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For those of with an anecdotal knowledge of Rush’s long and illustrious career producing high-IQ progressive metal cum rock, this review might be a touch disconcerting. Because before they adopted the style of long, complex, thoughtful, technically advanced and technologically enhanced rock, Rush were a power trio nearly as hoary as Mountain, Cactus or good old Led Zeppelin.
Yup, on their self-titled debut, the Canuck trio let loose with Sabbath like brooding (“Working Man”) up-tempo blues stencils (“What You’re Doing”) and just plain old basic hard rock (“Finding My Way”). This is not to say that this material is better than the band’s later work, but it’s most assuredly more in step with what’s bands of their ilk were pursuing back in the day. And they do a damn good job of it to boot. Geddy Lee, sounding for all the world like Budgie’s front-man Burke Shelley, lets loose a horny, highly out of character performance on lustful cuts like “In The Mood,” while Alex Liefson provides his usual economic guitar support. Even in this potentially show-off friendly matrix, Alex hangs back most of the time, offering competent though hardly overstated solos performed with a conservative amount of effects.
Drummer John Rutsey would be evicted after this album, allowing the arrival of the far more technical and cerebral Neil Peart. And shock, surprise, that’s where the Rush tale diverts from bawdy roughneck rock to intellectual progressive mucking about. But here in sainted ’74, Rush were just looking to rock out and party. Just like the rest of us, man.