Until Clockwork Angels came out, my favourite "Modern" Rush studio album was Counterparts. There are certain parts of it the seventies Rush fans would bitch about, and well, I won't get into eighties Rush at the moment. I didn't mind Roll The Bones, which was the first real introduction to what would be nineties, or at the time time "Modern" Rush, but as of my writing this review I still do not own it. However, this album is more than just an album released in 1993. This is an album that set the stage for the sound and production that for the most part would make up most Rush albums to some. Hell, they even went back and remixed Vapour Trails years after it's release to make it sound more like Counterparts.
Anitmate is the perfect song to kick off any album. It's quick, catchy, and makes for a great album single. Which allows you to use a later track as the lead off single. This song is pure musical brilliance in that case. It even has a great breakdown that gives Mr. Peart a chance to do that great thing he does. I can also say from a current perspective that this song holds up. It's not a hit for the times, it's a track for the ages.
Which brings us to the first single from the album, or at least the first video I remember seeing, which is why I went out and picked up this album originally. I wouldn't have known it was out, or coming out, or whatever it was at the time. This song in hind sight is a little basic for Rush, but over all it's still a great song, with a great sound.
I think a lot of what I love about this album is the production, Peter Collins working with Rush created a fantastic album, with a fantastic Heavy sound. To me this is what Led Zeppelin would have sounded like if they had come out in the 1990's.
After that it's on to Cut To The Chase. This is where you hear classic Rush doing all the things they do, but mixed in with modern production. This is one of those songs that showcases the perfectness of Alex Lifeson's genius of a mild delicate understated guitar laying down lines that are pretty, but then blowing open the doors with a solo that makes everyone take notice.
I love Nobody's Hero. The lyrics of this song have always captivated me. They are so honest, pure, meaningful, soulful, and sweet. "I knew he was different in his sexuality / I went to his parties as a straight minority / It never seemed a threat to my masculinity / He only introduced me to a wider reality / As the years went by, we drifted apart / When I heard that he was gone / I felt a shadow cross my heart / But he's nobody's hero / Save the drowning child / Cure the wasting disease / Hero -- lands the crippled airplane / Solves great mysteries / Hero -- not the handsome actor / Who plays a hero's role / Hero -- not the glamour girl / Who'd love to sell her soul / If anybody's buying, / Nobody's hero / I didn't know the girl, but I knew her family / All their lives were shattered in a nightmare of brutality / They try to carry on, try to bear the agony / Try to hold some faith in the goodness of humanity / As the years went by, we drifted apart / When I heard that she was gone / I felt a shadow cross my heart / But she's nobody's hero / Is the voice of reason against the howling mob / Hero -- is the pride of purpose / In the unrewarding job / Hero -- not the champion player / Who plays the perfect game / Hero -- not the glamour boy / Who loves to sell his name / Everybody's buying / Nobody's hero / As the years went by, we drifted apart / When I heard that you were gone / I felt a shadow cross my heart / But he's nobody's hero / Save the drowning child / Cure the wasting disease / Hero -- lands the crippled airplane / Solves great mysteries / Hero -- not the handsome actor / Who plays a hero's role / Hero -- not the glamour girl / Who'd love to sell her soul / If anybody's buying, / Nobody's hero / Hero". Then there's the music. It starts off nice and simple, and by the end there's a big full arrangement. It's musical magnificence.
Between Sun & Moon suffers from coming after Nobody's Hero. Any song would as far as I'm concerned. However this is a fun and bouncey album filler, that is totally enjoyable. It's one of those songs that ninety's Rush purests would probably love.
Alien Shore is the first song on the album that doesn't do anything for me. It's not a bad song, it just doesn't do anything for me.
I'm not sure what to say about The Speed Of Love. It's a good song, lyrically a little odd for what I'm use to from Neil Peart. "Love is born with lightning bolts / Electro-magnetic force / Burning skin and fireworks / A storm on a raging course / Like a force of nature, / Love can fade with the stars at dawn / Sometimes it takes all your strength / Just to keep holding on / At the speed of love / A radiance that travels / At the speed of love / My heart goes out to you. / Love is born with solar flares / From two magnetic poles / It moves towards a higher plane / Where two halves make two wholes / Like a force of nature, / Love shines in many forms / One night we are bathed in light / One day carried away in the storms / At the speed of love / A radiance that travels / At the speed of love / My heart goes out to you. / At the speed of love / Nothing changes faster / Than the speed of love / My heart goes out to you. / (Welcome Home) / We don't have to talk / We don't even have to touch / I can feel your presence / In the silence that we share / Got to keep moving / At the speed of love / Nothing changes faster / Than the speed of love / Got to keep on shining / At the speed of love / At the speed of love / A radiance that travels / At the speed of love / My heart goes out to you. / At the speed of love / Nothing changes faster / Than the speed of love / My heart goes out to you. / (Welcome Home) / At the speed of love / At the speed of love / At the speed of love / (Welcome Home) / At the speed of love / At the speed of love / At the speed of love / At the speed of love". Musically it's enjoyable as well. I'd call this a very strong filler, although a little mushy for me.
I've always enjoyed Double Agent. I love all the twists and turns, the various lyrical deliveries, and how crazy this song is over all. "Where would you rather be? / Anywhere but here / When will the time be right? / Anytime but now", then the next part is spoken, "'On the edge of sleep, I was drifting for half the night / Anxious and restless, pressed down by the darkness / Bound up and wound up so tight.'" Then it's back to singing. "So tight... / 'So many decisions, a million revisions / Caught between darkness and light...'/ Wilderness of mirrors / World of polished steel / Gears and iron chains / Turn the grinding wheel / I run between the shadows / Some are phantoms, some are real / Where would you rather be? / Anywhere but here / When will the time be right? / Anytime but now / Where would you rather be? / The doubt and the fear / I know would all disappear / Anywhere but here / Anywhere but here..." Then there's a little more spoken. "'On the edge of sleep, I heard voices behind the door / The known and the nameless, familiar and faceless / My angels and my demons at war' / (sung) At war... / 'Which one will lose depends on what I choose / Or maybe which voice I ignore...'" Then back to singing again. "Wilderness of mirrors / Streets of cold desire / My precious sense of honor / Just a shield of rusty wire / I hold against the chaos / And the cross of holy fire / Wilderness of mirrors / So easy to deceive / My precious sense of rightness / Is sometimes so naive / So that which I imagine / Is that which I believe", back to spoken. "'On the edge of sleep, I awoke to a sun so bright / Rested and fearless, cheered by your nearness / I knew which direction was right / (sung) Was right... / 'The case had been tried by the jury inside / The choice between darkness and light... / The choice between darkness and light.'" It's a great album cut.
I find it funny that in an instrumental piece written by Lifeson and Peart, the first thing that catches my attention and seems to hold it the most is Geddy Lee's bass playing. Leave That Thing Alone, is a fantastic song that I think will always, and very often be forgotten about, just because of the time in which it came out. I love that on this track the bass is pretty much acting as a lead guitar, with the lines that come shooting out. Then there's the guitar and drums which propel this song so beautifully. When I listen to this song I really think Rush needs a collection of just instrumental tracks so all of them get the exposure they deserve.
I know there are a lot of people that love Cold Fire. I am not one of them. This reminds me way too much of that mid 1980's stuff, just without the synths. Not my thing.
The album finishes up with Everyday Glory. Which is an okay album filler, and works to finish the album, but it's not an album closer. I think Cold Fire would have been much better as a closer.
I really think Michael Letho, the mixer of this album also deserves a nod. Something I don't think I've ever done before. This album has the perfect blend to it. The instruments are mixed and blended in a way that represents the three musicians perfectly.
Bottom line is that this album is an album that should be in all Rush fans catalogues.
8/10 - content
9/10 - production
10/10 - personal bias