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Once again reality has to kick me in the ass – hard – with
steel toe doc martens – to push me to finish an article.I lost a really good friend on October 2 –
his name was Kevin and he was a huge Rush fan.In fact that's how I met him – a friend and I walked into a bar and
there was Kevin at the end of the bar like the mayor, he clocked my friends
Rush shirt and we've all been friends ever since.This isn't going to be a eulogy, but in
Kevin's honor I'm going to finish this article.This is for you – my lobster bitch.
Rush are one of those bands that have hard rock fans
divided.There are those who consider
Rush GODS – untouchable – and how do you say anything negative about the
Canadian deities?Then there is the faction
that consider Rush over-rated, overplaying hacks better left to fans of
Dungeons and Dragons and Sci-Fi trivia.I fall in the first category – and now that I'm slowly starting to learn
to play bass, I can appreciate the band even more (and yes I like Sci-fi – read
my Doctor Who article on this very site!!!)
Just like Rush themselves divide music fans, the albums the
band released after 1981's breakthrough “Moving Pictures” can cause heated
discussions among even the most die-hard Rush-heads.“Signals” - released1982 - was the first in Rush's series of
keyboard heavy records.
The album kicks off with the now classic-rock friendly
“Subdivisions” - with it's all to familiar keyboard riff.Uh oh – this is where Rush are headed?It's a solid rock song with a good guitar
solo by Alex Lifeson.Neil Peart's
lyrics seem to tell the biography of the stereotypical Rush fan – the outcast,
the “uncool” one.Or was that how Neil
saw the band themselves? In an interview, Neil Peart has said the song was about
himself – how he was always “uncool” - he couldn't even play hockey which in
must have been a cause for shunning!!Most die-hard “Rushians” who say the band is the soundtrack to their
lives, say this is the first track of that soundtrack.
The next track, “Analog kid” starts off right out of the gate with a nice
riff and then – at about a minute in – SYNTHESIZERS.“OH GOD!” Rush fans of the day must have
thought, “There they fucking are again!!This isn't Bastille Day!!” Again, like Subdivisions it's a solid rock
song with a killer Lifeson solo.Did I
mention Geddy Lee yet? The poor boy had his arms and legs busy between vocals,
bass and Taurus pedals, in addition to the ubiquitous keyboards.
“Chemistry” is next and right away you could tell this was a
new sound.While the band have always
utilized keys in their prog-rock past, this was the first time it was
prominent on every track.
Side 1 ends with “Digital Man” which features the band
venturing into reggae territory.According to Wikipedia, the middle section of this song has been
compared to “Walking on the Moon” by the Police.Whether this is complimentary or not is
subjective. I really like the bass line to this song and one day when I
progress past scales and “Courageous Cat” I'll..oh who am I kidding...let's
move on to side 2.
"The Weapon (Part II of "Fear")" is our
introduction to side 2 with a nice drum riff by Peart, then Lifeson's guitar,
then Lee's bass kicks in with the keyboards taking more of a back seat, at
least until the bridge.This is by far
my favorite track on the album just for the lyrics alone.
“Can any part of life -- be
larger than life?
Even love must be limited by time
And those who push us down that they might climb --
Is any killer worth more than his crime?”
“New World Man” - keyboards out of the gate – the band kicks
in to a nice steady syncopated rhythm.To say this song is atypical of the band is a misnomer.Rush are so diverse there is no such thing as
a “typical” Rush song.Maybe that's why
it's such a thorn in my side when people write off this and their other albums
of the 80's.You want a band who's been
putting out the same album since 1980? Listen to AC/DC (which I do – ALL THE
“Losing It” is a beautiful melancholy song all about losing
one's touch.The dancer who can't dance
anymore, the writer who has no inspiration..."for you the blind who once could
see/ the bell tells for thee”.For those
of you keeping score – this track is drenched in keyboards – and features Ben
Mink from the band FM on violins.
The album closes with “Countdown” written about when the
band were invited to watch the launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia.According to Wikipedia the speech heard at
the end of the track was radiorecorded
during the maiden flight. But I remember reading somewhere it's the members of
the band ad-libbing the dialogue.
So there you have it – Rush's Signals.To this date one of my favorite albums – in
my opinion no “skippable tracks” but have a listen to it yourself.I hope I was able to open some people's eyes
(and ears) about how enjoyable it is.
Big thanks to one of the biggest Rush fans I know, Abe S –
for his help with “fact-checking” this article.