Rush: Forty Years After!

Rob O'Connor
List Of The Day (NEW)

Rush will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Los Angeles this April. Shouts of "We Have Assumed Control" are sure to follow and personally I can't wait to hear the jam at the end when Randy Newman, Public Enemy, Heart and Rush tribute Donna Summer with a little "Love To Love You Baby/ Hot Stuff / Bad Girls" medley and then "Born Under A Bad Sign?" Break out the rockin' chair!

It's a big step for the Hall to allow the fans to push them over the edge. Next stop, Kiss? Bachman-Turner Overdrive? GFR???

Rush have been great sports about every critic in the land once making fun of them. The money helps, I'm sure.  A new generation of critics who grew up spending their teenage years trying to unravel the rhythms of "YYZ" have come on the scene and the jokes have become fewer and that documentary Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage allowed musicians to pay homage, too.

Even a doubter must admit that Rush continue to tour and record with the same high standards and precision of their earlier work. 2012's Clockwork Angels is surely a more exciting experience for Rush fans than whatever most veteran bands are giving to their fans these days.

Anyhow, I've picked out 25 tracks that cover the band's broad spectrum. Surely, go over to Spotify and check them out. But this is one band you'll want to listen to in the best format possible. Fidelity counts!

25) I Think I'm Going Bald: The group's concepts were not always so high-falutin'. Going bald is career death for a rocker and this was long before hair plugs and expensive rugs and weaves were as plentiful as reunion tours. This Caress of Steel track is catchier than "The Fountain of Lamneth" and it gives Alex Lifeson a decent guitar solo. Bring on the Wig Rock!

24) Working Man: John Rutsey! John Rutsey! John Rutsey! But it was not to be and their first drummer left and opened the door for Neil Peart! Which is a bit like Pete Best leaving a seat open for Ringo Starr, except we don't have a debut album from the Beatles with Best playing on it. And we also don't have countless albums like The Rush Member That Time Forgot or Rutsey's Rush! cluttering up the cut-out bins. There aren't any more cutout bins!

23) By-Tor and The Snow Dog: With a title like this, you can already hear the critics sharpening their pencils. The music is like Dylan's sexless patients and a grown man singing excitedly about "By-Tor" does feel like something's happening and you don't know what it is. I've just never been that excited about albums that leave so much time for instrumental solos. C'mon guys, sing more!

22) Bastille Day: The production on these early Rush albums guarantees the riffs fall a little flat. Imagine what they'd sound like with Jimmy Page overseeing things.

21) Headlong Flight: It's extremely difficult to figure out where current tracks will eventually fall in relation to the rest of the catalog, but this cut from 2012's Clockwork Angels benefits from the hi-fi sound.

20)  Jacob's Ladder: 1980's Permanent Waves has somehow gotten overshadowed by 1981's Moving Pictures. I can assure you that at the time the kids were just as excited about this album. Interestingly (or maybe not), both albums feature a first side that the kids committed to memory and a side two that rarely got played at all. Considering most kids bought their albums on cassette, this was a big statement to be making. You'd rather rewind the tape than have to listen to side two! If hardcore eighth-graders wouldn't go there, why should I?

19) BU2B: The band's tribute to U2 escapes me. But it's pleasantly less-Christian and more-Canadian!

18) Closer To The Heart: This was another fan-favorite. It must be since the audience sings along on Exit…Stage Left and the band didn't bother to include the not-quite-as-catchy "Cygnus X-1 Book One: The Voyage Prologue," also from their fine, fine A Farewell to Kings album. This tune sounds like pop music to me!

17) Losing It: It's amused more than one Rush fan when I told them that Signals was my favorite Rush album. Apparently, this isn't possible. But this song about a rusty dentist has always captured my heart and imagination.

16) Armor and Sword: Acoustic guitar! Folk music! Just hearing a brief snippet of an acoustic makes me wonder what Rush would sound like doing an Unplugged. Will you do it if we let you bring your Taurus pedals?

15) New World Man: Back to my favorite Rush album Signals! "New World Man" was the single. Every time I hear it, I imagine myself in the backseat of Mike Goldsmith's car. I don't think he liked the song because he'd switch over to one of the other two rock stations and settle on Jimi Hendrix, who was played so often you'd think he wasn't dead. Him and Jim Morrison, it was incredible!

14) Free Will: Again with the first side of Permanent Waves. I'm trying here, I really am. But this is just too mathematically correct for my tastes. I know Rush fans swear by this tune. I've had it quoted to me enough times, but maybe when it all comes down to it I wouldn't choose freewill. Maybe I want to be stereotyped. Maybe I want to be classified. Are we allowed to get drunk here?

13) The Trees: Finally a track from Hemispheres, the album that often gets forgotten in these revisionist days where 2112 and Moving Pictures are the only ones that matter. This song about superior lawn care always motivated the Constant Gardner in me to trim all the hedges to the same height! Uniformity is cool!

12) YYZ: The IATA airport identification code for Toronto Pearson International Airport, "YYZ" is begins in 5/4 time in morse code. It was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Rock Instrumental category in 1982. It lost to "Behind My Camel" by the Police, which is clearly a crappier song. Had they made a song based on LAX or JFK, I guarantee you, they would've won!

11) Fly By Night: Further sign of Rush's world dominance? "Fly By Night" is used in a memorable car commercial. Record companies have never gotten the hang of promoting older artists but TV rescues the careers of musicians who would otherwise live out their days alone and neglected. Check out that new Judd Apatow movie if you want to see what Graham Parker is up to!

10) The Weapon: Another track from Signals! Most hard rock bands who uses synthesizers made their music worse by doing so. Synths sounded right with groups like The Cure and Talk Talk and for some reason Rush, who had a new dimension opened to them. I guess you could says synths were like a new weapon to these guys! Get it?

9) Time Stand Still: Hold Your Fire might not be anyone's favorite Rush album -- only I claim Signals -- but "Time Stand Still" captures a wistful group feeling "like some pilgrim who learns to transcend." Um, totally?

8) The Spirit of Radio: This was the song they gave to radio, so radio would have something to play off Rush's new album, which was then 1980's Permanent Waves. Not sure if the music programmers ever caught on to the "words of the profits…and the sounds of salesmen" bit, but I remember a friend of mine who was deeply into Ten Years After saying to me, "I can't get into this stuff at all." That sounded amusing at the time. Still does. Ten Years After?

7) A Passage to Bangkok: This is the medicinal marijuana part of the program. I've never understood how the fellas in Rush were supposed to be able to play this stuff stoned. While writing it, sure. But when remembering it?

6) The Red Barchetta: There's a 'citation' needed at Wikipedia to confirm that this song is similar to the 1981 movie The Last Chase, starring Lee Majors and Burgess Meredith. You think the Moving Pictures album syncs up to it?

5) Limelight: No matter how much the kids enjoy the crazy concepts and the extended instrumental breaks, this 4:20 rocker -- about how weird it is when people like you because you're famous and you don't really want to see them but would rather be playing your drums in the basement of your warm, comfortable home which you only have because those people pay their money to hear you play those drums and so they're not really so bad after all and everyone is a little lonely at times and can't you just sign the damn autograph even if you don't really feel it -- really connects with everyone!

4) Subdivisions: I considered this song to be a calling from the gods when it came out because I was in a new school and didn't know anyone and nearly got into a fight with a kid my first day because he didn't want me sitting at his lunch table and this song seemed to describe the awfulness of it all quite well. Besides, who doesn't love that voice interjecting "Subdivisions"? Who comes up with stuff like that?

3) Distant Early Warning: The kids who attended my school turned out to be not too bad after all. I found a lunch table and I even took in the musical tips around me. This album wasn't much liked at the time. I didn't buy it because of that. Besides, it was 1984! Time to check out The Waterboys! But this tune always sounded real good coming off the radio and was sometimes the only thing I enjoyed hearing on the morning show. Why does everyone talk so much on the radio in the morning? I just want to be left alone to listen to music!

2) 2112: At 20:35, the title track is the perfect song to play in the morning before school / work / prison. It allows you to clear your mind and to feel as if you might one day beat the man (you won't) and that the awful suburb you live in actually has something going for it (well, your friends live there!). I've been told young musicians attempted to play this in their high school bands, which seems pretty amazing considering I was in bands where we struggled to play Ramones songs! Maybe it's true what they say about kids today. Maybe they're so far advanced beyond us oldsters that we should just hang it up and die already!

1) Tom Sawyer: The video of them playing this at the ski chalet is permanently etched in my memory. Who knew rock music could be so cozy? Most of the jokes at the time that Geddy Lee and Yoko Ono were the same person were based solely on the fact that they wore the same sunglasses! To this day if I'm trying out a stereo, I bring this with me. Along with Zep's "Whole Lotta Love" and Steely Dan's Aja, it's the only way to know if you're getting your money's worth!