Moving Pictures – Rush

Moving Pictures


Anthem / Mercury


Geddy Lee, Neil Peart, and Alex Lifeson compose the ultimate Power Trio of all time.  Rush.  For Rush is the definition of a power trio.  Lifeson has a quirky guitar style and has the ability to play slow or fast, sounding great at both.  Lee has one of the most distinctive voices of Rock and Roll, plays bass lines that electric guitarists wish they could play, and still is able to fill out all the sounds with a keyboard during everything else.  Then you have Neal Peart.  Not only does he write much of the lyrics to their songs, he is easily one the best drummers ever.  The three of these guys together make more (quantity) of the best (quality) music than many four-or-more-member bands.

Moving Pictures is the band’s eight studio album, and biggest selling one.  Hitting the U.S. charts at #3, four of the seven tracks on here are staples of radio stations.  The success of this album could be due to a more commercial sound than more of their other works: most songs hover around the 4:30 mark with only “The Camera Eye” passing ten minutes, many of their melodies are instantly recognizable, and the music is interesting and still enjoyable.  Of course, with the progressive rock nature of Rush, we still have songs in “parts” (“Witch Hunt” being the third in a series on other albums), a song named from Mark Twain, and a song with a hidden Morse Code. 

The album begins with probably Rush’s most well-known song, “Tom Sawyer” (the one I mentioned that was named after the book from Mark Twain.  Obviously.).  Lee’s synthesiser plays a huge role in this song, beginning the song with Peart’s drums.  During the verses, Lifeson has an interesting guitar line where he jumps from lower notes to interweaving higher ones.  I’m going to put forth that he is one of the most underrated guitar players out there.  Just listen to this guitar solo.  While refraining from staying in just a minor pentatonic scale, he also makes it extremely melodic.  As for the lyrics, I’ve always suspected the song to be a criticism of modern society (“What you say about his company is what you say about society”) – though I have nothing to back that up with, really. 

Secondly is “Red Barchetta.”  Opening with guitar harmonics, this is another popular radio song – though not as well-known as some of the others.  The song is a futuristic narrative about a time where petroleum and gasoline are outlawed.  Nonetheless, the “uncle” of the narrator has a “Red Barchetta,” and well, a car chase ensues.  It’s not one of my favorite plots of a song, but it fits well with the band’s progressive rock genre.  In actual fact, it’s not one of my favorite Rush songs either.  Not to say it’s a bad song, at all.  The guitar solo is pretty cool, and the bass line is consistently entertaining.  But really, the song lacks something for me.  And with the two songs that it’s sandwiched between on Moving Pictures brings in down a few notches in contrast.

“YYZ” is the third song on the record, and it is one hell of an instrumental.  The introduction of the song is played in 5/4 times, and spells out the title is Morse Code.  It is essentially a four-minute song which lets all three of the main instruments go insane for the full amount of time.  The opening riff which consists of two notes still rocks hard.  I have no idea how Geddy Lee plays any of these bass lines, as they sound beyond human comprehension.  When I mentioned that Lifeson plays both slowly and quickly, this song serves as a prime example.  He goes between playing melodically, and at a really fast-pace as well.  And this is all without mentioning Neal Peart.  Peart shows off some of the best drumming ever in “YYZ.”  When he’s not playing ridiculous fills on his billion-piece drum set, he’s playing a really difficult normal pattern.  Just try listening to his bass drum without blowing your mind.

The fourth track is “Limelight” – the last of the really well-known songs.  The opening riff is fantastic.  The theme of the song is based off of Peart’s inability and insecurities about becoming extremely popular.  Not only is it well-written, it also employs a phrase from Shakespeare: “All the world’s indeed a stage, and we are merely players.”  This wins points from me, seeing as how I’m an English Major and Shakespeare fan.  The guitar solo is extremely satisfying, echoing the emptiness of the mood.  It has been mentioned by Lifeson to be one of his favorite solos to play live.

“The Camera Eye” is the one ten-minute long song on the album.  It isn’t a song that I normally recall when I think about Rush.  With an extremely extended intro (over three minutes), the actual vocal part is very melodic.  The synthesizer plays a big backup role in this song, and the guitar jumps between distortion and clean effects, depending on which parts are being affected.  Lee’s vocals are being showed off as he actually sings some sections in a lower register than normal.  That is one criticism I have of Rush: Geddy’s singing does get to me after a while with his high-pitched voice.  However, that rarely becomes a problem on Moving Pictures with only seven tracks.  Although this is a long song, if the audience pays attention during the entire time, they’ll be rewarded with some of the most interesting sonic changes on the entire album.

As previously said, “Witch Hunt” is the third in a series of the “Fear Series.”  It follows “The Enemy Within” from Grace Under Pressure, “The Weapon” from Signals, and is followed by “Freeze” off of Vapor Trails.  “Witch Hunt” is based off the idea that authorities use fear to control “ignorant” throngs of people.  The title alludes to the Salem Witch Trials of the late 1600’s.  The intro certainly starts off creepy enough, quietly introducing the song with toy bell sounds and what sounds to be an angry mob. This quickly gives way to a powerful guitar playing underneath Lee’s vocals.  The drums are interspersed here and there, coming in more and more during the song.  It’s a decent song, which serves well to play off of their grandiose idea.

Lastly is “Vital Signs.”  This is a quirky reggae influenced track.  The bass is more of a lead instrument than the guitar which is playing a lot of choppy rhythmic chords.  Surprisingly, there’s not many different parts to the song, maybe three.  This changes an aspect that Rush loves to play with.  It’s an entertaining song that really helps the band evolve with another style.

Lasting barely over forty minutes, these seven tracks show Rush at their finest.  Even though they’re not playing lengthy songs that change a million songs, the band begins to experiment with different styles.  Yet, they still have managed to create a commercial hit.  All three members of the band are talented musicians, and Moving Pictures shows that really well.  It’s a progressive rock album that actually progresses the genre of classic rock.

Buy This Album

Official Site Page


2 Responses to “Moving Pictures – Rush”

  1. Not a huge Rush fan but one of my favorite albums nevertheless. Neil Peart is one of my favorite drummers……….. and he was Buddy Rich’s favorite drummer from what I heard. There are a couple clips on youtube of Neil Peart playing at Buddy Rich memorial concerts – he is so amazing!

  2. […] friendly does not mean we don’t get a good Rush album.  The rhythm section is as tight (like fellow site writer Ryan’s ass) as ever, and Lifeson’s guitar leads are a force of sexual energy to be reckoned […]

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