Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rush - Power Windows (1985)

Rush is one of many bands that I lost track of in the late 80s. I was too busy listening to bands like Slayer, Megadeth and Metallica to be bothered with a classic rock band that decided to explore New Wave music. Even in the early 80s when I was listening to Yes and Genesis, I dismissed Rush for one reason or another. I never thought of them in the same league as other prog rock bands. Nowadays, I prefer Rush over almost everything else, but that's another story.
Power Windows came from that awkward period where many classic rock bands were experimenting with a pop-friendly 80s sound. At first glance, nothing seems to be amiss. The album cover is typical Rush and song subjects range in variety from corporations, going against the norm and running a marathon. But once you start listening, you immediately notice that keyboards are now the dominant instrument in Rush. The keys are used to fill the spaces that guitars normally occupy, resulting in the thin and airy sound that defined Rush in the 80s. The song Marathon would have been improved greatly by more guitar! There are some decent songs on the record. The middle songs like Middletown Dreams, Marathon and Territories are decent enough. I've been to enough Rush concerts to have heard some of the heavier, reworked versions of these songs and they fare much better.
Ignoring the keys for a moment, the music is quite good. The drumming and bass playing are in tact. Although, I've come to loathe the sound of electronic drums. The guitar is there but you have to strain to hear it. There are many moments where the music sounds cool only to be ruined by a "happy" keyboard sound that you can't ignore. It's Neil Peart's distinct lyrics that keep Rush on track throughout this album. He is not pandering to the mainstream and continues, as always, to write about things that he finds interesting.
The main problem is that Power Windows just rolls along quietly. The atmosphere is way too nice and light. It's hard to believe that this is the same band that wrote Working Man and YYZ. In the end, I give Rush credit for always doing exactly what they wanted to do and not giving a crap if they pissed anyone off. That's probably why they are still around and are arguably bigger than ever.
- Geddy's Bass playing is unbelievable as usual.
- Geddy looks like he's wearing a racoon on his head during the live shows from this era.
- The recording lacks a pulse. Nothing, except for the shrill keys jump out of the mix.

Packaging: I like the cover art. It's stark and unnerving. Too bad the music is bland. 
Rating: Fair 2 out of 5

Marathon (Studio)

Marathon Live 2010

1 comment:

  1. Wow... Huge difference in sound between the 2 songs. The live version is WAY better. I give you credit for making it through that record.