Archive for April, 2015

Hail Rush! These 5 Bands Cite Rush As A Major Musical Influence

alex3For over 40 years progressive rock group Rush has motivated a myriad of fans into becoming artists. To truly understand their work is to delve deeply into their unique collection of over 20 albums and listen to their wealth of sounds and styles. As their industry changing style has proven, with a dream and unique sound, truly great things can happen.

The group first formed in 1970 when Toronto based, high school friends, lead singer and bassist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and drummer John Rutsey, having all been fans of British rock and early metal, decided to experiment and play together as a group. Eventually, due to health issues, Rutsey left the group, being replaced by now legendary drummer Neil Peart.

In this article we will discuss some of the amazing acts that this act has influenced with their eclectic style and fantastic lyrics.

1. The Foo Fighters
This Seattle group, which is considered to be the spiritual successor of mega-group Nirvana, has been one of the most widely known artists of the last two decades. Lead by lead guitarist, front man and former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, their own unique sound has drawn a lot of influence from Geddy Lee and crew.

Grohl himself a famous drummer and vocalist, cites Lee’s vocals and Peart’s famous drum beats as major influences. During the group’s induction into the rock and roll hall of fame, Grohl and his fellow Foo Fighter member Taylor Hawkins, were selected to provide the accompanying speech.

2. Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor

Not many artists are as famously multi-instrumental as Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor. A complex talent, Reznor has performed in various positions in the entertainment industry, from working behind the scenes as a song producer, to his vocal and instrumental duties for NIN. Not afraid to experiment since the 1980s, Reznor is considered one the the recording industries’ most prominent Jack of all Trades.

In an interview in 2010 Reznor said the famous act was, “One of the best bands ever” and stated that the sound from the group’s offering Signals in 1982 was one of the motivating factors in his inclusion of keyboards into his performances.

3. Smashing Pumpkins

There are few artists in existence which exemplify the dynamic world of alternative music better than Billy Corgan’s Smashing Pumpkins. Rocketing to stardom with their complex offering Siamese Dream, Smashing Pumpkins is still to this day making excellent records. Corgan, a known auteur has created a constantly evolving, yet identifiable sound throughout the years. Known for layering guitars, he has cited on numerous occasions that his influences have ranged from the heavy metal songs of the 70’s and 80s to the arena sound typical of groups like KISS.

Recently in an interview about Rush in Hollywood, Corgan said, “If you had told me in Chicago when I was a kid that I’d be introducing them someday for their Hollywood star, I wouldn’t have believed it, because they were literally my favorite band when I was a kid.” He has also stated in the past that some of the distinct sounds that he has created, including his famously creative guitar layering, was directly as result of Geddy Lee and crew’s guitar-laden influence.

4. Dream Theater

Dream Theater, the technical juggernaut of progressive metal, has been filling arenas with their creative authenticity and expertise since the eighties. Their sound, which explores their singular expertise using various instruments has been appreciated for many years. Formed in 1985 by guitarist John Petrucci, bassist John Myung, and drummer Mike Portnoy originally played under the name Majesty, and has been rocking auditoriums for nearly three decades.

Of all the groups listed, Geddy Lee and his groupmates’ influence is most clear here. In 2014 John Pertucci said, “If I had to pick a favorite band of all time, it would be Rush. As a teenager, I was already familiar with the group and its albums like Moving Pictures and Signals. But once I discovered 2112, it opened me up to this whole concept that rock music could be bigger than just a tune—that it could be used as a vehicle to tell a story or to transport you to some other world.”

Also to this day, a Dream Theater performance is a great place to hear some amazing covers.

5. Rage Against the Machine

Socially Rebellious artists Rage Against the Machine, while currently not recording and in a hiatus, was one of the more riotous acts to debut in the later 1990s-early 2000s. Their authority shrugging style and raucous lyrics made for incredibly exciting concerts and left an indelible mark on music history.

Tom Morello the eclectic guitarist of Rage once said, “I was always drawn to metal, but the devil stuff and the groupie stuff never really spoke to me. But they were great musicians. Three of the greatest musicians on their particular instrument somehow all managed to be in one band.”

Five history making artists all drawing influence from another history making act? Clearly this displays the reciprocal nature of the music business and how much a group can influence later generations of music makers. What will be interesting is observing how these groups themselves influence the next generation.


Rush Through The Years: Album Cover Art

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Over the years, progressive rock has garnered a well deserved reputation for giving the world some of the most creative album art. In addition to the famously epic musical creations created by groups such as Yes, Kansas and others, progressive rock has long been known for iconic album cover imagery. Just think of the famous prism on “Dark Side of the Moon.”

Solid Entertainment And Classic Imagery

When it comes to graphic imagery, Rush has long been known as one of the bands with the biggest budgets and grandest imaginations. Rush albums are known for thought provoking images, which are frequently filled with puns, in-jokes, and hints as to the content Neil Peart’s lyrical matter.

Rush albums have always striven to give the listener just a little bit more than mere casual entertainment. Sure, there’s plenty of virtuoso soloing and headbanging riffs to be found on every one of them. But there’s also plenty of thematic lyrical content for fans to ponder over. And one of the chief components of the group’s lasting appeal has been their penchant for classic visual imagery on nearly all of their releases.

The Most Famous Graphic Designmovingpic

While records such as Hemispheres, Grace Under Pressure, and Fly By Night all have memorable and creative cover designs, one would be hard pressed to find a more iconic candidate for the title of “Most Famous Rush Graphic Design” than Moving Pictures. It’s a true classic, and also a real head-scratcher.

The image of the hirsute men in red uniforms delivering (or is it pilfering?) the classic art to or from the grand looking building really manages to set the listener’s expectation that something grand lies in store for them once they put the needle on the record (or, these days, press “Play”). It’s a truly intriguing mix of color, content, and creative presentation that every prog rock fan has probably spent hours questioning and analyzing!

Graphic artist Hugh Syme won a “Best Album Graphics” Juno Award for Moving Pictures. You can view an interview with Mike Dixon, who worked with Syme and played the role of one of the movers moving a painting on the legendary Moving Pictures album. It was actually shot as a movie in front of the Ontario Legislative Building in Toronto. Syme was the creative genius behind several of Rush’s cover art, including 2112, A Farewell to Kings, Hemispheres, Grace Under Pressure, Exit Stage Left, Signals and many others.

21122112

One of the most iconic and enduring of all Rush albums, past and present, is 2112. The famous red star emblazoned on the cover has been the object of endless controversy and speculation among fans and critics of the long running group. Does the red star signify the infamous Satanic pentagram? Is it an homage to the red star of Communism? What’s it all about? Syme was  the logo’s creative instigator.

As it turns out, the famous five pointed explosion of color isn’t meant to be any of those things. Neil Peart, who penned the lyrics of the epic 20-minute title track, meant the red star to be a representation of the United Federation of Planets, the mythical galactic government that causes all the trouble for the song’s youthful protagonist (and, no, this article won’t provide any further spoilers as to the song’s plot line!). The recent reissue edition includes liner notes from Peart that go further into the matter, and also reveal that part of the inspiration came from his reading of famous Libertarian author Ayn Rand.

The Most Underrated Rush Album Design

While the group has always striven to provide its listeners with the ultimate quality product, it is true that a few of their releases have been less than stellar when it comes to the artwork provided. For example, their debut was a hurried affair, recorded on a shoestring budget with minimal funds left over to pay for the sleeve art.

However, since most of the group’s releases have been hotly anticipated and very well received, it was bound to happen that a few of them have been overlooked or lost in the shuffle. Fly By Night, in particular, is an album that many Rush fans rate less highly than they should. Not only do many fans of the group overlook the ground breaking synthesis of Zeppelin-ish hard rock and Yes-styled prog, but they also forget about one of the sleeve designs that practically defined their early era.

The simple, somewhat amateurish, presentation of a giant owl like creature touching down on a snowy Canadian field might be somewhat dated and comical by today’s sophisticated and exacting standards. However, in the far off days of the mid 1970s, such imagery was par for the course, and certainly helped to set the tone for the music that discerning listeners hoped to discover within. Fly By Night was also, of course, the first release to feature new drummer Neil Peart, so a bit of imaginative imagery was quite in order to mark the occasion.
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