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Rush

   Rush (Mercury, 1974)
   Fly by Night (Mercury, 1975)
   Caress of Steel (Mercury, 1975)
    2112 (Mercury, 1976)
    All the World's a Stage (Mercury, 1976)
    A Farewell to Kings (Mercury, 1977)
    Hemispheres (Mercury, 1978)
     Permanent Waves (Mercury, 1980)
     Moving Pictures (Mercury, 1981)
     Exit...Stage Left (Mercury, 1981)
    Signals (Mercury, 1982)
    Grace Under Pressure (Mercury, 1984)
    Power Windows (Mercury, 1985)
   Hold Your Fire (Mercury, 1987)
   A Show of Hands (Mercury, 1989)
   Presto (Atlantic, 1989)
    Chronicles (Mercury, 1990)
    Roll the Bones (Atlantic, 1991)
    Counterparts (Atlantic, 1993)
    Test for Echo (Atlantic, 1996)
    Retrospective I: 1974-1980 (Mercury, 1997)
    Retrospective II: 1981-1987 (Mercury, 1997)
    Different Stages (Atlantic, 1998)
    Vapor Trails (Atlantic, 2002)
    The Spirit of Radio: Greatest Hits 1974–1987 (Mercury, 2003)
     Rush in Rio (Atlantic, 2003)
    R30: 30th Anniversary World Tour (Atlantic, 2005)
    Gold (Mercury, 2006)
    Grace Under Pressure Tour (Atlantic, 2006)
    Snakes & Arrows (Atlantic, 2007)
   Snakes & Arrows Live (Atlantic, 2008)
    Retrospective 3 (Atlantic, 2009)
   Working Men (Atlantic, 2009)

Geddy Lee    My Favorite Headache (Atlantic, 2000)

For more than thirty years, Rush have been a prog-rock stalwart, three Canadian lifers pumping out complex sci-fi jams while managing to retain a vaguely populist bent—the band is far less dark and heavy than prog progenitors like Pink Floyd, say. Drummer Neil Peart, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and bassist Geddy Lee have developed fearsome chops over the years; their love of tricky time signatures and busy solos is what hypnotizes fans and bores everybody else. Lyricist Peart's mystifying cosmic bent and lead singer Lee's Donald Duck–on-acid howl inspire similar love-it-or-loathe-it debates.

2112 and All the World's a Stage mark the end of Rush's muddy space-plowboy phase; with Permanent Waves ("Spirit of the Radio," "Jacob's Ladder") and Moving Pictures ("Limelight," "Tom Sawyer"), the group sculpts a more tuneful, AOR-friendly approach without forsaking its trademarks—middlebrow philosophizing and flashy instrumental trappings. After Signals and "New World Man," popular tastes shifted from the Seventies-identified progressive-rock sound—of course, Rush has continued to follow its quest, regardless of trends, even if their mid-to-late Eighties albums sound a bit dated thanks to their embrace of era's wooshing pop-ready synths and suffocating over-production.

The Nineties found the trio returning to the more organic, instrumentally complex aesthetic of its youth, albeit with the benefits of digital technology and a heavier sound (those power chords on Counterparts' "Stick It Out" are pure postgrunge menace.) But the tragic death of Peart's wife and daughter within a 10-month span brought to the group to a halt. Fortunately, the lifelong friends stuck together and, after a forgettable Geddy Lee solo outing, returned in 2002 with a geeky-as-ever album.

Of the handful of compilations available, the two-volume Retrospective captures the band's classic output at its muscular best—especially when packaged together as Gold (which thankfully adds "Working Man"). Of the band's many, many live collections, the elephantine DVD/CD package Rush in Rio is the best, a complete show over three discs, complete with a raucous 40,000-member crowd and an eight-minute Neil Peart drum solo. However 1981's Exit…Stage Left is still the best showcase for the band in their leaner and hungrier days.

Portions of this album guide appeared in The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (Fireside, 2004).

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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