It is my assertion that Rush hit their stride with 1980′s Permanent Waves, and rode that heady curl through the two following flawless albums Moving Pictures and Signals. After waiting and listening for more than 25 years for something akin to these classic albums, Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart emerged from the murky post-Signals explorations to again deliver the goods with Snakes & Arrows. Welcome back my friends!
Accordingly, Here are my 10 favorite Rush songs, taken from seven albums – Rush, Fly By Night, 2112, A Farewell To Kings, Hemispheres, Permanent Waves, Moving Pictures, Signals and Snakes & Arrows.
1. “2112″ (2112) – Although Rush have since abridged their 20-plus minute opus “2112” in concert, playing the first two sections only – “2112 Overture” and “Temples Of Syrinx” – I must hear the whole song, from the mysterious opening to “Attention all planets of the Solar Federation. We have assumed control. We have assumed control.” You know what I’m talking about.
2. “La Villa Strangiato” (Hemispheres) – An amazing instrumental showcasing all that Rush bring to the table. Alex opens with the Spanish-inflected classical guitar bit before dropping into the opening proper with its crystalline guitars, synthesizers swirls and bells, as Geddy and Neil join the fun. The tune twists and turns like a rollercoaster, and it’s one hell of a ride.
3. “Red Barchetta” (Moving Pictures) – This is the most atmospheric and beautiful song in the Rush catalog. It reminds me of sunny, carefree days, and I never tire of hearing it. From the opening guitar harmonics to the lilting, almost waltz-like end, the song brilliantly captures the motion and appeal of the Red Barchetta.
4. “The Spirit Of Radio” (Permanent Waves) – This isn’t just a great Rush song, it is an anthem for those of us who grew up on radio and know the power it had when a favorite song came in and we just cranked it until our ears hurt. The opening guitar riff is beyond great.
5. “By-Tor And The Snow Dog” (Fly By Night) – An early Rush epic, full of the good-versus-evil twists that make up any good Sci-Fi fantasy cut. Some incredible drumming from Neil and a blistering guitar solo from Alex.
6. “The Way The Wind Blows” (Snakes & Arrows) – This is the best Rush song in the past 25 years. I was blown away by the blues-y guitar blast that opens it, and Geddy’s vocal may be his finest ever.
7. “Xanadu” (A Farewell To Kings) – When I was in high school, I used to come home every day after class, put on the headphones and try to play this on drums. I love the way Neil makes the hi-hats dance.
8. “Working Man” (Rush) – Probably the most recognizable Rush song, with that meaty opening guitar riff and big booming bass. Once Alex and Geddy get to the middle section, it opens up with a fabulous piece of soloing and that huge Rickenbacker sound.
9. “The Analog Kid” (Signals) – Another Signals tune that features one of the most driving guitar riffs of them all. This song has massive energy and is the perfect song to follow “Red Barchetta.” Great angular bass lines from Geddy, too.
10. “Subdivisions” (Signals) – It seems I’ve gone Signals crazy in this Top 10 list, but oh well. I think this is one of Rush’s best use of keyboards, and Neil’s lyrics capture perfectly the isolation and bewilderment that so many teens have felt among their peers and surroundings at one point or another.