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Rock - Released January 1, 1990 | Island Mercury

Though the band has since released four more albums on Atlantic Records, this double-disc set was the original, definitive Rush anthology, spanning the band's entire 15-year, 16-album relationship with Mercury Records. In fact, this set is virtually perfect, clearly illustrating the Canadian power trio's evolution from Cream/Zeppelin enthusiasts into a groundbreaking, progressive hard rock unit. Acclaimed classics like "Finding My Way," "Fly by Night," "A Passage to Bangkok," "Closer to the Heart," "The Spirit of Radio," and "Tom Sawyer" are interspersed with less-well-known, but equally vital tracks like "Bastille Day," "La Villa Strangiato," "Limelight," "Subdivisions," and "Red Sector A" to paint a literal moving picture (pun intended) of the band's career. As a testament to its excellence, Mercury was incapable of improving upon this package when releasing the nearly identical Retrospective six years later on two separate CDs. © Eduardo Rivadavia /TiVo
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Rock - Released October 1, 1981 | Island Mercury

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Rock - Released January 1, 1997 | Island Mercury

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Rock - Released September 1, 1982 | Island Mercury

Instead of playing it safe and writing Moving Pictures, Pt. II, Rush replaced their heavy rock of yesteryear with even more modern sounds for 1982's Signals. Synthesizers were now an integral part of the band's sound, and replaced electric guitars as the driving force for almost all the tracks. And more current and easier-to-grasp topics (teen peer pressure, repression, etc.) replaced their trusty old sci-fi-inspired lyrics. While other rock bands suddenly added keyboards to their sound to widen their appeal, Rush gradually merged electronics into their music over the years, so such tracks as the popular MTV video "Subdivisions" did not come as a shock to longtime fans. And Rush didn't forget how to rock out -- "The Analog Kid" and "Digital Man" were some of their most up-tempo compositions in years. The surprise hit, "New World Man," and "Chemistry" combined reggae and rock (begun on 1980's Permanent Waves), "The Weapon" bordered on new wave, the placid "Losing It" featured Ben Mink on electric violin, while the epic closer "Countdown" painted a vivid picture of a space shuttle launch. Signals proved that Rush were successfully adapting to the musical climate of the early '80s. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1997 | Island Mercury

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Rock - Released January 1, 1975 | Island Mercury

Prior to one of Rush's first U.S. tours, original drummer John Rutsey split from the band, since he wasn't prepared to commit to the band's rigorous touring schedule. And it proved to be a blessing in disguise, since his replacement was to become one of the most respected rock drummers of all time, Neil Peart, who would also steer the band towards success with more challenging material -- starting with Fly by Night. While the title track and the album-closing ballad, "In the End," still had Zeppelin roots, the album isn't as straightforward as the debut. Rush's first bona-fide classic, "Anthem," is included, while the over eight-minute "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" helped pave the way for the group's future epics ("2112," "Cygnus X-1," etc.), and introduced the fans to Peart's imaginative lyric writing, often tinged with science-fiction themes. The reflective and melodic "Making Memories" is an underrated early composition, while "Beneath, Between, & Behind" is a furious heavy rocker. Fly by Night may not be one of Rush's finest albums, but it is one of their most important -- it showed that the young band was leaving their Zep-isms behind in favor of a more challenging and original direction. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Rock - Released April 12, 1984 | Island Mercury

Grace Under Pressure was the first Rush album since 1975's Fly by Night to not be produced by Terry Brown, who was replaced by Peter Henderson (Supertramp, Paul McCartney). The change resulted in a slightly more accessible sound than its predecessor, Signals, and marked the beginning of a period where many Rush fans feel that synths and electronics were used too prominently -- in effect pushing guitarist Alex Lifeson into the background. The songwriting and lyrics were still strong however, as evidenced by the video/single "Distant Early Warning" (a tale about nuclear war) and the often-overlooked highlight "Kid Gloves," one of the album's few songs to feature Lifeson upfront. Other standouts include a tribute to a friend of the band who had recently passed away, "Afterimage," the disturbing "Red Sector A" (which details a concentration camp), and one of Rush's first funk-based songs, "The Enemy Within." Whereas most other rock bands formed in the 1970s put out unfocused and uninspired work in the 1980s (which sounds very dated), Rush's Grace Under Pressure remains an exception. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Rock - Released October 1, 1985 | Island Mercury

Like much of the band's '80s output, Power Windows finds Rush juggling their hard-rock heritage with new technology to mixed results. With Alex Lifeson choosing sparse, horn-like guitar bursts over actual crunch, Geddy Lee's synthesizers running rampant, and Neil Peart's crisp, clinical percussion and stark lyrical themes (evoking cold urban landscapes), the result just may be the trio's "coldest" album ever. Still, it does boast its share of important tracks in "Marathon" and "Manhattan Project," while offering an energetic, tongue-in-cheeck hit single in "The Big Money." In an album that rewards patience (repeated listens are the key), the most gripping moments are saved for last, with the beautifully eerie textures of "Mystic Rhythms," a song that was later used as a concert drum solo showcase for Peart. © Eduardo Rivadavia /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 8, 1987 | Island Mercury

Hold Your Fire is an album in the purest sense; infinitely greater than the sum of its parts, it gradually draws in the listener by slowly revealing its nuances and secrets. While the use of keyboards is still overwhelming at times, Geddy Lee employs lush textures which, when coupled with a greater rhythmic and melodic presence from guitarist Alex Lifeson, results in a far warmer sound than in recent efforts. Of course, drummer Neil Peart is as inventive and exciting as ever, while his lyrics focus on the various elements (earth, air, water, fire) for much of the album. Opener "Force Ten" is the band's most immediate number in years, and other early favorites such as "Time Stand Still" and "Turn the Page" soon give way to the darker mysteries of "Prime Mover" and "Tai Shan." The multifaceted "Lock and Key" is quintessential Rush, and sets the stage for the album's climax with the sheer beauty of "Mission." As was the case with 1976's 2112 and 1981's Moving Pictures, Rush always seem to produce some of their best work at the end of each four-album cycle, and Hold Your Fire is no exception. © Eduardo Rivadavia /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 1, 1977 | Island Mercury

On 1977's A Farewell to Kings it quickly becomes apparent that Rush had improved their songwriting and strengthened their focus and musical approach. Synthesizers also mark their first prominent appearance on a Rush album, a direction the band would continue to pursue on future releases. With the popular hit single "Closer to the Heart," the trio showed that they could compose concise and traditionally structured songs, while the 11-minute "Xanadu" remains an outstanding accomplishment all these years later (superb musicianship merged with vivid lyrics help create one of Rush's best all-time tracks). The album-opening title track begins with a tasty classical guitar/synth passage, before erupting into a powerful rocker. The underrated "Madrigal" proves to be a delicately beautiful composition, while "Cinderella Man" is one of Rush's few songs to include lyrics penned entirely by Geddy Lee. The ten-minute tale of a dangerous black hole, "Cygnus X-1," closes the album on an unpredictable note, slightly comparable to the two extended songs on 1975's Caress of Steel. A Farewell to Kings successfully built on the promise of their breakthrough 2112, and helped broaden Rush's audience on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 29, 1976 | Island Mercury

The '70s may forever be remembered as the decade of the "live album," where many rock artists (Kiss, Peter Frampton, Cheap Trick, etc.) used the format for their commercial breakthrough. While Rush's All the World's a Stage is not as renowned as the aforementioned bands' live albums, it is still one of the better in-concert rock releases of the decade, and helped solidify the trio's stature as one of rock's fastest rising stars. Eventually, Rush would polish their live sound to sound almost like a studio record, but in the mid-'70s, they were still a raw and raging hard rock band, captured perfectly on All the World's a Stage Comprised almost entirely of their heavier material, the album packs quite a punch -- "Bastille Day" and "Anthem" prove to be a killer opening combination, while over-the-top renditions of their extended epics "2112" and "By-Tor & the Snow Dog" prove to be standouts. Even their more tranquil studio material proves more explosive in concert ("Fly by Night," "Something for Nothing," "Lakeside Park," "In the End"). All the World's a Stage was a fitting way of closing the first chapter of Rush, as the liner notes state. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Rock - Released October 25, 1978 | Island Mercury

Rush began life as a power trio in the Led Zeppelin/heavy rock mode. Over the years the band refined their musical vision as they gained both instrumental and conceptual facility. 1978's HEMISPHERES marks their transition from heavy riff-mongers to full blown art-rockers. Lee, Lifeson and Peart employ a number of tricks from the prog-rock bag here; (very) extended songs, multi-part suites, long instrumental passages, rapidly shifting tempos and time signatures, complicated unison riffs and synthesizer orchestrations. It's to Rush's credit that these elements enhance their sound instead of obscuring it. In fact, "La Villa Strangiato" would become one of the band's best-loved '70s efforts and a long-standing concert favorite. © TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1980 | Island Mercury

Since Neil Peart joined the band in time for 1975's Fly by Night, Rush had been experimenting and growing musically with each successive release. By 1980's Permanent Waves, the modern sounds of new wave (the Police, Peter Gabriel, etc.) began to creep into Rush's sound, but the trio still kept their hard rock roots intact. The new approach paid off -- two of their most popular songs, the "make a difference" anthem "Freewill," and a tribute to the Toronto radio station CFNY, "The Spirit of Radio" (the latter a U.K. Top 15 hit), are spectacular highlights. Also included were two "epics," the stormy "Jacob's Ladder" and the album-closing "Natural Science," which contains a middle section that contains elements of reggae. Geddy Lee also began singing in a slightly lower register around this time, which made their music more accessible to fans outside of the heavy prog rock circle. The album proved to be the final breakthrough Rush needed to become an arena headliner throughout the world, beginning a string of albums that would reach inside the Top Five of the U.S. Billboard album charts. Permanent Waves is an undisputed hard rock classic that endures. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Rock - Released April 8, 1997 | Island Mercury

When Rush finished their third album, Caress of Steel, the trio was assured that they had created their breakthrough masterpiece. But when the album dropped off the charts soon after its release, it proved otherwise. While it was Rush's first release that fully explored their prog rock side, it did not contain the catchy and more traditional elements of their future popular work -- it's quite often too indulgent and pretentious for a mainstream rock audience to latch onto. And while Rush would eventually excel in composing lengthy songs, the album's two extended tracks -- the 12½-minute "The Necromancer" and the nearly 20-minute "The Fountain of Lamneth" -- show that the band was still far from mastering the format. The first side contains two strong and more succinct tracks, the raging opener, "Bastille Day," and the more laid-back "Lakeside Park," both of which would become standards for their live show in the '70s. But the ill-advised "I Think I'm Going Bald" (which lyrically deals with growing old) borders on the ridiculous, which confirms that Caress of Steel is one of Rush's more unfocused albums. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Rock - Released March 1, 1974 | Island Mercury

Rush's self-titled debut is about as uncharacteristic of their renowned heavy progressive rock (perfected on such future releases as Hemispheres, Moving Pictures, etc.) as you can get. Instead of complex arrangements and thoughtful lyrics, Rush sounds almost identical to Led Zeppelin throughout -- bluesy riffs merged with "baby, baby" lyrics. The main reason for the album's different sound and direction is that their lyricist/drummer, Neil Peart, was not in the band yet, skinsman John Rutsey rounds out the original line-up, also consisting of Geddy Lee (bass/vocals) and Alex Lifeson (guitar). It's nearly impossible to hear the anthemic "Finding My Way" and not picture Robert Plant shrieking away, or Jimmy Page riffing on the jamfest "Working Man," but Rush was still in their formative stages. There's no denying that Lee and Lifeson were already strong instrumentalists, but such predictable compositions as "In the Mood" and "What You're Doing" prove that Peart was undoubtedly the missing piece to the puzzle. While longtime Rush fans can appreciate their debut because they never returned to this style, newcomers should stick with their classics from later years. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1989 | Island Mercury

Although keyboards dominated Rush's 1989 double live set A Show of Hands, it's a definite improvement over its somewhat flat predecessor, 1981 's Exit...Stage Left. The band's music isn't as hard rock-based as it previously was, evidenced by the more modern-sounding compositions selected for this third live album (the first Rush album to be produced completely by the band). The only tracks from the pre-1982 period to be featured are "Closer to the Heart," which is expanded to include a jamming section at the end, and the spooky "Witch Hunt," originally from 1981's Moving Pictures. The remainder of the album's track list is comprised of Rush's best compositions from 1982-1987, such as "Subdivisions," "Distant Early Warning," "Force Ten," "Time Stand Still," and "Red Sector A," as well as several tracks that have been forgotten over time ("Marathon," "Turn the Page," "Mission," etc.). Also featured for the first time on a live Rush album is a completely unaccompanied drum solo by Neil Peart -- the intricate "Rhythm Method." The inspired A Show of Hands is an excellent snapshot of Rush in concert during the mid- to late '80s. © Greg Prato /TiVo