Continuing the ever-popular, and semi-regular series of reviewing all of the Rush studio albums from Rush to R30 (and possibly dipping in to Snakes and Arrows, since I'm so damn late with this series), I bring you the latest installment, and quite possibly the most important Rush album of all time; at least, if you were a high school student in the late '80's with a penchant for technical synthesizer-based music.
Much like your first kiss, you never forget your first Rush album. "Hold Your Fire" was that album for me. Released while I was still in high school, it was the album that sparked my love of Rush; and while I think (with rare exception) just about any Rush album would serve this purpose, I feel fortunate that I found Rush with "Hold your Fire". This album has a very mature keyboard sound to it, and while the drum parts aren't too over-the-top, they're definitely challenging (especially to a fledgling drummer like myself learning for the first time of Neil Peart). This album also showcases a few overdubs that the band didn't replicate in concert. I'm not sure if it was the first, but it started showing (for me) that the band was pushing their limits.
Having heard of Rush from one of the other drummers (Joe Dematta), I headed over to Harmony House and debated on which album to pick up. I generally defer to the latest album that a band has released (sometimes to my own peril). At the time, "Hold Your Fire" was the absolute latest, and Rush was in their 1980's new-wave looking best (save for Geddy Lee, who had a haircut that looked more like Daniel Boone than anything). At first play the album sounded so simple. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I think it was along the lines of Dragonforce-esque drum playing. What I heard was a damn good, dare I say it, _pop_ album. Surely this couldn't be the vaunted Rush that I had heard of. Thankfully, I pressed onward, and every chance that I could, I asked my parents for money to buy Rush tapes (at the princely price of \~$5 each from Meijer. A bargain). So with the stepping stone of "Hold Your Fire", I was off. And here we go:
Force Ten: A tour-de-force to start off the album. This is quite a driving piece of music that never fails to get me in the mood to sit back and enjoy the rest of the album
Time Stand Still: One of their more popular songs. The video is pretty trippy, and the first time I saw it I wondered what the hell Rush was smoking when they made it. Definitely one of the touchstone songs of my life as it flies past.
Open Secrets: A bit of a sleeper on this album. I still think the lyric "I should have looked at your face instead" is a bit of a childish taunt, but it makes perfect sense in the context of the rest of the song.
Second Nature: "Folks are basically decent, conventional wisdom would say. Well, we read about the exceptions in the papers every day". A moving song, and one that never fails to make me think about the place I share in this world.
Prime Mover: Driving and rocking. I love this song.
Lock and Key: Not much of a fan of this particular song. I pretty much wait for the next song, which is practically a theme song for me:
Mission: Not sure what to say about this song, other than I believe every single word of it, and would play it every single day if it wouldn't ever get stale. Also, Neil Peart's marimba and drum part near the middle of this song is freaking unbelievable, even though it's slightly overdubbed. Hearing it played live is absolutely amazing.
Turn the page: Not a cover of Bob Seger, despite the similarity of titles. Geddy is on fire on this song, and the track just bristles with energy. Another favorite.
Tai Shan: Quiet and meditative. Excellent usage of samples. Quite a departure from your standard Rush fare, and a shining example of the musicianship present in this band.
High Water: A satisfying conclusion to a great album. Neil's drum part in this song was a perennial practicing favorite of mine.