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Progress of Rush - 76%

Wez, December 2nd, 2005

Very, very nearly there. Rush's prog flirtings would soon properly come to fruitition but they still had a hurdle or two to get over. This is one of the least popular 70s albums, and admittedly probably is one of the weakest, but that's not saying much seeing as at this time Rush were still owning left, right and centre.

These ones get slated by prog fans for their unwillingness to let go their hard rock roots, but this kicks off in fine fashion. "Bastille Day" was used to open their live shows with for years after this album was released and it's not hard to see why. It's an uptempo rocker that makes full use of the band's synergy and developing songwriting abilities. It maximises the turbulence of revolution into an almost epic structure with stellar instrumentation throughout.

"I Think I'm Going Bald" is the last gasp of the first album's heavy Zeppelin inspiration and as such isn't bad. It's Rush after all and it's funny to see this laid back and simple structure get set upon by Neil Peart, who brings strange OTT moments to it. "Lakeside Park" is really relaxed and breezy with it's gentle acoustic guitar lines and Geddy's carefree vocals. This one moves about the place in complicated Rush fashion but it's subtle and the feel is never lost within the changes.

"The Necromancer", in three parts, is probably their most flaccid attempt at an epic. Each section is musically fine but shockingly unmemorable as a whole. It's underwhelming placed next to the might of "2112" and the cheesy narration really kills it off. "The Fountain of Lamneth" follows with twice as many parts and being almost twice as long (very nearly a whooping 20 minutes!) to boot. It's much better than the previous but lacks the natural flow from one part to the next that "2112" perfected. Now, both really were in essence 6 and 7 little songs plastered together, but "2112" just felt right in it's moves from one to the next and even felt, if abstractly, like it was a perfect whole. They explore their British symphonic prog fixations a bit further here, and the Yes-isms are loud and proud. They never forget to break out the hard rocking groove and I can't fault any of the performance. It's just very tame in comparison to what they'd let loose in the next few years. That said, "Panacea" and "Bacchus Plateau" are the highlights of 6 parts that move between light and dark moments very often.

Geddy once said of this period: "You could just smell the hash oil coming off us" or something like that. Well I don't know if they were taking too much or too little but this album could might have benefitted one way or the other.