Saturday, January 11, 2020

Rush - 1980 - Live In St. Louis 1980

February 14, 1980
Kiel Auditorium
St. Louis, MO  

01. 2112
02. The Spirit of Radio
03. Natural Science
04. Beneath, Between and Behind
05. By-Tor and the Snow Dog
06. Xanadu
07. Working Man
08. Finding My Way
09. Anthem
10. Bastille Day
11. In The Mood
12. Drum Solo
13. La Villa Strangiato

Tracks rearranged to original running order of the show.

This is a live recording , in the series Historical FM Broadcastings. It captures a Rush gig in the USA, shortly after the release of their Permanent Waves album (early 1980). The recording is at the level of a high quality bootleg and the running time is 73 minutes. The 8-page booklet (I own the CD version) contains an interesting interview in the English rock magazine Sounds (March 1980), Rush telling about their success (Canadian awards and Best Band In The World by UK magazine Sounds) and the change of their musical direction.

The first track 2112 showcases how Rush have matured since All The World's A Stage from 1976. Here Rush sounds more dynamic and adventurous, from the intro with the synthesizer sounds to the final words 'We have assumed control', awesome, this is top notch progressive hardrock. And loaded with sensational wah-wah drenched guitar soli by Alex Lifeson and featuring an outstanding, very fluent rhythm-section. And on the following By-Tor And The Snow Dog the criminally underrated Lifeson delivers one of his exciting soli, with use of the phaser, wah-wah and echo pedal. You can consider the rest of the setlist on this 1980 live CD as a bridge between the progressive hardrock on the live album All The World's A Stage (1976) and the Heavy Prog on the live album Exit Stage Left (1981). From straightforward in Beneath, Between, Behind, Working Man, Anthem, Bastille Day and In The Mood (including Geddy Lee his still a bit 'Micky Mouse on helium' voice) to elaborate and alternating in The Spirit Of Radio, Xanadu, Natural Science and La Villa Strangiato. But there is always that distinctive Rush, with their high quality, huge inspiration and inventive musical ideas. Only the long drum solo by Neil Peart during In The Mood tends to sound a bit embryonal: entertaining but still searching for the perfect balance between time and quality, as he did since the mid-Eighties, nicknamed 'the professor on the drum kit'. The final track La Villa Strangiato emphasizes Rush their new musical direction, into captivating and compelling Heavy Prog, highly recommended!

Rush - 1979 - Hemispheres In Boston

January 11, 1979
Music Hall
Boston, MA

101. Intro.
102. Anthem
103. A Passage To Bangkok
104. By-Tor And The Snow Dog
105. Xanadu
106. Something For Nothing
107. The Trees
108. Cygnus X-1
109. Hemispheres
110. Closer To The Heart.

201. Circumstances
202. A Farewell To Kings
203. La Villa Strangiato
204. 2112
205. Working Man
206. Bastille Day
207. In The Mood
208. Drum Solo

While it was a painful birth, Rush’s sixth studio album Hemispheres would further propel them up a few rungs in the world of rock music, and most certainly by their own terms. The third and last studio album to feature a side length composition, the brilliant title track, it would also showcase a couple shorter songs that would showcase the band’s future output for the next decade. The tour to support the album would begin mid October 1978 with an extensive Canadian tour and end with a European leg with an American assault sandwiched in the middle. The Hemispheres tour is no stranger to the collectors market and trading circles, there are many high quality recordings, both from soundboard and audience sources, this new release features one from the latter and is culled from the wonderful Dan Lampinski collection. Dan was a taper who used high quality equipment and media to record many concerts in the Massachusetts and surrounding areas, most of his recordings surfaced a few years back and gave us something to look forward to each Sunday as a new recording would be posted on a well know tracker. While Lampinski enjoyed a variety of rock music, as evident of who he recorded, it seems like he had a special place for Progressive music, thankfully underground hard rock prog masters Rush were on his radar.

He would record the group on their stop in Boston at the Music Hall using a Nakamichi 550 tape recorder with two Nakamichi CM-300 microphones and Maxell cassettes. His capture of Rush is a wonderful three dimensional capture, it is just slightly distant sounding and there is a small level of tape hiss present yet is an extremely clear and detailed recording and the balance is virtually perfect. It is sadly incomplete, the band’s set list did not make it easy for tapers to apply their craft and many recordings from this tour have cuts is similar areas, these cuts will be address in the review.

“All right Boston welcome back from Toronto Canada…Rush” is the intro and the band lunches into Anthem from Fly By Night, an aggressive opener that has been a concert staple since its inception some three years prior. The sound is more distant at the beginning until Dan gets his gear situated and levels set, needless to say a couple minutes in you can clearly decipher all the instruments, most importantly Geddy’s bass as I love to hear him pluck the hell out of it. The herbal influenced trek A Passage To Bangkok follows and Ged’s greeting to the crowd amid shouts of “sit down”. I love Alex’s riff for this song, electric middle eastern with a metallic flair, a one Mr. Blackmore would be proud of it for sure. Lifeson’s solo is ambient yet intense over the top of the Synthesizers the song gets a nice ovation.  The coupling of By Tor and Xanadu is brilliant, By Tor is punctuated by Neil’s precision drumming and the transition into Across The Styx into Xanadu is wonderful, the band’s use of musical technology and ambient instruments like wind chimes make for a prelude to the mind mellowing journey that lies ahead. Probably my most favorite Rush compositions Xanadu is perfection and when listened to today, sounds as if it could have been written years before it was by the English Prog giants and still sounds as fresh and excited today as it did then. The song abruptly ends during the last seconds of the song and catches the band by surprise, Ged tells the audience “Well we seem to have a power failure”. The rowdy fans in Boston fill in for a few minutes while the issue is dealt with and they return with Something For Nothing, again the use of synthesizers adds a new dimension to the metallic classic from 2112.

Rush would perform the entire Hemispheres record on this tour (well most of the tour) and the first of the new songs is the whimsical tape of feuding topiary, The Trees. The song is quite powerful live, the use of Taurus pedals makes for a heavy bottom end and the song contains all the elements of their progressive styles in a short, tidy composition. A soundscape transitions the song into Cygnus X-1, someone close to the taper remarks “It looks like a movie set…” in awe of the visual and lighting. Just as close to my heart as Xanadu (no pun intended), I frickin love this song, the bombastic riff is so heavy and the precision of the group is incredible. The band has been playing a truncated version of the song on the R40 tour, something that makes you want to scream in pure pleasure! Geddy’s introduction to Hemispheres must have caught Dan by surprises as he knows he does not have enough tape left to capture the entire 18 minute epic and does a quick tape flip from :08 to :34 mark, the gap is filled with the Frankfurt 5/28/1979 soundboard, the splice is seamless and well handled, although the use of the soundboard is a testament to quality of the recording but I may have chosen an audience recording like Chicago or Vancouver. Let’s pause for 18 minutes to listen….. Ah, the intricate and mechanical Hemispheres is wonder live and one must listen unbothered to really grasp the full scope of the music. It segues nicely into Closer To The Heart to end the first disc and we can take a collective breath.

The second disc begins with something “from Hemispheres…this is called Circumstances”, short simple yet heavy as hell is circumstances yet sadly the song would not make the long haul on the tour, it would be dropped for the UK and European dates. The song could pass as something from their earlier works like Fly By Night or 2112 as it is Rush at its hard rock best. A Farewell To Kings follows, like Circumstances is very heavy and most English sounding. After the two short songs, the band and listener want to stretch out again, the first is the journey like instrumental La Villa Strangiato that comes from direct segue from Kings, you can here some crazed fans in the distance beating on their chairs but the music seems to have a calming effect on them. Clocking in at just under ten minutes the song is musical perfection and the band’s playing on the song seems elevated by its design. Alex’s solo is one of my favorites, so emotive then the other two join in for a riff feast for the ages then Ged’s quick solo bass lines and you can do nothing but get a wide grin.

Just as we catch our breathe the swirling opening of 2112 comes from the vast outer spaces much to the delight of the audience. The band perform a slightly truncated version of the song, they do not play V.Oracle: The Dream (they would not until 1996 Test For Echo tour) and there is a cut in the action from 4:50 – 5:17, again the Frankfurt SB is used and the transition is seamless. The song has lost nothing in the two years since its inception, in fact the playing and use of technology just accentuates it. III. Discovery is melancholy in its simplicity and beauty with sounds of running water as Alex strums the acoustic with a certain innocence. The judgement of IV. Presentation sound almost bombastic as the Elder judge without mercy, destroying the dream. Alex’s solo during the movement is excellent, he lets loose on his wah pedal that seems to express all the anger and strife of the story. The visuals must be something as you can hear the audience react during VI. Soliloquy and the music masterpiece draws to a close with an exciting VIII. Grand Finale with “We Have Assumed Control” echoing over the cheers.

The encores begin with Working Man, a song that gets a huge cheer from the crowd, the classic is a crowd pleaser for sure but it is the frenzied riff of Bastille Day that rips my head off in metallic bliss. The good time feel of In The Mood follows, while not one of the band’s more cerebral songs it certainly makes for a great encore that gets the crowd on its feet. Great concert…but wait we seem to have forgotten something. What most people look forward too in every Rush concert…Neil’s Drum Solo. Introduced as “The lovely Professor on the drum kit” he takes hold of the audience who cheer him on and he gives a lesson is structured rhythm as he moves through many themes both old and current. A Working Man reprise ends the show and we get a bit of ambient outro music amid one punters who wants to go listen to his Led Zeppelin album. Great concert and recording, nice to see it getting its due on this release.

The packaging is full color inserts wonderfully adorned with official style and era graphics and looks like a companion piece to Hemispheres In Frankfurt (Cygnus 019/020), the live shots that adorn the cover and tray liner are excellent and accent the excitement of the music. The cd’s have pictures on them and there is the highly collectable sticker all housed in a slim lined jewel case. Excellent presentation of this material and a just as equally excellent release from Cygnus, lets hope they continue with more Rush releases, there is so much to choose and offer from this legendary act.

Rush - 1974 - The Lady Gone Electric

December 5, 1974
Electric Lady Studios
New York City, NY

The Lady Gone Electric

01. Finding My Way   5:20
02. Best I Can   3:13
03. In The Mood   3:42
04. Anthem   4:39
05. Need Some Love   3:32
06. Fly By Night   3:44
07. Here Again   9:27
08. Bad Boy   6:40
09. Working Man   9:57
10. Drum Solo   2:42
11. Outro   0:36

Recorded at the Electric Ladyland Studios in New York City, in December 1974 in preparation for their first US tour, this sublime Rush performance was given in front of an audience of 8-12 people in the small studio, and thus provides a fine example of this remarkable band's early live sound. This was also the earliest recording made with Neil Peart on drums, Peart having replaced their former skins-man John Rutsy, a few months before this show.
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They perform material from their first album and new songs from the soon to be released 'Fly by Night' LP. The show was undertaken to provide a live broadcast for FM Radio, and was transmitted across the airwaves prior to the release of 'Fly by Night'. Neil had only been with the band for a few months at this point, but the playing is tight and precise.

The FBN songs are still coming together, so some, notably "Best I Can", contain some alternate lyrics. The structure of "Fly by Night" is different, with the guitar solo coming after the vocal bridge and a completely different ending. We get a rare treat in "Working Man", when Alex delivers a guitar solo outside of the normal structure of the song. "Bad Boy" is introduced as a Beatles song, although it was originally written and performed by Larry Williams. It's amusing to hear the polite clapping of what sounds like about five or ten folks in the studio. Geddy's soft-spoken comments in between songs are a sharp contrast to the very hard-edged performance. Apparently, several mics were set up around the studio, with only a very basic soundboard feed. The result is a very well-mixed sound - so much so, in places it sounds as though it's lifted direct from the first album.

 this sublime Rush performance was given in front of an audience of 8-12 people in the small studio, and thus provides a fine example of this remarkable band's early live sound. This was also the earliest recording made with Neil Peart on drums, Peart having replaced their former skins-man John Rutsy, a few months before this show. They perform material from their first album and new songs from the soon to be released Fly by Night LP. The show was undertaken to provide a live broadcast for FM Radio, and was transmitted across the airwaves prior to the release of Fly by Night. Neil had only been with the band for a few months at this point, but the playing is tight and precise. The FBN songs are still coming together, so some, notably Best I Can, contain some alternate lyrics. The structure of Fly by Night is different, with the guitar solo coming after the vocal bridge and a completely different ending. We get a rare treat in Working Man, when Alex delivers a guitar solo outside of the normal structure of the song. Bad Boy is introduced as a Beatles song, although it was originally written and performed by Larry Williams. It s amusing to hear the polite clapping of what sounds like about five or ten folks in the studio. Geddy's soft-spoken comments in between songs are a sharp contrast to the very hard-edged performance. Apparently, several mics were set up around the studio, with only a very basic soundboard feed. The result is a very well-mixed sound - so much so, in places it sounds as though it s lifted direct from the first album. 

Rush - 1978 - Oak Oppression

December 2, 1978
Cobo Hall
Detroit, MI

Oak Oppression
Gypsy Eye: GE-183/184

101. Intro 0:40
102. Anthem 4:14
103. A Passage To Bangkok 4:02
104. Bytor And The Snow Dog 5:18
105. Xanadu 12:05
106. Something For Nothing 4:34
107. The Trees 4:37
108. Cygnus X-1 10:14
109. Hemispheres 18:24
110. Closer To The Heart 3:29

201. Circumstances 4:21
202. A Farewell To Kings 5:33
203. La Villa Strangiato 10:04
204. 2112 18:27
205. Working Man 2:24
206. Bastille Day 1:42
207. In The Mood / Drum Solo 7:56

There is a small collective of Rush fans referred to as Digital Reproductions, their task was to locate the best generations of existing live concert tapes and seek out gems hidden in closets or hoarded in trading circles and release them, free of charge by trade, to the fans. Back in 2000 they obtained and released the previously hoarded soundboard from Rush’s concert at Detroit’s Cobo Hall and released it as Buenas Nochas! Motor City. It was an instant hit and would be the source for this amazing release from the kind folks at Gypsy Eye.

Probably the best of the Hemispheres soundboard’s the sound is excellent, well balanced but not without its imperfections The is some tape flutter during the very beginning of Anthem and there is some minor tape fluctuations during the first half of disc 1 and the very beginning of Working Man is missing but other than that we are treated to a full uncut concert in superb sound, this sounds incredible at loud volumes, the audience is very low in the mix but you can feel their presence like the castles in the distance so to speak.

The concert begins with the band warming up over the Wind and Seabirds intro music before the announcers says ” Alright Detroit…lets here it for them…from Toronto Canada…RUSH” and the band lets loose with Anthem. Its a perfect mix of heavy metal fury filled with wonderful time changes, Alex plays a great solo while the rhythm section sounds almost jazzy, Ged also adds some keyboards to the mix. The bands ode to THC is next, A Passage To Bangkok from 2112 is a natural for the live stage. Surprisingly they never played it live back in 1976, the song has a whimsical middle eastern flare to it, of coarse the sound in supplemented by Neil’s use of percussion.

A tale of two monsters is next, By-Tor and The Snow Dog is at this time, a concert staple and is linked with Xanadu in a perfect way. Musically and lyrically they both have some similarities. By-Tor is played with ease and passion, the band have honed it too perfection and have made slight improvements along the way, again Geddy’s keyboard blend perfectly with the Of The Battle section that segues into Xanadu all sounding very mystical. 12 minutes of musical perfection is Xanadu, Ged uses the Taurus pedals to lay a deep low foundation complimented by the moog synthesizer augmented by Neil’s uses of, well everything. Defiantly one of the bands master works of their progressive era and honed to live perfection from the last tour the band are in extreme synchronicity, Alex plays on of my favorite solos, not filled with a multitude of notes he plays a sparse melodic solo to emphasize the mood they created, the although the audience is in the distance they certainly roar their approval.

Something For Nothing has been a stage favorite since its debut in 1976 but it having its last gasp during this tour, it has a poignant lyric but musically does sound slightly out of place among the more complex material the band was creating. So confident in their musical direction the band would play the entire Hemispheres record early in the tour, the first of these songs is The Trees. A lyrical tale of a forest argument the light felt song features some of Geddy’s best bass playing, just listen as he works his fret board ! Great and inspired playing from all, the tale is brought to close with hatchet, axe, and sword. The final stains of the song gives way to the epic space adventure of Cygnus X-1, the song would become the first book and be concluded during the next song, book II. After Terry Browns spoken word introduction Ged starts the music off with his Rickenbacher bass the swirling epic is incredible, again the focus of the three musically is incredible as they head northwest to Pegasus. They bring the story alive with the complex blend of virtuosity from their broad range of instrumentation and the voyage ultimately takes you into the black hole, a spiral sea un ending. The song fades out and cuts back in as Geddy introduces the title track, Hemipheres. The song is an 18 minute musical epic of the mind, extremely complex both musically and lyrically and completely created in the studio, the song would eventually make the band strive for shorter compositions and was the last of their side long epics. The song is broken into six parts, and based upon mans theological discoveries of what is ultimately in ones mind. While writing this review I pulled out my copy and read along withe the lyrics, it gives you a scale on how massive this song is. Geddy spoke about the difficulty he had with the piece and how he struggled with being able to sings the complexity of the words Neil had written, one can easily see why. Musically the song is diverse but a theme runs through it with Armageddon and Cygnus Bringer being the trippy parts, one can almost hear a little of the Grateful Dead’s Dark Star during the latter. The Sphere ends the piece, filled with a more logical view of ones self and musically very light in nature. One song ends, another rises from its ashes and will give the final epilogue in the form of Closer To The Heart. The crowd, although distant sounding, give a huge roar for the song as it already a live favorite. Filled with promise and hope and providing humanity the hope that if all work for the better of all we will ultimately triumph. Neil’s drumming is great during this track, he punctuates the song without over powering it.

The second disc starts with the shortest song in the set, after the epic first half the song gets your head banging. The song has an incredible riff that harkens back to the bands early, Led Zeppelin Jr approach but has a great middle section that breaks it up a little. The song would be performed primarily during the first part of the tour and we are lucky to have a few excellent recordings to enjoy (Tucson 78 is another). The title track from A Farewell To Kings follows, again an upbeat rocker with Alex’s acoustic introduction augmented by Geddy’s keyboards. I love Alex’s solo on this song, sound likes he just joins in with the others then proceeds to tear it up before the band hammers it out.

Musicianship is a cornerstone for Rush, surprisingly they have very few instrumentals, in this reviewers opinion the top of the heap is La Villa Strangiato. The band were obsessed with the song and tried to record it all in one take, due to the complexity of the song and the bands strive fore musical perfection it was ultimately done in three parts. Live they have a little more latitude and live versions of the song are incredible.

One of the bonuses from the Beyond The Lighted Stage documentary is a live performance of this song from the end of the tour at the Pinkpop festival in Holland. It is incredible to watch Alex play this song, a guitar players masterpiece as he is firmly in the drivers seat. The way he builds the solo is incredible (pause to play air guitar), the synergy among the group is unparallel. No lyrics ? don’t need them, the music is doing the talking.

The main set is brought to a close with 2112, one would think that there would be weariness creeping into the performance, this is Rush and they are super human and can keep the pace. The song features the Discovery section in wonderful quality, the sounds of a waterfall accent the music discovery and the creation of music, the section exudes pure, unadulterated joy brought to life via Alex Lifeson. His guitar has a great tone, just a slight bit of distortion and the band soar through Presentation. Neil plays effortlessly, his fills are out of this world, Ged uses some echo on his voice to great effect. Alex plays a great solo, one of my favorites, he uses his wah peddle to get the swirling sound that is used throughout the song. The band lets it all out during Grand Finale, Ged is playing the hell out of his bass as they proceed to hammer the hell out of the main riff before Alex explodes amid a flurry of leads and the Solar Federation taking control.

There is a tape cut after the songs conclusion and Geddy thanking the Motor City. Working Man is cut and the first couple minutes or so is missing, the song picking up as Alex is playing a solo. As usual the song is a vehicle for a medley of older songs, after Alex plays a solo with Ged getting on him with his bass and ultimately goes note for note with him and Alex launches into the rabid riff of Bastille Day. Being encore time the band just goes for it and the song is fast and aggressive and the band goes right into In The Mood from the first record. A live favorite it features Alex doing the back up vocals and of course the “Lovely Professor on the drum kit”, aka Neil’s solo.

The packaging is simple, full color inserts with posed and live shots and some album cover graphics all packaged in a slim line jewel case. Again Gypsy Eye do a good job with this release, they leave the tape alone and offer it up in a nice package. This title can still be found and is a highly recommended title to not only Rush fans, but fans of progressive music would most certainly appreciate music of this caliber.

Rush - 1975 - Northampton 1975

March 11, 1975 
Roxy Theatre
Northampton, PA

Northampton 1975 (Cygnus 031)

01  Intro > Finding My Way  5:55 
02  Best I Can  3:44 
03  What You're Doing  5:07
04  Anthem  4:38 
05  By-Tor And The Snow Dog  10:16
06  Bad Boy  10:07 
07  Working Man > Drum Solo  14:34
08  In The Mood  3:20 
09  Need Some Love  3:49 

Feeling devastated by the news of the passing of Neil Peart of Rush, not only one of the best rock drummers ever, also one of it's best lyricists, and probably one of the most cultured musicians ever. And responsible for me, while still living in Communist Cuba, discovering The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand and forever changing my view of the world and firmly awakening my thirst for personal freedom. For that, and putting the idea of Free Will in my mind, dear Neil I will be forever grateful.

In December 2018 Rush fans got an early present as an unknown soundboard of the band’s performance at the famous Roxy Theater in Northampton, PA on March 11, 1975 surfaced and was first shared on youtube and finally to collectors via good ol’ torrent sites. The recording was done by AM radio station WSAN in nearby Allentown, PA and it is from there that our story begins: “The only date record we have is the label on the reel to reel (and the words of the guy who recorded/found it). Neil, the radio station engineer who discovered this, said Rush had an opener named Slim Pickens and they kept the sets shorter at The Roxy to appease the townspeople with the noise and tomfoolery. How much of this is fact is lost in the 43+ years between now and then…at least as far as combing the Internet showed me…There doesn’t appear to be any historical archive of The Roxy and it’s earlier days of musical glory anywhere. So the tape said March 10, 1975 and that’s all I can say…”

So the original date was March 10, 1975 yet once posted on aforementioned torrent site, more information surfaced from someone who was there, user named Blackchevy who had this to say: “Thanks for sharing the flac version. OK, I WAS AT THIS SHOW. The date is March 11th. On the 10th, we were all in our seats waiting for the show to start when an announcement was made that the band’s van broke down on the trip down from Canada. With all their equipment in the van the band were unable to perform that night so we were told to come back tomorrow (the 11th). For those who doubt my story. Listen to what Geddy says on the intro to “Anthem”. He says, “Sorry about yesterday, seems like everyone was against us yesterday”. He was of course referring to the incident I just described. Now I found out that a Budgie show from the Roxy has survived on two reel tapes. Radio station WSAN sponsored these shows. There were always TWO shows since the Roxy only held 300 people. There was a 6:30 show and a 9:30 show. This recording is the 6:30 show. How do I know? Because Geddy, in introducing the song “Bad Boy” (a Beatles cover) asked the audience if anyone had the Beatles LP the song was on. I was the only person (unbelievable) who raised their hand. Geddy saw it and said, “Only one?” The short set was due to the fact that Slim Pickens played for about a half hour (til 7:00). Took about a half hour to take their equipment off & set up Rush’s gear. So they played from 7:30 to 8:30. Now remember, there was a show at 9:30 so they had to get everyone out to let the 9:30 crowd in who were already lined up outside waiting to get in. AGAIN, I WAS THERE. This is how it went down. Believe it or not.” So the date is confirmed as being from March 11, 1975.

This is a significant find for Rush collectors for good reason, save for live dates in support of their first record, recordings from the Fly By Night, Caress of Steel, and 2112 tours are few in numbers so any new recording is much welcomed. Speaking of the Fly By Night tour, there are two previous recordings that circulate. The Agora Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio date on May 15, 1975 was recorded by WMMS and only broadcast tapes circulate, most have a decent layer of hiss and lack dynamics, this recording was pressed years back as Can’t Fight It (Gypsy Eye GE-122). The second is an audience recording from the famous Massey Hall in Toronto, Canada on June 25, 1975, the quality is very good and was pressed on Live Anthem 1975 (Gypsy Eye GE-085).

The recording here is obviously a pre-broadcast tape and is of excellent quality, well balanced albeit a little raw sounding with just a very minor bit of hiss. This recording easily compares with the Cleveland and Electric Lady recordings from 1974 and is easily the best of 1975, when you put this in your player, turn it up as it sounds great at loud volume. The recording begins with the band taking the stage and checking their instruments, the introduction goes like this, “From Toronto Canada, let’s have a warm warm welcome for Mercury recording artists…RUSH” and the band break into Finding My Way. The song from their debut would be the opener for both Rush and Fly By Night tours and for good reason, great opening riff and always a song that gets the hands in the air. The confidence in Neil’s playing of the older material is incredible, he does not over do it yet interjects lots of cool fills and a tightness not previously heard on the studio version. His drumming is key to Best I Can, another of the older Rutsy era songs, one that did not make the debut and thankfully wound up on Fly By Night. Not a complex song structure wise but Peart’s playing makes it sound that way, it’s the drums that really make this one.

The heavy What You’re Doing gets third spot, monster fat riff that sounds recycled from Led Zeppelin II, always been a favorite of mine, Alex just soars on this song, his solo has great support from Geddy and Neil that seem to accentuate all the right spots. What is interesting is that you can hear some electronic effects even at this stage, between a pause break before the finale of What You’re Doing you hear something that sounds like a swirling effect, the band are expanding their musical offering. Gedd speaks on the “incident” prior to Anthem and tells the crowd they are going to play some new tunes, Anthem being the first. Now when one compared the first three songs to this, wow what a change. The first thirty seconds are like a battle cry of the groups more Progressive music style. Full of energy and vigor, the complex musical changes coupled with raw Rock sensibilities with a lyric about self interest make for one of the most compelling early Rush songs, one that would be a stage favorite.

The third new track is the early Prog epic By Tor and The Snow Dog, “A long number, a fantasy I guess about two creatures that uh didn’t get along very well” is Geddy’s intro and we get a quick Neil count in and the song hits like a freight train. Clocking in at just over ten minutes, the clarity of this recording lets the listening really get an idea on the songs dynamics. Geddy’s distorted bass notes are like ying to Alex’s clean guitar yang during the Battle sequence, the perfect precision of the battles end into Aftermath feature a reflective Lifeson and Neil adding lots of little percussive chimes all culminating into the massive drum roll and the brilliant guitar solo of Hymn of Triumph leads to Epilogue, an adventurous journey. Rush’s cover of The Beatles’ Bad Boy had been a regular in the set list for much of the Rush tour, this is the only known version from 1975 as the song would be cast aside for newer Fly By Night material. Alex just rings the hell out this song and the band give it almost a bluesy edge, the high speed ending is intense and leads into an Alex guitar solo that is one of the highlights of this recording. He starts with a flurry of leads before settling down into a trippy effects laded trip that reminds me of Brian May’s solo in Brighton Rock on acid! Neil enters the fray towards the end with a few percussive elements as well, Rush would work on new material and ideas on the road, soundcheck etc, one gets the feeling that this was a work in progress.

Working Man is the culmination of the band’s set, still the show stopper as it allows every band member to get some individual solo acclaim. Geddy really gets some tasty bass licks in and of course Alex is all over the place, solo on top of solo as the band just do some improvisational jamming that is very nice. The song is also the vehicle for the brilliant, early Neil Peart solo, he had his work cut out for him on these early tours, small kits, not as much of his chimes, bells, percussion items as on future tours, this is pure unadulterated drum finesse and power. In The Mood has been an encore stalwart since the early days, once the serious music is finished its time to Rock and Roll and this certainly fits the bill. Need Some Love is the final song of the set, primal Rush at its best!

Cygnus’ packaging is full color inserts and picture CD packaged in a slim lined jewel case, this release uses the Fly By Night cover and superimposes a picture of the band in the foreground and is visually very nice. The pictures the label uses show a young band on the verge of breaking into the big time. Great to see this recording get a release as it certainly deserves one, would be great to see Cygnus release more as they always put out nice product.