Hold Your Fire


Mercury Records, 1987


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


For a while in the '80s, Geddy Lee and the other guys in Rush seemed to be performing Olympian feats with their music. With rare exception, each album they put out (starting with 1980's Permanent Waves) took the foundation they had laid down and built even further upon it, pushing their music into new territories that were both challenging and exciting. Their previous two albums to this point, Grace Under Pressure and Power Windows, featured a band which was at the top of their game creatively, especially in the use of synthesizers. How they were able to keep such a high quality of work up for so long is amazing, even to this day. I've spent the better part of three days listening to nothing but Rush in chronological order, and these discs still impress me.

Hold Your Fire marks a step back for Rush. A much more challenging (and not quite as accessible) album as some of its predecessors, Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart almost seem like they run out of gas creatively, and tried to create a sequel to Power Windows. While this is not the best idea that Rush had in their career, it's also not nearly as wretched as it could have been; in fact, some tracks prove they deserved to be in the spotlight (though they've been all but forgotten over the years - which is a crime in and of itself).my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Rush seems to briefly flirt with industrial music, especially at the start of the disc with "Force Ten". Instead, the track becomes a solid rocker with some gentle interludes that keep the listener on their toes. It's still kind of a fun track to listen to, as is "Time Stand Still," the wanna-be single which features the guest vocals of Aimee Mann (then still best known as a member of 'Til Tuesday). So far, so good - even though there is very little musical growth evident as it was on previous discs.

Sadly, only two other songs stand out as being excellent on Hold Your Fire. "Turn The Page," another crowd favorite at the time, latches onto the Power Windows sound and carries it forward, bolstered by a strong song and performances. But the best song on the whole disc could well be "Prime Mover" - another popular one at the time which just seemed to fall out of favor quickly. Too bad; this one seems to capture Rush the best on this disc, touching on both melodic and harder edges of their music with a thoughtful lyric like something that could have been lifted straight from Grace Under Pressure.

It's not that the remainder of Hold Your Fire is bad. But it does smack of redundancy; don't be surprised if you think you've heard it all before when you listen to songs like "Lock And Key," "Open Secrets" and "Second Nature" (the last of these reminding me of something we'd hear a few albums later on Counterparts). But Rush seems comfortable with where their music took them prior to this disc, and they're perfectly happy to remain motionless. The end result is music that fails to excite the listener lke their previous works did. Think of it this way: I still get excited when I hear a song like "Red Sector A". I don't get excited over "Lock And Key".

Ballads also seem to take too much of a leading role, with "Mission" and "Tai Shan" suggesting that this may be the direction Rush planned on moving in. If only there was some substance to these tracks - I mean, I've got no problem with Rush embracing the atmosphere of the Orient, but they sure could have made it more interesting than they did on "Tai Shan".

But for all this critic's belly-aching, Hold Your Fire is not a bad album. It is difficult to get through, though - which may explain why, of all of Rush's discs, this is one which doesn't get a lot of play in the Pierce Memorial Archives. I think when it came out I bought it the first week or two it was out, listened to it twice, scratched my head in frustration and put it back on the shelves. Today, Hold Your Fire shows that Rush still knew how to hit the target, but they were starting to shoot blanks.

Rating: C+

User Rating: A-


has t00 b one of my favorite Rush albums. it has songs with great messages. like Second Nature, Lock and Key, Turn the Page.

© 2002 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Mercury Records, and is used for informational purposes only.