A review of Moving Pictures.
On most Friday nights we frequent a neighborhood bar named Casaloma to play pool. They recently installed a new Internet Jukebox there--keeping up with the times and all that. Anyway, my first selection was, Red Barchetta, by the group, Rush from their album, Moving Pictures. Now my selection didn’t necessarily need to be Red Barchetta, but it had to be Rush, and it had to be a song from Moving Pictures. This was simply a no-brainer. I chose Red Barchetta because of it’s powerful energy--but, this is true of the entire album.
As most Rush fans know, Moving Pictures is one Rush‘s best albums, if not the best. This writer and Rush fan thinks so, anyway, and this album had a way of taking Rush (Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Pert) from a so-so cult band to one of superstar status. They had a strong fan base to be sure, prior to the release of Moving Pictures, but were panned ruthlessly by the critics. (The songs were too long, Geddy’s voice was likened to dying rats, and so on.) Moving Pictures, however, became Rush’s defining moment. In many ways, it made Rush.
For a three man band, (Geddy on base guitar and organ, Lifeson on guitar and Pert on drums) they produce sounds rich and powerful and timeless. Indeed, they are not of afraid of experimentation; their transitions are extraordinary with an energy and vitality unique to themselves. Their music is, in many ways, an antidote for many ills. Feeling blue? Listen to Moving Pictures!
This album opens with, Tom Sawyer, which is probably the most played Rush song on the radio. It is a social commentary of sorts, and the music draws you in immediately. Neil Pert is an absolute genius on drums. (From what I understand, Tom Sawyer is one of the most difficult songs to get “right,” on drums.) Pert has no problem. Geddy’s voice is, of course, right on for this song (who else could do it justice?) Moreover, the lyrics reflect Pert’s valuable contribution to the song writing. For example:
“Though his mind is not for rent,
don’t put him down for arrogant...”
and then later this refrain is repeated, except the second part becomes:
“ ...to any god or government.”
This vocabulary, and sentiment, is typical Neil Pert, who was (and still is) and avid bookworm.
The next song is Red Barchetta, is about Geddy’s, “white-haired uncle,” who had a Red Barchetta hidden away in a barn for many years on the family farm. Geddy, one day, had the pleasure of driving it. The song has an awesome lead-in that builds to a rambunctious tale about the “drive,” and we feel as if we are traveling along for sure. There is pure energy here, pure experience through great music laced with wonderful imagery (“...tires spitting gravel.”) And, as with so many rush songs, the transitions are second to none.
Following Red Barchetta comes Yyz, which is an explosive, attention-getting instrumental again highlighting the talents of all three band members. Here on display is a potpourri of musical innovation, a “put away the ‘Z’s” offering of spirit regeneration. The way Rush combines drums and guitars and organ is astonishingly delightful.
Limelight is up next, and is a kind of signature song for the band. It begins:
“ Living on a lighted stage
Approaches the unreal
For those who think and feel
In touch with some reality
Beyond the gilded cage.”
Here is a band, finding success, then coming to terms with it while up on the lighted stage, sorting it all out on reality’s terms. They, like so many famous musicians, discover that success in not without cost. These lyrics were not merely limited to this one song--no, the feature length documentary of Rush is entitled, Beyond the Lighted Stage.
Moving Pictures concludes with, The Camera Eye, Witch Hunt, and Vital signs, and all three songs round out this remarkable album in exemplary fashion. The Camera Eye, (eleven minutes long), is a tour-de-force, with transitions that are breathtaking. How could one listen to this and not be moved? How could one listen to Moving Pictures and not be moved? It is as if they stole energy from the cosmos itself and channeled it with the touch of musical geniuses.
This music lives in me. Moving Pictures resides within my spinal cord, in nerve endings, in the corpus callosum dashing back and forth from sign mind to design mind not wanting to offend either side. That’s okay, though, because this is epic music aplenty. It is superconductor, it is permanent waves, it is caresses of steel and hemispheres full of life. It is, indeed, energy. It is, after all, Rush--there is more than enough energy for every sinew and cell, scalp to toenail.
Writer’s Cramp Winner