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Rush - Retrospective I (1974-1980)

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Album Review

All reviews are (c) Patuto Enterprises and originally appeared at Epinions.Com

A look back at the beginning of Rush...and beyond.

Pros: Great selection of early Rush classics. Remastered for better quality.

Cons: None.

The Bottom Line: Digital remastered compilation of Rush's finest works from 1974 - 1980. A must have for any rock fan.
Before launching into the review of Retrospective I (1974-1980), the first of two Rush compilation offerings, let's have a little background information on what led to these two releases back in 1997.

Rush had just released their latest, and at the time widely thought last, studio album called 'Test for Echo' under the Atlantic record label. Having been part of Mercury records for so long, the people at Mercury decided to undertake a massive objective with relation to all of the previous Rush albums; a complete digital remastering of their original recordings.

The members of Rush, despite their contractual agreements with Atlantic, leant their expertise during this process. All their albums under Mercury, from their 1974 self titled album, Rush through their last release with Mercury in 1987 called 'Hold Your Fire' were targeted for the remastering process. Accordingly, all of these albums were re-released in CD-form containing their original ark work, liner notes and lyrics. Additionally, the background noise on some albums was cleaned up, production values were tightened (where they could be) and a 'new' final product was issued.

At the time, some Rush purists objected to the "tampering" of the band's catalog. At least, that's how they saw it. But for the most part, fans embraced this effort to further enhance the sound and quality of Rush.

In connection with the remastering releases, Mercury decided to put out two compilation CDs containing tracks from the remastered albums. Seven years earlier, when Rush moved to Atlantic Records, Mercury put out Chronicles - a similar Rush compilation or 'Greatest Hits' of sorts. Of course, those songs were pre-remastering efforts. Some of the glaring omissions from 'Chronicles' are now present on the Retrospective releases.

So, now that you have the history, let's get to the track list.

Retrospective I: 1974-1980

1. The Spirit of Radio
Originally from 'Permanent Waves' this is the quintessential way to start off any Rush compilation - with one of their most recognizable songs. Remastering efforts changed very little here - but it was (and is) perfect to begin with.

2. The Trees
Originally from Hemispheres', an album which suffered from some unfortunate background noise, this track in its polished form is now even more of a joy to absorb. Classic early Rush - reborn.

3. Something for Nothing
Originally from '2112', the remastering process seems to have leveled off some of the instruments against Geddy's vocals. Never an album that had background noise, this song sounds as crisp as always - just more even now.

4. Freewill
Originally from 'Permanent Waves', this track also experienced very little change from its original counterpart, but its a must have for any Rush compilation disc.

5. Xanadu
Originally from 'Farewell to Kings', this track sparkles more now than ever before. Cleaner percussions, more emphasized bass and stellar vocals come shining through on this epic track.

6. Bastille Day
Originally from 'Caress of Steel', this track has a lot going on in it, but it came from an album that always sounded tight and crystal clear. The entire Caress of Steel album was probably better off being left alone since it was (and is) one of those masterpieces that you simply don't mess with. Powerful early Rush at their best on this track.

7. By-Tor and the Snow Dog
Originally from 'Fly By Night', Rush's second album, this song suffered from some obvious background noise in its original incarnation, but now it sounds more magical than before. Alex's guitar never sounded so good.

8. Anthem
Also from 'Fly By Night', this track was Rush's staple opener for many, many years. Now you can hear more than ever how crisp the musical talent of these three Canadians really is.

9. Closer to the Heart
Originally from 'Farewell to Kings', this is another Rush classic that improved slightly through the remastering process - generally in the noise reduction. A great song for any music fan to enjoy.

10. 2112: Overture and 11. 2112: The Temples of Syrinx
Both originally from '2112', the noise reduction and clarity of the guitars has opened up a new level to the concept album of the 20th century. For the full effect, get the entire album. No serious rock fan should be without it.

12. La Villa Strangiato
Originally from 'Hemispheres', no other track on any album so desperately needed to be remastered. The background noise, especially on the original vinyl album, was so bad on this track that is almost - almost made it un-listenable. The first CD release of Hemispheres corrected the problem - to an point, but the remastered version lets this truly masterful instrumental sing.

13. Fly By Night
Originally from the album of the same name, this track now has zero background noise, clearer guitar riffs and stronger percussions. An early classic that sounds brand new!

14. Finding My Way
Originally from 'Rush', this track went through a lot to get remastered, and the results sound great. That's to be expected when you take a song from 1974 with poor production values and bang it up against 1997 technology. Rush (the band and the album) sound raw and powerful and crystal clear.

And there you have it - Retrospective I. Remastering qualities have brought new life to old classics. Changes worthy enough of updating your entire Rush catalog.

Believe me, its worth every cent.

Thanks, as always, for reading...
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