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Video Review: THROUGH THE CAMERA EYE
All reviews are (c) Patuto Enterprises and originally appeared at Epinions.Com
Video didn't kill this radio star...
Pros: Early 80's footage and videos from Rush. Good selection of songs, decent video qualities.
Cons: B-type stories on some videos, but it's a reflection of the times :)
The Bottom Line: A snapshot in time for the video history of Rush. Worth a watch and listen.
Ah, MTV. I still remember when MTV was in their infancy and they used to rely on playing rock-videos for their survival. How times have changed...and not necessarily for the better.
Music videos really starting taking off in the early 80s as the popularity of MTV grew. Fortunately, the success of Rush was also growing by leaps and bounds at the same time, so they released some music videos that turned out to be among the most popular on MTV at the time. Subdivisions, for instance, was being played upwards of 5 times a day and was even mentioned in TV-Guide as one of the top-10 videos played by MTV.
But while music videos were increasing in popularity, they were typically little more than a canvas for b-type movies shot in a 5-minute time frame - and Rush wasn't immune to this labeling. For the most part, anyway.
So, in 1985, Rush released their first music video compilation entitled Through the Camera Eye - a collection of 8 of their most popular music videos of the time. Riding on the success of their earlier released concert video from Exit...Stage Left, they were hoping for a similar response from their fans and the general music public. For the most part, they obtained that success with this release, but it was also clear that Rush's popularity would continue based on their musical talents, not their visual/video ones.
This opinion will touch upon each of the 8 included music videos, focusing (pardon the pun) on the video if not the actual song. For a commentary on the individual songs, please read my opinion(s) on the album the song/video originated from.
Through the Camera Eye - (c) 1985. Running Time 44 minutes. Stereo, Hi-Fi and Digitally Mastered.
1. Distant Early Warnings - Album: 'Grace Under Pressure '
This is one of Rush's finest videos with excellent production values. As the title track from the GUP album, Rush clearly wanted to make a video statement, and they did. The video cuts between shots of the band playing on a pentagon-shaped stage in what appears to be a control/war room and a video paying homage to the 60's movie 'Dr. Strangelove'. Specifically, a small child is 'riding a missile' across the world while government personnel are tracking him on radar. The cuts between these video scenes, scenes of areas across the world, and shots of the band all work very well. Fortunately, the video doesn't end as the movie did. A great song that's married well with a great video.
2. Vital Signs - Album: 'Moving Pictures'
One of two studio videos produced for Rush's monster album release MP, the other being Limelight which isn't included on this compilation, this track is actually a video representation of the recording on the song. In other words, the video is simply based on Rush recording the song, but it's done exceptionally well. Intercuts of mosaic images between the three members of Rush give you an insight as to how they craft their music. Filmed (and recorded) at Le Studio in Canada, there's almost a mystical quality to this video, especially with the scenes of Geddy Lee vocalizing the song. Watch as his expression intensifies as the song progressives. It's something to see.
3. The Body Electric - Album: 'Grace Under Pressure '
Here, the lyrics of the song tell a fascinating story which Rush attempted to reflect in a 5-minute video. For the most part, they succeed as a human attempts to escape from an android infested nuclear reactor. Some interesting action is intermixed with minimal shots of the band. B-type to be sure, the real appeal to this video is actually the song. Neither good or bad, it's a reflection of the times - bands were experimenting with videos and trying to figure out what worked and what didn't. For Rush, they hit somewhere in between with The Body Electric.
4. Afterimage - Album: 'Grace Under Pressure '
This video was never aired on MTV or ever seen before the release of this video compilation. The song is about the death of a friend to the band. The video is somewhat abstract and surreal, but interesting to behold. It begins with extreme close ups of Neil Peart and then Geddy Lee. It then cuts to a scene from the late 1800's with men in overcoats and stove-pipe hats looking upon a young girl, laying motionless on the road, presumably struck by a passing horse-drawn cart. The video then cuts back to the band, revealing Alex Lifeson, and then back to a funeral scene for the girl. It's interesting how the band shots clearly have a 1980's feel to it, due in large to their attire and hair styles, while the video scenes have an 1880's feel. Intentional? Only Rush knows for sure. The video reflects the intensity of the three band members and ends solemnly with Neil Peart hitting the last beat on his drums and lowering his head in silence; perhaps paying a final respect to their lost friend.
5. Subdivisions - Album: 'Signals'
As mentioned earlier, this is likely the most popular Rush video in their entire collection. Certainly, it was played more than any other Rush video. Another story-telling video with few shots of the band performing, this video captures the essence of the lyrics exceptionally well. It follows the path of a loner boy from his home life in suburban Toronto, living in a subdivision community, to his loner existence at school. Be cool or be cast out, the intense chorus from the song is the basis of the video. 5 minutes is scarcely enough time to tell a story, but it was ample time to reflect the life of this boy. Side note: Watch for a scene in the high school halls for another student wearing a Rush t-shirt.
6. Tom Sawyer - Album: 'Exit...Stage Left'
This was taken from the earlier released concert video Exit...Stage Left. The video has a dark, red feel to it due to the lighting effects used. Concentration on Alex Lifeson wailing on the guitar highlight this video. Additionally, there are some interesting shots taken from behind Neil Peart and his drum kit which reveal just how precise and controlled his percussion playing is. He isn't considered the best rock-drummer of all time for nothing. This video takes a glimpse into his magical realm. Geddy Lee, handling both the bass guitar and synthesizers, in addition to the vocals, doesn't move much from his 'assigned' area, but that's also understandable. Not quite as exciting as their later concert videos, Tom Sawyer at least reveals Rush in a major format for the first time.
7. The Enemy Within - Album: 'Grace Under Pressure '
This video is somewhat of a continuation from The Body Electric video previewed earlier. It has far more shots of the band performing the song, but its intercut with scenes of the androids battling one another. As with The Body Electric, it's neither great nor terrible, but clearly the song is far superior to its video counterpart.
8. Countdown - Album: 'Signals'
The final video on this collection is also the final track from Rush's Signals album. A song detailing the launch of the space shuttle, this video takes some great footage from the Kennedy Space Center control room during the countdown and subsequent launch of a shuttle. The video, intercut with the band playing, follows closely along to the entertaining lyrics. This is another gem that beautifully captures the intensity of the song and the excitement of the time when space shuttle launches were still new and garnered incredible media attention.
And there you have it. A collection of 8 music videos from the early 80's of Rush. As time went by, Rush would refine their video-making abilities, but it's still fun to watch and experience where it all began.
Thanks, as always, for reading.
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