Rush - A Show of Hands

by Neil Peart

Rush Backstage Club Newsletter, September 1988


The Drummer Sounds Off

(not him again!)

Yes, it's that time once more. A new live album, A Show Of Hands, is probably being released as you read this, or maybe a long time ago, or maybe not yet. But anyway, it's finished.

Choosing the material was difficult. We didn't want to use anything that had appeared on previous albums, with the exception of "Closer to the Heart", as it had that snappy "improv" bit at the end that we liked, so we decided to put it on. Other than that, all the material is from Signals on, except for "Witch Hunt", which hadn't been recorded for a live album previously.

Most of the performances came from the Hold Your Fire tour, many of them recorded in Birmingham England during our European tour in April, with others recorded in New Orleans, Phoenix and San Diego. "Mystic Rhythms" and "Witch Hunt" were recorded at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, during the Power Windows tour.

The CD giveth and the CD taketh away.

While the growing popularity of CDs and cassettes allowed us to make Hold Your Fire a little longer than a record likes to be, this time we were in the quandary of making a double-record set that we wanted to fit on one CD, so you, the hard-pressed consumer, wouldn't be obliged to shell out for two CDs. So we had to keep the time down to around 74 minutes, and had to be fairly selective about the songs we included. There are some we had to leave off which we would like to have included, and no doubt some of you will be disappointed not to find one or two you would have liked too, but we had to be ruthless. (And now we have no more ruths.)

The approach to sound was a difficult balance too. In retrospect we always felt that All The World's A Stage was a little too raw, and that Exit Stage Left was a little too refined, so we were trying to find the right balance somewhere in between. We're pleased with what we've got, and hope you will be too. We wanted it to sound good, but we wanted it to sound live too, and it's difficult to find the right meeting point sometimes.

There will also be a concert video to accompany this album, which Geddy is working on right now (I weaseled out of that job!). It was filmed during two of the Birmingham UK shows, and by all reports is going to turn out very well. Of course, that's another aspect of the live show that's very difficult to capture and reproduce; the visual performance. Really, it's impossible to record or film a live show in the way that either the musicians or the individual members of the audience experienced it, but again it requires a subtle blending of those varying, and sometimes diametrical, points of view. We can only try.

Here and now, in September 1988, we have just finished a summer of rest and recuperation from the Hold Your Fire tour, which ended in Europe at the beginning of May. The tour began the previous October, and so stretched over about seven months, and it was a difficult one for us. The pressure of the performances, the musical and technological challenges, and the scheduling were all very demanding, and we finished up tired, but very proud of the quality of the shows we were able to produce, and satisfied with a good tour.

Sometime in 1989 we will start work on a new studio album, and each of us is already at work on ideas for that project. But at the same time we're enjoying the luxury of a little more time than we usually take, time to become reacquainted with life, and explore some of its other interesting avenues. In our fourteen years together we have never lived a second without a deadline hanging over us, whether five minutes, a month, or six months away, and for once we haven't got any external pressure on us, so we're going to enjoy it for a little while.

We deserve it!

(And yes - so do you.)

So that's enough about boring old us, lets turn to the latest bunch of questions you've sent in, and I'll try to answer them for you:

Q- We got hold of a concert tape from Cleveland in 1974. It has two songs that surprised us. The first was "Bad Boy". The second was (I'll call it) "Peace of Mind". We would like to know why these were never produced on an album and if they were originally from Rush.

Tim Greathouse
Northbrook, IL

A- You "got hold of"?

You mean, you abrogated our rights, circumvented protective copyrights, violated international statutes, and supported piracy by buying a bootleg album, don't you?

Ah- I thought so. Never mind.

"Bad Boy" is an old song, written by somebody whose name fails to leap to mind, and a funky Toronto arrangement of it was played during our first tour.

The other one mystifies me. I don't possess that recording (not wanting to commit the moral outrages listed above), but it might have been either "Fancy Dancer" or "Garden Road", two original songs written before I joined the band, which we played on that tour but never recorded.

Well, why do you think we never recorded them?

Q- Can you tell me the name of the album by Jeff Berlin that Neil plays on?

Doug Trompak
Bull Shoals, AR

A- Yes I can. It's called Champions.

Q- (a) What movie clip is shown before your performance of "Lock and Key"?

(b) At the end of "Cygnus X-1" on album and cassette there is a heartbeat, but not on CD. Why?

(c) Who "stars" in "The Body Electric" video?

(d) Is drumming as painful as Neil makes it look?

(e) How did "Mystic Rhythms" get to be the theme song for NBC's "1986"?

(f) What inspired the lyrics of "Lock and Key".

Laura Cremeans
Providence, RI

A- (a) The Last Mile.

(b) Don't know. Somebody must have goofed.

(c) Ah - me? No, just kidding. Actually I don't know. Some English actor.

(d) Yes.

(e) They asked us. We said yes.

(f) Bad people and what to do about them.

Q- (a) What is the basic theme of "Force Ten".

(b) What is the significance of the album cover design, and who is the man juggling the fireballs in the photo?

(c) What is the meaning and basic theme of "Tai Shan"?

(d) Is the flute used in the beginning of "Tai Shan" a Hakumachi flute, or is it a synthesized sound?

(e) Why has Geddy switched back to the Wal bass?

(f) What is Lerxst?

(g) Who or what is Jack Secret?

(h) What keyboard parts are played by Andy Richards and why didn't Geddy do them instead?

Brady Darvin
Annandale, VA

A- (a) I wish I knew.

(b) No real significance at all. We began with the idea which appears on the inner sleeve, then decided it would be graphically interesting to simplify it down to the image which appears on the cover, and let the full image be revealed in a secondary manner. Reverse reduction. The juggler - the "fire-holder" - is a character actor who appears in several films, notably Tin Men.

(c) I wish you knew.

(d) It's a sampled Shakuhachi flute.

(e) Hmm... Must be he likes it.

(f) I wish I knew.

(g) He wishes he knew.

(h) Andy Richards is a London session keyboard player, who has done a lot of great work, especially on the records produced by Trevor Horn. We brought him in to work on Power Windows, and then again on Hold Your Fire, mainly to contribute more inventive keyboard sounds for already established parts, and additional "special effects" keyboard bits. Little "sound events" to spice up the tracks. He's a specialist.

Q- Rhythm and bar-interchanges are of fundamental interest to the music of Rush. How close are you as drummer/percussionist involved with the composition of your songs?

Alex van Loon
Holland

A- Good question, Alex. My involvement varies, but is usually restricted to the arrangement side of things. Geddy and the other Alex do all of the real composition, but I may sometimes contribute rhythmic or arrangement suggestions, or offer comments on the strength or weakness of different sections. And of course, the lyrics play a subtle part in the outcome of the music, and if they are written first they will often influence the mood, framework and character of the song.

Q- (a) It seems your most popular hits are always the first song on an album. Is there any certain order that you go by when putting songs on an album?

(b) I know that you like your songs to do the explaining for you but I just can't figure out what "The Trees" is about. Could you give me just a short explanation?

(c) What is a glockenspiel?

Clay Gilchrist
Rome, GA

A- (a) Always an interesting problem. It's not something we decide until very late in the recording and mixing process, once we have a sense of the "color" of each track. Then Alex constructs the "Omega Album-Order-Deciding-Device", which allows each title to be moved around, to see how different song orders "look". Then we argue about it, hit each other in the face with a glove, challenge each other to a duel, and whoever survives picks the order.

(b) It's an allegorical metaphor on human behavior. (You asked!)

(c) A glockenspiel is a keyboard percussion instrument, like a xylophone, with metal bars as keys.

Q- I have read references to two unreleased Rush songs: "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" (from Success Under Pressure by Steve Gett) and "Tough Break" (from Stories from Signals by Neil Peart). a- Will these songs ever be released? b- How can I hear or obtain copies of them?

Mike Poole
Medway, MA

A- (a) Not likely.

(b) You can't.

Q- (a) Does Neil play a synthesized marimba on "Mission"?

(b) Will Peter Collins most likely produce another Rush album in the future?

Stephen E. Moore
Circleville, OH

A- (a) Yes, it's the KAT mini-marimba playing a marimba sample in the AKAI S-900 sampler.

(b) We haven't really discussed that as yet, but it's entirely possible. We enjoyed working with him, and we feel he is good for our music.

Q- I have recently obtained a copy of a German album entitled "Rush Through Time", released on the Mercury label in 1981. I've heard of a limited edition album called "Rushian Roulette", but have never actually seen it. Do you know of this or any other foreign, or little-known albums that have been released by the band, and if so, where they might be purchased?

Adam Leighton
Storrs, CT

A- There is no material which we have released which is not on our "regular" albums, except perhaps for a couple of live versions of previously released songs which appeared on the "B" sides of our hugely successful hit singles. I don't know about the second title you mention, but the first was released by the German company entirely without our knowledge or consent (not that they need it), and certainly contains nothing of any interest - not even the cover, and certainly not that title. We wouldn't do that. Have you noticed that everyone puns with our name except us? (Whoops, I'm supposed to be answering the questions around here.)

Q- (a) In concert why does Geddy sing: "Hey Cookie, it's a quarter to 8", instead of "Hey Baby it's a quarter to 8"?

(b) Who came up with the idea of playing the "Three Stooges" theme song before you come out on stage?

(c) Do you think you'll ever play the full version of 2112 or Hemispheres in concert?

Brian Bresnahan
St. Louis, MO

A- (a) It's a secret.

(b) It's a secret.

(c) It's no secret. No. You can't go back.

Q- I would like to know why you wrote the words "to mold a new reality". How is it possible to mold a new reality? It does not seem possible because reality just is and there could not be another reality.

Brandon Lee Gordon
Northport, NY

A- So - there's an Existentialist in the house. I'll call the Existerminator.

"No problem sir, we just give those guys a big shot of Logical Positivism, and they're as good as new."

That's a relief.

I disagree with you, Brandon. There's a new reality born every minute. (P.T. Barnum? No, he said the other thing.) Unless one is a believer in predestination (in which case I'll call the prestidigitator), or other puppet-like restraints on our powers, one is free to imagine and effect changes on the world. And if enough people do it, there are big changes.

These things happen. Anything can.

Q- (a) Is there any possible way to obtain a "backstage pass" to a Rush concert when it plays in my town? If so, how, and if you are unsure, where could I find out about this?

(b) Where could I purchase a copy of the song "Battlescar"?

James Robinson
Fort Worth, TX

A- (a) DON'T ANYBODY EVER ASK THIS QUESTION AGAIN. THERE IS NO POSSIBLE WAY. NONE!

(b) (That's okay, I'm better now.) "Battlescar" was recorded for a Max Webster album, I forget which one right now, and I'm not sure if it's available in the US. If not, perhaps an import shop could acquire it for you.