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Rush Tag

Clockwork Angels, the 20th studio album by the Canadian power-trio Rush, makes its debut in North America today.  One thing about Rush is clear:  there’s no denying the impressive staying power of the band. From their Led Zeppelin-inspired beginnings in the early ’70s, through their long-form concept albums, the “synth years,” and then to a more mature hard rock sound, Rush is a band who have really never compromised their musical integrity. Yes, they are clearly influenced by groups like The Who, Yes, Led Zeppelin, The Police, and Pearl Jam, but they are influencers as well. Why? Well, part of the reason is that their musical complexity, lyrical depth, and a commitment to progressing as musicians has endeared them to both fans and fellow musicians — and said fans and musicians have shown their love of the band in movies, books, and homages. The other part is that certain something that some bands possess: a unique sound that’s difficult to copy in a world where pop/rock/hip-hop/country styles of music tend to be replicated when a song “hits” with the public.

At Popdose, three of our writers (and fans of Rush) got an advanced copy of Clockwork Angels and were able to spend time with the songs. What follows are Dw. Dunphy, Chris Holmes, and Ted Asregadoo’s reactions to the album.

We finally get to the end of R and I have completed my revisiting of the Rush catalog. Enjoy more songs from the rock charts that failed to cross over into the Billboard Hot 100.

The Romantics
“Rock You Up” 1983, #49 (download)

“Rock You Up” comes from In Heat, the Romantics 4th album which contained both “Talking In Your Sleep” and “One In A Million” as well. This track led the album off sufficiently rockin’ enough to make the rest of the album worth a listen as well.

Romeo Void
“Never Say Never” 1982, #27 (download)

Here’s another one of those songs that make you do a double take. “Never Say Never” seems to appear on every new wave compilation album ever made, to the point where even though I’m not a fan of the band, I know this song like the back of my hand. It makes sense that it didn’t cross over into the Hot 100 as it’s really not very radio friendly but I’ve heard it so much that I had to cross reference many times just to be sure I wasn’t missing something.

The Rossington Band
“Welcome Me Home” 1988, #9 (download)

Rossington Collins Band
“Gotta Get It Straight” 1981, #50 (download)

The Rossington Collins band were an off-shoot of Lynyrd Skynyrd, formed in 1979 after the plane crash that ended the former band. The band consisted of four members of Skynyrd – Gary Rossington and Allen Collins on guitar, Billy Powell on keyboards and Leon Wilkeson on bass. The vocal duties were given to Dale Krantz. “Gotta Get It Straight” was a Skynyrd type southern rocker off their second and final album, This is the Way.

That band then broke up after Collins’ wife died. Allen Collins took most of these guys with them and formed the Allen Collins band while Rossington married Krantz and the husband and wife team formed The Rossington Band in 1988 and released Love Your Manwhich contained the very ‘80s sounding pop record “Welcome Me Home.” These days, Gary Rossington is the only original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd in the reformed band.

Earlier this week, Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips announced the next project for the band may not be an album. Instead, he’s considering recording singles, releasing them as videos, and then collecting the videos up as a film – much like a “video album,” an experiment from the early days of home video.

While it is an interesting turn, albeit one of great concern to those interested in the Lips’ all-inclusive concept albums, it’s not particularly a new one. Throughout 2010, Kanye West premiered songs for free on his site, some of which arrived on his latest album. Rush debuted two tracks as an iTunes single, purportedly as a taste of what was to come from their upcoming Clockwork Angels album. However, because of the positive response from their Time Machine Tour, those album plans have been pushed back, by some reports indefinitely.

It begs the question: while the single, in digital form, has been the dominant form for many years now, have we seen the tipping point? Artists that clung to the album-as-end-product method of production are veering away from it, while a small handful cling to the notion. Have we crossed the line where they are now exception but never the rule?

DOWNLOAD THE FULL MIX HERE Like millions of people who are TV watchers, I’m hooked on AMC’s The Walking Dead.  Yes, I had my qualms with the pilot episode (See Scott Malchus’ review of the show and the comments section), but that’s okay.  I mean, I was a huge fan of LOST, but I still had my issues with the way they failed to explain a number of things they set up in the show.  But this isn’t a post on TV shows that often failed to be consistent.  Nope, this is a mix that takes the impending zombie apocalypse that will come one day — and I use as my source the unimpeachable journal of science, Cracked.com.  And when it does, will you know what to do?  Probably not. You can, however, get yourself prepared by watching movies like Zombieland, where Jesse Eisenberg’s character has 32 rules you need to adhere to if you’re going to survive.  Double Tap and cardio are essential. So to get your cardio conditioning started, here’s a mix that’ll help you prepare for what’s coming and remind you that some of these musicians have been sounding the alarm long before many of us realized.

See you on the other side!

What up, witches!  It’s another year and another Halloween.  Last year, I was all boo-hoo over the fact that no one comes to our abode to trick or treat.  Sure, we buy candy, and sometimes we wait for the kiddies to come by, but they never do.  It’s kind of sad, but we’re pretty much over it.  So, what to do?  Well I guess I have sublimated my desire to give treats to strangers to, well, here. Oh, and my apologies for not putting a “full mix” here.  For some reason Garageband was acting up and it kept freezing right at the last part of the mix down process.  But, half a loaf is better than nothing at all, right?  Okay, let’s get this party started!

Even though the guys in Rush are closer to 60 than 50, they show no signs of slowing down.  Indeed, this has been quite the workaholic year for the band.  They recorded two new songs, were the subject of a documentary (Beyond the Lighted Stage), hit the road for a tour of North America and Brazil, and now have also released a DVD with the folks who produce the Classic Albums series.
For me, having more Rush product out there, the better.  I’m not one of those people who grudgingly accepts Rush’s role in the history of hard rock, rather I have not been shy about my devotion to the band, so it would seem that I would be all over this Classic Albums DVD about two of Rush’s most influential albums:  2112 and Moving Pictures.  For the uninitiated, the Classic Albums series is one that takes fans (casual and ardent alike) behind the scenes of the making of a seminal album in popular music. Often, we’ll see the artist sitting behind the mixing board talking in depth about how a particular song came about — all the while fiddling with knobs on the board to isolate this guitar track, or that drum track, or vocal track.  It makes for an interesting education on the recording process, how an artist came up with a certain sound, or what they were trying to convey by a certain vocal phrasing. Sometimes these DVDs are quite good (see, Steely Dan on Aja), and sometimes they can be quite boring.  With Rush, the producers of the series had a chance to really introduce people to why Rush is such an amazing band, and satisfy long time fans with tales of studio wonkery.  Instead, they fell short on both counts.

There’s been a lot of comments about this series and I want to thank everyone, even the folks who are incensed that I didn’t make The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway the #1 choice. The beauty of the Internet democracy is that you can make your own list and I will look forward to reading it. The most comments I’ve been getting from various outlets (comments, Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, rock through the window) have been like this:

“Why do you hate Emerson Lake and Palmer?”

I don’t hate ELP, but one of the necessary ingredients for my list candidates was that you had to appreciate the album straight through, even if some of the songs don’t scream “Prog!” When I was a teenager, it was cool that the band rocked-up classical pieces. Nowadays, it just doesn’t seem as clever anymore, and they come off like audio Cliffs Notes rather than good ideas. That wouldn’t be a problem if they didn’t stuff almost every one of their albums with a redux. Heck, Pictures At An Exhibition is nothing but a rework of Mussorgsky’s piece. And that’s followed up by the Nutcracker adaptation (and really, “Nutrocker”?) Their two reworks that I enjoy are “Fanfare For The Common Man” and “The Peter Gunn Theme”. Say what you will about that.

In other words, while they’ve made interesting work, I simply can’t get through one of their albums straight through. Nonetheless, they need to be recognized in some way. After all, they are one of the biggest progressive rock units of all time. So, in lieu of placement on the list, here’s what I would consider a primo ELP mix.

Regrets, I’ve had a few.

There were bands and artists I really wanted to squeeze onto this list but, ultimately, the fit wasn’t right. Queen certainly had the originality that progressive rock requires and their pomp-righteous first couple albums might have accepted the shoehorn, but it never fully jibed. Queen is, at heart, one of the great hard rock bands and if the readership demands it be so, they’ll rank high on 50Hard Rock50.

Supertramp started its tumultuous life as a prog band, the brainchild of Rick Davies, but when Roger Hodgson signed on a couple years later, a lot of those tendencies arrived only in flashes. I would have chosen the classic Breakfast In America, but I’ve already stretched the boundaries as far as my inclusive viewpoint is concerned.

Styx was considered prog, but not their “classic” years, and their one honest-to-goodness rock opera, Kilroy Was Here, mostly burns horribly like hot sauce dumped in your ear canals. I stand by my opinion that Paradise Theater is not as bad as you might think it is, but it doesn’t belong here either.

Spilt Milk from Jellyfish, on the other hand, might. It is a concept album of sorts involving the losing of one’s faith (or actively getting rid of it) in the face of religious hypocrisy and money-grubbing. It arrived after the last great spate of televangelists with tearful admissions of moral misbehavior, but not before they got in another request for money for the ministry or “God will call me home.” Even if the band’s slings and arrows sting me a little harder than most, the creative wordplay, super-widescreen sound (it is one of the finest audio productions of its time) and the inventive instrumentation suggest, yes, this could be prog. But it’s not on the list because I suspect power-pop fans would have my head on a pike for suggesting their standard-bearer would be caught dead on there.