Hard Rock

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Hard rock, or heavy rock, is a genre of rock music which is tied in with heavy metal at several levels. The hard rock sound is typically characterized by heavily distorted guitars, potent riffage, and strong and solid drums which, along with the bass, constitute the rhythm section, while the vocals are often aggressive and draw primarily on expression, as hard rock vocalists often incorporate screams, wails, growls, raspiness and falsetto voice and other techniques that one rarely encounters in types of popular music outside of the rock music sphere. Hard rock is heavier, more aggressive and harsher than pop rock and many other types of rock music and is thus based on the same aesthetic as much heavy metal music is.

Hard rock emerged in the mid 1960s and early 1970s as musicians within various rock subgenres of that era (such as, for instance, blues rock, progressive rock, psychedelic rock, southern rock, boogie rock and garage rock among others) began experimenting with distortion, heaviness, intensity and aggression. The sound that such artists developed would eventually become the sound associated with heavy metal music in general, and the early hard rock sound is often considered identical to the proto-metal sound, and, at the time, the terms ‘hard rock’, ‘heavy rock’, and ‘heavy metal’ were synonymous.

As artists like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, and later Judas Priest, began to gradually move their music away from its blues roots and into darker territory, ‘heavy metal’ began to be used with reference to the type of music resulting from this darker and more intense type of rock music, while many other artists who contributed to the establishment of the proto-metal sound retained their blues influences, and also began incorporating other elements into their music, and by the 1980s, hard rock was generally considered more commercially oriented and more melodic than heavy metal music. The histories of hard rock and heavy metal remained intertwined, though, as many hard rock artists would often take their music into heavy metal territory and incorporate elements from various subtypes of heavy metal into their music, while heavy metal artists would continue to draw on influences from both contemporary and early hard rock. Also, many artists would experiment with both heavy metal music and hard rock, releasing albums and singles some of which fall under the hard rock rubric while others fall under the heavy metal rubric. In addition, several subgenres and movements in heavy metal have close associations with hard rock - for instance, many NWoBHM artists would extensively draw on hard rock (some even being more hard rock than heavy metal), while glam metal is often conflated with hard rock.

The term ‘hard rock’ is used in a number of different ways. Sometimes, it is used as an antonym of ‘soft rock’ which refers to pop rock, folk rock and other types of rock music which do not emphasize distorted guitars – this definition is very broad and includes any type of guitar-driven rock, not necessarily related to heavy metal music, including punk rock, grunge and even Brit pop. Another broad definition is the use of the term ‘hard rock’ with reference to heavy metal music in general, while a more specific use of the term is restricted to blues-based pentatonic rock music performed with intensity and heaviness on distorted guitars, thus excluding many artists who combine rock with elements from heavy metal. Another definition, which is the one that the MMA operates with, emphasizes the heaviness of hard rock compared to other types of rock music as well as its relation to metal, placing hard rock within the sphere of heavy metal music on the scale of heaviness and intensity underneath traditional heavy metal, but above other types of rock music. On this definition the ethos that characterizes heavy metal music in general, is applied to hard rock as well, thus largely excluding rock genres like punk rock and grunge rock (with exceptions, of course), as well as individual artists and releases whose sound cannot be said to bear any similarity to heavy metal music or to have any relation to heavy metal music at all. This definition cuts across rock music subgenres, and will thus include artists from, say, southern rock or AOR whose sound involves a considerable amount of heavy metal elements while excluding other southern rock or AOR artists that do not integrate heavy metal elements into their music.

Inclusive Hard Rock Genres

Heavy Psych Also known as Psychedelic Hard Rock or Hard Psych, heavy psych is a fusion genre between hard rock and psychedelic rock developed by acts such as Blue Cheer and Vanilla Fudge in the late 1960's. As such many early heavy psych acts can also be found under proto-metal on the MMA. Like with all hard rock on MMA, heavy psych acts are only included if they have been deemed to have a relevance to heavy metal music. Examples of later heavy psych acts include Blood Ceremony (whose work also leans into doom metal), Purson and Jess and the Ancient Ones.

Heavy Prog Also known as Progressive Hard Rock, heavy prog acts add a harder edge to their core progressive rock sound, which may or may not include metal elements as well, but are still primarily progressive rock artists. Like with all hard rock on MMA, heavy prog acts are only included if they have been deemed to have a relevance to heavy metal music, though as always this distinction need not apply to every release the artist has made. Examples of acts in the MMA database with heavy prog releases include Porcupine Tree, Arena and Touchstone.

Sub-genre collaborators (+ child sub-genres (except Heavy Alternative Rock) & shared with Heavy Metal and Glam Metal):
  • 666sharon666 (Leader)

Biography written by Time Signature. The Inclusive Genre section written by adg211288.

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MAGNUM Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow

Album · 2007 · Hard Rock
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This was the third Magnum album after their reunion, and it's another high-quality slab of material from the band - certainly suggesting they still had some fresh ideas to offer. It's not a revolutionary release - still largely in that strange middle ground between neo-prog, the poppier flavours of NWOBHM and melodic rock rock that their classic albums occupy, this time around with substantially less in the way of NWOBHM and more of those other two ingredients. It's a bit more introspective than, say On a Storyteller's Night, as the wistful album opener When We Were Younger strongly emphasises, but it's a delightful development of Magnum's music into a mature style.

NINGEN ISU Taihai Geijutsu-Ten

Album · 1998 · Heavy Psych
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Taihai Geijitsu-ten is the seventh album by Ningen Isu. It features the return of Masahiro Goto on drums, who had previously played on the fourth album, Rashoumon in 1993. The album was released on the Trycle label, their only album with that label. After the band's contract with Meldac expired in 1994, they released an album on an independent label in 1995 and then were fortunate enough to release their sixth album on Pony Canyon thanks to a collaboration with a manga artist. But after that, they were still without a regular label and their drummer, Iwao Tsuchiya left the band.

The album title translates as "Degenerate Art Exhibit" and was inspired by the Nazi exhibits of modernist art in the 1930's as examples of degenerate art. Guitarist Shinji Wajima reckoned that rock and pop music were also a type of degenerate art and thought it would make a good album title.

The music here has taken a retro turn once more. The guitar sound is decidedly old school, early seventies, and at least a couple of reviewers have called this album very heavy psych. The opening track, Tainai Meguri, begins with some punchy chords and Goto's psychedelic/early seventies/Ginger Baker-inspired drumming. The album stays pretty close to this approach and wraps up sounding very much like a lost gem of 72/73.

As is usual for a Ningen Isu album, there are heavy stoner rock / early doom metal tracks with a strong Sabbath influence. "Ahen-kutsu no Otoko (The Man in the Opium Den)" and "Dunwich no Kai (The Dunwich Horror)" are two tracks that hammer low and heavy. But there's more to the album than just that.

"Kuzouzu no Scat" is a grooving, hard rock track whose title was inspired by Heian Period Buddhist art in Japan that depicts in nine frames the stages of decay of a human corpse. Wajima's "Chu, churu, chu-chu-chu-chuu, yeah" sounds strangely like Jim Morrison. Suzuki's "Chinurareta Hinamatsuri (Blood-soaked Dolls Day)" is a unique cross of progressive heavy rock and traditional Japanese singing. It also includes what I think is a Taishogoto, a type of koto, a traditional stringed-instrument. Meanwhile, "Kikuningyou no Noroi (Curse of the Chrysanthemum Doll)" is probably the only Ningen Isu song to have any keyboards, but only at the end, and "Ginga Tetsudou 777 (Galaxy Express 777)" is the only track in their catalogue to include horns.

Two other tracks that stand out for me are "Mura no Hazure de Big Bang", a song that captures the band's humorous side. The lyrics open with, "Today is the Sheep's Sports Day / One Sheep, two sheep they jump over the fence". The song's chorus mentions an explosion on the outskirts of the village. It's a pretty fun song. I also really like "Tentai Shikou-shou". This roughly translates as "Celestial Body Dysguesia". Dysguesia in the condition some women experience when they're pregnant and their taste preferences change, though in this case it's the title of a short story. This is possibly one of the band's most melodic songs. It's pretty cool because it begins with a drum pattern and slightly distorted guitar and the bass guitar comes in played high up the neck and the bass strings humming the main melody. It's also unusual because it's one of the very few Ningen Isu songs to include hand claps.

This album gets very high ratings on the Internet with one person ranking this in the number one position for 19 of Ningen Isu's 21 albums. My first reaction when I heard it was that it was indeed their best album. However since then, I have found I like quite a few of Ningen Isu's albums as well and possibly even better. Still, for fans of early seventies heavy rock and progressive rock, this album satisfies very well considered it was released 25 years after the phenomena of this music had passed.

NINGEN ISU Mugen no Juunin

Album · 1996 · Heavy Psych
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After self-producing their previous album and releasing it on an indie label, Ningen Isu's Shinji Wajima and Ken'ichi Suzuki were wondering what their next move should be. They at least had a permanent member for a drummer now with Iwao Tsuchiya, who joined the band in time for 1995's 'Odoru Issun Boushi'. They still had their management office as well. But no label.

As luck would have it, manga artist Hiroaki Samura was a fan of the band and contacted them about doing a collaboration project. The deal was that Wajima and Suzuki were free to write any songs they liked so long as the lyrics could be imagined as being part of Japan's Edo Period. Lyrics mentioning cars, phones, and pachinko were out. Samura would illustrate the album cover and inner sleeve. The album would be released by Pony Canyon, a major label, with a one-time-release contract. The two song writers threw themselves into their work, relishing the new experience of writing for someone else. Commissioned work! Sort of.

Though they were given free rein over what kind of music to record, they naturally stuck with their early seventies heavy rock style with some exceptions. Wajima came up with the idea to feature a bit of traditional Japanese music included in 'Mokko no Komori-uta' as well as a dash in the title track. Of their 21 albums, this seems to be the only album to venture that far into traditional Japanese music territory. I think it's a nice touch, at least for one album, and a refreshing new sound in their catalogue which until this album had been a smorgasbord of seventies-influenced hard rock, heavy rock, heavy psych, and heavy prog with some eighties metal as well.

Song lyrics always had to be considered. How about 'Jigoku', a song about Hell? Well, the Japanese Buddhist concept of hell was around back then for certain. 'Baka-yoi Kurui' (Bacchus Drunk Crazy) was about alcohol, so they were safe there. 'Kuroneko' (Black Cat) with a Sabbath-worship heavy riff was also in the clear. The one song that needed justification was Suzuki's 'Uchu Yuei' (Space Swim). Suzuki was heavily into Hawkwind at the time and couldn't resist writing a Hawkwind-influenced song complete with spacey sounds. Wajima's logic was that space has always been around so it was okay to include that song on the album.

A few cool tracks to mention for the music, "Sarashi Kubi" is a great opening to the album with a circa '79 NWoBHM riff. "Baka Yoi Kuruhi" has this great swaggering doom riff that breaks into a heavy chugger. This is quite typical of Ningen Isu's style. One of my favourite tracks is "Tsujigiri Kouta Mushuku-hen" which is just such a fun song with some lead guitar melody that sounds like some old hero/action movie theme music. And yeah, Uchuu Yuei has its spacey charms.

I feel is a very strong album and one that is at once unique in the Ningen Isu canon and also true enough to the band's style that it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb. Though not usually considered their absolute best work, 'Mugen no Juunin' is still rather highly regarded. It's unfortunate that this album is out of print and a physical copy is hard to track down without paying a steep price. However, it can be heard on iTunes and YouTube and I think also on Spotify. If you're interested in hearing some unique Japanese heavy rock / heavy prog or want to hear more from this phenomenal band, why not give this album a listen? I'm very thankful that I was able to get a hold of a used copy in very good condition from Yahoo Japan Auction.


EP · 1989 · Hard Rock
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There are two reasons why this album is a collectors/fans only. The first is because it's out of print, and to get one is going to be expensive unless you can track one down in Japan. Even then, it's not cheap to get a used ep in decent condition. The second reason is that all the songs have been re-released either in their original form on a compilation album or re-recorded and included on a compilation album. So, if you really want to hear this album and these recordings, you'll probably need to resort to listening to it on YouTube.

Forgetting those points, however, this album is probably going to be most attractive to fans because this album shows Ningen Isu at their earliest stage, so to speak. Before the album "Ningen Shikkaku" and the song "Hari no Yama" came this seven-song ep, released on Band Stock by Ika Ten. Ningen Isu had wowed judges on the TV program, "Ikasu!! Band no Tengoku" (a program showcasing new bands) and earned themselves a recording session for their impressive style of seventies heavy rock as well as their performance. The band didn't have to pay anything for this recording.

The first track, "Jinmensou" - Facial Pustules (that appear on Yokai and look like human faces) is here in its original form with a clean electric guitar intro. In 1991, a re-recorded version of the song appeared as a B-side to a single. That version began with an acoustic guitar intro. I personally prefer this version because I think it has more swagger to the groove. The song sets the tone not only for the rest of the album but for Ningen Issue's career. Guitarist Shinji Wajima has stated that he and bassist Ken'ichi Suzuki try to find the groove in the riff. They certainly bring that out here.

"Inju" - Strange Beast is inspired from a story by Edogawa Ranpo of the same title. It's a very heavy, wah-wah pedal-using tune. Ken'ichi Suzuki's vocals have that very decided and exaggerated Japanese accent. Though I prefer the version that was recorded for the 20th anniversary in 2009, this version still sounds very good. It was this song that impressed judges so on the TV show.

Next is one of the band's legendary songs, "Ringo no Namida" - Tears of the Apple. This was re-recorded more strongly for the debut album the following year. Still, this original version captures the fun and groove pretty well. Most notably different is Wajima's spoken part before the riff change. He lacks the "cool" tough vibe he affects on the debut album. Nevertheless, this is a fun song with good use of accents and syllabic stress on the Japanese language with the music.

"Ryoki ga Machi ni Yattekuru" is another fun track, this one rollicking and grooving with some great lead guitar by Wajima and some amusing vocalizations by Suzuki. Once again, the 2009 version is much better, I think, but it's fun to hear this original version when the band was still so young.

"Shinkeishou I LOVE YOU!" translates as "Neurosis I Love You". This is the most rock and roll song on the album and even one of the most rock and roll songs in their catalogue. It really has a young seventies band spirit to it. This is the only song from the debut never to have been re-recorded. It appears on the 25th anniversary album along with "Inju" in its original form.

Up to here, the album has been mostly hard rock and hard rock and roll numbers. The final two tracks reflect the band's early seventies heavy rock and heavy prog side. "Ningen Shikkaku" is a really heavy rocker with a slow breakdown in the middle. Clean electric guitar is played over spacey effects and a steady bass pulse. This gradually builds until reaching a climax and a riff close to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal comes in before the song takes a different twist to it. The version recorded for the debut the following year is better in my opinion but once again, it's fun to hear this original version.

"Sakura no Mori no Mankai no Shita" was not only re-recorded for the debut but it also became the title of the second album. It has become for me a monster track, a real favourite. This song begins with a slow and heavy riff and wah-wah pedal but then speeds up for the guitar solo, slows back down to that heavy riff with the wah-wah, and then charges into another riff for a dramatic two- minute finale with some great bass playing and great drumming by Noriyoshi Kamidate as well as a ripping solo by Wajima. The song approaches the end with dual lead guitars playing a melody that it easily reminiscent of Iron Maiden. The version on the debut is magical for me. But although this version is less fine tuned, it still cooks. Whatever feelings we enjoyed listening to this album up to here, this track really steals the cake.

For the casual listener and the curious, there's more to be thrilled about on the later albums (the singing is better too). This album stands more as a curio than a must have. It's a bit like hearing the early De Lane Lea demos recorded by Queen in 1971 prior to the recording session that would become Queen's self-titled debut: you can hear the magic of the band coming together but it's in the final recording that history remembers the songs. The same goes for here. As for me, I have finally acquired every album this band has released, so when I found this ep available in very good condition for not too absurd a price, I had to bring it home. For me, it was worth it. For anyone else, I would say that if you are really curious, listen on YouTube. Otherwise you'll likely much prefer the 1990 album, "Ningen Shikkaku".

NINGEN ISU Ningen Shikkaku (No Longer Human)

Album · 1990 · Stoner Rock
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I probably wouldn't have watched the video had it not been for the name, Ningen Isu. I knew the name to be the title of a short story by the famous Japanese mystery and suspense writer, Edogawa Ranpo. The story of a furniture maker who wanted to be part of his creation and feel what it was like to be a chair. The Human Chair. I had opened up the YouTube app to watch a video, and at the top of my suggested video feed was a band called Ningen Isu. I watched the video and was floored. What a sound! Three members and with all the guts of Black Sabbath and Budgie plus a host of other influences throughout the early years of heavy metal delivered with a modern metal sound, and still daring enough to release as a single from their 21st album a song over eight minutes long with a middle section that goes off from the main song and explores that early seventies heavy rock/heavy prog territory that I love. I ordered two CDs. I ordered two more. I ordered eight more. Man, these guys are good!

"Ningen Shikkaku" is the band's debut release from 1990. There was an ep the year before, but it's out of print now and all the songs can be found either re-recorded on this album or on later compilation releases. The song title is from a book by Osamu Dazai and is translated as "No Longer Human" but more directly translated means "Human Disqualification" as in "disqualified as a human being". The band's love of early seventies heavy rock is undeniable. Think "Behind the Wall of Sleep", "Fairies Wear Boots" and "Children of the Grave" by Black Sabbath or "Guts", "Crash Course in Brain Surgery" and "Breadfan" by Budgie and you'll immediately understand where this band is coming from. In fact, the song "Hari no Yama" ("Needle Mountain" or translated on YouTube as "Spiny Mountain in Hell") is a Japanese lyric version of "Breadfan" with a different story but all the speed and bombast of the original that inspired a Metallica cover.

The album opens with an instrumental that is half guitar effects and half a grooving heavy riff before the Spiny Mountain in Hell song charges in. "Ringo no Namida" (Tears of the Apple - The band is from Japan's Aomori Prefecture, which is a major producer of apples) has a really grooving riff and beat. The title track takes us partway through the song before going of into a sparse guitar effects adventure backed with a steady pulsing bass, and then gradually builds until it erupts into a kind of part two with a different riff before finally returning to the original song. "Sakura no Mori no Mankai no Shita" (Beneath the Full Bloom of the Cherry Blossom Forest" is another mini- epic with a song within a song. It's also the title of their next album. This track has become my favourite simply for how fantastic the music replicates early 1970's heavy rock. The groove, the changes in the music, the drums, the bass! You could say that this is the best album of 1970/71 that was recorded in 1990!

"Arnheim no Izumi" (The Spring of Arnheim) is the one major sidestep on the album as it's a simple clean guitar instrumental that sounds like someone left a present on the doorstep of Atom Heart Mother Pink Floyd but they missed it.

Without describing each of the other tracks in detail, the album is not only early seventies heavy rock in style but the sound is very closely duplicated, an homage to the period. Whether short ("Heavy Metal no Gyakushu", 3:00) or longer than five minutes, most of the songs include unexpected turns in the music, suddenly changing tempo and charging ahead or abruptly changing riffs or slowing down.

The vocal style is also worth mentioning. The two vocalists of Shinji Wajima (guitars) and Ken'ichi Suzuki (bass) don't sing in a usual Japanese rock or heavy metal way (think Loudness or Onmyo-Za). Their style is more like Japanese theater or like two story tellers singing the stories. They are from a part of Japan with a very distinctive dialect and they see no need to conform to what's popular. It gives Ningen Isu's sound something very Japanese and somehow leads itself perfectly to the British heavy rock playing style.

The music of Ningen Isu is described as stoner metal/doom metal/hard rock/progressive rock, but one point worthy of mentioning here though is that this album is not indicative of Ningen Isu's overall sound. Their recent albums feature a more modern metal sound. Check out songs like "Heartless Scat" or "Namahage" on YouTube to get an idea of their 2010's music. Still, heavy, doomy, and man do they know how to play this kind of music!

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THE WHO Quadrophenia: Live In London

Movie · 2014 · Hard Rock
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I was not sure before purchasing this DVD, if I was going to enjoy a live show with the complete double album of "Quadrophenia", because it was a long time ago that I listen to this album and if I remember, I didn't enjoy all the songs. Many years later, I didn't change my mind about this, there are some really good songs, like the title track, "Dr. Jimmy", "The Rock" and "Love Reign Over Me". The other tracks are not bad for what they are, good rock songs, but not as good as some songs of their entire discography. Fortunately, the show has some of those songs as bonus performance, including "Baba O'Riley", "Who are You" and "Won't get Fooled Again"

There's a lot of projections on the screen of the band from the old days. Nice touch to have included John Entwistle with a solo of one of his performance in the song "5:15". Not only you can see him on the screen, but you can actually hear his solo. In fact, his solo sounds more alive than the bass sound of the actual player Pino Palladino, who is rarely captured by the cameras and low in the mix. Also, during "Bell Boy", Keith Moon is singing on the screen.Those projections of the old days performances are only present in the "Quadrophenia" album and not in the bonus songs at the end. We have many musicians on the stage including horn players, Simon Townsend who signs like Pete in "Dirty Jobs". Also two keyboardists, but it's mostly the piano that we hear during this show.

It is easy to rate this, can't be 2 stars because it's not only for collectors, and can't be 4 stars because, that is not a progressive rock show. So it's a good 3 stars, nothing more. But those who enjoy "Quadrophenia" will have a ball with this DVD!

DEF LEPPARD Classic Albums: Hysteria

Movie · 2002 · Hard Rock
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The worst episode of all Classic Albums series (and I watched 25 of them)!

What is great about the series is that they explain track by track about the albums and show these tracks on a studio enviroment stripping them down and showing us details. Not here.

Hysteria have 12 tracks, but according to this documentary the album have only 7 tracks, and half of it the only feature on the movie is some video or live footage of the song, sometimes the band says 3 words about it though.

As I said, this series is supposed to go deep into Classic albums in the history of music and tell their secrets and details, and most of times they do an excellent job. Not here.

Not to mention that Hysteria might have sold 12 million copies but this is not a classic album at all, just a popular one in 1987. And we know this story in Pop music, right?

RUSH Replay X 3

Movie · 2006 · Hard Rock
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"Replay X3" is a terrific box set of the 3 earlier Rush VHS concerts and it has been mastered to provide great picture though not all widescreen unfortunately. The sound is excellent without any noteable dropout unlike the VHS antiques. The packaging is excellent, booklets included and all original art prints on the seperate covers. There is also a bonus CD of Grace Under Pressure which is worthwhile.

DVD 1 is Exit...Stage Left, a 1 hour concert from the early years or Rushtory when they had long hair, and features a strong setlist with the likes of Limelight, Tom Sawyer, and a rare appearance of the brilliant Xanadu. The usual suspects are here such as the wonderful Red Barchetta and quintessential Freewill along with lighters in the air stalwart crowd pleaser Closer To The Heart. It is always great to see them having fun with the instrumental YYZ and a real treat is to hear the medley at the end with By-Tor And The Snow Dog, In The End, In The Mood and 2112 edited together masterfully. The VHS or DVD delivers what it promises, Rush in their hey day with great quality sound and editing. The band look young of course and jump around a lot more and there were no signs of chicken rotisseries or clothes dryers back then, but a heck of a lot of lighting and laser effects more than makes up for it. The concert also comes with a lot of interview footage and voice overs between songs, and some footage of the band backstage while the songs play and that is a treat compared to the usual straight concert footage. Too short but quite sweet. A real blast from the past that will please Rushaholics.

DVD 2 is Grace Under Pressure, another of the earlier concert performances of Rush running for about an hour with a lot of songs from "Grace Under Pressure" of course and it is nice to hear these. It begins with a glorious opening with The Spirit Of Radio, and a noticeable glowing effect on the band especially the white shirts, as if Vaseline had been rubbed on the lens. This is the 80s and this effect was prominent on film clips of artists such as Nik Kershaw and Dire Straits or Duran Duran. It looks kind of weird on Rush as they were never pretty video boys. Unfortunately the fuzzy effect is prevalent throughout the recording, and it kind of annoys me, especially the way the bright lights phase over constantly. Lifeson wears a white sports jacket looking like the mad scientist of metal, Peart has a white T and red cap that he loses later, and Lee wears grey suit jacket and white T. The hair dos are 80s personified; Peart has a rat tail, Lee has a mullet and Lifeson has a Flock of Seagulls quiff. Oh well, it is what it is. The music is brilliant.

The Enemy Within is rarely heard live but sparked my memory and it's a great song. The Weapon is always fantastic, one of my favourites, and it begins with a Dracula character on screen telling people to put on their 3D glasses. Witch Hunt begins with a screening of a bunch of cultists burning books with torches. It is a great song from "Moving Pictures" recently heard in the Time Machine concerts. Lee's vocals are excellent throughout and the guitars are incredible. New World Man is another one rarely heard live recently and it is OK though not one of the better tracks from "Signals". Synths are heard here though no one seems to be playing them, so I suspect some recorded music was used. It was the age of the video clip and a clip is shown of some animation and a boy looking up to see a huge airship in the sky. Distant Early Warning follows and it is a great song from GUP, that has become a concert favourite. The clip shows the boy riding a missile and the laser light show follows.

Red Sector A is an awesome song and I loved hearing it on this DVD again, with one of the strongest melodies of the Rush catalogue. The laser show looks great here. The lyrics by Lee are terrific and when Lee sings "smoking gun" a massive explosion goes off causing the crowd to roar. The lyrics are actually based on family experience and is a homage to his mother and father that survived the holocaust. Though Lee re wrote the lyrics to have a broader perspective that it may apply to any holocaust like situation such as Rwanda. Closer To The Heart is always a crowd pleaser and the crowd know it well enough to drown out some of Lee's vocals. There were no mobile phones back then but plenty of lighters go up in the air.

The obligatory medley is here with a terrific merging of some classics, YYZ, Temples Of Syrinx, and Tom Sawyer. During YYZ the crowd are obsessed with air drumming throughout. Tom Sawyer features the Moving Pictures animation on the screen. It is nice to hear Lee be able to reach those high notes too in the chorus.

Vital Signs is one I have not seen live on other concerts till the "Moving Pictures" live concerts of recent years. When Lee takes off his jacket his white T glows like the rest of the band's halos. It is a weird effect really and perhaps the worse part of the DVD. It ends with Finding My Way and In The Mood, from the earliest album. it is a great crowd participation song with the crowd visible throughout, a guy even lights up a pipe at one stage. Overall, this is a great snippet of songs from the Rush 80s years, worth checking out for certain even if for nostalgia if nothing else.

DVD 3 is A Show Of Hands, a 90 minutes concert experience and as such way better than the previous DVDs available, namely "Exit Stage Left" and "Grace Under Pressure". It is excellent also due to the use of animations on the big screen and the overall setlist. The songs are from "Hold Your Fire" mostly and I believe they are better heard live than on that album so that is a drawcard of this particular DVD. It also has a very solid quality sound throughout and the band look great and have heaps of fun. From "Hold Your Fire" the songs appear, Mission, Prime Mover, Force Ten, and Turn The Page so there is a lot from their latest at the time.

Closer To The Heart is always present of course along with quintessential Tom Sawyer, and The Spirit of Radio. I always love to hear the magnificent Red Sector A and hard rocking Force Ten, and it was great to see them play Mission, another one rarely heard live on these DVDs.

Marathon, Territories and The Big Money from "Power Windows" are good rockers for the crowd to get into. The drum solo by Peart is terrific, with his vibes section and patented cymbal jazz splashes along with some incredible triplet work though his drums are still stationary in this era, and not as many.

The concert ends with a brilliant medley 2112, The Temples Of Syrinx, La Villa Strangiato and In The Mood. Overall a strong concert, one of the best live documents of the band and worth getting hold of above the rest.

The Grace Under Pressure Bonus CD, is a previously unreleased audio from the newly remastered Grace Under Pressure concert soundtrack and it is a fantastic Rush sound.

"Replay x3" is definitely worth getting as it houses 3 very good concerts of the early years and these are only available now with this set released in 2006.

RUSH Exit...Stage Left

Movie · 1981 · Hard Rock
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Exit...Stage Left is a 1 hour concert from the early years or Rushtory when they had long hair, and features a strong setlist with the likes of Limelight, Tom Sawyer, and a rare appearance of the brilliant Xanadu. The usual suspects are here such as the wonderful Red Barchetta and quintessential Freewill along with lighters in the air stalwart crowd pleaser Closer To The Heart. It is always great to see them having fun with the instrumental YYZ and a real treat is to hear the medley at the end with By-Tor And The Snow Dog, In The End, In The Mood and 2112 edited together masterfully. The VHS or DVD delivers what it promises, Rush in their hey day with great quality sound and editing. The band look young of course and jump around a lot more and there were no signs of chicken rotisseries or clothes dryers back then, but a heck of a lot of lighting and laser effects more than makes up for it. The concert also comes with a lot of interview footage and voice overs between songs, and some footage of the band backstage while the songs play and that is a treat compared to the usual straight concert footage. Too short but quite sweet. A real blast from the past that will please Rushaholics.

RUSH Snakes And Arrows Live

Movie · 2008 · Hard Rock
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This 3 CD package is a great concert experience that I will return to often. Everything works - from the excellent sound quality to the crystal clear picture. The stage itself is massive and there are incredible lighting effects, lasers and fire effects. The 3 split screens at times show each band member, and sometimes a visual effect to enhance the track being played. There are weird Rush-ian gimmicks, namely the 3 huge ovens full of rotating chickens that glow ominous red throughout the night. There is no reference to these except Lee says at the end of CD1 that they are no longer spring chickens so they need to take a break. At one point a weird chef appears to turn the chickens over. Similar in fact to the washing machines with rotating clothes in the 'Live in Rio' show. Other subtler things are on stage such as flanks of flowers around microphones, plastic dinosaurs around Lifeson's stacks and the piece de resistance is the miniature Stonehenge rock on Lee's keyboards - a nod in Spinal Tap's direction for sure. We see crowd shots and Lee takes home movies of them screaming Hello Canada - in fact we see many versions of him doing this from other shows. Peart is featured with a sizzling drum solo that is well above what normally occurs in solos. He uses gamelon style blocks and sound effect drums to enhance the solo and his kit rotates to add depth. I love when the jazz band kicks in and he plays full blown jazz metrical patterns - there is a standing ovation after this.

There are no lengthy lead solo sections where Lifeson plays by himself but there is a nice acoustic piece following the drum solo. Lifeson effortlessly plays all the songs with precision and finesse. Surely one of the greatest guitarists in the world.

Lee's vocals are excellent and as clear as ever. His bass pounds on every track. I noted its all mostly hard rock on this live show. The band play old favourites that every Rush fan adores such as 'Spirit of Radio' and 'Tom Sawyer' but they focus on 'Snakes and Arrows' album, virtually playing every song. This could have been problematic but I find these live versions even better than the studio versions. I was never a huge fan of S&A but this live concert really brings something special to these tracks. I like the film clips that break up the songs such as South Park's Cartman singing Tom Sawyer and the weird clips of babies in prams and a game of snakes and ladders.

The bonus features are fun, such as watching the clips without the band shots and the making of the clips which show Rush at their kookiest. Some of the extra live tracks are great too so overall this is a must see for any Rush fan. I recommend this as well as 'Live IN Rio' which are completely different experiences. This is not as good as 'Rio' due to the set list, but it is still a fantastic DVD package.

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