Ride, Mush You Rushkies

By Joe Nick Patoski, Creem, February 1979, transcribed by pwrwindows

The trouble with kids these days is, there's damn few good wars left for them to fight. Who wants to go to Uganda or some banana republic where the work is hard and the wages low? Unh-uh. But there are hazardous side effects to the national psyche when you've gone nearly 10 years without a fight, which is why Youth digs hard rockola so much these days. There is no alternative. For the same reason, England has been a hard rock haven for twice as long as the U.S., elevating deserving home boys like E. Cochran, B. Holly, J. Hendrix, J. Thunders, y Los Ramones to their rightful pedestals of praise long before things started cookin' likewise stateside.

If you've followed the theory thus far - i.e. hard rock has replaced the draft as a preoccupation of American teens - then you know why I ain't lyin' when I say that the hardest, diamond-tuff, nuke-powered rock comes from North of our border. Yup, Canadians, who haven't had a real conflict with anybody for eons and who also don't have nothing to do but stay inside and play guitar during the long winter months, produce the best hard rock in the world. (If Burton Cummings had known this he'd be kickin' out the jams with ice fishermen in Winnipeg instead of slinging pap in Hollywood.)

Without a doubt, the most ruthless trio to emerge from this Sylvan scenario of musical industry is Rush, three geezers after our hearts and minds. After slowly introducing themselves to the foreign tastes of the U.S.A. over the first few albums, they lay their cards ON THE TABLE with Hemispheres, which has gotta be the primo war concept album of the year. Proof positive can be heard in "Armageddon, the Battle of Heart and Mind" (see, what'd I tell you?) and seen on the back cover where the floating brains move in formation across the desert as if they were making a guest appearance on Rat Patrol.

But war is only part of the story here. This is an album which addresses such timely and illuminating issues as balance, cause and effect, de-forestation, French, man vs. nature, and Dionysus, all brought to the forefront for the listener's edification. Hearing the whole thing in one sitting is kinda like going back to college. Of course, I never go to sleep listening to Rush like I did in class because I never had a professor like Renaissance dude Neil Peart or even a T.A. who could play guitar with the destroyer aplomb of Alex Lifeson, who crackles the amps for about one half of this balanced project.

Actually, I wouldn't mind if Rush lectured for five hours on the skills of good chemical engineering writing because they're the only band on earth to have personally incurred the wrath of the Texas legislature for playing too loud. For which we should all be thankful. They're not fascists, mutilators, or apologists, or even too weird. Just the stuff America needs to nudge its way into the 80s.