RUSH — Fly by Night (review)

RUSH — Fly by Night album cover Album · 1975 · Hard Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
Modrigue
A little proggy hard rock animal

First RUSH album with drummer Neil Peart, "Fly by Night" is also the first one to clearly feature progressive passages and to shape the style that will become the trio's future musical trademark. The songs are overall in the same catchy 70's hard rock vein than its predecessor's, but some tracks are more elaborated and varied, alternating soft and aggressive passages. Furthermore, new themes are addressed, such as heroic fantasy.

This evolution is partly due to the arrival of Neil Peart. Already an highly skilled drummer, his play style increased the complexity of the songs' rhythmic sections. He also wrote most of the lyrics of this record.

The first side of the disc is the best. The thundering "Anthem" is simply a great powerful opener. Nearly heavy metal, it sounded quite aggressive for the time! "Best I Can" and "Beneath, Between & Behind" are more conventional hard rock'n'roll songs, pleasant and punchy. However, the highlight here is undoubtedly the 8 minutes mini-epic "By-tor And The Snow Dog". Longest track of the album, this song is one of the progressive passages of the disc as well as one of RUSH's first inclusion of fantasy lyrics. Displaying the musicians' skills, it alternates various soli, rhythm changes, different ambiances and even surprising instrumental passages with a space rock feel! This complex composition clearly announces announces RUSH's future musical direction. Very cool!

The second side is unfortunately less convincing. The autobiographical title track narrates Neil Peart's experience when moving from Canada to London as a young musician. The tune is overall average and a little repetitive. "Making Memories" is a semi-acoustic folk piece that can remind LED ZEPPELIN III at times. Not really remarkable, but enjoyable. The other song taking inspiration from fantasy is "Rivendell", referring Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings". Looking promising, this fully acoustic ballad is finally soapy and lengthy. The record finishes with "In The End", a pleasant soft piece mutating into a slow heavy rock. The best track of this second side.

"Fly by Night" is the release where RUSH slowly begins to craft its identity, by showing the members' mastership in their respective instruments. Combined with energetic hard rock and catchy melodies, complex structures and rhythm breaks will be the musical signature of the band for the years to come.

As one of RUSH's most uneven album from the 1974-1984 period, this second opus is nonetheless enjoyable and contains powerful passages. Not the one to start with for newcomers, but recommended for fans.

Since then, the Geddy Lee / Alex Lifeson / Neil Peart line-up will become one of the most stable formation in the rock'n'roll history and is still remaining for 40 years now...
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Unitron wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Good review, I agree that this one is pretty inconsistent, but some tracks are classics such as Anthem.
aglasshouse wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Although it is jumbled I do love this album to death. Nice review!

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