Genre: Hard Rock/Progressive Rock
Year of Release: 1975
Record Label: Mercury
Recommended for fans of: Led Zeppelin, Cream, 70s Progressive Rock
- “Anthem” – 4:36
- “Best I Can” – 3:24
- “Beneath, Between & Behind” – 2:59
- “By-Tor and the Snow Dog” – 8:36
- “Fly By Night” – 3:21
- “Making Memories” – 2:58
- “Rivendell” – 4:57
- “In the End” – 6:48
A year on from their Led Zeppelin inspired debut effort; Rush’s 2nd album hit the shelves back in good old 1975!
This album curiously titled ‘Fly by Night’ would be more important than anyone realised back in the day, for this album would see the addition of Neil Peart to the band replacing John Rutsey on the skins.
Here he is, sporting a very impressive drum kit:
…and so the band line-up would remain unchanged to this very day, the days of Rush as a major rocking power were about to begin, however not quite yet, this album would turn out to be a bit of a mixed bag, with some rather underwhelming material taking up much of the album.
Neil Peart turned out to be a dab hand at writing lyrics as well as a very proficient drummer, so the lyrical duties defaulted to him, marking a dramatic change of themes then seen on the debut album. Peart a wide reader of much literature would incorporate a lot of serious themes into his writing for the next couple of albums.
This is evident as soon as the first track kicks in ‘Anthem’, with the lyrics heavily inspired by a novella of the same name written by a Russian Author called Ayn Rand, the story takes place at some unspecified future date when mankind has entered another dark age due to the all the failings of society in general. I’ve read the novella myself and its extremely interesting, highly recommended reading!
Anthem is a great opening track, there no doubt about that, you can tell the drumming style is completely different, far more technical. There’s some excellent guitar work from Alex Lifeson who is now starting to find his own unique playing style. Geddy Lee also having no trouble singing the lyrics penned by Peart!
Next up we have ‘Best I Can’ a by the numbers kind of song which sounds like something which could have been on the debut, it’s nothing too special to be honest but does feature a rather quirky guitar solo by Alex Lifeson.
‘Beneath, Between & Behind’ is by no means a terrible song, but I can’t honestly say I enjoy it too much either having nothing really exciting going for it. The first true progressive effort by the band is in the form of the next track ‘By-Tor and the Snow Dog’ and the longest track on the album being 8 and ½ minutes long. It contains some decent instrumental sections most notably what the band have described as the ‘battle’ segment between By-Tor and the Snow dog, this can best be described as a guitar solo vs. bass guitar movement section. This typical of 1970s progressive music and is quite enjoyable to listen to, it’s by no means their best work though, and the quiet bit during the middle is a complete yawn fest.
The next track ‘Fly by Night’ was actually released as a single along with ‘Best I Can’ and to be fair is a fairly decent stab at radio friendly rock. One of the stronger efforts on this sophomore release, and showcases Lee’s vocals and Lifesons neat guitar work.
‘Making Memories’ is an acoustic lead affair and has a certain charm to it, but is very repetitive despite its short length of 3 ½ minutes, and the next track ‘Rivendell’ doesn’t fair much better with its obvious connections to Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings, thus gentle guitars and Plant like vocals abound, but not really achieving much.
The closing track ‘In the End’ falls a little flat on the ears, it’s important for an album to have excellent opening and closing pieces, but this just doesn’t work for me at all and being over 6 minutes in length you’d think something would happen that would leave a lasting impression.
It’s probably fairly obvious from the above that I’m not a huge fan of this album, yes it’s an important album as it marks the addition of Neil Peart and the move to progressive song writing, however it shows a band still getting to grips with these changes so isn’t as cohesive as some of their excellent later releases.
I’ve listened to it quite a lot this last month in order to review it fairly and to be honest I shall not be revisiting it anytime soon. It contains some very interesting music and as an evolution piece fits into their discography well, but you’d be best to try their later efforts for something far more fulfilling.
- Geddy Lee – lead vocals and bass
- Alex Lifeson – guitars and vocals
- Neil Peart – drums and vocals