Rush vs. Rolling Stone: A Qualitative Analysis, July 10, 2008

A meme has developed in certain fan circles over the past few decades: Rolling Stone hates Rush. Ever since RS ran its review of Hemispheres in 1979, we've gotten more letters from Rush fans than perhaps anyone else. Most input runs along the lines of: "RS obviously hates Rush" or "Why hasn't Rush been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?" to "You suck!" So let's examine: Does Rolling Stone really hate Rush? Our scientific qualitative analysis follows.

Why People Think We Hate Rush:

Nasty Comments About Geddy Lee's Voice
Descriptions of Geddy Lee's singing in Rolling Stone have ranged from negative to borderline mean:

• "shrill" (Presto, by Bob Mack)
• "squeals" (A Show of Hands, by Michael Azerrad)
• "screech" (A Show of Hands, by Michael Azerrad)
• "keening shriek" (Power Windows, by David Fricke)
• "stratospheric wails" (Permanent Waves, by David Fricke)
• "unnecessarily strident" (Hemispheres, by Michael Bloom)
• "Robert Plant-like shriek" (Permanent Waves, by David Fricke)
• "dog-calling falsetto shriek" (Grace Under Pressure, by Kurt Loder)
• "triumphant cry or a grating yowl" (Hemispheres, by Michael Bloom)
• "sends his voice to the rafters through his nose" (Vapor Trails, by Richard Abowitz)
• "congested vocals float through the songs like swamp gas" (Signals, by J.D. Considine)

Star Ratings
Notwithstanding a few bright points, Rush's albums received an average star rating of 2.4 stars in the RS reviews section. In the 2004 edition of the Rolling Stone Album Guide, Rush's albums received an average of 2.7 stars. Technically, those ratings put them somewhere between "fair" and "good" in the RS canon, which, needless to say, will not satisfy the fans at


Positive mentions in RS reviews
A quick survey of key Rush reviews reveals some rather complimentary language. David Fricke gave Permanent Waves a generous dose of praise, and his review of Power Windows is entirely positive. Some of the other highlights:

• "...immaculately played techno metal..." (Presto, by Bob Mack)
• "...the Police of power rock..." (Power Windows by David Fricke)
• "...missing link between Yes and the Sex Pistols..." (Power Windows, by David Fricke)
• "...a maturity that even their detractors may have to admire..." (Permanent Waves, by David Fricke)
• "...among the very best in its genre..." (Permanent Waves, by David Fricke)
• "...masters of every power-trio convention..." (Hemispheres, by Michael Bloom)

This Issue's Rush Feature
In the current issue of RS, writer Chris Norris hit the road with Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart (click below to read the story). All is forgiven!

Rush Never Sleeps