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Rock of Ages: Rush's New Concept Album
Once known as the kings of "Prog Rock," the Canadian band Rush haven’t done this in more than 30 years and that’s released a concept album.
In 1976 the band released their first ever concept album titled 2112. The “A” side of that landmark album of course featured the monumental “2112,” and the band followed that up with the album Hemispheres in 1978 (even though many say that the album “A Farewell to Kings” made up a trilogy) and then the band went in different directions, beginning with the release of Permanent Waves in 1980.
This past Father’s day I treated myself to the band’s latest release and announced their powerful return with of all things a concept album. The album is called “Clockwork Angels,” and the concept behind the album is about a young man who’s on a quest to follow his dreams.
During this quest, the young man finds himself caught between the very powerful forces of Order & Chaos. The young man is traveling in a landscaped world of steam-punk oddities, where pirates can be found, and fantastical locations, with precision crafted flying machines that are made from metal… and all the while there is a clockmaker whose mechanization's impose his precise and exacting will over this strange world.
As Rush’s 20th studio album, Clockwork Angels is the follow up to their 2007 release Snakes & Arrows, and band again returned to the studio with Nick Raskulinecz in tow. Raskulinecz, who worked with the band on Snakes & Arrows as their producer, was able to really bring the best out of the band and so was asked to return on this new album.
Rush and their chosen producer entered Blackbird Studios in 2010 to begin recording the songs “Caravan” and “BU2B” as singles that were released as single downloads, and eventually appeared on their newest album.
At the same time, the band was also on tour between 2009 and 2010. Rush’s Time Machine tour featured the band playing the whole A side of the album “Moving Pictures” in its entirety, much to the delight of their world wide audience. The band returned to the studio in 2011 to finish recording the rest of the songs for their album. That would become Clockwork Angels, and eventually see release on the 12th of June of this year.
I’ve had the chance to listen to Clockwork Angels a few times at this point in its entirety, and if I compare it to its 1976 and 78 predecessors the most obvious thing that I’ve noticed is the sense that this band has really matured as musicians.
The band member’s mastery over their instruments is beyond impressive. Hearing that mastery on a recorded album is one thing, but witnessing that mastery in a live performance is a totally different affair. As fans we cannot wait to see the band perform these and other songs live on their upcoming tour, and I know that all Rush fans feels the same way.
With 30 years plus and counting, this trio of three friends from Canada continue to write and record the sort of music that you would expect to hear coming from four or more musicians, and they keep astounding us with their nightly performances.
Here’s to Rush, a band that just see themselves as regular guys that just happen to be musicians that are just living in the limelight.