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16 Years of Rush jammed into two tiny CDs...
Pros: Excellent sampling of the band's classic songs from their early career.
Cons: Chopped up version of 2112, somewhat predictable selection of songs.
The Bottom Line: Better suited as an introduction to Rush, this is still a great collection and showpiece of the band's versatility and musical skills.
The year was 1990 and it was a year of firsts for Rush. They had changed records labels for the first time in their career (since their first album). During their entire career up until this point, they were signed up with Polygram/Mercury. But their last studio album, Presto was produced under the Atlantic Records label. Rush was continuing their career under Atlantic, but Mercury still had some ties to the band, so they decided to release, essentially, a greatest hits compilation.
Concerned that the effort might not meet Rush's standards, and agreement was made for Rush to take part in the major decisions of the project, despite not being tied to Mercury anymore. In return, they allowed one track from their latest record to be included in the compilation. Thus we have a marriage of one band and two record companies working together to put together a fine chronicle of one of the greatest rock bands of all time.
Chronicles touches upon each of the previously released studio and live albums that Rush had released to that point. Generally, the selected songs that were included on this compilation set are excellent examples of the diversity, strength and talent that Rush has. Unfortunately, most of this set is truly geared towards the radio-friendly version of Rush rather than some of their more intricate, powerful and less popular (by the non fan) works. Don't get me wrong - the songs that are included are all top notch. But for the true fan, I think they (we) would have gotten a kick out of seeing Vital Signs included rather than Tom Sawyer; Cygnus X-1 included rather than the chopped up version of 2112; or maybe a little Natural Science instead of The Spirit of Radio.
Ah well, its not like we don't already have all of these songs on their original albums, it's just that exposing some non-fans to some lesser known works may have further opened the door to the true appeal of Rush.
Be that as it may, this is still a fine collection of Rush songs which includes the following:
1. Finding my Way
2. Working Man
The two opening tracks to disc one originate from Rush's first released, self titled album. With drummer John Rutsey behind the skins, Rush comes off sounding harsh and raw, but still brimming with the talent that they would soon develop into their own style of music. Two excellent tracks from their first cd.
3. Fly By Night
The only track to appear from their second wildly successful album by the same name, this is a great song that may sound a little dated at times, but is still a tremendous amount of fun to listen to and enjoy. Great guitars and rhythms are abound not only in this track, but the entire Fly By Night album.
5. Bastille Day
6. Lakeside Park
The next three tracks are from the band's third album 'Caress of Steel' which was considered a flop when released, but is now revered as one of the band's greatest efforts. Yet the praise that Caress of Steel receives today are largely from the tracks that were not included on this compilation - The Necromancer and The Fountain of Lamneth. Still, three songs from this album is a excellent showing.
7. 2112 (Overture / Temples of Syrinx)
Two problems here. First, 2112 is butchered into another radio-friendly shortened version. I realize that they wanted to make a showing for one of their most popular albums and songs ever, and to include a 20 minute song would certainly mean the lack of inclusion of other tracks (or the addition of a third disc) but it seems almost sacrilegious to carve up a classic like this. The second problem here is that no other track made it from this concept album extraordinaire. A shame.
8. What You're Doing - live
Taken from their first live effort, 'All the World's a Stage', but excluded from the CD release, this track is another fine example of the power and drive that Rush has when they're performing live - especially in their very early days when they weren't headlining yet. This is a different, less refined Rush than their current day counterparts, but it's still Rush and still a blast to listen to.
9. A Farewell to Kings
10. Closer to the Heart
Two excellent tracks taken from their imaginative and noble effort 'A Farewell to Kings'. These two songs show that Rush can switch gears with ease and put out complex and moving pieces that exploit their talents without ever coming off sound boorish. Complex musical arrangements that seem closer to magic than anything else, this is Second Phase Rush at their finest.
11. The Trees
12. La Villa Strangiato
Most of the works of Rush can easily detail their talents but few match the incredible effort brought forth by the instrumental masterpiece La Villa Strangiato. Jaw dropping is perhaps the best way to describe this song. Couple that with their other epic track The Trees and you have an excellent showing from their sixth studio album Hemispheres'.
13. Free Will
14. The Spirit of Radio
Exit the 70's, enter the 80's with Rush's seventh studio album Permanent Waves'. The first two tracks on that wildly successful album make up the final two tracks on Disc 1 of Chronicles - and with good reason. Two exceptional songs that are as close to perfect as Rush can get. Radio friendly, yet, but still powerful Rush tunes the whole world can enjoy.
1. Tom Sawyer
2. Red Barchetta
Moving Pictures' considered Rush's finest album and certainly their biggest seller is a 'greatest hits collection' unto itself. Three songs made the 'cut' for Chronicles and the three chosen were to be expected. Again, not that they're bad songs - they're not, especially Red Barchetta and Limelight. It's just that some changes and less obvious choices would have been more interesting.
Then again, can you imagine the outcries if the first Rush compilation CD didn't include Tom Sawyer?
4. A Passage to Bangkok - live
As with What You're Doing on 'All the World's a Stage', this track was excluded from the CD release of 'Exit...Stage Left', Rush's second live album. So the inclusion of it here, for the first time in a CD format, was a welcomed treat for all Rush fans.
6. New World Man
Enter the third phase of Rush with their ninth studio album Signals' and you're treated to two of the finest songs on that album. Synth-heavy Rush to be sure, but still exceptional music and lyrics worthy of the Rush name. Despite not having the sales totals of 'Moving Pictures', this may be the most popular Rush album among non-fans. These two songs are the reason why.
7. Distant Early Warning
8. Red Sector A
Another classic concept album from Rush, 'Grace Under Pressure' opened a new door into the Canadian Power Trio's evolving sound. Powerful and tight efforts, these two stellar tracks are but a sampling of an excellent overall album.
9. The Big Money
10. Manhattan Project
One of their most complex and tightest productions was clearly the mid-eighties release of 'Power Windows'. Listening to these two samples from that album brings proof to that statement. Less synths but more electronics, these two songs and the entire PW album are a somewhat reverse 'back to basics' for Rush - lyrically enticing and musically forward thinking. Great stuff.
11. Force Ten
12. Time Stand Still
Rush tried to re-invent themselves to a degree with the release of their 12th studio album 'Hold Your Fire'. Sometimes maligned as to gentle for Rush, but more often than not accepted as another excellent Rush collection, the opening two tracks to that album are present in this compilation. Two different songs with two different styles, but both immensely popular and enjoyable.
13. Mystic Rhythms - live
From their third live offering 'A Show of Hands' comes Mystic Rhythms, the mystical last track from 'Power Windows'. Bizarre, radical, and engrossing, this is a leap of faith for Rush that hits, if you'll pardon the pun, right on the money. A surprise inclusion from this live album, but an excellent representation as well.
14. Show Don't Tell
The aforementioned single track that was included from their first studio album under Atlantic Records, 'Presto', Rush begins the fourth phase of their career with a bang. Show Don't Tell is a prime example of how the Rush sound has evolved from their early days more than 15 years prior, and how it will doubtless continue to evolved for the next 15.
And there you have it. An excellent source of Rush music from their first 16 years. Rush fans may pass on this since there's nothing new. But the idea of not having an officially released Rush album is unheard of among fans, so believe me - they bought it.
Not a fan, but want to explore the musical stylings from this Canadian Power Trio? Then look no further and purchase this cd-set. It will introduce you to the finer aspects of their musical talents and likely convert you into official Rush fan status.
Enjoy the ride...
And, as always, thank you for stopping by and reading...
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