Genre: Hard Rock/Progressive Rock
Year of Release: 1975
Record Label: Mercury
Recommended for fans of: Led Zeppelin, Cream, 70s Progressive Rock
- “Bastille Day” – 4:37
- “I Think I’m Going Bald” – 3:37
- “Lakeside Park” – 4:08
- “The Necromancer” – 12:30
- “The Fountain of Lamneth” – 20:01
Interesting fact: The album cover as seen above for Rush’s third studio album should have had an embossed silver ‘steel’ look. The reason why it looks like ‘copper’ is due to a printing error! I’d have been pretty annoyed at this and is something that could be fixed today pretty easy, back in 1975 though this probably would have been a nightmare to resolve!
So the album is hardly getting off to a great start already is it?
Released the same year as their 2nd album ‘Fly by Night’ their 3rd attempt was supposed to be the breakthrough album, it’s easy to look back today and simply state ‘well it wasn’t…’ but back then the boys from Canada were coming under increasing pressure from the record label to deliver the goods and produce a hit album.
On examining the track list, the first thing that is noticeable is that there are only 5 tracks on the album, one of which is 12 minutes, the other a more epic 20! One wonders whether it was a good idea to have songs of such length on a breakthrough album. I would argue it shouldn’t matter, but many people have the attention span of goldfish so need something in smaller concise chunks!
Anyway, it was the 1970s and Prog-rock was in fashion, so why not do an album like this anyway and promptly ignore your record labels advice and the critics flaming tongue!
Which they did!
‘Bastille Day’ opens the album, and the subject matter is the French Civil war and heads on guillotines. This song is considered prime classic Rush, and typical of their 1970s output, strong melodic hard rock! After his debut antics, Peart seems to have settled into his role of drummer and prime lyricist role, the song screams of his trademark writing style, with strong support from Lifeson and Lee on their instruments of choice. It’s a great fun opening song!
I wish I could say the same for the 2nd track, Rush fans tend to disagree on lots of different issues surrounding the band, but one thing that unites them is that ‘I Think I’m Growing Bald’ is the WORST song the band have ever written. I tend to agree, terrible lyrics and subject matter, the song doesn’t go anywhere and has nothing really remarkable to say. The band sound like they enjoyed it though and I guess that’s what matters the most!
‘Lakeside Park’ is the token soft number on the album, which after the terrible second song has a lot to live up to. Luckily it’s a strong piece that’s reflective of the Neil Peart spending his youth at the aforementioned park located in St Catharine’s on Lake Ontario. Geddy Lee has gone on record saying it’s one of his least favourite songs, and in general he has a hard time listening to anything ‘pre-2112’, it does hold a certain charm to it though.
After 3 small concise pieces we encounter the first long progressive attempt on the album in the form of ‘The Necromancer’ – it’s typical 70’s progressive rock with its fantasy lark, the song even opens up with a narration given about ‘3 intrepid travellers’ setting out on a fantastical adventure. I have a soft spot for this song if I’m being honest and it’s definitely the strongest composition on the album. It can be broken into 3 sections of which are clearly listed on the back of the album, the first section is called ‘Into the Darkness’ which sets the scene and is deliciously dark as its title suggests, the second section is called ‘Under the Shadow’ which opens up with some heavy reverberated drums and polished guitar work. The suite closes with ‘Return of The Prince’ which is far more upbeat compared to the earlier sections and can’t but help make you smile!
The last track on the album is the albums magnum opus, although not one I’m overly fond of to be fair. ‘The Fountain of Lanmeth’ is an epic song, and it must have taken some long hours of writing and practicing to get the piece down. Musically its fine, however I find it hard to indentify anything I really, really enjoy about it! It contains a short drum solo by Peart, and I whilst I like drum solos in a live setting, on an album? No thanks! The song does showcase some of Alex Lifesons fine guitar work though, even though admittedly everything else he does after this album is far superior.
For me this album is stronger than ‘Fly by Night’ but not by much, so I’ve awarded it the same score as seen below.
I think it’d be fair to sum up albums 2 & 3 as laying the ground work for the following record, the album that catapulted Rush to dizzy heights and heavy weights in the Progressive Rock world, for their next album was ahead of its time and conveniently as such entitled ‘2112’ .
- Geddy Lee – lead vocals and bass
- Alex Lifeson – guitars and vocals
- Neil Peart – drums