Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage

Rush has released a documentary, chronicling the band’s career from the suburbs of Toronto in the early 70s to present.

The documentary proceeds in chapters, each which present a different period in the band’s history. There is a remarkable amount of footage from the different periods – even of the band practicing in suburban basements, and arguing with their parents about whether they should remain grade twelve to complete highschool. This gives the documentary a realistic, and not at all contrived feel.

The film includes commentary from many other famous musiciens on the progression and importance of the band, including Billy Corgan, Jack Black, Kirk Hammett, and Trent Reznor. I was genuinely unaware of the influence of Rush on many of these artists.

The argument of the film is, roughly, that Rush is one of the great rock bands. To be compared with Led Zeppelin and the Beatles. While Rush has received much less critical acclaim, the film claims that the body of work that Rush has produced over the last 40 years speaks for itself. In an attempt to adjudicate this claim, I’ve spent the last week listening to Rush – not just Moving Pictures, or 2112, but bits from the entire corpus. My conclusion is that once one gets over one’s biases against “prog-rock” or “electronica”, it is all good. Even eighties tracks like “Mystic Rhythms“, “Red Sector A” and “Time Stands Still” sound good today. But it is really tracks like “Working Man”, “Tom Sawyer”, and “Red Barchetta” that put the band over the top, into that elusive top category of musical groups.

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