GOT ‘EM!!!

Section 303, row J, seats 12-14. My brother and I are going, and either my wife or an old friend. August 5th cannot get here fast enough!!! WHOO!!!

For those of you who don’t know me (read: pretty much anyone), I came on board late with the whole “Rush” thing. I actually had Presto as a Columbia House SOTM at some point in 1989, but I shelved it because I didn’t “get it.” “Yah … what’s the big deal? These guys aren’t Van Halen. Screw ’em.” And I walked away.

About a year later, the guy across the hall from me kept playing this amazing music. “What is that?”

“You’re kidding. Right? ‘Who is this?’?!”

“Dude … it’s just a question. Don’t answer it then.”

“It’s *RUSH*. How do you not know who Rush is?!”

So then he shows me his tape collection, which was expansive. He let me borrow and copy all of it (poor college kids … what can you expect?). Between those tapes, I don’t think I swapped out anything else the rest of the semester. I drank it all in as often as I could, which, since I couldn’t have had a much worse GPA for the year, must have been pretty often.

I left for home at the end of the year, wondering if there was anything else out there of theirs. Keep in mind that this was before the advent of the people-friendly internet: I had to scour used record stores for anything I wanted. No surfing to find a complete discography on the band’s official or otherwise page. No wiki. No nothin’. Just me, car keys, and a lot of driving to various used music shops.

By the end of that summer, I had collected pretty much everything of theirs. Oh, what a music feast it was. I haven’t looked back.

Other bands have come and gone. I’ve had my dabblings with just about every genre of music with the exception of rap. My CD collection is rapidly expanding. My mp3 collection is on the verge of requiring a new hard drive. 4000+ “CDs” in mp3 format. Close to 700 in actual hard-copy. Amongst it all, there is none that is quite so timeless as Rush’s 19 studio albums and myriad live CDs.

Yesterday, I ordered R30 and their Snakes and Arrows tour videos on blu-ray. I can’t wait to show those to my girls. They’re already in love with Muse (another timeless band that will almost certainly have their place in music history). Now it’s time to step it up and get them some serious me

Rush Tix!

Tickets for the SLC show go on pre-sale in about 50 minutes. I’m hoping to get front row, but after reading over some of the issues people have had, I don’t know if it’ll even be possible to get tickets at all.

And the prices … what?! $150 for premium seats in some locations, $70 for the same seat in other locations. Why the disparity?! And what is with the state fair gigs? New York AND Minnesota?! That’s … sort of comical. Bands like REO Speedwagon and Styx play state fairs–not Rush. At least it’s not a state fair tour.

Muse – The Resistence

It’s like my brother with a new Tragically Hip release: it’s a very slow, lingering, burning process.

It’s also how a long-lasting relationship maintains its fervor and ardor long after the initial burn has faded into abeyance.

I purposefully did not review this CD right out of the gate because of the relationship I have with Muse’s music. It wouldn’t be fair to my readers or to the band to give the CD one pass and review it. With some bands, you can do that. My initial listening to Alice in Chains’ “Black Gives Way to Blue” was a one-pass. It didn’t take me any time to see the musical genius behind their most recent offering.

Matt Bellamy, Chris Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard are true musicians. Their art is not something to be appreciated in the “Oh look … here’s a lovely mountain picture hanging above my hotel bed” kind of way. If there were a Louvre for music, their music would have a wing unto itself. It’s something to be drunk slowly. Sipped, as it were. Appreciated over a long, long period of time. They don’t write music; they compose it. And they do it with such finesse and precision that it simply wouldn’t be right to review their new CD without proper time to digest it.

And no–I don’t consider the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a “Louvre.”

Having said that …

The layering on this is phenomenal. “Uprising,” the anthemic opening track, treats us to Wolstenholme’s thick, prominant bass playing and Dom’s driving drum beat. They start off the track with such energy that you can’t help but get up and move. Bellamy bounces between keyboards and guitar. I don’t know who “they” is supposed to represent–government? media? Whoever the phantom power is, they will not control us; we will be victorious. Hands down. If you don’t believe that by the end of the song, you’re not paying close enough attention.

As is so often the case with many Muse songs, the next track, “Resistance,” lulls you into a trance with some ethereal, soft keyboards, then flows effortlessly into the meat of the song with more of Dom’s bombastic drumming, Matt’s keyboarding, and Chris’ single bass lines.

I’m just blown away by the hooks on this CD. “Undisclosed Desires” has some deep, soul-shaking, bass synth on the chorus that just rocks your ears and has the capicty to turn your innie into an outie. If you don’t think so, get yourself a pair of high-end headphones and listen to this track. Mix in the plucked-strings sound that echoes throughout, layered with the rest of the keyboards and synth … whoa.

One of my favorite tracks is “Unnatural Selection.” It has this completely “Do We Really Need This/Hullabaloo feel to it musically. Lyrically, it’s pretty in-your-face, conjuring protests and rallies. “I am hungry for some unrest; let’s push it beyond a peaceful protest. I want to speak in a language that you will understand …” If you want to hear an amazing live version of this track, check out this site. Download the Admiralspalast show.

Here’s the thing with Muse. I might have said this before, and if I have, I won’t apologize because it’s absolutely true.

Muse is the new Rush. Both 3-piece bands that do more with those 3 pieces than most 5-pieces bands. Their “less is more” approach to music bears the unavoidable comparison. Most want to compare Muse to Queen, and while there is no denying the influence Freddy Mercury et al have on the band, Muse does it better with less. Sorry, Queen fans … that’s just my opinion, and you don’t have to agree with it or like it.

I won’t review each song. I’ve given you enough of a reason to get this CD. This has “stuck on a desert island” potential. Seriously. Soak in it. Drink it in slowly and deliberately. You’ll thank yourself. And me.   🙂


Official site

Great fan site

Rushin’ Roulette

In high school, I had some pretty bizarre taste in music. I actually had a tape of “The Sea Hags.” No lie. Quite honestly, I thought they sucked. Their lead singer sounded like someone had put his hand in a blender, but he was too strung out to care much, so he offered this pitiful, semi-screeching, gutteral muttering that just didn’t come across as worthwhile.  Truly, an awful band. After a quick googling, they actually have/had a relatively tiny cult following, comprised of mostly Bay area natives who still remember them.

Anyway, I went in search of something more substantial. I thought joining a tape club would help expand my musical interests. One of the selections of the month was Rush’s new offering, “Presto.” Mind you, this was my Senior year of high school. As of then, my only brush with Rush was some kid on the bus in 10th grade who said that Rush’s new album was great because their drummer had finally transitioned to electronic drums (an accomplishment achieved by “the mighty Alex Van Halen” with the release of “5150” in 1986–a full year before the release of Rush’s “Hold Your Fire”). Wondering who this Rush band could be, I consciously did not send in my reply card and awaited the arrival of my selection.

To say that I was underwhelmed is like saying that Patriots fans found solace in the fact that 18-1 is still a pretty decent record for a single loss season, or as any Buffalo sports fan will tell you, “There’s always next year.” I had heard all this great stuff about them–the musicianship, the drumming, the incredible bass and guitar … nothing on this new tape lived up to the hype or pre-conceptions. Mind you, at the time, I was heavily into Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin–classic rock titans. This pop-drivel pouring out of my little rickety bedroom stereo didn’t even pale in comparison to “Dark Side” or “IV”; it hung its head in shame and slunked off into the corner to suck its thumb and whimper.

That was 1989 …

Flash foward to my first year of college. I decided to live in the dorms, where I was sure I would be surrounded by a diverse enough group to adequately augment my musical tastes. I was introduced to bands like TMBG, Nitzer Ebb, NIN, and a ton of other groups. One guy across the hall kept playing this one tape over and over, and I always heard it, but I had no idea what it was. Finally, one day around Christmas break time, I wandered over to his room when the door was open and the tape was on. “Dude … who is that?” He stared back at me with a look that said it all …

“You’re kidding, right?”

“Wish I were, now. Seriously, who is it?”

“You’ve never heard ‘Tom Sawyer?'”

“Apparently not. Again … who is that band?”

“Dude … it’s Rush. You know … ‘2112,’ ‘Moving Pictures,’ ‘Permanent Waves’ …”

It took a few seconds to process, but it finally sank in. “Wait … did they have a new album out a couple of years ago with a rabbit coming out of a top hat?”

“Yah. ‘Presto.’ So you ARE familiar with them.”

“Kind of … I thought that album sucked.”

“Well, it was definitely a change of pace for them …”

“Do you have anything else by them?”

“Tons, dude. Wanna borrow them?”

“ALL of them. Please …”

In one fell swoop, I was introduced to “Caress of Steel,” “2112,” “Hemispheres,” “Permanent Waves,” “Moving Pictures,” “Signals,” and “Power Windows.” I couldn’t soak it in fast enough. It’s probably a good thing all he had were tapes and that I wasn’t aware of the concept of CD dynamic tracking; I would have been skipping around all over the place.

There was a used music store down the street a bit from campus. I trudged there in one frigid January day with some loose bills and change. I bought everything I could get my hands on. “Hold Your Fire,”  “Grace Under Pressure,” almost all the above-mentioned … I think my tape collection doubled in a single afternoon.

I haven’t looked back since. Say what you want about Geddy Lee’s voice … as a 3-piece band, they have more talent than any 5-member band (I’m looking at you, Steven and Joe …). They’ve experimented with blues, dance, pop, alternative, straight-up rock … they transcend genre.

I won’t go on about their individual accomplishments or awards … you can research that for yourself. I will say that they are heading into their 60s, and they still put out amazing music.

For the newbie to the band, I recommend cutting your teeth on “Moving Pictures,” “Hemispheres,” “Hold Your Fire,” and “Vapor Trails.” Those 4 CDs span about 25 years of style.

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