBand released it for the same reason I was negative on Test For Echo. Rush is just better than that, even if this album is a very different Rush than the other 18 I will be discussing.
(edited 4 weeks ago)

User Info: Nelson_Mandela

Nelson_Mandela
4 weeks ago#4
Tag
"A more mature answer than I expected."~ Jakyl25
"Sephy's point is right."~ Inviso

User Info: Underleveled

Underleveled
3 weeks ago#5
Not counting Feedback?
darkx

User Info: Reg

Reg
3 weeks ago#6
Underleveled posted...
Not counting Feedback?
Didn't plan on it. May talk about it (and the two concerts I attended) afterwards, but the focus is on the stuff the band actually wrote.

User Info: Snake5555555555

Snake5555555555
3 weeks ago#7
Tag!

I've always really liked Rush, but I do understand the criticisms for it.
What I am about to do has not been approved by the Vatican.
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User Info: Reg

Reg
3 weeks ago#8
17. Caress of Steel
Does: Make for a very relaxing, emotional listen
Does not: Elevate above its red-headed step-child status

There's a fair bit going for this album across the board. I used to be a sucker for historical contexts (I still am somewhat, but I used to be too). Especially when connected to topics that I don't think get sufficiently covered in history classes. Coincidentally, the first track on this album is about the French Revolution. It's a relatively ordinary, riff-oriented piece that wouldn't have really been out of place on either of Rush's previous albums, and there's not much notable about it from a quality perspective, but Bastille Day still hits that thematic sweet spot for me enough to make it fun even so.

Meanwhile, Lakeside Park is, for as much as Geddy dislikes it, a piece that does a great job of making me yearn for a childhood and a time period that I didn't have. I grew up in a very stereotypical suburb in a time where the sort of hang-outs Peart reflects on just didn't happen, and the small town, slow-paced mood just didn't really exist around me. And in a world increasingly moving away from that, the most I'll get is songs and stories like this, from a generation of people who did experience it. It's hard to call that emotion nostalgia, obviously, but it still makes me a bit sad.

The last two tracks on this album are two of the longest in the band's catalog and a continuation of their foray into the 'concept' art world that they started with By-Tor and the Snow Dog. The Necromancer is a heavily Tolkien-inspired tale which, for better or worse, has never been my cup of tea. Which means that I'm left with a slow-paced, almost bluesy (to start with, at least) jam that ramps up over the next eight minutes and climaxes two thirds of the way through the song. The last four minutes give off that same "three guys jamming" feel, but in a completely different (and far more upbeat) direction, which is about all the song can do to keep from feeling like it's worn out its welcome towards the end.

The Fountain Of Lanmeth though, while failing to rise to the level of any of the other epic-length pieces Rush did (spoilers, they're literally all really really good), is a beautiful piece. Even if you ignore the lyrics and the story being told, the instrumentation itself feels like the journey that the lyrics are describing, and it's one that can feel all to short - 20 minutes often seem to pass as if it was ten with this one.

(Anybody actually reading this may notice that I only covered four of the five songs on this album. That was intentional, as I realized that while I have a thing or two to say about I Think I'm Going Bald, absolutely none of them are of value in any capacity. It'd be a throwaway writeup for a throwaway song)

Snake5555555555 posted...
Tag!

I've always really liked Rush, but I do understand the criticisms for it.
Yeah. That album has definitely got a couple highs to it, but I just feel like they aren't enough to make the album as a whole stand out when compared to the rest of the body of work. The best way to describe it IMO is that it's an immature album. Which, honestly, the same criticism could somewhat be leveled at Fly By Night and Caress of Steel too. If you listen to the band's first four or five albums in order, I feel like you can really feel the growth as they get comfortable writing and playing the songs they want to do and settle in to their dynamics.

User Info: NBIceman

NBIceman
3 weeks ago#9
I've always had a big soft spot for Fountain of Lamneth even though I can kind of recognize why it's not as highly regarded as their other epics.
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Spurs - Yankees - Eagles - Golden Knights

User Info: Reg

Reg
3 weeks ago#10
NBIceman posted...
I've always had a big soft spot for Fountain of Lamneth even though I can kind of recognize why it's not as highly regarded as their other epics.
I do too and I thought I got that across! Like, I had more to say about the other tracks which may seem a bit strange since Fountain of Lanmeth the longest one on the album, but it's the highlight as far as musical quality and enjoyability goes. It's just hard for me to put into words when I can just listen to it (or tell somebody else to listen to it) instead. I really think beautiful is the best word for it though, which is not something I can say about 2112 or either half of Cygnus. It's a very different kind of song and charm, even if the length is comparable. And while I say I like the other ones better, I don't like them significantly more.

I think a large chunk of its disrespect comes just from the fact that it's on Caress of Steel instead of one of the more popular albums. Then again, I guess you could make the case that 2112 and Hemispheres got popular because of their epics, so I dunno.
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