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Articles Home » 1981 Articles » Rush - 1981 Moving Pictures
Rush - 1981 Moving Pictures

ALBUM: Moving Pictures
LABEL: Mercury
SERIAL: SRM-1-4013
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 1990, Mercury, 800-048-2 * 1997, Mercury, 314 534 631-2


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

TRACK LISTING: 01 Tom Sawyer * 02 Red Barchetta * 03 YYZ * 04 Limelight * 05 The Camera Eye * 06 Witch Hunt * 07 Vital Signs


Canadian trio Rush are well represented here. In a few weeks we'll have a majority of their more notable releases covered, and we'll start with one album that should've been on here ages ago: 1981's 'Moving Pictures'. For the first time in their career, Rush move left-of-center and create a radio friendly and commercial effort. As much as I thought that the previous album 'Permanent Waves' was a turning point in their fortunes, 'Moving Pictures' is probably the defining moment in the second phase/decade of their career. This album contains some fantastic songs, amazing musicianship and lyrics that aren't too esoteric for the 80's rock fan.

The Songs
Opening with 'Tom Sawyer', it's hard to know just who Rush are talking about here, my guess it's about the world of the Businessman in today's society. Musically, the song retains the same tempo all the way through, with all the typical Rush elements, fluid bass lines, incredible drum work and a sci-fi like synth motif. Could 'Red Barchetta' be the ultimate 'Top Gear' anthem? A song about the Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta (according to Peart, and not the Fiat Barchetta) inspired by the story 'A Nice Morning Drive', written by Richard S Foster in 1973, though set well into the future. Foster's vision of the future saw classic cars of the past forced off the road in this post petroleum world. Sort of like a Big Brother for the automotive industry. The instrumental 'YYZ' is a bonafide classic, as evidenced by popular opinion over the years, plus of course its inclusion in the Gaming world via Guitar Hero 2. A stab at commercialism courtesy of 'Limelight', a straight forward melodic number with a gentle chorus, before things start getting very technical and urgent on the solo section. A great track! The longest track here at nearly eleven minutes is the return-to-prog approach of 'The Camera Eye', with an abundance of synth, and the typical change-up musical passages, particularly the dramatic push toward the end recalling segments of their 'Permanent Waves' material. 'Witch Hunt' is a more subdued affair, capturing the mood of the song. The finale 'Vital Signs' takes a look at the human condition and its inability to handle the modern way of living. Though this was written back in 1980/81, the lyrics are quite pertinent in the early part of the 21st century, as we try to cope with a faster paced lifestyle, instant gratification, and the nonsensical amount of gadgets that control of lives. Is it technocracy gone wrong? Were Rush a trio of soothsayers predicting the predicament of our future?

In Summary
Released in February 1981, 'Moving Pictures' would go on to become one of Rush's better selling albums, eventually going 4 x platinum in the U.S. A live album would follow later that year in October entitled 'Exit Stage Left', which compromised of live tracks taken from the Moving Pictures Tour, plus a handful from the 1980 Permanent Waves Tour. though by all accounts the sound quality wasn't the best. All in all, some good tracks, and a nice companion piece to all the other Rush albums from this era.

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#1 | jeffrey343 on February 04 2010 15:13:14
Not only one of the landmark albums in their career, but also one of the landmark albums in my life. I was just getting into rock in 1981 (10th grade - I was a late bloomer), and this just blew me away. Lots of my classmates were wearing T-shirts from their tour, which hit my area a couple of months before I got this album.

Interestingly, I played this whole album in the car last night because my boys wanted to hear it. They're both percussionists, and they know that Neil Peart is one of the gods of the drum world.
#2 | thejbl on February 08 2010 17:36:04
an album I would take on a desert island with me - without even so much as a second thought to what else I'm bringing lol
#3 | Nick C on February 09 2010 05:25:04
The first Rush album I really loved, although I had A Farewell to Kings I got bored of pretty quickly as I was hearing it everywhere, same with Hemispheres...and I lost touch for an album or two, but I did still play oldie Caress of Steel a lot.

I spent ages learning the bass line to Red Barchetta, and I can still play it today...probably...maybe!
#4 | code4 on October 21 2015 16:00:56
I definitely agree with all the sentiments here. Every time i press play on this thing i can neither skip a song nor remove the cd till the whole album is finished.
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