During 1977, the world suddenly became aware of Rush. After several years of slugging it out first in Toronto, and then the rest of Canada and the U.S., Rush became an "overnight sensation," climaxed by three albums being certified gold on November 16: "2112," "All The World's A Stage," and "A Farewell To Kings."
But Rush didn't appear on the scene with "2112." There were three albums before those, which started building the group's grassroots popularity. Those first three albums ("Rush," "Fly By Night," and "Caress Of Steel") have been repackaged recently under the title "Archives." The three-LP set is programmed exactly as the original releases. There has been no re-mastering or re-mixing.
"Archives" contains studio versions of what have become stage favorites for Rush, including "Bastille Day," "Anthem, " "By-Tor And The Snow Dog," and, of course, "Working Man," the group's perennial showstopper.
The first album of the set is "Rush," and by the recent production standards the group has set, it is fairly raw.
The sessions for that album took place late at night, after gigs in local Toronto bars. The album was released in Canada in early 1974 on Moon Records (owned by Rush's management company) and eventually the group was signed to Mercury Records world wide, except Canada. "Rush" was released in the U.S. in August of 1974.
At this point the original trio of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and John Rutsey was split with the departure of Rutsey. Enter drummer Neil Peart, mere days before the group's debut U.S. tour. The addition of Neil was a key move, as he has become the group's chief lyricist.
"Fly By Night," released in February of 1975, was marked by much cleaner production, stronger musicianship, and improved songs. It was also the first album that Terry Brown, Rush's producer, was involved with from the start. The group fondly refers to Terry at times as "the fourth member" and "the Objective Ear."
For the album, both Alex and Geddy began playing acoustic guitars, instead of just the standard guitar and bass, respectively, they had been playing. "Fly By Night" also introduced the first all-acoustic song for Rush, "Rivendell." In Canada, the album was their first gold LP, and won them a Juno Award (the Canadian Grammy) for most promising new group of 1974. As Neil points out, "These things helped to reinforce our belief in what we were trying to accomplish, and we became dedicated to achieving success without compromising our music, for we felt that it would be worthless on any other terms."
Most people refer to "2112" as the pivotal Rush LP, and in terms of record sales and pushing the group to stardom, one cannot argue. But without the foundation laid by their third album, "Caress Of Steel," released in September of 1975, none of what subsequently has happened could have occurred. The album introduced facets of music which Rush has developed further recently: the short story and a suite of songs.
The short story was "The Necromancer," a tale with medieval coloring but in fact as contemporary as tomorrow. The suite of songs was the entire second side, which went under the overall title of "The Fountain Of Lamneth." These two forms were combined on the next album to produce the title track of "2112."
Since those three albums, Rush has skyrocketed to success, not only in the U.S. and Canada, but in England as well. On the recent five-month U.S. tour to support "A Farewell To Kings," Rush was seen by over 400,000 people in 88 shows during that period. And the group headlined all but three of those concerts. During February of this year, the group toured England for the second time, with each of the 12 dates being total sell outs. "Closer To The Heart," taken from "A Farewell To Kings," was a Top 30 single there, and the album, which had made the Top 30 upon release, re-entered the Top 50 during the tour.
Rush will be recording their next studio album in Wales during the summer, following a few more Canadian and U.S. dates in the Spring. The new album, as yet untitled, is set for release in the fall.
So you know where Rush is now. "Archives" shows where the group has been. And there is no doubt where Rush will be in the future.
Ray Danniels/Vic Wilson
American Talent Int.