Toque Off, Eh?

By Joe Fernbacher, Creem, March 1983, transcribed by pwrwindows



Curled up in a dull-angled corner dreaming he's a crazed penguin nightmaring he's a seagull fantasizing he's actually Barbara (the Baby Maker) Hershey's undergarments, he spies through soft-lidded, occasionally transparent eyes, a large pale brown carton slipping erotically through the snow-dampened slot in the door. As the package hits the floor with a dull thud, the first revolting tremors of reviewophobia begin to shimy-shammy throughout his body. He feels the beginnings of that regular throbbing in his head. Looking down at the suddenly - mysteriously - freed contents of the pale brown envelope, he sighs, shrugs his shoulders, stifles a yawn and sits down at his typewriter.

He write. He writes. He wrote. Lately he's found it increasingly difficult to figure out just exactly what tense he should be in and this here review of the new Rush album, Signals, wasn't gonna help any, he knew it. What would help was a large slug of that grain alcohol. Then, he figured, his mind, his liver and his strangely comforting hallucinations (either too much mauve Sunshine or carnelian mescaline in those great old '60s day - or maybe just that last quart of Wild Turkey) could meet on a street corner near his pulsing (mental) G-spot. Soon his fingers began wiggling wildly. In a drifting mist of amber, they gathered high-fived and began planning a few "weekend kicks" murders. Ever so slowly, he began separating himself from the shimmering pool of this digital consciousness. As he did so, he reflected:

There's this line by poet Micheal McClure, y'know, Morrison's buddy, that beautifully describes the true psyche of metalese and the metalunatic. It's all about "clotting the rage of nothingness," which is exactly what great metal does and we all know that the truly great metal band has yet to be formed. (The Priest are close - very close - but all they really are is the "quickerpickeruppers" of metal.) Nowadays, there are many misguided who consider Rush to be the great metal band of our times. Without history, one perhaps might make a case for this chest-thumping boast. But history, like herpes, is something hard to ignore and within the historical perspective, Rush sounds like nothing more than a slicked-up version of such primary heavy metal groups as Sir Lord Baltimore, Dust, Budgie, and Atomic Rooster ("Robutussinoids ," or just plain "tussinoids," we used to call 'em). Those bands had the same formulistic sound-heavy organ wheeze; the accentuated, broken chorded, often to the point of rupture, guitar break; and the distant, yet always exquisitely-produced drums. Sound that was coupled with lyrics that nudged the listener towards the darker, more chaotic realms of future shock, doom, despair and agony (along with, of course, the usual heavy dose of fashionably unhealthy misogyny). Which really does pigeonhole this three-piecer from the great white north of Yonge and Bloor, if y'know what I mean.

Signals is the first album I've ever heard that was actually born to video - all the songs come across like some hip scriptwriter's dissolves and fades. I suppose MTV will thrive on this record, since I'm sure all the songs will eventually be videotaped. Which might be fun and dandy for all those aural illiterates out there whose numbers are growing due to the ever-increasing videotaping of rock (the most insidious corporate move since disco) but that's a whole other story indeed - for this here stareatthewallophile it's just another annoyance. Why? Because my fantasies can never be filmed or videoed, so they're mine, nobody's else's, and rock 'n' roll should always be up to the individual, not the domain publique so many need it to be in order to justify its multimillion dollarhood existence.

Enough already. I'll get off my high horse and tell ya simply: as far as metal goes, Signals is like the Titanic trying to signal the Andrea Doria and Rush is NOT the fave band of the honetly insane metalunatic. True, a few songs ain't bad - "New World Man" being a kinda metal muzak toon that could easily be heard in the elevators of Toronto's city hall, and "The Weapon," being something Soldier of Fortune might press between the pages of their magazine on a cardboard record like the '60s teeny bopper magazines used to do with such bands as Paul Revere and the Raiders. But when all the markers are down, Rushs' Signals are crossed, dulled and amazingly crispless.