You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that’s clear
I will choose free will
In 1974, a trio of Canadians called Rush released their self-titled debut to little fanfare. The world did not realize then that they would become the Rock gods they are today, over 40 years later. In this two-part post, I will rank each of their studio albums from best to worst. Part one will start with their debut and end with their tenth album, Grace Under Pressure. Part 2, which I will post next month, starts with Power Windows and ends with their most recent album, Clockwork Angels. A 5-star album will be considered the best album, and one star will be their worst.
The three members of Rush are:
Geddy Lee–bass, keyboards, lead vocals
Alex Lifeson–guitar, backing vocals
- Rush (1974) ***
Single: “Working Man”
This almost seems like a Rush that existed in a parallel world, because it’s so different from the Rush we know today. The main difference is that this album was recorded with John Rutney, the drummer Neil Peart later replaced. Rutney eventually left the band because of health problems during their first tour. Here they sound almost like a more bass-heavy version of Led Zeppelin, which isn’t a bad thing.
Best tracks: “Finding My Way”, “Working Man”, “In the Mood”
2. Fly By Night (1975) ****
Single: “Fly By Night”
Neil Peart’s tenure with the band begins with this album, bringing with him songwriting influenced mostly by objectivism, specifically the writings of Ayn Rand. (he eventually dropped the more extreme Rand views) It’s an impressive debut and this feels more like the Rush we know today. It also contains their first suite, “By-tor and the Snow Dog”. “Rivendell” is influenced chiefly by Tolkien”, and “Anthem” is one of my favorite non-hits.
Best tracks: “By-Tor and the Snow Dog”, “Fly By Night”, “Anthem”, “Rivendell”
3. Caress of Steel (1976) *
Single: “Bastille Day”
Ugh. This is Rush at their worst. Only two of the five songs are good. They relied too much on the two suites on the album, “Necromancer” (which is spoken word), and “The Fountain of Lamneth”
Best tracks: “Lakeside Park”, “The Fountain of Lamneth”
Fun Fact: By-Tor, the title character in “By-Tor and the Snow Dog”, also makes an appearance in one of the suites. The copper picture is actually a printing error. It was supposed to be steel-colored.
4. 2112 (1976) *****
Single: “2112” (parts 1 and 2 only)
Most fans consider this Rush’s best album, and I agree. The title track is twenty minutes of pure epic, and the rest of it’s great too. And to think their record company didn’t want them to record more suites.
Best tracks: “2112”, “Twilight Zone”, “Something For Nothing”
Fun Fact: While “2112” has appeared on several live albums, Different Stages is the only live album that has the entire song.
5. A Farewell to Kings (1977) ****
Singles: “Closer to the Heart”, “Cinderella Man”
It’s not a five-star album, but man is it close! “Cygnus X-1” is a great space opera, even if you have to get Hemispheres to get the whole song. “Xanadu” is also an excellent song. And of course “Closer to the Heart” is the great anthem.
Best tracks: “Cygnus X-1: Book 1”, “Xanadu”, “Closer to the Heart”
Continue reading “Jason’s Jukebox: Rush Part 1 (1974-1984)”