Friday, November 5, 2010

The 'Best' Rush Songs

I heard there was a spirited debate / discussion among several scientists and their colleagues in Arizona recently, fueled by ethanol and bar food, about "What's the best Rush song, ever?"  To me, that's like trying to say "Which Van Gogh painting is the best?" or "Which sunset was the most spectacular?" or Whether "Adenine is superior to Cytosine and if Guanine is better than Thymine?"  Each song and album is unique, and while there are different aspects that a particular song may have that can be seen as superior to others, the context must be considered as a whole.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinions.  That preface being said, since I have my own blog, here are some of my favorites, and "why":

Cygnus X1
1:50 mark
3:05 mark
8:18 mark
As a student of music, a drummer all my life, and as one who appreciates beauty in its various forms, the song "Cygnus X1" is remarkable in its complexity, intensity, difficulty, length, tightness of three-performers-as-one, and amazing drumming.  It's the first song that comes to my mind, when asked "which one do you think is the 'best'?"

Natural Science
This remarkable saga comes in a close 2nd to the above noted Cygnus, and perhaps, because of the obscurity and un-approachability of Cygnus, many Rush fans will name Natural Science as 'the best' - and it DOES some truly beautiful things throughout its musical journey.  Then again, for PhD scientists, this song might be a little bit 'dumbed down' in the same way that reading an article in the Parade Section of the Sunday paper about a genetic disorder does not make one a geneticist.
1:56 mark beginning... steady foundation
2:22 time sig changes beautifully
3:18 - 3:53 and then the smooth transition fill
4:18s cascading 16th note riff, that leaves an indelible mark on any developing drummer's mind (as it did on mine, more than 30 years ago)
Through the 5 to 7 minute marks, it's basic laying down tracks, foundations.
The 7:35 mark see's a prelude of cymbal work that is akin to the end of the live version of Red Barchetta
The 3 second long riff cascade that starts at 8:18 and ends Neil's odyssey is an excellent finishing touch.

La Villa Strangiato
In the genre of instrumentals... this is a benchmark that not many others can meet. I've played this with my son on dual drum sets and waxed poetically about it before... nuff said.  

Spirit of the Radio
I cannot resist playing along with this song, inexorably, whenever I hear it.  The sound that Neil produces from the drum kit, is amazing, moving, and the song is damn enjoyable to play.

Radio friendly, multiple time signature changes (4/4, 5/4, 7/8, 6/8) with excellent cymbal work (3:02 phenomenal hi hat), riffs and fills (4:12!), flows beautifully. If I'm having a bad day and I hear this on the car radio, it always brings a smile to my face - and drumming to the steering wheel.

The Trees
is just 'plain old fun', and a wonderful Canadian jab at their neighbor to the south, with hatchet, axe, and saw!  Best use of wood blocks, in a rock song ever.  Nicely done in 12/8 - the live versions I've heard have been better than the studio version in my opinion.

Red Barchetta
Is a sweet little song, with a short story plot.  While it's very good, and difficult to play (as I studied it ad naseum in my parents' basement in NW IN), I cannot say it's my favorite.  Perhaps if you own and drive an expensive 2 seat roadster you can embrace it more and call it your 'all time favorite' but for me, it's a few minutes of adrenalin.

Closer to the Heart
As I wrote a High School Marching Band Cadence to this song (for 5 snares, 3 quad toms, 3 bass drums, 2 cymbals, and 2 mallets... though the time signature transitions made it difficult to march steadily to) it has always been one of my very favorites.  My old friend Ryan, whom I've known for more than 30 years, said it best 'Closer to the Heart' is the song that you play for a girl who doesn't know anything about Rush, to say 'look, this Rush' " - when he told me that on the phone last month, I bust out laughing!  He's right!

Working Man
As the son of a Graphic Arts Union member who retired after 40 years of working in various binderies, and grand son of an hourly steel mill working grandfather (Dzia Dzia) and floor scrubber grandmother (Busia), and no stranger to manual labor myself, this song's always warmed the cockles of my heart.  The John Rutsey version is lackluster, uninspiring and verging on lame, but the live versions with Neil are fun indeed. 

The professor on the drum kit - the standard by which any drum set player worth his salt, aspires to reach someday.  (And yes, this is YYZ from Exit Stage Left, Pre-electronic drums, pre-jazz diversions, pre-rotating drum set stage... the way drums were meant to be played when I was growing up)

And if one had to pick a live album, hands down, it would be Exit Stage Left.  A studio album... much harder choice...  Permanent Waves, A Farewell to Kings, 2112, Moving Pictures, Hemispheres... each stands out in the Pantheon. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.