ALBUM: Hold Your Fire
CD REISSUE: 2009, Mercury, P2-34636 (remastered)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Geddy Lee - bass guitars, synthesizers, vocals * Alex Lifeson - electric and acoustic guitars * Neil Peart - drums, percussion
TRACK LISTING: 01 Force Ten * 02 Time Stands Still * 03 Open Secrets * 04 Second Nature * 05 Prime Mover * 06 Lock And Key * 07 Mission * 08 Turn The Page * 09 Tai Shan * 10 High Water
One thing for sure is that if you ran a straw poll on the best Rush album, there would be a good chance nearly all their albums may appear at least once. Of course albums like '2112', 'Signals' and 'Moving Pictures' may gain a large proportion of the votes. Least we forget the era that creates the most discussion and sharp intake of breath would be the time that this one from 1987 was released. Maybe alot of consternation, hanging of heads, however there would be a branch of the Rush fan club who very much enjoys this era. I for one of course enjoyed the early albums especially the first trio that were re-issued together under 'Archives', one of the first marketing ploys? and listening to the singles that punctuated the charts, like the classic 'Spirit Of Radio', 'Tom Sawyer' and 'Subdivisions'. I have rediscovered this 'keyboard' era and find this release coming in with a bullet in my top 5 Rush albums. Of course at this time Rush were playing around with the shorter format of song writing, gone were the long compositions that found pride of place in 'Hemispheres' and 'A Farewell To Kings', however even in those times they could always produce the odd 7 inch vinyl cracker. What is evident in this recording and their whole career is that the Rush juggernaut keeps ploughing ahead, only diverting the odd time to pursue extra curricular activities whether that be a Geddy solo album, 'My Favorite Headache', the 'Victor' project by Alex or in the case of Neil a very fine author and prolific reader.
Remember, past performances is no guarantee for future success so it's good we have a pretty storming opener with 'Force Ten', after the sound effects of pneumatic drill and steam train, you quickly get sucked up into a fierce hurricane of melody. Typical Rush traits, Geddy vocals, a sheen to the razor sharp riffs, improvised drums. Excellent.
While I have read the odd book or two over the recent years I would never lay claim to be clever enough to be able to interpret Mr Peart's lyrics but even to my limited literature knowledge the words and sentences that make up 'Time Stand Still' must be some of the most thought provoking. It deals with getting older; losing of experience, memories, for me the lost chance of speaking to my Grandfather about his World War 2 situations he found himself in. Song wise, well just exceptional, highly melodic, beautiful melodies, lots of feeling and as previously mentioned, a slice of nostalgia in terms of the lyrical content.
There are so many facets to 'Open Secrets' that make it so appealing. For one it has plenty of bite, a slightly more aggressive side on display here and if this makes a dirty stain on the carpet then it's wiped away by the cleansing guitar chords followed by some superb keyboards.
'Second Nature' has the telling lyric of 'we fight the fire - while we're feeding the flames'
. This is a more laid back, relaxed, thoughtful. Amazing when you can couple such emotion and powerful message together in such a simple song. Instruments and melodies working in partnership never a third element trying to distract your concentration away from the tune. 'The point of the journey, is not to arrive, anything can happen'
- the opening line of Chapter 3 of Neil Peart's 'Ghost Rider', well worth a read. This also forms the basis of the next track. Now to me, 'Prime Mover' was never the most obvious single. It still fails to make a great 3 minute juke box repeater. Not saying it isn't a good song, it's that I just prefer the opening pairing for overall catchiness. Anyway it still contains lots of 'helicopter keyboards', so it can't be that bad.
An epic opening provides us with 'Lock And Key'; together with a slight oriental feel which is revisited again later in the shape of 'Tai Shan'. This track contains the most power chords of the whole 10. A frantic show of complete control.
'Mission' is the most played song from this batch, but not the most obvious reasons. In fact if you track down the Rush tribute album, title 'Working Man' issued by Magna Carta Records in 1996, it contains an excellent version of this by Eric Martin
. A strange choice but it suits Eric's voice perfectly and the Rush self version doesn't need any alterations to fit. Love the bit of xylophone!, takes me back to my old school music lessons. Ignore my reminiscing; above all it's a classic.
'Turn The Page' is another perfect track and probably the most keyboard/synth orientated song on offer, quickly followed by 'Tai Shan' which opens with some traditional instruments. It is a little bit like a singing holiday postcard. It's not a sturdy or strong rock tune but more delicate, reflective but still doesn't sacrifice the quality levels. Only the last track, 'High Water' misses out to register a big score.
For me probably the only group I have reviewed that there is no need to use any comparison's to discuss their music.
If you revisit my opening question being what is your favourite Rush album?, it could be easy to dismiss this one, due to the wholesale changes compared to the groups first decade of releases. But it's well worth another appraisal, as the quality of the tunes is plain to see, it's just whether you take the time for another listen. The very minimalist cover is certainly at odds with the highly tuned and detailed compositions. The first seven tracks on the album are quality and just like the inlay tray graphic the Rush thumbprint is definitely all over this album.
Related ArticlesRush - 1977 A Farewell To KingsRush - 1978 HemispheresRush - 1980 Permanent WavesRush - 1981 Moving PicturesRush - 1982 SignalsRush - 1984 Grace Under PressureRush - 1985 Power WindowsRush - 1987 Hold Your FireRush - 2007 Snakes And ArrowsRush - 2012 Clockwork Angels
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