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When did it all go wrong?

Started by Nick, June 21, 2021, 16:21:18 PM

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Anyway my thoughts on this were: the music of Rush has appealed to me in a lot of different ways over the years, it's a multi-faceted thing. In some ways the gloss had started to wear off by Permanent Waves; there's a magic on earlier albums than that that isn't present by 1980.

Every artist has so much in the creativity bottle, and eventually it runs out. Weller and McCartney are examples of artists who still have a desire to write and perform music but neither of them has written a tune for years that begins to stand comparison with their best works.

Bands have a chemistry that changes when they become middle-aged. They see each other less often and have different interests. On top of that there's obviously a desire to make a mark that naturally dissipates later. No-one in Rush could have felt they had anything to prove by the end of the '80s.

In performance terms, vocal cords wear out, hands get older and stiffer.

In the case of Rush there's something about the way the music was written that seems to change in the early '90s. When most people write a song the vocal melody is part of the same process, but on Counterparts and later albums that doesn't seem to be the case, mostly. The music, such as it is, seems to be bolted together on a computer sometimes and the vocals are awkwardly floated over it like an afterthought.

There are some good albums after Hold Your Fire but not many; actually only two in my opinion and one of those is very inconsistent. Hold Your Fire is a sort of natural endpoint for me, and anything worthwhile that comes after that is a bonus.

I think I was too harsh in the title of the thread, maybe should have titled it "When did the juice begin to run out?"
Everybody's got to evalate from the norm.

June 28, 2021, 10:24:20 AM #32 Last Edit: June 28, 2021, 10:46:33 AM by Matt2112
To paraphrase Jack Black in BTLS, they always had a big bottle of special sauce, it's just that for the latter albums it wasn't being whacked at the bottom hard enough for a lot to come out - until CA, of course.
The keys to happiness


An awful lot of dregs in that bottle towards the end
When the truth offends we lie and lie until we can longer remember it is even there. But it is still there. Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later, that debt is repaid

Im definitely with Slim on this one, or he is with me, but HYF was the nadir for me. 

I dont listen to anything by choice since that album. Glad I gave 2 of the last 3 a decent spin, got that little monkey off my back, but I wont be revisiting. So much other great music out there to try and sample.
The new songs are an abomination


QuoteIm definitely with Slim on this one, or he is with me, but HYF was the nadir for me.

HYF was the nadir? I'm guessing you mean more like that HYF marked the end of the halcyon days...? 

The keys to happiness

Yep. Think I may have chosen the wrong word. HYF was an amzing album (IMHO), but literally left them nowehere to go that I could see, other than stripping down and starting a new phase.

Which, bless them they did, but it really exposed some cracks.

The new songs are an abomination

Here's a related thought: when did Rush stop "growing" as a musical concern? I can remember having this conversation on the old National Midnight Star mailing list in the late '90s. I think the answer might be: Signals. That's as far as they got, as musicians and composers.

Clearly the band I went to see in 1977 couldn't have recorded YYZ for example; the music presented on Moving Pictures is more accomplished than earlier works. By 1981 they've definitely "grown", over the space of a few short years. But is that really true for (say) Hold Your Fire compared to Signals? It's really the production that gets more sophisticated, not the songwriting or playing.

I don't think anyone would claim that there's anything more accomplished, sophisticated or clever about Counterparts or Test For Echo compared to Moving Pictures.



Great post/question.

I believe (im sure many dont) that GUP was a significant step forward and growth from Signals. Where signals seemed a little clunky, and to me like they were finding their way, GUP sounds assured and composed and natural.

PW, as you all know, is my pinnacle album for the band, and thats where I see the growth ending. I include the polish, production and layers as part of the growth, the overall sound has to be included along with the musicality, albeit maybe not as much but still

HYF is a really good album, in many ways indistinguishable from PW, so therefore for me thats where I see the growth ending, because Presto was then just a bit "meh" IMHO, and what cam next was definitely a regression
The new songs are an abomination

Listening to A Show of Hands with goose bumps running up my arms as Mission plays reminds it's the lyrics not just the music that peaked with PW & HYF. At this point every word, every line counted, no ohhing and ahhing. After that Neil went a bit flat and then over wordy lyrically.

And what a guitar solo to finish Mission
Better drowned than duffers if not duffers wont drown


QuoteListening to A Show of Hands with goose bumps running up my arms as Mission plays reminds it's the lyrics not just the music that peaked with PW & HYF. At this point every word, every line counted, no ohhing and ahhing. After that Neil went a bit flat and then over wordy lyrically.

And what a guitar solo to finish Mission
Was listening to this in the car a couple of days ago....it's very jazzy and proggy in the mid section and positively symphonic (and euphoric) at the end
Better looking than your average Tory Cabinet Minister

July 17, 2021, 20:56:42 PM #41 Last Edit: July 18, 2021, 02:40:06 AM by Bisto
Apart from Vapor Trails and Clockwork Angels the hit rate of every other post HYF album is very poor imho but I'm glad the band continued to make new music into the Nineties and beyond, even if it wasn't anything remotely approaching the quality of the mid 70's-89 period .....the tours were worth the atrocities of Snakes and Arrows and Test for Echo and there are still several songs post HYF that are worthy of inclusion in the Rush canon, even if the album's they appeared on are not.
Better looking than your average Tory Cabinet Minister

some great chat here.

OI listened to GUP and HYF over the weened while gardening, and paid particular attention to the lyrics and cadence of the words

As Patrick said, there is hardly a word wasted. GUP is criminally underrated Chez Jonners, but the words and lyrics and the way they fit the music are just brilliant, nothing wasted, nothing too purple prose or pretentious bollocks, and all delivered beautifully

that section at the end of Mission starting "if their lives were exotic........" etc is possibly the greatest moment for me words wise on any Rush album, and certainly in the "modern Rush "era, although looking at the dates it should be called the middle section I guess
The new songs are an abomination

Interesting thread.

For me it never really went wrong, at the time. I loved each album as it came out, from when I discovered them in 1986 until they called it a day with Clockwork Angels, with one exception: Vapor Trails. I hated that album when I first heard it.

These days I would say, for me at least, it went south after HYF. Yes, I know I spent years going on about Presto, and it will always hold a special place in my heart for various reasons, but hindsight is an interesting thing, and I now see it as a backwards move. After that there was more and more filler with each album, right up until Clockwork Angels - which stemmed the rot, and was a great way to bring their recording career to a close.

These days I rarely listen to them, if truth be told. The occasional binge. When I do dig out a studio album it's always Signals. Its now easily my favourite Rush album.

How times change.

Happy Birthday Wild and Free
Better looking than your average Tory Cabinet Minister