Perhaps the most lavish box set ever released within the realm of progressive rock, this wonderfully designed, all-inclusive 3 section box set contains every release from this seminal band's career with Mercury Records. The collection is divided into 3 "sectors" each with 4 studio albums and the live album corresponding to that era. Plus, one album in each sector contains an additional DVD with 5.1 mix. The box construction is sturdy heavy cardboard, and when the 3 sectors are placed next to each other on a shelf or table top they form a road case with all the Rush logos on the outside. Nice. But from a cosmetic standpoint, the best feature of this reissue would have to be the individual albums. Each CD is housed within a mini album sleeve that is an exact replica of the original LP art and layout. For those that remember the double gate-fold style LP's from the 70's, these miniatures will bring back some great memories. However, since this "miniaturized" rendering makes some of the lyrical content too small to decipher, the band wisely chose to release a separate booklet (one for each sector) which contains photos artwork and reprinted, more legible lyrics from the corresponding albums in that set. The only disappointment here is that there are no additional liner notes in any of these booklets, and no lyrics are included for Rush and Fly By Night. Additionally, each recording has been digitally remastered so the sound quality is phenomenal. The lack of bonus material on any of the discs may be a disappointment to some, but for Rush purists this is a plus. The intent here was obviously to retain as much of the "original" feel of the releases, just translated into digital format. The only way, perhaps, to provide a better collection of Rush's Mercury years would be to release the same set with LP's instead of CD's and DVD's. Until that day, though, this is a wonderful way to cull the band's most prolific and most lauded recordings into a concise, yet comprehensive and complete package.
1977  A Farewell to Kings
A Farewell to Kings is the fifth studio album by the Canadian rock band Rush, released in 1977. It was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales, and mixed at Advision Studios in London. A Farewell to Kings would become Rush's first US gold-selling album, receiving the certification within two months of its release, and was eventually certified platinum.
On 1977's A Farewell to Kings it quickly becomes apparent that Rush had improved their songwriting and strengthened their focus and musical approach. Synthesizers also mark their first prominent appearance on a Rush album, a direction the band would continue to pursue on future releases. With the popular hit single "Closer to the Heart," the trio showed that they could compose concise and traditionally structured songs, while the 11-minute "Xanadu" remains an outstanding accomplishment all these years later (superb musicianship merged with vivid lyrics help create one of Rush's best all-time tracks). The album-opening title track begins with a tasty classical guitar/synth passage, before erupting into a powerful rocker. The underrated "Madrigal" proves to be a delicately beautiful composition, while "Cinderella Man" is one of Rush's few songs to include lyrics penned entirely by Geddy Lee. The ten-minute tale of a dangerous black hole, "Cygnus X-1," closes the album on an unpredictable note, slightly comparable to the two bizarre extended songs on 1975's Caress of Steel. A Farewell to Kings successfully built on the promise of their breakthrough 2112, and helped broaden their audience.
1. A Farewell To Kings (5:49)
2. Xanadu (11:04)
3. Closer To The Heart (2:51)
4. Cinderella Man (4:19)
5. Madrigal (2:33)
6. Cygnus X-1 (10:21)
Total Time: 36:57
Line-up / Musicians
- Alex Lifeson / guitars (6- & 12-strings electric and acoustic, classical), bass pedals
- Geddy Lee / bass, bass pedals, Mini-Moog, 12-string guitar, vocals
- Neil Peart / drums, orchestral & tubular bells, wind chimes, vibra-slap, percussions
1978  Hemispheres
Hemispheres is the sixth studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released in 1978. The album was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales and mixed at Trident Studios in London. It was the last of two albums they would record in the United Kingdom before returning to their homes in Canada.
Following themes going back to Rush's second album, Fly by Night, on Hemispheres lyricist Neil Peart continued to utilize fantasy and science fiction motifs. Similar to their 1976 release, 2112, the title track on Hemispheres takes up the entire first side of the album, and is a suite of songs telling a story - in this case, a continuation of the story begun in "Cygnus X-1 Book I: The Voyage" on the band's previous album A Farewell to Kings. The second side consists of two conventional tracks, "Circumstances" and "The Trees," and the band's first standalone instrumental, "La Villa Strangiato." According to drummer Neil Peart, they spent more time recording "La Villa Strangiato" than they did recording the entire Fly by Night album.
The album contains examples of Rush's adherence to progressive rock standards including the use of fantasy lyrics, multi-movement song structures, and complex rhythms and time signatures. In the 2010 documentary film Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, the band members comment that the stress of recording Hemispheres was a major factor in their decision to start moving away from suites and long-form pieces in their songwriting. That change in philosophy would manifest itself in the band's next album, the considerably more accessible Permanent Waves. The band's seventh album would mark their commercial success, paving the way for the multi-platinum Moving Pictures.
While such albums as 1980's Permanent Waves and 1981's Moving Pictures are usually considered Rush's masterpieces (and with good reason), 1978's Hemispheres is just as deserving. Maybe the fact that the album consists of only four compositions (half are lengthy pieces) was a bit too intimidating for some, but the near 20-minute-long "Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres" is arguably the band's finest extended track. While the story line isn't as comprehensible as "2112" was, it's much more consistent musically, twisting and turning through five different sections which contrast heavy rock sections against more sedate pieces. Neil Peart had become one of rock's most accomplished lyricists by this point, as evidenced by "The Trees," which deals with racism and inequality in a unique way (set in a forest!). And as always, the trio prove to be experts at their instruments, this time on the complex instrumental "La Villa Strangiato." Geddy Lee's shrieking vocals on the otherwise solid "Circumstances" may border on the irritating, but Hemispheres remains one of Rush's greatest releases.
1. Cygnus X-1 Book II Hemispheres (18:04)
- I Prelude (4:27)
- II Apollo/III Dionysus (4:36)
- IV Armageddon (2:55)
- V Cygnus (5:01)
- VI The Sphere (1:02)
2. Circumstances (3:40)
3. The Trees (4:42)
4. La Villa Strangiato (9:35)
- Buenos Nochas, Mein Froinds!
- To Sleep, Perchance To Dream...
- Strangiato Theme
- A Lerxst In Wonderland
- The Ghost Of The Aragon
- Danforth And Pape
- The Waltz Of The Shreves
- Never Turn Your Back On A Monster
- Monsters! (Reprise)
- Strangiato Theme (Reprise)
- A Farewell To Things
Total Time: 37:00
Line-up / Musicians
- Alex Lifeson / guitars (6- & 12-strings electric and acoustic, classical, Roland synth), bass pedals
- Geddy Lee / basses, Taurus bass pedals, Mini-Moog, Oberheim polyphonic synth, vocals
- Neil Peart / drums, orchestra bells, wind chimes, tympani, gong, crotales, percussions
1980  Permanent Waves
Permanent Waves is the seventh studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released on January 14, 1980. It was recorded at Le Studio in Morin Heights, Quebec, and mixed at Trident Studios in London, UK. Permanent Waves became Rush's first US top five album, hitting #4 on the Billboard 200, and their fifth gold (later platinum) selling album. The album marks a distinct transition from long, conceptual pieces, into a more accessible, radio-friendly style and consequently, a significant increase in record sales for the band. The singles "The Spirit of Radio" and "Freewill" both received significant radio airplay.
Since Neil Peart joined the band in time for 1975's Fly by Night, Rush had been experimenting and growing musically with each successive release. By 1980's Permanent Waves, the modern sounds of new wave (the Police, Peter Gabriel, etc.) began to creep into Rush's sound, but the trio still kept their hard rock roots intact. The new approach paid off -- two of their most popular songs, the "make a difference" anthem "Freewill," and a tribute to the Toronto radio station CFNY, "The Spirit of Radio" (the latter a U.K. Top 15 hit), are spectacular highlights. Also included were two "epics," the stormy "Jacob's Ladder" and the album-closing "Natural Science," which contains a middle section that contains elements of reggae. Geddy Lee also began singing in a slightly lower register around this time, which made their music more accessible to fans outside of the heavy prog rock circle. The album proved to be the final breakthrough Rush needed to become an arena headliner throughout the world, beginning a string of albums that would reach inside the Top Five of the U.S. Billboard album charts. Permanent Waves is an undisputed hard rock classic, but Rush would outdo themselves with their next release.
Permanent Waves is the band’s seventh studio album, released on January 14th, 1980. It was recorded at Le Studio, Morin Heights, Quebec, and mixed at Trident Studios in London. The tracks were laid down just shy of four weeks, in part attributed to the idyllic working conditions of Morin Heights.
The album marks a transition from long, conceptual pieces, into a more accessible, radio-friendly style. “The Spirit Of Radio” is one of the most commercial songs Rush has ever produced, containing several different musical elements, even a touch of reggae. At the time, Alex recalled:
“We’ve always played around with reggae in the studio and we used to do a reggae intro to Working Man onstage, so when it came to doing Spirit Of Radio we just thought we’d do the reggae bit to make us smile and have a little fun.”The waving man in the background of the album cover is actually Hugh Syme, the band’s long time design collaborator.
1. The Spirit of Radio (4:56)
2. Freewill (5:21)
3. Jacob's Ladder (7:26)
4. Entre Nous (4:37)
5. Different Strings (3:48)
6. Natural Science (9:17)
-I Tide Pools
-III Permanent Waves
Total Time: 35:25
Line-up / Musicians
- Alex Lifeson / 6- & 12-strings electric and acoustic guitars, Taurus bass pedals
- Geddy Lee / basses, bass pedals, synthesizers (Oberheim polyphonic, OB-1, Mini-Moog), vocals
- Neil Peart / drums, tympani, orchestral & tubular bells, timbales, wind chimes, crotales, triangle
- Hugh Syme / piano (5)
- Erwig Chuapchuaduah / steel drums (1)
1981  Exit Stage Left
Exit...Stage Left is a live album by Canadian band Rush, released in 1981. A video release of the same name, with slightly different content, was released in 1982 on VHS and later on LaserDisc, and in 2007 on DVD.
The album was voted 9th best live album of all time in a poll by Classic Rock Magazine in 2004.
The first, third, and fourth sides of the original vinyl issue were recorded in Canada during the Moving Pictures tour, while the second side was recorded in the UK during the Permanent Waves tour.
The original CD issue removed "A Passage to Bangkok", as CDs could only hold 75 minutes at the time. It was included on the 1997 remaster, as CD capacity had increased to 80 minutes by that time. Before the remastered version was released, the same live version of "A Passage to Bangkok" was released on the compilation Chronicles in 1990.
Exit… Stage Left, the band’s second live album, was recorded at The Apollo in Glasgow, Scotland on June 10th & 11th, 1980 and at The Forum in Montreal, Quebec in March 27th, 1981. A video release with the same name, with slightly different content, was released in 1982 on VHS and later on Laserdisc, and in 2007 on DVD.
As Rush advanced technologically into the early 80s, capturing flawless recorded performances became more and more challenging:
“Yes, we made a few repairs to the record. A part here and there would ruin an otherwise perfect song, so we patched up the odd bit. Sometimes we had hit the wrong thing or gone suddenly out of tune. It would be so much easier if we were perfect.” – Neil Peart, 1981.Exit… Stage Left was among the first Rush albums to be digitally mastered. As the world moved to the CD digital format, digital masters created from original analog recordings became a necessity. Rush’s previous studio album, Moving Pictures, was one of the first rock albums to be digitally mixed and mastered.
Live albums usually lack something in recording and instrumental quality. Not this one. As a big Rush fan who has most of their albums, I truly believe they were at the peak of their careers when they recorded this album. Neil Peart's drumming is incredible and listening to him live makes it even more dynamic. The drum solo in YYZ is worth the price of admission alone. All the great songs from their previous albums are here. My personal favorite is "The Trees", which sends shivers down my spine and I like the live version better then the original version. This is, IMO, the greatest Live Rock album ever produced.
1. Spirit Of Radio (5:12)
2. Red Barchetta (6:48)
3. YYZ (7:44)
4. Closer To The Heart 3:09)
5. Beneath, Between and Behind (2:34)
6. Jacobs Ladder (8:47)
7. Broon's Bane (1:37)
8. The Trees (4:50)
9. Xanadu (12:10)
10. Freewill (5:33)
11. Tom Sawyer (5:01)
12. La Villa Strangiato (9:38)
Total Time: 76:29
Line-up / Musicians
- Geddy Lee / bass, bass pedals, synthesizers, vocals, rhythm guitar
- Alex Lifeson / guitars, bass pedals
- Neil Peart / drums, percussion
1981  Moving Pictures
Moving Pictures is the eighth studio album by Canadian rock band Rush. It was recorded and mixed from October to November 1980 at Le Studio in Morin-Heights, Quebec, Canada, and released on February 12, 1981. Building on their previous album, Permanent Waves, Moving Pictures follows a more radio-friendly format and includes several of the band's best-known songs, such as the singles "Tom Sawyer" and "Limelight", the rock radio standard "Red Barchetta", and the instrumental "YYZ".
Moving Pictures became the band's highest-selling album in the United States, peaking at #3 on the Billboard 200, and it remains the band's most commercially successful recording. The album was one of the first to be certified multi-platinum by the RIAA upon establishment of the certification in October 1984, and eventually went quadruple platinum. Moving Pictures is one of two Rush albums listed in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (2112 is the other). Kerrang! magazine listed the album at #43 among the "100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time". In 2012, Moving Pictures was listed as #10 on 'Your Favorite Prog Rock Albums of All Time' by Rolling Stone. In 2014, readers of Rhythm voted Moving Pictures the greatest drumming album in the history of progressive rock.
The album cover art is a visual pun on the title, and a triple entendre. The first meaning is represented by the movers carrying pictures, with the second by the people watching them who are emotionally moved by the pictures. The third meaning is shown on the back cover, where the entire scene is revealed to be a set for a motion picture.
What can you say? Moving Pictures became the band’s biggest selling album in the U.S., rising to #3 on the Billboard charts. It remains Rush’s most popular and commercially successful studio recording. Rush’s complex songwriting and musical virtuosity reached new heights on this album.
Recorded and mixed from October to November 1980 at Le Studio, Moving Pictures followed a more radio-friendly format and includes several signature tracks, including “Tom Sawyer,” “Limelight,” “Red Barchetta,” and the band’s highly praised instrumental, “YYZ,” which is the IATA airport identification code of Toronto Pearson International Airport.
The album cover is a monument to triple entendre. Movers are physically moving pictures, people are crying because the pictures passing by are emotionally “moving,” and the back cover depicts a film crew making a “moving picture” of the whole scene.
Not only is 1981's Moving Pictures Rush's best album, it is undeniably one of the greatest hard rock albums of all time. The new wave meets hard rock approach of Permanent Waves is honed to perfection -- all seven of the tracks are classics (four are still featured regularly in concert and on classic rock radio). While other hard rock bands at the time experimented unsuccessfully with other musical styles, Rush were one of the few to successfully cross over. The whole entire first side is perfect -- their most renowned song, "Tom Sawyer," kicks things off, and is soon followed by the racing "Red Barchetta," the instrumental "YYZ," and a song that examines the pros and cons of stardom, "Limelight." And while the second side isn't as instantly striking as the first, it is ultimately rewarding. The long and winding "The Camera Eye" begins with a synth-driven piece before transforming into one of the band's more straight-ahead epics, while "Witch Hunt" and "Vital Signs" remain two of the trio's more underrated rock compositions. Rush proved with Moving Pictures that there was still uncharted territory to explore within the hard rock format, and were rewarded with their most enduring and popular album.
1. Tom Sawyer (4:34)
2. Red Barchetta (6:08)
3. YYZ (4:24)
4. Limelight (4:21)
5. The Camera Eye (10:57)
6. Witch Hunt (Part III of Fear) (4:44)
7. Vital Signs (4:47)
Total Time: 39:55
Line-up / Musicians
- Alex Lifeson / 6- & 12-strings electric and acoustic guitars, Taurus bass pedals
- Geddy Lee / basses, bass pedals, synthesizers (Oberheim polyphonic, OB-X, Mini-Moog), vocals
- Neil Peart / drums, timbales, orchestra bells, glockenspiel, wind chimes, crotales, percussions
- Hugh Syme / synthesizers (6)