Rush spent the past two years looking back - performing their 1981 classic Moving Pictures in its entirety. But at the same time, the Canadian prog heroes started cranking on thier 20th LP, Clockwork Angels. "We're almost finished writing," says frontman Geddy Lee. "Hopefully we'll have all of the recording done before Christmas."
Last year, Rush tested the waters, releasing two tracks from the album the Metallica-ish riff monsters "Caravan" and "BU2B" - and playing them on tour. "We figured we had nothing to lose," says Lee. "It was a lot of fun for the fans, and fun for us." The disc is shaping up to be the trio's heaviest in decades. Says Lee, "The two tracks we released point in the direction we're going."
Rush haven't scored a Top 40 hit since 1982's "New World Man," but they've maintained one of rock's biggest cult audiences. And last year's acclaimed documentary Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage helped make them more popular than ever. "We feel invigorated," says Lee. "I think we've come to a point in our lives where we're playing the best we've ever played as a live band.
"You don't know how long that's going to go," he adds. "Rock & roll does have its limits as far as the aging process. You want to go out there and play while you're at your peak."
Time Machine 2011: Live In Cleveland, Roadrunner 3 1/2 stars
A year after the documentary Beyond The Lighted Stage made them more popular and beloved than ever, how do Rush choose to celebrate? How else but a concert album subtitled Live in Cleveland? Sampling the Canadian trio's career - from the prog ("La Villa Strangiato") to the pop ("The Spirit of Radio") and back to the prog ("2112 Overture/The Temples of Syrinx") - it complements their simultaneously released live remake of Moving Pictures, their biggest LP. It's no slight to Geddy Lee's vocal steez that the highlight of both packages is "YYZ," Rush's instrumental tribute to their hometown of Toronto - perhaps the only city that could have spawned this most quintessentially Canadian of bands. - Rob Sheffield
Key Tracks: "YYZ", "La Villa Strangiato," "The Spirit of Radio"