Genre: Hard Rock/Heavy Metal
Year of Release: 1974
Record Label: Moon Records
Recommended for fans of: Led Zeppelin, Cream
- “Finding My Way” – 5:05
- “Need Some Love” – 2:18
- “Take a Friend” – 4:24
- “Here Again” – 7:37
- “What You’re Doing” – 4:22
- “In the Mood” – 3:33
- “Before And After” – 5:34
- “Working Man” – 7:11
It was only a matter of time before I got round to writing my first Rush album review, and what better way to start this endeavour off then by reviewing the debut!
This is a special review for me to write, and if you permit me I shall explain why; Rush are the entire reason I am addicted to music to this very day, they were the catalyst for my obsession and along with Pink Floyd the entire reason I ever picked up a guitar in the first place!
I will always remember the day when I was 15 years old mooching around the house bored out of my mind, it was this boredom that got me scouring my Dads record collection, to this day I do not understand why I did this, only that I did. Before the age of 15 I had no interest in music at all, something that seems hard to believe now!
As I was looking through the various albums, not really knowing what I was after, something caught my eye, it was this:
I looked at the album art and read the name of the artist ‘Rush’ and the name of the album ‘2112’ – My eyes lit up, I didn’t know why but I had to play this record. So off I went up to my room, donned my headphones and there started my love affair with not only Rush but MUSIC.
‘2112’ is a magical album and I will get round to reviewing it, but I thought it’d be apt to start from the beginning of their discography and look at the self titled debut first.
So ‘Rush’ marks the only album out of their 42 year career without Neil Peart on the drums, here the percussive duties are left to original stickman John Rutsey who left the band after this album not wanting a life on the road touring. I have always admired Mr Rutsey for this decision and was very sad to hear of his passing away in 2008, his drumming is very different to Neil Pearts but is still very strong.
The debut opens up with ‘Finding My Way’ with a roaring guitar riff from Alex Lifeson and it’s clear to tell the Led Zep influences straight away, Lifeson’s licks reminiscent of Jimmy Page and Geddy Lee’s Falsetto voice screams Robert Plant! It is however a great album opener and is very tight, something that would serve them well considering the progressive direction they would take over the next couple of albums.
‘Need Some Love’ keeps things flowing quite nicely, the first signs of Alex Lifesons soloing ability is showcased here with a slightly blueish edge to it. The song is only short but punchy, a straight up rocker with some excellent singing from Geddy Lee about wanting to take some sweet young thang out for a good time!
‘Take a Friend’ is next, and what’s apparent about this debut is that quality of the recording is quite superb for the 1970’s, the album having been recorded at the Toronto sound studios in Canada. This track showcases a groovy rhythm section and some brilliant guitar playing from Alex, keeping a rather upbeat mood to the proceedings, the song is about friendship and considering that Alex and Geddy were about to spend the next 42 years writing platinum selling albums and touring round the world in the best stadiums it’s just as well they started off like this!
‘Here Again’ is a slow paced downbeat number that is essentially blues-rock, the theme seems to be about the music writing process and how it feeds/emotes the soul. Powerful stuff from a young band indeed! The guitar solo itself is introverted yet powerful and closes the song quite fetchingly. It’s also the longest song on the album clocking in on 7 and a half minutes, but has perfect pacing and interest factor.
‘What You’re Doing’ is my personal favourite on the album, it’s a dead cheeky little number that’s full of fun and exciting musical motives, the main riff for one just makes me smile every time I hear it! I especially love the staccato guitar that accompanies Geddys singing during the verses.
‘In The Mood’ is a song about… well y’know. It conjures up images of the 70’s man during a night out, finds his crush is out at the same time and the excitement that he is feeling. As a result the lyrics are slightly clichéd. It’s probably one of the weakest tracks on the album, but considering this is a debut this is forgivable.
‘Before and After’ is the only track on the debut featuring some acoustic guitar [at least to my ears] and starts off at a slow pace with some nice arpeggios before building up with the addition of an electric guitar. The track then completely changes pace half way through and goes all funky with some nice jangly guitar parts and a solo complimenting the rhythm section, before a nice and concise outro.
The last track entitled ‘Working Man’ is a sure fire sign of the direction Rush would probably take with their next album that of Progressive Rock. Although short by Prog standards at 7 minutes, the song encapsulates many things within this length. The subject is about Working Class life ‘Well I get up at 7 yeah, and I go to work at 9, they call be the working man, I guess that’s what I am…’ and I can imagine that for many young bands at the time [and still the case now] it was a case of having to go to ridiculous day jobs in order to fund their main passion being music. The riffs in this song are straight to the point which misleads slightly when the mid-section comes around, we have a great jamming section which showcases that Alex Lifeson is no sucker when it comes playing ability. Indeed all the band members skills are highlighted on this track, there is so much going off it can be hard to believe that there is only 3 of them. YES 3!
All in all, whilst not a massive representation of the direction the band were to head into, there are clear indications on this debut that this band were [and did] going become a huge success. Geddy Lee being able to belt out falsetto vocals WHILST playing complicated basslines, the texture and emotion that Alex Lifesons guitar added to the mix, and the strong drumming of John Rutsey complimented each other to perfection.
It’s possibly one of the strongest debuts I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to by any band, it’s not their best by far but you could do worse than spend a cheeky 40 minutes listening to this, I guarantee you one thing:
If you do it’ll have you yearning for the decade you never grew up in!*
*unless you did, in which case – lucky!
- Geddy Lee – lead vocals and bass
- Alex Lifeson – guitars and vocals
- John Rutsey – drums and vocals