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Rush - 1985 Power Windows

ALBUM: Power Windows
LABEL: Mercury
SERIAL: 826098-1
YEAR: 1985
CD REISSUE: 1987, Mercury, 826 098-2 M-1 * 1997, Mercury, 314 534 635-2


LINEUP: Geddy Lee - vocals, bass, keyboards * Alex Lifeson - guitars * Neil Peart - drums, percussion

Andy Richards - additional keyboards * Jim Burgess - additional synthesizers * Anne Dudley - strings arrangement * Andrew Jackman - conductor, choir arrangements * The Choir - additional vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 The Big Money * 02 Grand Design * 03 Manhattan Project * 04 Marathon * 05 Territories * 06 Middletown Dreams * 07 Emotion Detector * 08 Mystic Rhythms


Out of all the Rush discography, 'Power Windows' is the album that I have played the least. Though still quite prolific through this stage of their career, 'Power Windows' was consigned to the back of the house when other more popular albums took precedence (Michael Bolton's 'Everybody's Crazy' anyone?). As we've read with Rush's prior albums during the early 80's, the band were embracing technology, more so than many other acts, while their lyrics were taking on a socialist view of the world. For me this is a catch up opportunity with 'Power Windows', and I could chastise myself endlessly for putting this album on the back-burner. The production here is amazing, the keyboard work even better than before. The trio bought in keyboardists Andy Richards and Jim Burgess to flesh out the layers and their contribution should not be understated. Rush spent most of 1985 in preparation for this release, which eventually saw it on the shelves at the tail end of October that year. The material here is even more synth driven, Lifeson's guitars are more about fills and sunbursts, rather than stinging leads and solos. It wouldn't be the first hard rock album to keep guitar solos to a minimum.

The Songs
Neil Peart's 'The Big Money' takes a look at the commercialism during the mid 80's. If Neil thought it was bad back then, what must he think about it now? A beautiful clean sounding synth is the underlying feature of this track, it segues into a hi-tech wonderment that gets this album to a fantastic start. 'Grand Designs' contains more of the same, the whole musicianship/interplay working well in unison, some of the passages border on stunning. 'Manhattan Project' is a track that will appeal to all the conspiracy theorists out there, based on the splitting of the atom and the eventual creation of the atomic bomb. References to Enola Gay, fateful August day, shut-down the Rising Sun are all included. 'Marathon' is Rush's tribute to survival, again the guitar and synth lines are incredibly rich and clean, Lee's popping bass lines also a feature. Call it nationalism, tribalism whatever, Rush explore the issue of independence of nations on 'Territories', a big theme to cover for sure, while on the next track 'Middletown Dreams' they retrench completely, and head back to the suburbs, and look at the normalcy of life on a smaller scale. Emotions and feelings are the drivers for 'Emotion Detector' while the closer 'Mystic Rhythms' toggles between reality and the dream world, with the music alternating between mainly synths and percussive passages.

In Summary
'Power Windows' captures Rush at the forefront of their technical capability, some of the songs made suitable candidates for MTV as well - that much is a given. The album made it to #10 in the Billboard Charts, a handful of songs also saw minor chart action, 'The Big Money' being the most successful of these. Rush's love affair would continue with 1987's 'Hold Your Fire', but by 1989, the band had chucked all the keyboards out of the studio and returned to zero with that year's album 'Presto'.

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#1 | trillion1999 on October 19 2011 15:11:13
Oh the irony! When I finally got to buy all the remastered Rush-CDs from the first to this one.This one was the one I found most consistent and with all tracks making me want to hear it again.I would like to hear everything recorded by the boys.I have not got anything after Hold Your Fire so far.Liked most of what I heard from them.Mostly because of Geddy Lee.Nothing to do with the base-playing but my fetish for extreme and unusual voices though not of the growling and guttural kind.Neil Peart is another factor not because of his drum-skills but his interesting lyrics.
#2 | super80boy on March 17 2014 20:07:49
Although they were fully embracing new technology at this point in their career, this album does boast some important tracks. I still do like the cheeky made for radio single 'The Big Money'. This is an album that requires repeated spins to really get the full thrust of it.
#3 | code4 on October 22 2015 15:25:02
What a great sounding album. Bought this after one listen the other night. Not sure how i have spent two years owning albums i have always loved like Moving Pictures and Signals and not bought more from Rush. What should i buy next i wonder? Permanent waves or 2112? Hell, i'll just collect them all. That should remedy the problem.

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