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:
  • 666Sharon666
  • (leader)


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

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hard rock Music Reviews

NICKELBACK Feed the Machine

Album · 2017 · Hard Rock
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Necrotica
I’m going to confront the elephant in the room head-on: no, this is not a grand reinvention of Nickelback’s tried-and-true style.

As much as many people want to see that (and seem to be expecting it), it might be too much to ask a band with such a recognizable comfort zone to immediately pull a 180-degree turn into new territory. But before you walk away from this review, keep listening. Feed the Machine, while pulling the same old stops for a Nickelback album, is easily the band’s most refined and energized product since their breakthrough hit Silver Side Up. Yep, after a whole 16 years of nonstop mockery and hate mail, Chad Kroeger and his band of post-grungers have decided to give us something a bit more dignified and well-written. And, all things considered, this is not a bad album by any means. If anything, it’s a somewhat solid mainstream rock offering with strong hints of alternative metal strewn about. One wishes the band’s potential could have been touched upon years ago, but you know the old saying: “better late than never.”

The oddest thing about Feed the Machine, and the reason that it ultimately falls short of greatness, is that it straddles multiple styles in a seriously imbalanced way. Hearing the heavy downtuned - and even surprisingly progressive - metal anthem “The Betrayal (Act III)” coupled with bland ballads like “Every Time We’re Together” and “Song on Fire” might end up causing rifts in Nickelback’s already-polarized fanbase, just as the varied levels of lyrical quality could as well. That said, the variety is still fun once in a while. The intro to the cheesy rocker “Must Be Nice,” while pretty standard for Nickelback’s typical cock-rock fare, is so groovy and bluesy that the flaws are much less noticeable by comparison. The heavier moments found on songs like the title track and “Coin for the Ferryman” are aggressive as hell in this outing, and they occasionally contrast well with the sappy balladry that causes the album’s tonal imbalance. The band have also upped their game on the musicianship front; while famed Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt has to carry the solo duties on “For the River,” Chad Kroeger and Ryan Peake are able to bust out some decent solos and melodies in their own right. While the rhythm section is as boring as it’s always been, the increased chemistry and personality of the guitar work were a neat surprise.

The truth is, the best moments on Feed the Machine are the ones in which the band throw their old mainstream shackles away and just embrace metal. The ballads here sound both tired and dated, and simply don’t suffice in a discography that’s already drenched in tired ballads. In fact, I swear the chorus of “After the Rain” rips off the main melody to “Club Can’t Handle Me” by Flo Rida. And as I mentioned, some of these songs sound ridiculously dated. The uptempo power ballad “Silent Majority,” while at least exuding some energy, sounds like it came straight from an old post-grunge edition of Now That’s What I Call Music that would have been popular in the mid-2000s. It offers nothing new or interesting, and just results in another skippable tune for the listener to filter out. With this in mind, I must still admit that some of the experiments on the album result in highly rewarding payoffs. The two biggest here are the chunky, aggressive riffing of “Coin for the Ferryman” and the progressive metal stylings of “The Betrayal (Act III).” These songs completely abandon the band’s old cliches to deliver something that’s honest-to-god fun and steeped in genuine effort. They’re heavy, they have memorable riffs, and they present the true stylistic stepping stones in this experience.

For the first time in quite a while, I didn’t really know what rating I’d give Feed the Machine or whether to recommend it. This is a classic case of Nickelback giving us really nice songwriting and concepts before shooting themselves in the foot for making stupid decisions at the cusp of greatness. I will say that the positive aspects of Feed the Machine are some of the best things I’ve ever heard from this band, but they really need to decide whether to move forward with these changes or to replant themselves in the past. This half-and-half deal isn’t quite going to cut it, and it might end up warding off more of their fanbase than the usual Nickelback record because of it. But, because of those positives, I think Feed the Machine deserves a slight recommendation at the end of the day. It may not sway ardent haters, but those who are genuinely interested in hearing the band touch up their sound and try some new things might find something they enjoy.

SOUNDGARDEN Superunknown

Album · 1994 · Hard Rock
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Necrotica
The death of Chris Cornell was a tragedy for many rock fans across the globe, but in my case, it was an especially devastating blow to the gut. On the day of his passing, nostalgic images suddenly rushed back to my mind. I recalled my time as a young teen back in California playing the classic Superunknown over and over again on the car stereo. Those hazy summers were the perfect time to listen to some sentimental alternative rock records, but Superunknown was truly unlike anything I’d heard before (or since). Suddenly, the sludgy and grimy world of grunge was colorful and expansive. Aggression married grandiosity, and the moments of punk rock fury were paired with moments you swear you’d hear as a funeral dirge. Then psychedelia, stoner metal, 70s classic rock, and even some progressive rock were piled on as icing on the cake. And now with Cornell’s suicide fresh in people’s minds, the dark atmosphere and frequent mood swings that define Superunknown seem even more real and relevant than ever.

Truth be told, calling Superunknown a grunge album is a massive oversimplification. The 70-minute behemoth is packed with so many shades and flavors of rock music that it’s tough to know where to even begin analyzing it. But I can say one thing right off the bat: as great as the individual songs are, this album is best heard as the entire experience. It may be long, but trust me, it doesn’t feel that long despite how draining it is. There’s an overarching sadness to the record, but the emotional contrasts can add a layer of deception. For instance, “The Day I Tried to Live,” with its hopeful title and relatively upbeat (if a bit off-kilter) riff suggest an optimistic message, but the lyrics tell a different story altogether. Cornell’s charisma on the mic shines through, yes, but the transformation of imagery in the first verse is bizarre and even jaw-dropping. It goes from “seize the day” to “watch the rolling heads” in a matter of seconds, and yet Kim Thayil’s fantastic guitar leads continue to drive the piece along. Other songs bring on the aggression like a parade of bulls, such as the energetic punk jam “Kickstand” or the tight Drop-D riffing found in opener “Let Me Drown.”

But it’s the slower numbers that truly bring out the best in Superunknown. Whereas 90s grunge peers Alice in Chains would use doom metal to create a feeling of horror or sickness, Soundgarden brought the style to more grand and deeply profound places. “Black Hole Sun” sounds almost mystical in the way Thayil’s dreamlike guitar leads blend with the down-to-earth and even minimalist rhythm section, as if some spiritual being is being anchored and weighed down by reality. It’s wonderful that the band could maintain melodic sensibilities while at their darkest, which turned out to be one of their defining traits. The same goes for the closer “Like Suicide,” a song that’s recognizable by an unsettlingly cheery guitar melody while Cornell is singing about smashing a bird with a brick to end its suffering. The subject matter on Superunknown is portrayed and expressed with so much personality, even it reaches its darkest moments. Perhaps the most gloomy and deeply uncomfortable song on here is “4th of July,” a song that fully embraces the most grim and distraught aspects of grunge music and puts them on full display. The slow tread of the riff sounds like you’re watching a portrait slowly decay and melt with time, and the distortion is so thick that it puts many sludge metal bands to shame. Add to that a heavy Drop-C tuning on the guitars and the whole experience is a sound to behold.

The band members are simply fantastic here, no one truly being a weak link. I’ve already touched on Chris Cornell and Kim Thayil a bit, but bassist Ben Shepherd and drummer Matt Cameron deserve their share of praise as well. These guys had so many diverse sounds and knotty time signatures to work through, and they somehow made it sound as natural as any of the other grunge bands at the time who were always playing in 4/4. For the best showing of Cameron’s talents, I highly recommend his amazing performance in the rhythmically complex “Spoonman,” in which he has an inventive drum solo alongside somebody literally tapping spoons (known as Artis the Spoonman!). “Limo Wreck” is also great, if you want to hear how creatively he works around slower tempos. For Ben Shepherd, my favorite moment would be his incredible chemistry with Chris Cornell on the main riff of “Mailman,” an octave-hopping affair with a dreary and somewhat bluesy motif. He also kicks ass on the title track and “Kickstand,” which exhibit his (and Matt Cameron’s) speed and precision more than usual. Every member brings a great level of personality and chemistry to these tunes, and Chris Cornell’s vocal performances here are among the best he’s ever recorded. Just listen to those soaring verses in the title track, as well as those beautifully subdued moments in “4th of July”! Truly a legend.

But it’s truly heartbreaking to see him gone, as well as the fact that we probably won’t get another Soundgarden record ever again. The grunge legends of the 90s seem to be slowly dying out, and Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam is now officially the last of the Big 4 frontmen to still be alive and kicking (unless you count Jerry Cantrell). But much like Alice in Chains, Soundgarden were significant in the fact that they were able to be a bridge between grunge and other genres, especially metal. The band’s style wasn’t just black and white, but allowed to have breathing room and a wealth of diversity in the middle. Simply put, they were an incredible rock band with a distinct style, and Superunknown is their crowning achievement.

TROUBLED HORSE Revolution On Repeat

Album · 2017 · Hard Rock
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Nightfly
After a solid but unspectacular debut album of retro rock in 2012, Swedes Troubled Horse are back with a far more convincing collection of Songs.

Revolution On Repeat is released on Lee Dorrian’s Rise Above Records, a label I always check out new releases on as they’re rarely less than interesting, it marks considerable growth over Step Inside. They’re working from the same template of sixties/seventies hard rock and psych but with a more diverse collection of songs and improved writing skills as well as generally kicking more ass. Opener Hurricane and second song The Fithy Ones are a grand statement of intent packed full of strong hooks, killer riffs and full of energy. High octane rock ‘ n roll is the name of the game for much of this stuff but Troubled Horse seem to take influences from all over the place. Check out the country rock of Desperation and there’s even a cover of Warren Zevon’s My Shit’s Fucked up and very convincing it is too.

Despite only vocalist/guitarist Martin Heppich remaining from the debut album these guys have obviously still had time to hone their chops and the organic production reveals a tight band on top of their game.

This retro rock thing may be a bit overdone these days but down to the diversity of the material on offer here Troubled Horse stands out from the pack. With barely a weak song these guys deserve some of your time if this is your bag.

TRIUMPH Triumph

Album · 1976 · Hard Rock
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siLLy puPPy
Personally i think the band TRIUMPH is a tad underrated in the footnotes of history and part of this reason is that they get tagged as a Rush wannabe band and to be honest the comparisons are quite warranted in many ways. First of all, they were a power trio consisting of a bassist and keyboardist (Mike Levine), drummer (Gil Moore) and while in this case it was guitarist who was the lead singer (Rik Emmett) he actually sounded kind of like a less goofy yelping version of Geddy Lee. Not to mention that they also emerged in the Toronto area of Canada about the same time AND to be fair there is very much on their debut album that really does sound like the first Rush album. Originally album number had an eponymous title but was retagged in 1996 as IN THE BEGINNING with an entirely new album cover. The album was pretty much limited to Canada in those days but is now easily available with a recent remastered version emerging.

While the band would grow musically and become both notable for their catchy hard rock bordering on heavy metal melodies as well as for their AOR radio with Rik Emmett’s high pitched vocals creating a distinct mark on the world of hard rock, on IN THE BEGINNING they sound very much like a 70s hard rock band. The album kicks off with a bluesy hard rocker that sounds a bit like a hard Alice Cooper bluesy shuffle with a party all night Kiss attitude. Yeah, the lyrics on this one weren’t too developed at this point and are a little focused on teenage obsessions such as partying all night! Love! Easy living! And of course rock ’n roll. Many of the tracks sound like they could have fit right in on Rush’s debut release and the influence is undeniable and understandably so given time and place however TRIUMPH-isms do exist like Emmett’s signature guitar solos sounding nothing like Alex Lifeson’s and their riffing while similar is still all their own. “Let Me Get Next To You” however is a little too close to early Rush territory for its own good sounding like “Finding My Way.”

“Don’t Take My Life” sounds a bit like “I’m 18” from Alice Cooper and simultaneously a bit like “All Along The Watchtower” by Hendrix showing a couple more influences in the mix. The most interesting track that deviates from the blues and hard rock queue is the near nine minute closer “Blinding Light Show / Moonchild” which sounds completely different from the other tracks. It begins with a hard rock Celtic type of jig but completely shifts gears and becomes a spacey Pink Floyd sounding acoustic arpeggio run and really sounds like something off of “The Wall” a full three years before that album was released! It has a rock chorus but evolves into a beautiful classical guitar sequence that gets quite accomplished thus the type of track that often gets them in progressive rock related territory.

While not completely finding their own distinct sound quite yet, IN THE BEGINNING is a well performed debut that is a pleasure to listen to. Emmett had some of the best vocals in the world of hard rock and AOR and TRIUMPH sort of was a much more sophisticated version of Journey rather than a mere Rush clone at least after the first couple albums. On this one they do sound a lot like early Rush but that’s not a bad thing for me since i happen to love the early Rush albums before they blossomed into prog behemoths. While TRIUMPH albums have traditionally suffered poor production values and neglected due to the fact that despite finding some success never really hit the big time either but the new remastered releases sound excellent like they were made for modern day consumption. Even if 70s hard rock isn’t your thing, i highly recommend the closing track for prog heads however if you do fancy bluesy heavy rock from that era, TRIUMPH’s first album is quite the pleasant listening experience.

CAPTAIN BEYOND Lost & Found 1972-1973

Boxset / Compilation · 2017 · Hard Rock
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siLLy puPPy
It’s a music lover’s wet dream when one of their most revered under appreciated bands from the early 70s, who released but a couple albums and then faded into the ethers like a footnote in a voluminous tome, finally scrapes out the decades-old barrels and finds a few goodies to throw out to their staunch and loyal followers. Such is the case in 2017 when from out of the blue the short-lived heavy prog outfit CAPTAIN BEYOND unexpectedly puts out a new compilation called LOST & FOUND 1972-1973. How are the fans to take this? Is this a litmus test to see how well received it is and prognosticate a possible reunion and dare i even say - new album? Yes, the early 70s heavy prog rockers led by ex-Deep Purple vocalist Rod Evans along with guitarists Larry Reinhard and Lee Dorman from Iron Butterfly and drummer Bobby Caldwell who played with Johnny Winter crafted their supergroup into a major cult hit but never really got the respect they deserved and after two decent albums and one not so much so disbanded presumably never to be heard from again.

Well before you get your knickers too much in a bind, let me just state clearly that this is NOT an album that consists of entirely new material. Well, there is one new track that never was released but otherwise this is merely a collection of demos and alternate takes. Most of these tracks appeared (in final form of course) on the eponymous debut album whereas one comes from the oft loathed third album “Dawn Explosion.” Curiously there is nothing from the second album “Sufficiently Breathless.” This album is exactly what you would expect, namely a collection of material that was probably never meant to see the sunlight outside of its eternal crypt in someone’s basement or attic or who knows where with all the raw and gritty pre-production values one could imagine. And that’s exactly what we get here.

The only totally new track here is the hilariously titled “Uranus Expressway” (yeah, i can’t help but thinking it could be nicknamed “Hershey Highway!!!!” LOL. Despite the silly title, this is a serious bluesy rock track that is nothing out of the ordinary from the day and wisely left off of the debut album for it doesn’t have that progressive flair like many of those earliest of tracks. It actually echoes back to a more primeval era of Deep Purple minus John Lord’s keyboard contributions, of course, but actually a decent energetic rocker that finds the band in fine form with a tinge of Southern twang that correlates the Johnny Winter connection. All in all these are interesting relics from the past and will undoubtedly be ravishingly devoured by rabid fans foaming at the mouth for any scraps of residue from the hitherto inaccessible vaults, but other than the single new track there isn’t much that is out of the ordinary from what’s actually on their albums. It’s not like these tracks are so different compared to some of those on the Beatles’ different versions for example. This is definitely a good and worthy extra supplement for any collector’s shelves but not one i feel warrants the essential label. Nice album cover :)

hard rock movie reviews

THE WHO Quadrophenia: Live In London

Movie · 2014 · Hard Rock
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rdtprog
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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progshine
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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AtomicCrimsonRush
"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
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
AtomicCrimsonRush
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
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
AtomicCrimsonRush
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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