Mercury Records, 1974

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


It's been some time since we took a look at Geddy Lee and Rush... and seeing that we have approximately two months before the rumored appearance of a triple live disc (though with the death of drummer Neil Peart's wife recently, things might change), why not head back to their early days?

So, deep into the Pierce Memorial Archives (when we're not wrecking our eardrums, we're wrecking our livers) for the band's self-titled debut release from 1974. While listening to this disc 24 years later might seem to showcase an entirely different band than the one we know, you can definitely hear the seeds of greatness planted in the music.

The only release to feature drummer John Rutsey, this is not the Rush of heavy synthesizers and Ayn Rand-inspired lyrics. No, this is simply rock - and often, it's damned good rock. Instead of hearing the silk smoothness of veterans of the music scene, here are featured three young men out just to play the music they love.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Guitarist Alex Lifeson shows signs of the axe-master he would soon become, as heard on songs like "What You're Doing" and "Finding My Way". Sure, the solos aren't quite as fluid, but Lifeson demonstrates enough familiarity with his guitar to keep you interested through the whole ride. Lee already shows his skill on his Rickenbacker bass, though his vocals are very rough on this album. I don't know why Rutsey only lasted one album, but he puts in a decent performance behind the trap kit on this one. (Be this as it may, I could never imagine Rush with anyone except Peart behind the kit these days.)

Rush did score an early hit with "Working Man," a song that showed definite signs of things to come, such as being willing to take risks with rhythm patterns and arrangements. While some things on this song aren't the easiest to listen to (I am not a fan of the closing guitar lick from Lifeson), it still is a solid number that promises much greatness to follow.

The overall poppiness on Rush might surprise some people. Whether it's the bounciness of "Take A Friend" and "In The Mood" or it's the all-out ballad "Here Again" (the only song I consider a failure on the album), Lee and crew refuse to allow themselves to be pigeon-holed into any specific category. Even going from a gentler instrumental work to a rocking heart on "Before And After" provides challenges for the band and the listener alike.

It's been a long time since I first bought Rush. How long? Put it this way: my copy is part of the vinyl release of Archive, the band's first three albums. It's since been re-mastered on CD, but I've not had the opportunity to pick it up and hear what Mercury has done with it. (Damned budget cuts...)

Even if you know one or two of the songs, Rush might still provide some surprises for you. The record still surprises and challenges me, well over a decade after I bought my copy. It might not be the best Rush album on the market (it's hardly the most polished), but it is well worth your time checking out, if only to hear how they got their start. Something tells me you'll find much more than that in the 40 minutes it takes to get through the album.

Rating: B-

User Rating: B+


yes!! this album defiently is just as good as Fragile! great job thelen!

© 1998 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.