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I'm actually surprised that a good compilation for Rush comprising such a vast span of their career has been made. Usually, there is a huge concentration on getting as many two-minute songs on a compilation as a disc can hold, but while none of the more progressive tracks like 'Xanadu' are featured here that should be, the songs that have been chosen are good; there isn't wasted track time here. Starting with a couple of rocking tracks from their debut, the compilation essentially takes the listener on a brief journey through the course of over 10 years of good music. The artwork is a bit strange (what that dalmatian is doing behind the radio we'll never know) but functional and professional enough.
The 'Retrospective'-era focused records aside, this is about as good a single 'best-of' record as you're going to get from Rush. Of course, there's no point for someone who is a fan to buy these, but potential new fans should keep an eye out.
With many of their greatest hits as well as some rather obscure songs, Rush overflows their compilation album, “The Spirit of Radio” with some of the most defining songs in not only their history but the history of progressive rock/metal. Where many say that the lines between metal and rock and roll were skewed with the rise of mallcore (NU metal to the mainstream, but not metal in reality) today and the previous popularization of glam (again not a true metal genre) in the 1980s, they seem to forget that progressive rock/metal band, Rush was one of the first bands to truly skew the lines between metal and rock contributing greatly to the sub-genre of progressive metal. Most consider Rush to be one of the most influential bands in rock and metal in general, and still many others like myself are casual fans of Rush’s very poetic approach to reality and addition of synthesizer as well as different traditional instruments to the template began by bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath.
Opening with the low and gritty riff of “Working Man”, Rush immediately sets this compilation off right. All the hits are here, “Limelight”, “Tom Sawyer”, “Closer to the Heart”, “Freewill”, and “Fly by Night” but there are also some obscure songs that this compilation turned me on to. Songs like “The Trees”, “Red Barchetta”, and “New World Man” show some of their less popular but most interesting songs. Where some songs take a psychedelic tone, like in “New World Man” and “2112 Overture/ Temples of Syrinx”, and “Tom Sawyer”, other songs employ the heavy bluesy tones like in “Working Man” and “Limelight” bringing in a diverse mix of different tones, emotions, and sounds. Rush definitely knew how to ensure an album was never boring, and with this compilation, it sounds as though they were re-inventing the wheel with every song.
For a Rush compilation, this is just about perfect, but since I don’t believe in giving a “best of” a perfect score, I’ll give it as close to one as I can. Rush has always been one of my favorite progressive bands, and this compilation is great for both hardcore and casual fans of Rush, and a must have for any progressive rock/metal fans out there.
One of the great oddities of music is the “Greatest Hits” albums, or “Best Of” type albums. Some are great (Alice in Chains’ “Best of the Box”) other can be totally maligned and defeat the purpose of having one (Megadeth’s “Back to the Start” may come to mind).
But fans of Rush need not worry, “The Spirit of Radio” is one of the better ones out there. Why is one of the better ones? Well, most importantly, it goes in chronological order, a must for “Greatest Hits” albums. But besides that, it includes more than just the “hits” it includes many songs that fans will appreciate too. Also, they stock the album with the best material, and not a few songs from each release.
Also, being that it is in chronological order, it is interesting to hear the changes that Rush incurred over 30 odd years, in less than an hour and a half. From Geddy Lee’s vocals to the inclusion of more synthesizers, those changes can be heard throughout.
Being that this is a “Greatest Hits” all the songs are critical! But sometimes “Greatest Hits” include songs that may make people scratch their head, this has none! Though, it must be noted that “2112” is a shortened version, which is a bit of a letdown, but not a huge one, as it contains “The Temple of Syrinx”, the best part of that song. So “The Spirit of Radio” has no blunders in the track-listing department, despite the minor complaint.
Overall, “The Spirit of Radio” is a quality “Greatest Hits” album. It accomplishes what a “Greatest Hits” album should, it provides both new and old fans with a showcasing of their best material on a single disc. Also this has a ton of tracks, so its worthy of purchasing.