I’m not sure any discussion 70’s music could ignore Rush, a Canadian band formed in Toronto in 1968. Although early not he band had some personnel changes, since mid 1974, after the release of their self titled debut album, the current members of Geddy Lee (bass, keyboards, lead vocals), Alex Lifeson (guitar and backing vocals) and Neil Peart (drums and percussion) have been performing together ever since.
Although the band released a single in 1973 that was a cover of the Buddy Holly song Not Fade Away, it received little attention or response from record companies. The band formed their own label, Moon Records and a year later their debut album featured a hit Working Man, receiving some local attention. When a DJ at Cleveland rock station WMMS put the song on her playlist its popularity resulted in Mercury Records rereleasing the album. Some have made comparisons of the album’s bluesy style to the British band Led Zeppelin. The lyrics for the first album were penned by Geddy Lee though with he addition of Neil Peart, lyrical duties were seeded to him. As a result the bands songs took on more science fiction and fantasy themes.
In 1975, Fly By Night was released and its title cut became the band’s second successful hit. The album also included the bands first epic tale, By-Tor and Snow Dog, that hinted of things to come. Later in 1975 Rush released Caress of Steel, a large departure from Fly By Night presenting two extended cuts back to back. Due to the lack luster sales of the album the record label pressured the band to produce more commercially viable songs. However, the band continued in the direction they had been heading releasing 2112 in 1976, featuring a 20-minute title track. The album became a commercial success reaching platinum status in Canada.
A Farewell to Kings and Hemispheres round out the bands work in the 70’s, with their direction moving further in the progressive direction. Both albums were recorded in Wales and evidence the groups progressive influences from such bands as Yes and King Crimson.
1980’s Permanent Waves incorporated new wave and reggae musical influences turning the band in a new direction with songs like Freewill and The Spirit of Radio. Supported by the airplay of the hit songs the album became the band first Top 5 in the US. 1981’s follow up Moving Pictures featured the lead track Tom Sawyer, perhaps the band’s most well known song, that propelled the album to #3 on US charts.
Rush continued to record and perform throughout the 1980’s and into the 1990’s, supported by a following of devoted fans. They took a hiatis from recording and touring for several years from 1997 to 2002 in the wake of person tragedies Neil Peart suffered with the loss of his daughter and wife. Since then the band has returned to creating new music and touring. Rush has also been inducted into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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