Power Windows - Album Discussion

Started by Nephronic, January 06, 2003, 06:35:21 am

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Andy Piercy

Quote
Grand Designs - why oh why oh frelling why didn't they play this live?  I would love to hear and see this performed live.
This may sound a little strange - but I always hear it live in my head, if you can understand this.

But Reg, Grand Designs *was* played live on the PoW tour. It was in the encores surprisingly enough.

http://www.2112.net/powerwindows/Tours.htm#pow

Mark_Williams

QuoteU on Vapour is cool...but not on Favourite,me anyway,I guess this is where Ged and I will have to

Lyth

 :)

Anyway, back to the album.

With Power Windows, I feel that Rush released one of the best albums of their career, even though it took me quite a while to get into it.

The band found their perfect "outside ear" with Peter Collins, whose production is superb (as it is on his other albums). He really helped to acheive something wonderful.Geddy's Wal bass is tight and punchy, Alex is crystal clear and Neil sounds better than ever. Coupled with some imaginative synthesiser programming from Andy Richards and Jim Burgess, it creates a huge sound.

There are many highlights on there.

The Big Money is a great opener and features a superb instrumental passage. I love the ending where the guitar blasts back in and the band rock out in 6/4 with Neil hitting the living daylights out of his snare drum.

Grand Designs is a great little song and has a wonderful solo from Alex (as are all of the others on the album).

Manhattan Project works really well, Anne Dudley's string arrangements are really powerful on here.

Marathon sees the music setting the lyrical picture perfectly and once again, as with Big Money, the instrumental section shows off their superior abilities brilliantly.

Territories is an underrated masterpiece. Alex plays some great atmospheric guitar parts, Neil shows off his percussive skills and the moments where Geddy plays bass are really funky. There's also some really good low end synth in there. Great song.

With Middletown Dreams I love the economy of Neils playing. There's only one tom fill on the song and the rest is basically bass, snare and cymbals. Geddy's vocals are also a high point, the last "drive you when you're down" is sung with great effect. The 'middle age madonna' section features some superb sequencing that even now, over 17 years later, sounds fresh. This song is probably my favourite on the album.

Emotion Detector features one of Alex's greatest guitar solos as well as some lovely atmospheric playing on the intro. It's a pity that the synth and 'jangly' guitar sounds during the song seem to cancel each other out though.

Mystic Rhythms is possibly the weakest track on the album. Although saying that, like Territories, it seemed to come over better in concert (Counterparts tour).

All in all, it's one of my favourite albums. I'm still a little narked that they never came over and toured with it as it would have been nice to have seen them play Middletown Dremas and Grand Designs but I've got my bootlegs of them so I guess that they'll have to suffice.


Andy Piercy

I can't add much more to Lyth's great review - I agree with the majority of what you said   ;).

On this album, and I don't think this happened with any other in the bands history, Alex re-arranged and re-recorded all the guitar parts after the keys and sequences were layed down. This, it seems to me, really produced some innovative stuff from King Lerxst. In particular, on my favourite tracks from this album, Territories and Middletown Dreams, there are so many great guitar parts and different textures. Geddy's Wal bass really sounds great and he comes up with some of his best ever lines - Marathon and Territories are awesome. Neils' lyrics are stronger, as a whole, than on GuP with The Big Money, Territories and Middletown Dreams being the pick of the bunch imho.

All in all a strong album.  

Mark_Williams

Sorry I have to disagree - I'd say like many of the albums during this period - strong songs on an overall weakish album - some are killer tracks but others are just bland keyboard driven run of the mill rock - but Rush still can't make a 100% bad album for me and they are timeless

Nephronic

After all that's been said here I decided to give PW another few plays. I tried to listen with as open a mind as possible, however it still did nothing for me. Anyone hearing the album, for the first time, would be able to give a rough guess at which year it was recorded in as it's very much of its time. I don't think any other Rush album is as easily identifiable in such a way. In some ways I am envious of those who get a great deal of pleasure from this album but it looks like it will always be one of my least favourite Rush albums. There are worse Rush albums than this but, for me, it will remain one of their lesser played efforts.
Who Put The 'N' in North Berwick?

Dave_Lack

I'm definitely in Lyth and Andy P's camp here, a masterful album that I played to death when it came out. Loved the choir, the orchestra and the sparkling production.

'We shoot without shame... in the name of a piece of dirt"

It's a good job things are not like that now... (!)  ;)

Nick

I would also have to go with Lyths review. This is the finest album between Signals and VT, great production on all instruments and great lyrics. For me the highlight is Middletown with all the different guitar textures and synth programming (would have liked them to try a few more songs in this vein). After this involved sound they certainly seemed to take a step down in complexity on the next few albums.

An friend of mine met them when they were recording or mixing in Oxford. Apparently Ged was not a happy man that day and told him where get off.
Everybody's got to evalate from the norm.

Dave_Pierce

I can't believe I missed this thread!! I think I was too busy doing battle over Dream Theater and it slipped under my radar!!  ;D

When I'm not feeling very creative in expressing my opinions, I find it very useful to find Slim's opinion on the topic and just go from there.... so here goes!!

QuoteI remember listening to Power Windows for the first time and thinking .. is this a joke?  what the FECK is this crap?  It just washed over me like so much glossily produced pointless limp noise.  I felt exactly the same about Hold Your Fire, and it wasn't until years later that I started to appreciate those two records....

I can relate to the feelings expressed in the first part, but sadly I've never fully appreciated PoW or HYF. For me, PoW was the beginning of the "RUSH slide" away from aggressive, powerful guitar oriented progessive hard rock that had become their trademark. I mainly blame it on their shift to writing the songs on keyboards and sacrificing the guitar in the songs in favour of keyboards. Prior to this, when you heard a RUSH song, you KNEW it was RUSH because of the guitar sound. Now it was up for grabs... who is this... sounds kinda like ----...... The classic RUSH sound was slipping away.

QuoteWhile not in the same league as Signals or Moving Pictures I feel that Power Windows is a big improvement on Grace Under Pressure

Agreed with regards to Signals & MP, but PoW was a real drop from GUP. The latter brought a resurgence in Alex's prominence in the songs, and while they didn't compare to the "Holy Trinity" (Hemispheres, PeW, MP), they still had BALLS!! Some of PoW rekindled this old feeling (Big Money, Manhatten Project, parts of Grand Designs & Marathon), but too much guitar was buried under layers of keyboard atmospherics. Side 2 was a real disappointment. This trend sadly continued on HYF.

Quote... and much, much better than anything since Hold Your Fire.

Yeah, if you don't include half of Presto, most of CP, half of TFE and most of VT. I'm not going to go into the whole disection of these albums again. The bottom line is that where RUSH is concerned, I want to hear a powerful guitar sound with keyboards adding a nice complimentary embellishment, not the other way around.

Mark_Williams

QuoteFor me, PoW was the beginning of the "RUSH slide" away from aggressive, powerful guitar oriented progessive hard rock that had become their trademark. I mainly blame it on their shift to writing the songs on keyboards and sacrificing the guitar in the songs in favour of keyboards.

but too much guitar was buried under layers of keyboard atmospherics. Side 2 was a real disappointment. This trend sadly continued on HYF.


Yeah, if you don't include half of Presto, most of CP, half of TFE and most of VT. I'm not going to go into the whole disection of these albums again. The bottom line is that where RUSH is concerned, I want to hear a powerful guitar sound with keyboards adding a nice complimentary embellishment, not the other way around.

Great points - agree with everything you've said - Rush sacrificed the guitar driven approach with embellishments and sold their souls to the devil (that's a great big fat bank of horrible balls-less keyboards to you and me  ;))  ;D

Japes

This B-I-G sounding era of Rush seems to polarise opinions. You either hate it like Mark or love it like Reg with very little in between. For me I love it and that rest of the mid 80's albums... aside from being 'the soundtrack' to a memorable part of my life GUP, PoW and HYF (for me) contain some great songs, lyrics and production.

Back to PoW though and I don't think there's a weak song on here at all from the bombastic intro of The Big Money through to the evocative Middletown Dreams and Emotion Detector by way of the sheer majesty that is Marathon, the lyrics of which inspired me to keep going through two marathon runs in '86.... seriously ;D

[glb]From first to last, the peak is never past, something always lights the fire that's in your eyes....[/glb]






homerush

January 17, 2003, 23:58:18 pm #41 Last Edit: January 18, 2003, 00:01:00 am by homerush
Hmmm.

Slim

January 20, 2003, 04:22:09 am #42 Last Edit: January 21, 2003, 08:42:43 am by Slim
Power Windows is a fabulous recording, representing a fresh approach for Rush, with a glorious, panoramic, expansive production.  It sounds huge without being overblown or pompous.  It's sophisticated, modern and thoroughly exciting.

I don't believe that the songwriting here is quite as accomplished as was evident on Moving Pictures or Signals, but it is strong nonetheless - there is some brilliant songs here.

Indeed, there's not a single weak track .  But for me the standout tracks are: The Big Money, an effective ditty about globalisation before the term was coined and a fantastic opener - dramatic and catchy, with some dynamite, slashing rhythm guitar work and a solo that sends it shooting upward through the stratosphere.  Middletown Dreams, an evocative piece about ambition and aspiration, with a gorgeous, uplifting chorus.  And Manhattan Project, a 'documentary' song that works brilliantly - gripping, dramatic stuff this and the orchestral backing is a masterstroke.  Rush recordings don't get much more atmospheric than this.

Generally, the echoey drum sound takes a bit of getting used to in places, but the keyboards blend beautifully with the guitar and bass to project these beautiful, stirring compositions as never before, and the edgy, imaginative production is a perfect vehicle for the joyous, spirited music on offer here.

I often feel that this album and its sister recording, Hold Your Fire are the two records which sort the wheat from the chaff in Rush fandom.  It's easy to see why it goes over the heads of some - this is not heavy rock, it's something much more sophisticated and imaginative.

A superb album and a major improvement on Grace Under Pressure.


Dave_Pierce

Slim, I must disagree with you on a few points (there's a surprise!!  ;))

QuoteIt's sophisticated, modern and thoroughly exciting.

Modern? ???  We were just listening to PoW in the car on Saturday and my wife (who's also a RUSH fan) commented "Boy does that ever sound like 80's music!!". She was referring to some of the keyboard "flourishes" and "electro-beats" that RUSH adopted that we in vogue at the time. I was just thinking the same thing as her at the same time. So, I guess you could say it's modern if you're still living back in 1985... otherwise some of it sounds terribly dated.

QuoteRush recordings don't get much more atmospheric than this

Can't disagree with you there. There are some great songs to be sure, but instead of the keyboards complimenting the guitars, at times they take over. Like it or not, RUSH is guitar/bass/drums driven... always was and should always be. Keyboards have their important place, but as an additional texture, NOT as the driving melodic force. "Atmospheric" is not a term I wish to use in describing the best band of all time. If I want great keyboard driven music I'll listen to early Genesis. RUSH is progressive "hard rock".

QuoteIt's easy to see why it goes over the heads of some - this is not heavy rock, it's something much more sophisticated and imaginative..

Hold on there mate!!  >:(  Just because someone doesn

Slim

January 21, 2003, 03:50:59 am #44 Last Edit: January 21, 2003, 08:46:54 am by Slim
QuoteModern? ???  We were just listening to PoW in the car on Saturday and my wife (who's also a RUSH fan) commented "Boy does that ever sound like 80's music!!".
Yes, I agree - it definitely sounds '80s in parts, because that's when it was made.  However some of their contemporaries were stuck in an early '70s timewarp back then.  When it was released, it was 'modern'.  Clearly it is less so now, although in a relative sense I think it's fair to say it's modern, it certainly is for a hard rock band, even today.

QuoteOn the whole, Pow is a good album.... but it is certainly NOT superior to GUP. It's where RUSH started to lose some "balls", something they only started to recover from on Counterparts (more on that soon).
I do feel quite honestly that it's dramatically superior to GUP, and I reckon there hasn't been anything since HYF that comes REMOTELY close to touching it.  For me, Counterparts only served to confirm their '90s status as purveyors of shallow, dull, formula radio-friendly Rock Lite (tm).

And by the way - at one point in your post you seem to imply that it's not more sophisticated than the likes of GUP or CP - which, with all humility, I frankly find absurd.

Slim