Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Rush - Grace Under Pressure

Finally, a review of a Rush album :)

Grace Under Pressure
This ranks as my favourite Rush album, from their impressive roster of 17 studio albums. Released in 1984, it deals with the concept of resilience in the face of doom, using examples such as the Cold War. Even though it's from Rush's synthesizer era (Signals to Hold Your Fire), it still prominently features Alex Lifeson's tango on the fretboard.

Distant Early Warning deals with the nerve-wracking job that radar operators on the DEW line in the Canadian arctic had to deal with. The fate of the world literally lay in their hands, they decided the fate of billions, all while sitting alone in a cold, desolate station in the middle of nowhere.

Afterimage is about loss and carrying on. Easily the best song on the album. Lifeson's solo is the highlight, it's like he channeled all the sorrow and negative emotion he could into those chords... awesome.

Red Sector A is based on bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee's mother's imprisonment in, and liberation from, a Nazi concentration camp. After years of suffering, when she was finally free, she believed they were possibly the last of humanity1

The Enemy Within is about how the worst fears we have are the imaginary ones in our own heads, and about the inner strength required to overcome them. Absolutely fantastic bass guitar work, Geddy's the king!

The Body Electric, one of my favourites, is very offbeat, detailing how an android, simply referred to as "Unit 1" breaks free of it's routine, monotonous existence, and becomes self-aware. Here's an interesting bit of trivia: the chorus goes "one zero-zero one zero-zero one, S.O.S.", 1001001 in binary translates to 73 decimal. The 73rd ASCII character is "I", and the android is self-aware. This is hard enough for most geeky-types to come up with, but Neil Peart (drummer and songwriter) is a highschool dropout, and this song was written in 1984, well before the Internet. How does he do it???

Kid Gloves, I'm still working on this one, but I believe it's about how a big part of growing up is the schoolyard posturing that we all indulge in, and how it's a struggle just to fit in. Again, includes a masterful solo by Lifeson.

I think Red Lenses is about the cold-war hysteria that got drummed up mainly by media reports that got blown out of proportion. Living under constant fear of "The Reds" requires "grace under pressure". Much like today's "war on terror"

Between the Wheels deals with how all we have is the memories of good times, while we live from one source of pressure to the next. Holding on to memory is all we can do to cope with all that life throws at us.

So here it is: in my opinion, the best collection of eight songs ever made. All I can say is "get it, get it now!"

Rating: 6/5? ok, ok, 5/5 :)

[1] see the Wikipedia entry on Red Sector A


Anonymous said...

The Body Electric -- Did you infer that stuff yourself? Iam impressed!

-- bharath

Jim said...

Heh, yes. Blame it on five months of not having much to do but listen to music and read Tolkein. Nice to know that I was right, though.

quills said...

Sorry it took me so long to comment..have been busy plus was trying to find the songs you mentioned. Alas, never got them.

But I take your word for it and will continue my search.

And thanks for your suggestion reg mp3 players and headphones.

Jim said...

No apologies required. Been busy myself...
I guess Rush is not very popular if you're looking for a download. Amazon does carry the remastered audio CD, though.

Rose said...

6/5 from me too..



Jim said...

Thanks for stopping by, nice to know there's at least one other Rush fan out there!