Continuing the way-longer-than-I-had-originally-anticipated series, From Rush to R30, here is the next installment. Enjoy. :)
Presto was the first Rush album that I was able to anticipate. Up until Hold Your Fire, I spent most of my time picking up already released material. With Presto, that all changed. I was a Rush fan awaiting the next album. When I first picked up Presto, it was... um... different. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it didn't quite grab me the same way that Hold Your Fire did. Maybe the anticipation was a little too much? Perhaps. I still took to it like a fish takes to water, because here was the latest album of Rush songs that I needed to learn in order to keep up with the master, Neil Peart. Many moons have passed since my initial listen of Presto, and while it's not in my top 5 (or even 10 Rush albums), it still holds a special place in my heart as the first album that I could buy near release day.
Presto starts off a bit quiet with the gentle drumming tom tom / woodblock intro of Show, Don't Tell, but then kicks into gear with a very jamming groove. Unfortunately, it mellows out right away with the first verse, and then kicks into more groove. This song was one of my favorites from the album because there's nothing more that I like in my songs than a little balls and chunk. Chain Lightning is a pretty mellow track with a discordant riff that at first threw me off the song. It works, but isn't one of my favorites on the album. The Pass mellows the album out a little too soon for my tastes. This song has grown on me, but initially I didn't much care for it. War Paint picks things up some more, with a plea to stop worrying what others think, and to stop worrying about what the mirror shows us. "Paint the Mirror Black". (Sorry, I love that line. :) ). Scars shows a little funky side to Rush. This song is one of my favorites. And unfortunately, everything that Scars is, Presto, the title track, isn't. "If I could wave my magic wand" just doesn't cut it for me. Sorry, guys. Still, the lyrics still save the song overall. Superconductor, I believe, was one of the singles from this album, and it positively rocks. Anagram (for Mongo) shows the mastery of Neil Peart's wordplay abilities. Red Tide is a sleeper hit on this album. I don't think it gets nearly enough recognition for what a great song it is, along with Hand Over Fist. Available Light just feels like it needs a smoking jacket. I rarely remember it's on this album until it hits the chorus, then it all comes flowing back.
Overall, this album is a solid addition to the Rush Catalog, but it didn't strike me as such until much later. I managed to catch Rush when they toured ths album, and while it was amazing, the songs from this album really didn't do it for me, sadly to say. And yet, once I put it on, and let the music flow, I'm reminded that even mediocre Rush is still pretty damn amazing.