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RUSH. Their debut’s cover emulates the same simplicity and energy that Yes’ debut did back in ‘69. Oddly enough, as that giant of a progressive rock band reached their peak, another giant was just starting to emerge. But Rush in 1974 was not the same Rush that had resurrected the progressive spirit at the end of the 70’s and through the early 80’s; rather, this was a band that had more in common with classic rock than with prog. This is Rush in a stripped-down, lighthearted rock ‘n’ roll format, that while certainly inferior to the masterpieces that would shortly follow it, has plenty of merit in its own right that fans of 70’s music are certain to embrace.
This album shows Rush’s influences more so than any other album they would go on to release. This is 70’s rock without a doubt, like Led Zeppelin if they were better at their instruments with a twinge of AC/DC to add flavor. The songs are simple and catchy with solid performances from all the members. Alex Lifeson does a hell of a job channeling the energy of his predecessors, sporting the bluesy riffery of Jimmy Page, showcasing the heavier-than-thou guitar tone of Tony Iommi, and even calling to mind the soaring leadwork of David Gilmour from time to time, especially in “Here Again.” Getty Lee is just as phenomenal as always. While his playing is a bit simpler on this release, it still comes out strong on the recording. His vocals are solid as well, at times reminiscent of Robert Plant (undoubtedly one of the reasons this release often gets compared with Zeppelin). In fact, most of the songs are very Zeppelin-ish, consisting of straightforward classic heavy metal rhythms and catchy vocal lines, deviating only in the longer, bluesy “Here Again.”
The only real downside to this release is that it’s the only album released before drum legend Neil Peart was in the band. Not that John Rutsey doesn’t deliver a worthy performance on here (he does), but this release really suffers from the lack of Peart’s lyrical contributions. Again, think rehashed 70’s rock, with lots of “oooo baby’s,” “oh yeah’s,” and classic rock clichés.
Fans of later Rush might have a hard time going back in time to get into this album. There’s no deep philosophical exploration here, nor is there any extended epic tracks. Just a handful of fun, rocking tunes that still stand strong among the lot of popular early 70’s rock. Some of this even overshadows Deep Purple in terms of sheer heaviness and it’s definitely worth checking out if only to give “Working Man” a couple of spins.