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Originally released in the spring of 1974, Rush’s debut album provides a solid start that is unlike the various personas that the band would take on in the future. Instead of being faced with extensively layered keyboards and intellectual lyrical themes, we are treated to a harder style based on the likes of Led Zeppelin and Cream with lyrics based on more typical rock topics of the time. The album is also noteworthy for being the only one to feature the late drummer John Rutsey, who was unable to extensively tour with the band due to health problems and paved the way for drummer extraordinaire Neil Peart.
As previously stated, the music often sounds like something that would’ve been recorded by Led Zeppelin in the time period that their first two albums were released. Bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee often sounds like Robert Plant on helium and even outdoes him with the wails on such tracks as the aggressive "Finding My Way," the guitar riffs have a muddy touch often associated with Jimmy Page (The main riff to "What You’re Doing" in particular sounds eerily similar to Zeppelin’s "Heartbreaker"), and they included a few blues jam in the forms of "Here Again" and "Before and After." Fortunately the songwriting is done in good taste and the similarities are done in tribute rather than plagiarism.
Given that Peart had nothing to do with the writing of this record, it’s certainly obvious that the lyrics on this album are drastically different than that would appear on later efforts. The themes on the album seem to hit closer to home and include ideas related to “love” and the pursuit thereof ("Finding My Way," "Need Some Love," "Before and After," "In the Mood"), friendship ("Take a Friend"), music in general ("Here Again"), critics ("What You’re Doing"), and the blue collar lifestyle ("Working Man"). I don’t think they’re as bad as some listeners think they are, but it is a little creepy to hear Lee wail about how he’s “gonna get ya” in that sense. There are just some people that never should write about sex. If it makes you any better, I’m one of those people...
Despite being a little derivative, this may be one of my personal favorite Rush albums and is worth checking for fans of the band and heavier classic rock.
1) Accessible songwriting and good variety
2) The band members are already good at their crafts
1) Slightly primitive lyrics
2) Occasionally derivative of other bands
My Current Favorites:
"Finding My Way," "Here Again," "What You’re Doing," "In the Mood," and "Working Man"