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This is essentially just a box set composed of Rush's earliest three studio releases. While it's certainly good for fans of their better material to look into, 'Archives' cuts off the experience right as Rush begins to hit their quality streak. With 'Caress Of Steel,' things started picking up pace for this Toronto band, and within a few years they would be at their peak.
The first two albums (the self-titled and 'Fly By Night') share a similar style, although theres certainyl a heightened sense of style on the second. Neither really delivers alot more than a few good songs each to the table, and there's not a whole lot special going on with either, although the latter of the two has some really killer tracks, such as 'Anthem' and 'By-Tor & The Snow Dog.'
The third release and final portion of this boxset shows Rush really expanding their grasp of music and personal style. It is also by far, their most progressive accomplishment, complete with some intellingent art rockers and two epics to cover most of the length.
'Archives' really isn't the sort of thing a newcomer is going to get, but neither is a general fan going to purchase (under the assumption they probably have one of these three records already.) If anything however, this does show the band growing as artists; and with each new release, bringing something new and fresh to the table.
In 1978, Rush released Archives, a box set that reintroduces the first three releases from the band: Rush, Fly By Night, and Caress of Steel. Actually, by Lee’s own admission, the purpose was not to offer a retrospective (it had only been a couple of years) so much as to give Caress of Steel a second lease on life. The band was still pretty pissed off at the treatment that release got by critics and the impact it might have had on purchases from fans. As far as I have been able to determine, this has only been released on Vinyl, tape, and eight-track; existing on a limited run that ran out long before the time CDs.
The Box set itself is nice, featuring the star from 2112 along with the guy standing before it, arms upraised; all on a grey field. An interesting choice considering that the album 2112 is not featured at all. Inside you get a mini-poster also found in the Hemispheres original LP featuring a live shot of each band member. Beyond that, there are no extras you would normally find in a box set. No booklet, history, or any other extras.
There are three albums, one for each original release. No additional music, just each album reproduced in full. The discerning listener will note a slightly cleaner production and a few minor changes (the chimes at the end of “By-Tor and the Snow Dog” are longer and now recorded into the track itself), but these are minor if unnoticeable; this was released in 1978 after all, several years away from the digital explosion in music technology, and more importantly only several years after the originals. Essentially, you are just getting each of the first three albums at once.
At the end of the day, this interesting release is something only a hardcore Rush fan could want, the only value it has is the fact it is collectible. For the rest of the population, you might as well just pick-up the first three albums – They are easier to find, they will be cheaper, plus they are available on CD.