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.

What we have here is a compressed documentary of the band from their beginnings to the making of Moving Pictures.  A lot of what’s covered in the early part of the band’s history and the making of 2112 was also covered in Behind the Lighted Stage — which means there’s very little new material presented here.  There are moments on this DVD that made me sit up and take notice, and it happened when tracks where isolated, or when the members of the band were shown playing individual parts from ”Overture” from 2112. But these were brief revelations that were pitifully short.  Instead, we get extended footage of the band talking about a minor track in their oeuvre (”Twilight Zone”) or their ode to weed (”A Passage to Bangkok”), while very little time is given to the all the songs that make up the story of ”2112″ — songs that mean so much to fans of the band.  The same goes for the songs on Moving Pictures.  Yes, we all know that ”Tom Sawyer” is an awesome song, but so is ”The Camera Eye,” ”Vital Signs,” and ”Witch Hunt (Part III of Fear).” Yet, these songs don’t even show up on the program.

Fortunately, there’s a whole other documentary in the bonus material — and it’s in the bonus material that a lot of behind the scenes information gets spilled.  For example, Terry Brown (Rush’s long time producer from their first album to Signals) talks about the early demo version of ”Tom Sawyer” where the tempo was a lot faster and what that did to the song in terms of heaviness, listening to the lyrics, and the overall feel of it (Download). We also get extended footage of Geddy, Alex, and Terry talking about various parts of the song in a way that really adds a level of analysis that was missing from the main program.  It’s unfortunate that the producers were trying too hard to appeal more to the casual fan than the hardcore Rush fan because it was moments like the one mentioned above that makes these documentaries so wonderful.  Getting a real behind the scenes look at the creative process that went into the making of classic albums is something that is quite inspiring, but when it comes in drips and drabs (as it does on the main disc), it’s very frustrating. Still, this DVD is well worth the purchase since the producers have really loaded up the bonus material to the extent that it will satisfy hardcore Rush fans, while the main disc will be interesting to those who have a mild interest in Rush.

About the Author

Ted Asregadoo

Writer & Editor

Ted Asregadoo has a last name that's proven to be difficult to pronounce for almost everyone on the Popdose staff, some telemarketers, and even his close friends. He lives in Walnut Creek, CA., and is also the host of the Planet LP podcast.

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