This is Rush’s 30th anniversary year. That’s right – when Geddy Lee and chums started their recording career The Darkness weren’t out of their spandex nappies. And who’s to say they’ll be around in thirty years time? In a period of popular music where longevity means a second album, for Rush to reach this milestone in such lean form is a remarkable achievement.
To mark it, they’ve releases perhaps their shortest album yet – a covers collection described as eight rock ‘classics’ from the ’60s, given an appropriate title. As Neil Peart annotates in the sleeve notes, the sessions in Toronto were full of throwbacks to the time when the band were thirteen and fourteen year old beginners, and the aim of the album was simply to have fun celebrating the tunes from their youth, recording them “without too many backing vocals” and not going overboard on the production work. Indeed Peart’s first band performed some of the tunes on offer here.
Quite where these guys get their energy from is not known, but they launch into Eddie Cochran’s Summertime Blues with guitar-ridden fervour. Heart Full Of Soul, which follows, is one of Lee’s most affecting moments, and the electro acoustic balance is well judged. Doubtless the dilemma regarding his voice will remain, its nasal tone instantly recognisable but arguably not suited to all the music featured here.
The falsetto he comes out with in The Who‘s The Seeker is dubious and the version of Buffalo Springfield’sFor What It’s Worth is also a little odd. However Neil Peart excels on Seven And Seven Is, a masterclass of drumming with a real sense of occasion, and Alex Lifeson’s guitar work is tasteful throughout, rarely indulgent and often inventive.
Rush give these performances an understated quality – not a word you’d usually associate with them! – and the whole album is done in little under half an hour. As usual with the Canadian rockers the presentation is exemplary, and both this and last year’s Live In Brazil album suggest the band have found yet another second wind. Feedback will up their already impressive worldwide sales – a mere 35 million at last count!