Rush "Moving Pictures" Classic Review

Originally in The Oklahoma Daily on September 27th, 2007.

Progressive rock band Rush has long been the butt of many jokes. Many people joke about them being Canadian, singer Geddy Lee’s falsetto wail and that most of their fans are Dungeons & Dragons-playing nerds. Most of the jokes are completely warranted and mostly true, but regardless, in its over 30-year career, Rush has had an undeniable influence on rock music, and has created some truly great albums, one of which is 1981’s “Moving Pictures.”

“Moving Pictures” is the band’s best-selling record, and plays almost like a greatest hits record. On the album, Rush condensed its epic prog opuses that defined its early career into more pop-friendly forms, and combined it with hints of the synthesizer material that would dominate its 1980’s output. The band’s musicianship is at an extremely high level, with each member, particularly drummer Neal Peart, unparalleled at his particular instrument.

The album opens with the seminal track “Tom Sawyer.” Even if you aren’t familiar with Rush at all and don’t recognize this song by name, you know this song. It still gets played constantly on both modern rock and classic rock radio, as well as appearing in a slew of films and TV shows. The epic “YYZ,” named for the transmitter code at the Toronto International Airport, is without a doubt one of the finest instrumentals of all-time. The album’s center is the almost ballad-like “Limelight,” which somehow discusses the drawbacks of fame without being heavy handed or seeming self-important.

The latter half of the record (or Side B), isn’t quite as strong as the first, but it’s still all quality stuff nonetheless.

“Moving Pictures” is essential listening for pretty much all music fans. The lyrics are intelligent, the musicianship is at unbelievable levels and the songs themselves are iconic. You just have to look past the jokes.