Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Rush - Rush


Released 1974 on Mercury
Reviewed by Dog 3000, 26/03/2004ce

side 1
Finding My Way
Need Some Love
Take A Friend
Here Again

side 2
What You're Doing
In The Mood
Before And After
Working Man

Geddy Lee - bass & vocals
Alex Lifeson - guitar
John Rutsey - drums

(First released in Canada in 1973 on Moon records, then remixed and re-released worldwide on Mercury the following year.)

Rush is one of those bands that has a very fanatical following, and there seems to be a pretty strong opinion among those fans that Rush's best years started with their fourth album "2112" (1976) and lasted up through their 1980's synth-driven records. Personally, I have little use for prog rock or "objectivist" philosophy so I'm certainly not one of "THOSE Rush fans." In fact I think Neil Peart was probably the worst thing that ever happened to them! My favorite Rush record is their first with John Rutsey on drums, precisely because it's just plain old early 70's proto-metal and lacks the showy roto-tom paradiddles and half-baked odes to Ayn Rand that Peart brought to the group.

At the time of their debut you wouldn't have been far off to peg these guys as another sub-Zep hard rock band, though a closer parallel could be made with the Welsh group Budgie (both power trios led by a bassist with a high pitched voice, and favoring complicated multi-part compositions with abrupt riff transitions.) There is still something distinctly "Rush-like" in the way Lee & Lifeson play -- you could never mistake this record for any other band. There's no question those two are distinctive instrumentalists, and their chemistry really shines through here without Fairlights and gongs and all that crap complicating the mix. Rutsey's drumming is solid and unflashy versus Neil Peart's overplaying style; he simply keeps it rawkin' and doesn't try to step out as the lead instrument.

"Finding My Way" begins with a slow fade-in on a twirly Lifeson guitar riff, then bass & drum "hits" and Geddy screeching "YEEEAAHHH!!! WHOAAAH, EEEYAAHHH!!!!" before the main riff kicks in with rollin' & tumblin' prog thunder. He also sings some "ooooo yeahs" that sound way too much like Robert Plant. If you come to this record with only a familiarity with their later records, it's certainly a chuckle to hear Geddy Lee doing a bare-chested Love-Man shtick!

Even more so on the 2-minute "Need Some Love" which follows: "I'm runnin here and I'm runnin there, trynta finda GURL!!! . . . ooo-ooh ah need sum LUHV . . . AH SAID! AH NEED SOME! -- LUHHVVV!!!!" Totally cracks me up cuz Geddy has a voice that sounds like a muppet on helium. And on the back cover he looks like a really ugly Hindu girl. He's not convincing on this "sexy" stuff AT ALL, which is probably why they stopped singing about "romance" and such lowly human concerns entirely after this first record.

After two fine hard rock nuggets to start the album, the last two numbers on side one are quite dull. "Take A Friend" is just kinda boring, the only nice bit is use of some over-the-top echo on Geddy's "Yeeeah" screeches. "Here Again" is even worse, sounding like a 2nd rate Uriah Heep ballad minus the organ. It seems to last forever.

But fortunately side two is all killer, no filler. "What You're Doing" is based on a big fat slammin' riff that reminds me of primo Grand Funk Railroad, but has a sonic density that recalls the mighty Black Sabbath.

"In The Mood" is one of the tunes from this album you occasionally hear on the radio -- hey baby, it's all about goin' out and feelin' good, with a riff that seems sort of honky-tonkish (all it needs is the tack piano.)

The first third of "Before and After" sounds like a lovely ballad, with lots of shimmery jazz chords from Lifeson . . . fakeout! Then they crank up the heavynis and the jumpy overdriven riffing reminds me of a more sober & precise Sir Lord Baltimore.

The finale "Working Man" is the highlight of the album, starting with a Budgie-like slog through the bog while Geddy sings of blue collar woes in a none-to-convincing way (talk about dumb lyrics: "seems to me I could live my life a lot better than I think I am / I guess that's why they call me the working man / call me the working man, that's what I am.") Then Budgie-style it picks up the pace on an extended "bridge" jam that lasts for more than half the song's length -- Lifeson plays snaky phased guitar solos that recall early Judas Priest, the band plays thunderous breakdowns, think there's even a brief drum solo. Then a reprise of the swamp stomp from the beginning, fin.

If you come to "Rush" from the perspective of a prog fan (Yes, King Crimson, "2112", et al) then it might be a disappointment. However if you are like me and try to avoid prog-rock in general but dig that Sabbath, Budgie, Purple, Priest, Grand Funk, Cactus, Sir Lord Baltimore, Leaf Hound type of early 70's proto-metal, then "Rush" is well worth a listen.

Reviews Index