Rush Album by Album, Song By Song

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by mark winstanley, Jan 11, 2020.

  1. Megastroth

    Megastroth Forum Resident

    Well here's a cheery little number. As others have mentioned, it is just a little linking track. Musically it effectively creates a dark atmosphere to match the lyrics. I wonder if our hero might be a little bipolar? In the previous track he is looking back on his life and seems pretty upbeat. "I wish I could live it all again" and "I wouldn't trade them/ because I made them/ the best I could" would seem to indicate that the narrator is happy with how his life went. It wasn't all great but the dark days were balanced by the bright nights. Now in BU2B2, our hero seems to be in a deep depression saying that "life goes from bad to worse" and not really sure what is keeping him going. Although the story is fiction, it does seem that Neil is putting in bits of his own life experience. I think I prefer the "Headlong Flight" outlook.
  2. Phasecorrect

    Phasecorrect Forum Resident

    They peaked with Moving Pictures, one of the best lps of the 80s, and there were many. At the time I thought Signals was a quantum step down. Over time I come to enjoy it for what it is. Of the early period Hemispheres
  3. BluesOvertookMe

    BluesOvertookMe Forum Resident

    Houston, TX, USA
    Headlong Flight
    This album is making a turn for the better. At times Geddy's voice seems to be failing, but he is really pushing it.
    I love the echo of Bastille Day, and the band is really crushing it here. I love the energy, virtuosity, and power.
  4. Smokin Chains

    Smokin Chains Forum Resident

    Nashua, NH
    Headlong Flight is awesome. The energy is massive, like a bunch of 20 year olds. It's funny how in the late 80's they write and play boring, almost new age pop (IMO) and come back around to this hard-rocking stuff.

    I also like how instead of ignoring the fact that the riff is like Bastille Day they throw in a nod to it with the little bass and drum fill. The jam part is awesome too, I've been waiting years for Rush to come back to stuff like this!
  5. RicB

    RicB Certified Porcupine Tree Fan

    Pacific NW, USA

    I like BU2B, but this doesn't do much for me. I'd probably like it better if I liked the album as a whole better as it adds to the connectedness of the story.
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  6. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    New Mexico
    I still choose to live
    And give, even while I grieve

    What's interesting about this interlude to me is that we have the protagonist who has lost all faith in anything, yet he declares that he continues to soldier on. But why? What keeps him going at this point? Will we get an answer in the remainder of the album?

    That Peart guy is a clever character.
  7. JulesRules

    JulesRules Judge Mental

    Clockwork Angels


    Isn't this a great song? But man, why does it have to sound so flipping awful... I know there is the pre-release single that sounds better but I don't have that version. The drums especially sound abysmal, and the compression just seems to get more and more over the course of the song. During one of my first listens to the CD, I tried to play along with the song when I realized that at some point near the end, I could neither hear the beat properly anymore, nor the notes that were being played. This is serious, folks. By this point, music loses what makes it music, and becomes unmelodic and unrhythmic noise! Even worse, when you listen to this on a CD player with "bass boost", you will actually get a headache from all the uncontrolled low frequencies (I've heard the LP is better in that regard - maybe applying a filter could save the CD too...).
    Thankfully, I've now got a decent player again with a few tone controls, and using the "EQ off" preset plus pulling up the treble makes it somewhat palatable (normally I prefer the "Heavy" setting with bass pulled up a bit, but as this is already turned up to "eleven" mastering-wise, it would be total overkill...).
    OK, let's talk about the song. As I said, I like it. It contains way too many quotes from earlier Rush songs - there's a bit of "La Villa Strangiato", "Show Don't Tell", "Test for Echo" and probably countless others in there, but somehow it still works. The lyrics speak about getting out, about hope and looking towards an uncertain future with bright eyes - an archetypical Rush topic. I do have some issues with the vocal melody - sometimes the words don't fit in all that well, and I think they could've used a bit less tritones. But that chorus more than makes up for that.

    The problem with this album is obvious from the get-go, though - Rush simply want way too much; they're throwing the kitchen sink and more at these songs. Suddenly, there are synths again, but they tend to overcrowd the upper range instead of balancing out with the guitars like in the 80s. Alex plays a wah-wah solo in the old 70s style - but it isn't memorable. And Geddy's voice sounds powerful at first glance, but it's clear they had to compress it a lot to still cut through the (way too dense) mix in any meaningful way. By now you can clearly hear that he has serious vocal issues - just listen to the strange sound during the words "big" or "hood" - it's almost as if he's inhaling instead of exhaling?!


    This is seriously annoying. As a song, it isn't half bad - although way too repetitive and too focused on a few notes and lyrical ideas - but the mix/mastering just flat-out drives me insane. Even through the bad YouTube quality, I could easily hear how much more superior and LISTENABLE the earlier single version (which lacks the quiet intro, consisting mainly of an acoustic guitar and Geddy warbling) is. That sounds more like Snakes & Arrows.
    What I don't get is how they were apparently concerned that the acoustic guitar on S&A made it sound too dense. And yet, what do they do? They go and out-Vapor-Trail Vapor Trails! Alex seriously recorded 100 tracks of guitar onto this track... that's how to kill a song. No piece of music can sound any decent with 100 tracks of electric guitar. There was already too much of that on VT, and that was maybe five or six guitars at worst... and then you get sine-wave sounding synths in the upper register and a lot of static noise added to what's already a very static sounding piece of music. How about leaving *some* space in there?
    The effect is fatal - you get this sonic onslaught right at second position, and to me it totally kills the album. I mean that it kills my wish of listening any further. They botched it big time.
    Lyrically, this is basically applying the theory of S&A to the fictional clockwork world, which also continues along the lines of 2112 (priests that have power) and being the complete antithesis of "Freewill".

    Clockwork Angels:

    As a song, this is impressive. First (but not last) Rush song to break the 7 minute barrier since 1981! It's a song in three parts with a lot of unusual writing, an actually good guitar solo, Geddy playing great bass and all. But the sound... for heaven's sake... this is one of the worst offenders because it's so filled with sound effects. And not to diss Neil, but somehow he sounds unusually sloppy on here. I think this is a song on which he really should've mapped the drums out a bit more, those count-ins detract from the overall experience.
    So, Geddy sounds even weaker than on the first two tracks (I guess because he was worn out from the Time Machine tour?), which then gets amplified by all the layering and adding of backwards echo plus distortion effects. Alex has not figured out how to get a decent guitar sound, instead he clogs up everything with distortion and an over-processed sound. Neil's drums are just a distant mush most of the time. And then there's all that background stuff wobbling around that just drives me nuts.
    At least there is the live version from R40 to enjoy the composition with decent sonics.
    Oh, the lyrics! Basically a different look at the clockwork religion we've already examined in the previous track. I actually quite like the imagery used here, although I guess you can criticize Neil for painting a pretty stupid society (more so than "Faithless", which seemed less broad-brushy to me).

    The Anarchist:

    Again, musically we're in excellent territory. This is a very intentional throwback to the values of 70s Rush, and although it's only my No. 4 on the album, it's one of the hookiest things on here. There are at lots of very memorable melodies, and just like on some of the classics they're not found in the vocal but rather in the bass and guitar parts. I especially love that chorused guitar bridge, underlined by some relatively good sounding synths. Sonically, it's a total mess though, and that's what sabotages it... at least we have the R40 live recording to make up for that, but that has an even worse vocal from Geddy - even the studio version is not particularly nice in that regard. The other issue is the length and the somewhat uninspired bridge ("Oh, they tried to get me..."). Oh, and I don't like that vocal distortion thing; second track in a row to feature it. The strings get mostly washed away.
    So, now we get to know that not everyone in this society is a blind believer. Unfortunately, those who aren't, are outcasts with a hate for society and all those who participate willingly in it.


    This is the ugliest sounding track thus far. And Ged, what the hell are you singing? "Under the gaze of the aliens"? Aliens?? But it's not a complete failure: I like that chorus with its unusual scale/harmonies, that reminds me of the Moving Pictures era. Overall, I think I'd like it more if we didn't get that unrelenting wall of guitars.

    Halo Effect:

    I love that spooky intro! Really makes you think something special is about to come. Alas, it's a power ballad... not something I would associate with Rush. At this point, I'm ready to take anything that provides some breathing space. The strings are used quite nicely on this, and the buildup from verse to chorus, although far from innovative, is still well done. I do wish they had maintained the more delicate/sensitive tone of the verse, that chorus just feels like "here we go again". Sometimes you just don't need loud guitars. "Different Strings" didn't have them either...
    I can identify with the lyrics. In fact, I've just gone through a similar episode myself (but to the girl's credit, it wasn't her fault...). Finding a partner with a mutual appreciation for each other's real and actual selves can be such a difficult thing. Given that it's a worn out subject, it's surprising that Neil doesn't descend into platitudes, but of course the subject matter love has been largely absent from Rush's catalog.

    Seven Cities of Gold:

    This has the seeds of something great, but ends up being very frustrating for me. You can hear them trying to write another "Xanadu" or "Cygnus X-1" (even the lyrical matter isn't too far away). Yes, there's lots of great things here... Alex' guitar soundscaping really has a purpose this time (conjuring up the images of biting, painful coldness), and the ending is especially epic with shades of Pink Floyd's "Sorrow" (that bass drone).
    But on the negative side, Geddy's vocal is annoying as hell, and impossible to decipher/understand. The many repetitions make it almost maddening, and the odd timing in the chorus ("Glowing in my dreams") sounds EXTREMELY forced - "Earthshine" sounds silky smooth compared to this. Almost feels like a beat was cut out, it sounds so clumsy! And to think Neil used to be perfect at making uneven meters sound natural. Here, it sounds anything but.

    The Wreckers:

    At long last, something with more of a melodic vocal focus in the vein of Rush's mid-80s work (BU2B had some of it too, but I just find that song close to unlistenable). The melancholy sound works well with the strings, Alex doesn't CONSTANTLY pound that guitar in our poor ears, and the song is just well-written overall. Then there is that horror film bridge that underlines the creepy lyrics very well. (Spot the little reprise of the title track...) Odd fadeout, it breaks off very sudden.
    Even with the bad mix (a friend said that, hearing it in shuffle mode after something from "Counterparts", it sounded like music for deaf people), it's probably one of my favourite songs on here, alongside "Caravan" and, well, see below.

    Headlong Flight:

    I hate this song!
    Actually, I don't. I hate the effect it has on me. It just drives me absolutely f'n nuts. I NEED A BREAK! I NEED SOMETHING LESS LOUD! AND IN A DIFFERENT KEY!
    You hear me, Rush???
    This just sounds like aimless thrashing to me. Geddy's voice is even more annoying than on any previous song, and Alex drives me up the wall with the shrill dissonant chords he keeps playing through large parts of the track. A German fan referred to this one and the title track as especially unlistenable because they're the most "zugemüllt" (= filled/littered with trash, sonically speaking), and I agree! Even the wah-wah solo is a noisy mess with a lot of notes and no purpose. And the staccato parts are simply copied from "The Main Monkey Business" - indeed, this was originally an instrumental called "Take That Lampshade Off Your Head", and I'm dead certain I would've enjoyed it a lot more without vocals.
    What's bad else? The length! It's the second 7+ minute song on here, and nothing makes me feel it deserves to be so long. There is a pretty good ending at about 6 minutes in. Instead it goes on and on. By the time the "I have stoked the fire..." part pops up again, I'm really out of my mind.
    So, I was absolutely bewildered why such a complete misfire was celebrated by the band and many of their fans. Why did they get an orgasm and I get a headache?
    And yet, when I listened to R40 Live, I realized... this is not a bad song at all! I wouldn't retract all of my complaints, but with a proper mix and mastering, all the good qualities finally revealed themselves. That, in turn, just makes me even angrier. Why invest so much time in writing, arranging and recording when the end result is just an acoustic nightmare?


    Finally, some breathing space without electric guitar and mushy drums! This actually brings some emotion into the album, and nicely imitates the lyrical structure of BU2B.
    I don't find the storyline all that compelling, and there is an issue here with the pacing... first we get a complete failure of human values, nonetheless that "Non, je ne regrette rien" message beaten around the head for seven endless minutes, then suddenly our hero has a breakdown, then he realizes he has to free himself of grudges (in order to avoid from turning into a negative example like the Anarchist)... it just feels like an odd sequence to me.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
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  8. JulesRules

    JulesRules Judge Mental

    On the German Rush forum, somebody was actually sending other members CDs made from his vinyl rip... so, there must be something to it...
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  9. JulesRules

    JulesRules Judge Mental

    And it exists in all religions ;)
  10. Cheevyjames

    Cheevyjames Forum Resident

    Durham, NC
    Headlong Flight

    Geddy and Neil are pretty damn explosive on this one! I love hearing that fire from them. Those little nods to Bastille Day are great. They're very obvious, but it's FUN. This whole song shows them having a blast and it's infectious. It's hard to pick out any specific musical moment that I love, because Geddy just rages for the whole thing. That guitar riff at 2:09 reminds me of the chorus of Carnies a bit. Am I hearing things? It's a cool call-back if so. I like that dischordant middle section with the odd vocal. Sounds like it says "the days were dark/and the night were bright/hey man, I would never trade tomorrow for today". It's great to hear Alex let it rip during his solo, though I would always prefer more of it. I love the sentiment of the lyrics because it's so easy to get into the trap of "I'd change X, Y and Z" if I could, but to be able to say "I wish that I could live it all again" is pretty damn strong. Even in the narrator saying "some days were dark", he not only wouldn't change anything..he'd go through every second of it again. I love when Rush/Neil really hit on those positive, life-affirming lyrics. This is another excellent track, just a ton of fun.


    Well, the happiness from Headlong Flight didn't last long! There's a small light here, but mostly it's just massively dark and depressing. Why did Headlong Flight come on the album before this track? That makes no sense from a story standpoint. Maybe it would be just way too much to go from the inevitable destruction in The Wreckers into this? What I really like about this song, this reprise, is that it's such a left turn for the band. Geddy singing over strings and mild synth, that's all. It's kinda ballsy. Keeping it so short also makes it pack a punch because it doesn't overstay. Shortest song in the catalog, beating Broon's Bane by 9 seconds. Good one for me; I like the darkness.
  11. JulesRules

    JulesRules Judge Mental

    Oh, I forgot to mention that I find it interesting how "Seven Cities of Gold", despite the whole fictitious setting, actually alludes to a myth/legend of our world, and one that's been covered a lot in all kinds of arts... from Genesis' "A Trick of the Tail" to Carl Barks' classic Uncle Scrooge comic "Seven Cities of Cibola"!
  12. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Denver, CO
    "BU2B2" is fine as a link song on the album but it doesn't add a whole lot to the proceedings. Having just the strings here is a nice break from the overbaked sonics on the rest of the album.
  13. Melllvar

    Melllvar No Matter Where You Go, There You Are!

    Anchorage, Alaska

    ...and we come to another musical break in the album. Not much going on here and as others mentioned, it's a simple link song. The strings & synth provide a nice, dark atmosphere that pairs perfectly with the dour lyrics sung by Geddy. It's not bad and I admire the simple arrangement.
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  14. HenryH

    HenryH Forum Resident

    "Headlong Flight"

    O.K., now this is something worthy of the single release status, but to be honest, I can't quite picture where it would have fit into the typical "classic" or "modern" rock playlists at the time. Rush fans would probably latch onto it, while singles are meant to have a broader appeal, no?

    With that said, this is a solid track. One of those really balanced arrangements that gives each member an opportunity to shine with their individual contributions. I like the shift in momentum from main verse to chorus, another one of those things that Rush seem to be able to pull off without sounding contrived. Nice & heavy instrumental break section too.


    A kind of segue track; brief, while not making an attempt to make a statement on its own it connects the story narrative. Not really sure how to assess this as a typical song, but that string arrangement does set the appropriate tone.
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  15. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley 5.1 should be mandatory for my favourite albums Thread Starter

    Wish Them Well

    • Producer Nick Raskulinecz told about the difficulties drummer Neil Peart had on this hard-edged party rocker. "This was the hardest drum track of any of the songs to get," he said. "Neil doesn't really play double-time, so this was taking him out of what he usually does. That wasn't always the idea; in fact, that was me trying to keep the energy up. The tune wanted to move, and the riff wanted to be big – it didn't want to be mellow or straight.

      Neil's the consummate pro, man," he continued. "He fu--ing dug in – sat down on his throne, picked up his sticks and made it happen. He's the dream for a producer to work with. I was throwing stuff at him that an octopus couldn't play, but he could.

      I know I keep going back to riffs, but the throb of this riff is so huge, and now the crack of the snare and the smack of the bass drum match it beautifully. We had to find that. It took all day, but it was worth it."
    • Speaking with Canada's Maclean's magazine, Neil Peart explained how the band came up with the concept for Clockwork Angels. "This started as a simple [idea]—the steampunk image and aesthetic I liked, I suggested to the guys as the basis for some kind of extended work," he said. "It built up to [the album] piece by piece by organic expansion. All the music was created by [bassist] Geddy [Lee] and [guitarist] Alex [Lifeson] jamming in the studio, and many of the lyrics were just extemporized over email."

      There's so much life experience in this story—it's not just a far-blown fantasy," continued Peart. "'Wish Them Well' [offers] a very mature response to the world that it took me a long time to learn. In a lot of our early stuff, my lyrical inspiration was anger, for sure. [laughs] There's still a lot I'm angry about, a lot of human behaviour that's appalling and despicable, but you choose what you can fight against. I always thought if I could just put something in words perfectly enough, people would get the idea and it would change things. That's a harmless conceit. With people too, you constantly think, 'If I'm nice to people and treat them well, they'll appreciate it and behave better.' They won't, but it's still not a bad way to live."
    • Speaking on the CBC Radio 2 program, The Strombo Show, Neil Peart discussed Rush's songwiting process: "Here is a good example of the Rush way of doing things," he said. "We've never given up on a song. We do not have a single unreleased song in the world. Because if we went far enough, we believed in it. We kept working on it. A lot of stuff got thrown away before it got that far, or siphoned into other songs."

      "I call my lyrical file the 'scrap file.' And I go when I'm looking for bits and pieces. And musically we're the same," Peart continued. "If the thing's not happening, we throw it away."

      "There's one song on Clockwork Angels that was… 'Wish Them Well', three times we wrote that song, and threw it away, and it was the third version, finally, that pleased us all," he added. "So, all the way along, the will was only fed by the inspiration… we believe in this song. But, inevitably, when you get to the recording stage and the mixing stage, it might not be what you envisioned. So we all have those certain songs that, 'Oh, I believed in that song. I thought it would be more.'"

    VICTIMIZED, BEREAVED, AND DISAPPOINTED, SEEMINGLY AT EVERY TURN, I still resist feeling defeated, or cynical. I have come to believe that anger and grudges are burning embers in the heart not worth carrying through life. The best response to those who wound me is to get away from them – and wish them well.

    All that you can do is wish them well
    All that you can do is wish them well

    Spirits turned bitter by the poison of envy
    Always angry and dissatisfied
    Even the lost ones, the frightened and mean ones
    Even the ones with a devil inside

    Thank your stars you’re not that way
    Turn your back and walk away
    Don’t even pause and ask them why
    Turn around and say goodbye

    People who judge without a measure of mercy
    All the victims who will never learn
    Even the lost ones, you can only give up on
    Even the ones who make you burn

    The ones who’ve done you wrong
    The ones who pretended to be so strong
    The grudges you’ve held for so long
    It’s not worth singing that same sad song

    Even though you’re going through hell
    Just keep on going
    Let the demons dwell

    Just wish them well

    Songwriters: Alex Lifeson / Geddy Lee / Neil Elwood Peart
    Wish Them Well lyrics © Ole Media Management Lp

    We open with a double time snare and some power chording, and the vocals come in very quickly.

    This is really about not dwelling on people who you can't connect with essentially. Wish them well and move on.
    As for the idea that these are all bad people, well that is a perspective. Certainly there are people each of us would perceive to be bad, or at least bad to us. When we look deeper, we can't really say we have never been bad to people. There is no person alive that at some point hasn't been selfish or rude or whatever to someone else. So really the only thing that kind of edges me against this lyric is the idea that it is only other people that have done bad things or been bad people..... it is just a part of human nature to fall into these pitfalls.
    On the whole though I like the lyrics. I somewhat assume all of us have had people in our lives that we have poured a certain amount of time and energy into, but at the end of the day had to walk away from. It is much nicer to walk away wishing someone well, then cursing and cussing. We are all who we are and, and the sooner we acknowledge our flaws and accept others have them too, the easier it all is.

    I like the musical movement. the walk up bass line guitar section works nicely and on the whole I like this song. It isn't in my "wow" pile, but it is a solid track.

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  16. JulesRules

    JulesRules Judge Mental

    Wish Them Well:

    Carve Away the Stone. Oh, what? This is just a contrived mixture of ideas that don't fit together well (including some reprises that go by unnoticed). This is typical of so many concept albums - you need something to fill a certain point in the story, and you come up with something very uninspired.
    Oh, and that repeated "Wish Them Well" really grates.

    I do like the lyrics, and as I said before they tie back into "The Anarchist" - because that's the negative role model. You can choose to become bitter and hateful or just say it's not worth your time (although I understand that it's not that easy for everyone). The message gets expanded upon in the last track then. Basically, try to be the best you can be... and that, in a way, is a humanist version of individualism, I guess.
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  17. Al Gator

    Al Gator You can call me Al

    The lyrics in Wish Them Well present a very positive message, and one that I have a hard time following these days. But musically it doesn't work for me. The melody isn't strong, and that repeated "all that you can do is wish them well" line just gets irritating. This is bottom-level Rush for me.
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  18. Megastroth

    Megastroth Forum Resident

    Wish Them Well
    Not a bad song but its in the lower half of the album. There is a strong similarity to Carve Away the Stone. I like the lyrics. As with much of the album, it is coming from a place of maturity. The young adult is often eager to engage in debate and confrontation to try to change minds. The older and wiser adult knows when its time to "wish them well" and move on. Of course some people may find themselves in a situation where they can't move on, but that's another story. Musically it's peppy with the half time snare, but the "carve Away the Stone" time change keeps things interesting. I agree with JulesRules that the piped in "wish them well" chorus gets a bit annoying. The instrumental break is fun, with the band rocking a bit harder. The live version has a little bit of a dance breakdown at the end.

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  19. Veovis

    Veovis Forum Resident

    I'm perplexed about Nick R:s words here. The drums in Wish Them Well is by Neil Peart standards pretty simplistic in composition/arrangement/execution. If Nick by "double time" refers to the kind of motownesque beat in the chorus NP has certainly done it before, and done it extremely well. The end section of Natural Science springs to mind. It's not that hard a beat to play for any half decent drummer.

    Regarding the song itself I think it together with BU2B2 is the low point of the album. It doesn't really work musically together with the rest of the songs on the album. The guys are back to the Vapor Trails formula of songwriting, forcing together jam ideas into a song without them really fitting that well together. Maybe it would have worked better on one of the previous albums of the 2000s?
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  20. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley 5.1 should be mandatory for my favourite albums Thread Starter

    I was too
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  21. Fischman

    Fischman RockMonster, ClassicalMaster, and JazzMeister

    New Mexico
    Wish Them Well

    Interesting to see a song that is all about love your enemies from a devout agnostic. It would seem that some wisdom transcends religious or philosophical stovepipes. That's a good thing.

    Musically, yeah, bottom half, but it's still quite good to my ears. As far as its place in the concept album, there's actually a measure of perfection here; this is the beginning of the resolution... a brilliant bridge between BU2B2 and the closing The Garden. I, for one, think that this serves the concept exceptionally well.
  22. RicB

    RicB Certified Porcupine Tree Fan

    Pacific NW, USA
    Wish Them Well

    A throwaway track. There's something a bit snarky in the lyrics - I don't really see it as a "love your enemies" perspective so much as it is "they're beyond redemption, so move on". I don't really sense that our protagonist "wishes them well" as much as he just wants to avoid further interaction.
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  23. BluesOvertookMe

    BluesOvertookMe Forum Resident

    Houston, TX, USA
    Wish Them Well
    This is an odd one, and I don't mean that in a bad way.

    Until the guitar solo section started this literally sounded rather 80s to me (and not Rush 80s). Maybe if Rush hadn't made the synth shift around Permanent Waves they would have sounded like this in 1989.

    The lyrics don't bother me (in fact, the advice is good) because they fit my goal of sounding good out of Geddy's mouth.

    I think this works more because of how it contrasts to the sound of the other songs on the album perhaps more than the song on its own, but it still works.
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  24. JulesRules

    JulesRules Judge Mental

    'Cause I won't be online tomorrow, I'll do this now, forgive me...

    The Garden:

    Finally, CA redeems itself with a beautiful string-enhanced ballad that, although I'm not sure they knew it at the time, makes a pretty neat finish to Rush's studio catalog. It's also the best closer on a Rush album since 1989's Available Light.
    Even here I struggle with the production - as soon as it gets more dramatic, the space disappears from the music, again making me feel that the ending is too long. The strings get washed away again, buried underneath that synth. And that piano break, gorgeous as it is, could've done with less reverb. But all this can't detract from the fact that this is just a great song. The lyrics are simply sublime, Geddy's emotional delivery is spot on, Alex's solo is melodic as hell. Bravo!
    And it makes me sad to realize that there are avenues the band could've explored instead of clinging so dearly to a rather stereotypical hard rock sound. As much as I like "Counterparts", it seems they couldn't or wouldn't return to a more diverse sound afterwards. A concept album like this really would've offered more space for experimentation, which Rush didn't make all that much use of (excepting "Halo Effect", "BU2B2" and "The Garden").

    Clockwork Angels overall:

    Don't get me wrong. Musically, there is a lot to like here - although the album suffers from the same length problem as the predecessors, it generally doesn't sound like a bad idea after the 1989-1996 retro-isms of S&A to go even further back and revive some of the sounds from the classic Rush era in a modern guise.
    The problem though... there is no restraint. It's like they knew it could be their last album, and therefore they had to put in EVERYTHING. Strings, synths, bass pedals, piano... I mean, all of those things had been used on Rush albums before, but not all at once! This madness is exemplified by the 100 guitar tracks on "BU2B", and amplified by the awful mixing and mastering. At least about half of the songs exist in better sounding versions, but this one seriously needs a remix and much more dynamic mastering...

    Then there is the issue with Geddy's voice. He was using his falsetto creatively on S&A (with mixed results), but by this point he was really in need of a vocal coach. The singing diminishes a lot of the compositions, and I suspect the overly dense mix might also be a result of trying to hide those flaws...

    The concept is OK by me but disappointingly, there isn't much to distinguish the music as conceptual other than a bit more (non-musical) transitions than usual and the odd (barely noticeable) reprise. In other words, if this is a concept album, then certainly Signals, Counterparts and S&A also all qualify. Plus, if you have to deduce the story from reading the introductions to each track, it's not such a greatly executed concept. Granted, 2112 was like that too - but the Cygnus X-1 suite not.

    Also, this might be down to personal taste, but I liked the less lofty and more earthy (those blues influences!) S&A more than this attempt at making the square of 2112, Hemispheres, P/G and PoWin combined...

    Purely from a listening pleasure standpoint, this is my least favourite Rush album (thankfully, I got to know Vapor Trails in the remixed version). But that's not because the music is bad. Why would I have tried to make it more listenable by burning my own self-made remaster? (Alas, I never made myself a permanent CD-R, I tried out some things on a CD-RW but never finished the project.) No, it's simply that the music is too good to sound so bad. And I know who's the main culprit - Nick Rasculinecz might be good at producing, but he obviously *sucks* at mixing. Some great music, but a very flawed end product.
    dirkster, Melllvar, robcar and 2 others like this.
  25. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Denver, CO
    I like "Wish Them Well". For me, that Byrds-like electric guitar line is what pulls me in. I'm an absolute sucker for that sound. I'm not as big on the instrumental bridge/guitar solo part of the song, which I think detracts from the overall melodic thrust. Geddy's vocals are again a problem and often take me out of what he is singing. I like the repeated chorus - it brings this track into more of a conventional song structure than some of the others on the album (which is a good thing). The lyrics are good and offer up a subject area that I struggle with - I want to change people's minds to get them to do the right things but it's a struggle, particularly when I'm dealing with people of middle age (or higher) who have a lifetime of biases and beliefs that I am trying to break down with facts and figures. In the end, sometimes, I have to wash my hands and move on and this song seems to speak to that conundrum.
    Lamus likes this.

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