Rush: Fly By Night

A WRITER SHOULD never admit as much, but I'm still not entirely confident that mere words can communicate the full extent to which I abhor the music of Rush.

In my time I've been heard to threaten to sing the praises of such dedicatedly moronic stuff as the first two Stooges albums and Electric Warrior in front of the highest court in the land, so you may rest assured that it isn't the mindlessness of Rush's music that so pisses me off. Rather, it's its utter soullessness – the fact that it's neither fun nor outrageous nor sexy nor anything save exploitative.

Well, hey, don't you have to own up that they're at least good musicians? someone will demand. Good musicians my foot, I shall reply: they may play fast and dexterously, but what these guys are is dumb mechanics. God knows I've never been anything resembling wild about Led Zeppelin – and once, in fact, was famous for having said so – but even at their absolute crassest Page & Co. always throw in at least a little humor. All that Rush ever express musically is their perception of a few big bucks still being left in bad heavy metal.

To put it as succinctly as possible, Rush sound – quite deliberately, one supposes – like Led Zeppelin with lobotomies, singer Geddy Lee like Robert Plant at 33 1/3 rpm. The only people who are going to find this exciting are barbed-out little twerps who, if blindfolded, would assure you that a freeway underpass at rush-hour is into some really far-out musical stuff, man.

Oh yeah: someone somewhere is sure to think that I'm being unfair in neglecting to mention that the (obligatory-for Zeppelin-off-rippers-since-‘Stairway-to-Heaven’) one acoustic-guitar-dominated track, ‘Rivendell’, is real pretty, after all. Truth be told, it wouldn't sound pretty at all if removed from the context of what surrounds it, which is ugly beyond telling.

Surely Rush is the most horrifying new group since Uriah Heep, who in comparison sound like the very Beatles.

© John Mendelsohn, 1975

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