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A (Rush) Tribute - A Mediocre Attempt at Best
Pros: Nice selection of 70's and 80's Rush classics.
Cons: Uninspired and lacking energy. Some poor performances by otherwise superb musicians.
The Bottom Line: Recommended only for the true Rush fan. Otherwise, stick with the originals :)
Earlier, I reviewed an atrocious attempt to create a tribute album for the songs and music of Rush. That album, 'Red Star: A Tribute to Rush' was anything but a tribute.
But a year or so prior to that release, the first official (non-sanctioned) Rush tribute album was produced. Working Man - A Tribute took some of the 80's and 90's semi-famous hard/glamour rock bands/musicians, many of whom cited Rush as inspirations in their own careers, and portrayed their take on many Rush classics.
If I were to merely compare Working Man to the abysmal 'Red Star: A Tribute to Rush', then without question, Working Man would be the finest album of all time.
But I'm not comparing the two - entirely. Resting on its own merits, Working Man is interesting at times, melodic in most of its compositions, but by in large, mediocre for the most part. It's been suggested that trying to cover Rush, which is what a tribute album really comes down to, is very difficult because of the dynamics of their music. Well, if you ever needed an appreciation of that complexity, then listening to Working Man will certainly fit the bill.
Keep in mind that these are professional rock musicians who have significant talent in their own right. Their attempt to reflect upon the songs of Rush seemed oddly out of time in some cases, warped in other. Playing the musical notes is one thing, singing the lyrics is another, getting Rush's infamous time changes down yet another.
Trying to accomplish all three in unison is the key. Unfortunately, that key was rarely found with most tracks on this tribute album. Still, again trying to avoid comparisons to Red Star, this was a decent attempt and an affirmation that the technical and musical genius that is Rush is difficult to mirror.
Clearly, Working Man will likely only appeal to Rush fans, and perhaps the fans of some of the performers. Most notably, Sebastian Bach, lead singer of Skid Row and self-proclaimed Rush fanatic, performs twice on this tribute album. He first aptly covers the title track Working Man which originally appeared on Rush's debut album. Next, he unfortunately slaughters one of Rush's classic from Permanent Waves called Jacob's Ladder. Bach is a far better singer than his performance reflects here.
Still, for its sheer entertainment and affirmation of Rush, Working Man is an album worthy of a listen or two, but you'll find few who will choose the versions of these Rush songs over the originals. Of course I realize that's not the purpose of a tribute album - to replace the originals - but the lack of real energy that hinders most of these tracks will promise limited repeat play by those who purchase it.
Track listings and performers are listed below.
Thanks, as always, for reading.
Working Man - A Tribute
Record Label: Magna Carta
1. Working Man - performed by Sebastian Bach
2. By-Tor and the Snow Dog - performed by James LaBrie
3. Analog Kid - performed by Jack Russell
4. The Trees - performed by Mike Baker
5. La Villa Strangiato - performed by Steve Morse
6. Mission - performed by Eric Martin
7. Anthem - performed by Mark Slaughter
8. Jacob's Ladder - performed by Sebastian Bach
9. Closer to the Heart - performed by Fates Warning
10. Natural Science - performed by Devin Townsend
11. YYZ - performed by James Murphy
12. Red Barchetta - performed by James LaBrie
13. Freewill - performed by Gregoor van der Loo
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