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3.83 | 84 ratings | 9 reviews
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Album · 1975

Filed under Hard Rock


1. Bastille Day (4:40)
2. I Think I'm Going Bald (3:41)
3. Lakeside Park (4:10)
4. The Necromancer: I. Into the Darkness / II. Under the Shadow / III. Return of the Prince (12:32)
5. The Fountain of Lamneth: I. In the Valley / II. Didacts and Narpets / III. No One at the Bridge / IV. Panacea / V. Bacchus Plateau / VI. The Fountain (19:57)

Total Time: 45:02


- Geddy Lee / vocals, bass
- Alex Lifeson / 6 and 12 string electric and acoustic guitars, classical guitar, steel guitar
- Neal Peart / drums, percussion

About this release

Studio album
September 24, 1975
Produced by Rush and Terry Brown

1975 - Anthem(Canada)
1975 - Mercury(US)(UK)
1987 - Mercury(US) CD
1997 - Anthem(Canada) CD: remastered
1997 - Mercury(US)(Europe) CD: remastered
2009 - Warner Music(Japan) CD: CD sized album replica, remastered, limited edition

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I think most hardcore Rush fans are aware of Caress of Steel’s infamous reputation at this point, but I’ll give a small rundown of it for the uninitiated. Essentially, this is Rush’s darkest hour commercially and critically; the tour to support the album was even called the “Down the Tubes” tour by the band themselves due to poor sales and concert attendance. As you’d imagine, the group must have thought the end was near and that they’d have to disband at their label’s insistence. After all, they were completely unwilling to heed any advice about becoming more commercial and accessible, eventually paving the way for what would become the super-successful 2112 and its highly ambitious title epic. But for all we know about the latter record, is Caress of Steel really as bad as critics once proclaimed?

Hell no. Granted, I can actually see why they might not have taken to it at first; playing progressive rock in the 70s, while commercially sound for some bands, was also like painting a huge target on your chest for music critics. And one look at the Caress of Steel must have been very striking back then: five songs? Two epics, one of them 20 minutes? For comparison, the longest song they’d made up to that point was “By-Tor and the Snow Dog,” at a mere eight-and-a-half minutes. It may not have helped either that the lyrics were starting to become more impenetrable and complex, especially on the side-two epic “Fountain of Lamneth.” But the more you dig into this album, the more fascinating and ambitious it starts to become. I’m not going to say this was just too forward-thinking for the critics back then, but I am of the idea that Caress of Steel was the true beginning of what we would come to know as “classic Rush” for the rest of the 70s and early 80s.

The tracklist is very much a tale of two sides. That is to say, a merging of two styles: tracks 1-3 are more in a riff-heavy hard rock vein consisting of tighter, leaner arrangements. Tracks 4-5 are the lengthy epics that focus on weightier topics and consist of several different sections spliced together. With such a short tracklist, I suppose it would be smart to tackle both parts of the album separately and start with the shorter tunes. For starters, “Bastille Day” is one of the best openers Rush ever conjured up; the hard punk-ish riffs meld perfectly with the bombastic solos and varied drumming, while Neil Peart’s lyrics are just as grand as the music itself. It’s a wonderful mix of the heavy and the grandiose, a great way to usher in this new phase of Rush. Finally, Geddy Lee's shrill vocal style works really well with the aggression of the song and gives it even more personality.

The other two songs, however, serve as more of a farewell to Rush early Cream/Zeppelin-inspired stuff, consisting of more bluesy riffs and simplistic lyrics. “I Think I’m Going Bald” is Peart’s tale about how it might feel to grow old and watch the world around you change, so at least it’s a bit more deep than the title suggests. But at the same time, it’s definitely the weakest song here; the simple rock riffs and lack of variety make it stick out like a sore thumb against the more nuanced material here. “Lakeside Park” is a nice little trip down memory lane with Peart giving us a glimpse into some of his childhood; the riffs are also a bit more varied here, combining distorted and clean guitar tones to great effect.

Then we reach the real reason this album tanked: the epics. Interestingly enough, this section of the record is where I can give the most pros and cons at the same time. So let’s get the negative out of the way: first of all, you can tell the band were still trying to find their footing as far as lengthy arrangements go. Instead of the smooth transitions you hear in future epics like “Xanadu” and “Book II: Hemispheres,” both of Caress of Steel’s epics feature choppy transitions that usually involve awkward fade-outs and tonal inconsistencies. This is especially prevalent on “The Fountain of Lamneth,” which really could have done with some more editing in the studio. And it’s a shame, because the individual sections are fantastic (trust me, I’ll get to this). On the positive side, however, “The Necromancer” - whose lyrics are entirely based on The Lord of the Rings - fares a bit more smoothly; the shifts between tremendous metal riffs and foreboding soft passages is incredibly effective, and the middle section might just be the beginning of progressive metal as we know it. Seriously, that main riff is every bit as heavy as Black Sabbath’s doom riffs were at the time. And again, “Fountain of Lamneth” does feature incredible moments, especially in the more Genesis-inspired soft passages like “No One at the Bridge” and “Panacea” (check out the Steve Hackett influence in Alex Lifeson’s guitar work here!). It’s also nice to hear how “In the Valley” and “The Fountain” tie into each other to give thematic unity to the overall epic.

Caress of Steel occupies a weird place in Rush’s discography. It could effectively be considered the real beginning of what we know as Rush’s signature style, but it’s also a transitional wave goodbye to the band’s less sophisticated past. But just know: whatever crap you’ve heard over the years about this record, you’ll likely find it better than what those people have said. It’s flawed, but those flaws are part of what gives it its unique character. It’s clearly a stepping stone for a young band, but one that showed a band already poised to take over the rock world… even if people didn’t realize it quite yet.
"Caress of Steel" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Canadian progressive rock act Rush. The album was released through Mercury Records in September 1975, only 7 months after the release of "Fly By Night (1975)". "Caress of Steel" initially didn´t fare too well and sold less copies than "Fly By Night (1975)", and the tour supporting the album had low attendance. Rush considered calling it quits at this point (or at least feared that they would be forced to), but they soldiered on and subsequently found commercial and artistic success with their next album "2112 (1976)".

Although "Fly By Night (1975)" certainly wasn´t a stylistic consistent album, "Caress of Steel" is even more diverse, and not exactly loaded with radio friendly material either. The inclusion of "The Necromancer" and "The Fountain of Lamneth", which are both 10 minutes plus epics (the latter is just short of 20 minutes long) probably didn´t help gain the band more fans. Not that there weren´t progressive rock fans who enjoyed these types of tracks, but Rush was at this point still more known as a hard rock act rather than a progressive rock act, and their fans probably needed a bit more time to adjust to their new direction.

In addition to the two epics, "Caress of Steel" also features three "regular" length (3 to 5 minutes long) tracks in "Bastille Day", "I Think I'm Going Bald", and "Lakeside Park". The latter is not the most interesting Rush track, and while it´s not bad as such, it just seems to go nowhere and I´ll be a bit harsh and call it a filler track. "Bastille Day" on the other hand is a heavy energetic rocker with metal leanings, and "I Think I'm Going Bald" is a humorous hard rocking track with a charming rock´n´roll swagger. "I Think I'm Going Bald" is the only track on "Caress of Steel" which points backwards to their Led Zeppelin influenced early recordings. So stylistically "Caress of Steel" is a bit all over the place and therefore very much a transition album, where the arrow is pointing in a progressive rock direction rather than a hard rock direction, where the scale tipped the other way on "Fly By Night (1975)".

The musicianship is high class on all posts. Geddy Lee is a brilliant bassist and a skilled and distinct sounding vocalist too. Alex Lifeson´s guitar playing has improved too and his performance here is both convincing and diverse. Drummer Neil Peart puts on a strong performance on the album too. His fusion influenced playing style suits the band´s music perfectly. "Caress of Steel" is a well produced album too, featuring a warm, powerful, and organic sound. The production is handled by Rush and Terry Brown, just as it was on the predecessor.

So upon conclusion there are many positive things to say about "Caress of Steel", and although it´s not a perfect album in terms of featuring a consistent style and quality, it´s a bit of a shame it wasn´t received better by fans and media upon it´s initial release. But as mentioned above they probably just weren´t ready for Rush to be a progressive rock band yet, and had a hard time handling the transition the band were going through. To my ears the highlights of the album are "The Necromancer", "Bastille Day", and "I Think I'm Going Bald", while "Lakeside Park" and "The Fountain of Lamneth" are slightly less interesting, but a 3.5 star (70%) rating is still deserved.
Rush' first attempts at epics

Not often cited by fans, "Caress of Steel" is the first RUSH album to feature a 20 minutes long epic and to clearly exposes the band's entrance in the progressive world, already well occupied by their British elders. Composed only a few months after the release of "Fly By Night", this third studio opus was a bit experimental and risky for the Canadians. Still based on catchy hard rock and slightly on early heavy metal, the songs become more complex by incorporating more and more rhythm changes, however the result is not well mastered yet.

One word about the cover art: for the first time, it was conceived by artist Hugh Syme. Since then, he designed the covers of all the band's albums. The line-up is not the only stable thing in RUSH's universe...

As you may guess, the French revolution is the theme of "Bastille Day", the "Caress of Steel" referring to the guillotine. As "Anthem" from the previous record, this track is a powerful and aggressive opener, with a fast riff quite devastating for the time. This song will become a concert favorite. "I Think I'm Going Bald" is a heavy rock'n'roll with some cool variations and sonorities, as a kind of AC/DC-meets-LED ZEPPELIN. Describing a place near Lake Ontario where Neil Peart used to go, "Lakeside Park" is a sweet romantic ballad with pretty acoustic guitar moments. Enjoyable. Inspired by Tolkien, the mini-epic "The Necromancer" offers various atmospheres. The beginning is a little floydian and resembles space rock, then turns into an oppressive ambiance. It also contains a heavy metal jam. Epic and not very common! The result is not extraordinary but remains pleasant.

Also based on heroic fantasy themes, the 20 minutes long suite "The Fountain Of Lamneth" was RUSH's most ambitious composition at the time. However, the overall lacks coherency, unity, and is still a bit immature. Starting with a soapy acoustic passage, it alternates cool riffing accelerations and soft pastoral pauses. This epic contains nice instrumental sections and even display glimpses of "2112" though, nonetheless the main problem here is that the flow is not mastered enough, resulting in abrupt transitions. After all, maybe "The Fountain Of Lamneth" was a necessary draft for the future heavy prog suites to come...

For sure, "Caress of Steel" is uneven and not well balanced, but contains good passages. If you enjoyed "Fly By Night", you'll enjoy this disc too. RUSH is just entering the progressive world at a time the Britishs has already vastly explored the genre. Therefore the album won't sell much and will cause the band to tour in bars, on the edge of bankruptcy.

So, is this the end for our Canadians? What new progressive musical ideas could they possibly offer in 1976, at a time punk was emerging?

Unless the musicians combine their punchy heavy / hard rock with the complexity of their rhythmical structures...
Rush - Caress of Steel

"Caress of Steel" is the third studio album from hard rock/progressive rock band Rush. With the addition of drummer Neil Peart on the previous album, Rush's music and lyrics had gotten more complex while still primarily playing bluesy hard rock. "Caress of Steel" takes the complexity to the next level, featuring not one, but two epic tracks exceeding the 10-minute mark. This album shows Rush become the progressive heavy/hard rock behemoth they're known as today.

"Caress of Steel" expands upon what Rush was experimenting with on "Fly By Night", as there are full epic song-structures as heard in the last two songs, folk-rock influences in 'Lakeside Park', while also getting heavier. The opening two songs 'Bastille Day' and 'I Think I'm Going Bald' are pure killer heavy rocking songs, especially the former which opens the album with heavy speeding riffing. 'Lakeside Park' continues with some of the folk sounds from the previous album, but it sounds much more focused then the experimentation with it on its predecessors. It's actually one of my favorites from the album, and it's nice and calm yet rocking at the same time.

The first of the two epics and my favorite song on the album, 'The Necromancer', is actually part two of the story from the song 'By-Tor and the Snow Dog' from the last album. 'The Necromancer' and the following epic really set the standard for future Rush epics, having different parts all having their own distinct sound. The beginning opens up with spoken word and later gets a bluesy Pink Floyd-vibe to it.The second part shows Rush at perhaps one of their heaviest moments. There's some killer Sabbath-esque sludgy guitar, and Lee's menacing vocals and screams sure makes this part sound like proto-doom metal. What better contrast to sludgy guitar can you have but a great blistering guitar solo. The song ends on an uplifting note with some joyful folk guitar and a solo.

The final song on the album is the 20-minute behemoth, 'The Fountain of Lamneth'. This is an six-segment epic full of variation, going from heavy riffing, menacing melodies, beautiful classical/acoustic guitar work, and more. One of the most amazing parts of the song is part two, 'Didacts and Narpets', which is basically a drum solo with chaotic drum rolls and guitar blasts.

Overall, "Caress of Steel" is a perfect combination of different sounds, and really shows Rush doing all that they do best; heavy blistering rock and complex hard rock epics. A true underrated classic, and one of my favorite Rush albums. "Caress of Steel" is not only a fantastic album, but it led to many future Rush albums with it's approach to balancing out hard rock and heavy progressive epic songs. This is a great starting point for someone getting into 70's Rush, and also essential listening for any fans of classic hard rock. Hope you found this review helpful.

Feel free to comment!
siLLy puPPy
CARESS OF STEEL is the album by RUSH that I have put the most effort into listening to in order to appreciate more. Upon my first listening of their third album I was somewhat underwhelmed since my exposure to classic RUSH was well after these first albums were released so of course it's hard not to compare this to the series of masterpieces that would soon follow. Apparently others were underwhelmed as well explaining the lackluster sales when released and the range of opinions ever since. All this dedication and persistence has paid off for me. For a long time I would have rated this a 2 star album and I spent many years ignoring this release altogether but in the last couple of years I have decided to explore this album a lot more since I was inspired by the many differences in opinion that it has received.

The first thing everyone notices upon first listen is how different the two sides are. The first side is old RUSH with the Zeppelin-inspired hard rock tracks “Bastille Day,” “I Think I'm Going Bald” and “Lakeside Park.” These songs were always inferior for me when compared to the first album and the hard rock anthems on “Fly By Night.” But after accepting them for what they were, my attitude changed towards them. The second side is RUSH's first major experiments with long epic progressive tracks in the forms of “The Necromancer” and “The Fountain Of Lamneth.” These two tracks are very interesting in how you can hear snippets of future masterpieces in the making. There are chord progressions that remind of tracks on 2112. There are nylon classical pieces that remind of A FAREWELL TO KINGS, etc. These two sprawling works are not quite as good as the more refined classics on the next four albums but nonetheless they have really grown on me.

Although this album is not perfect and really a training ground for the albums that follow it is still a decent album in its own right that has taken me very many listens to appreciate as much as I do now. This will hardly ever trump any of the albums from 2112 to Moving Pictures in popularity but I simply can't imagine any RUSH fan's collection complete without this album that provides a glimpse into the evolution of their sound. For that reason alone I recommend this album but I have also grown to really enjoy all the songs on it. I would highly recommend to listen to this periodically as it has a quirkiness that tends to alienate initially but does reward after perseverance. I am not at all disappointed in taking the time to get to know the intricacies of this album. I have had a hard time deciding if this is a 3.5 star album or a 4 star album and even now it seems like it's somewhere in between, but this is RUSH and I love this band so i'm gonna go for the 4.

The power trio find their way on "Caress of Steel", a genuine turning point for Rush. The band are heavy and proud of it channelling Led Zeppelin and Kiss in places but injecting massive dollops of prog into the mix. The prog comes in the form of the two epics that are rarely heard outside of this album. I heard this album again to review after a long break but I have just listened to two ordinary Rush 80s albums and in contrast this album is like a jolt in the arm. There are no synths and the production is not as processed, and it is all the better for it.

The lengthy tracks are fabulous prog classics and Rush hold nothing back in their compositions. This rehearsal for "2112" is killer rock from start to end. Lifeson's riffing is awesome and indispensable on tracks like the brilliant 'Bastille Day' and wonderful 'Lakeside Park'. 'I Think I'm Going Bald' is like Led Zeppelin but lots of fun in any case. However, it is with 'The Necromancer' that it really takes off into full blown prog territory.

'The Necromancer' features some incoherent ideas with a mystical narration and many time sig changes and weird lyrics driving the story. Lifeson's lead breaks are extraordinary, especially at 7:30 when he just unleashes a tirade of guitar licks. What a difference here in the 70s when I just heard his restrained jangly 80s work. Lifeson is a brilliant guitarist and he is on fire on this song. Terry Brown continues to narrate the tale of three weary travellers who meet up with a wizard like Necromancer who leads them into the shadowy darkness, casting a spell that holds them captive.

The track is divided into three distinct sections that flow together seamlessly. 'Into The Darkness' has a "Lord Of The Rings" style narration and after some inspired musicianship moves onto 'Under The Shadow'. Now the travellers enter a medieval dungeon concealing the terrors of the unknown. Then we move to the next section 'The Return Of The Prince' that has a gentler musical texture ending the epic with an uplifting happy ending where the travellers are freed from the clutches of the Necromancer by Prince By-Tor.

On side 2 the whole vinyl record is swallowed up with the monster epic 'The Fountain of Lamneth'. The music is adventurous moving from soft to hard hitting in sharp abstract bursts. Lifeson swaps acoustic guitars for metal distortion as the mood gets darker. The drum solo from Peart is a blistering performance, but one cannot underestimate the power of Lee's high soprano voice and he is definitely in full voice in these early years. There are 6 parts including 'In The Valley', 'Didacts And Narpets', 'No One At The Bridge', 'Panacea', 'Bacchus Plateau' and 'The Fountain'. One of the best Lifeson solos is found on 'No One At The Bridge'. It is a grandiose piece of music that has some nice musical passages and lyrics.

The lyrics speak of the human condition including "Images around me don't identify inside, Just one blur I recognise, the one that soothes and feeds, My way of life is easy and as simple as my needs". But I particularly like the section after Peart's drum solo and Lee just screams out "Listen!" Perhaps he is telling us to listen to this new Rush sound that would permeate all the albums to follow until the 80s. The next few albums to follow would be Rush at their greatest.

Overall "Caress of Steel" signifies the golden era of Rush. It was a beginning of greatness for the band and one cannot help but to admire the bombastic approach to rock the band had in these early years. The epics are well worth checking out but also 'Bastille Day' and 'Lakeside Park' are killer making this an excellent album to indulge in. It reminds me of "Hemispheres" in a way having only a few songs with some epics, but they are all good and so it is a successful epiphany for the band branching into uncharted waters. The trio are at their most inventive and work well together to produce some amazing prog rock on "Caress of Steel".
Rush had abandoned their unbridled Led Zeppelin worship and plunged into uncharted prog metal waters on Fly By Night, so when the first song on Caress of Steel - Bastille Day - is yet another Zep tribute, it bodes ill for the rest of the album. Sure enough, Caress of Steel represents an awkward compromise between commercial rockin' out and progressive metal excess. Both aspects of the album are critically flawed;; the band don't really seem interested in the shorter songs, whilst the prog epics suffer from Rush's compositional chops not quite keeping pace with their ambition.

Of the shorter songs, Bastille Day is the Zep imitator as mentioned, I Think I'm Going Bald is an equally unoriginal and uninspired riff on Goin' Blind by Kiss, and Lakeside Park is entirely forgettable. As for the prog pieces, the Necromancer pads out its running time with an overlong narration at the beginning, takes too long to build up steam, and isn't that impressive what it does. The Fountain of Lamneth, similarly, pads out its runtime with far too much filler and compares poorly to the sidelong epic on the next album, 2112, which it occasionally sounds like working sketches for.

Ultimately, Caress of Steel is what's called a "transitional" album, that being music reviewer code for an album which tries to go for two different sounds at once and fails to accomplish either of them. Probably worth a listen if you're a major Rush fan, but don't expect it to supplant 2112 or its successors in your collection any time soon.
Rush are GODS. There's not much to say. The period between the mid 70's to the early 80's, Rush released some of the music that would make me think of music in a complete;y different way.

Their first real monumental release was Fly By Night, but I don't have that album (at least not yet), so I will start with Caress Of Steel.

With 3 amazing short songs and 2 monumental epics, this album really has it all. I never realy understood how good it was until I listened to it for the second time, and it really is some achievement, especially for 1975.

1. Bastille Day - The first ever power metal song in my opinion. Geddy's vocals are just phenomanal. The lyrics are also amazing and tell a great story (something about France). The instrumental sections are really something.

2. I Think I'm Going Bald - A very comical song. Very funny (although the best song about male patern baldness is Bald by The Darkness). Great chorus.

3. Lakeside Park - A nice laid back moment of the album. Great song with an amazing chorus.

4. The Necromancer - This is the first epic of the album and it really does take you on an epic journey. This song is the continuation of the story of By-Tor (By-Tor & The Snow Dog on Fly By Night). The song really does take you places, with the narration (that sounds like adam09 who made those parodies of John Petrucci on You Tube.) The first part is very calm, followed by a more aggresive and rock paced middle section with an overjoyous conclusion.

5. The Fountain Of Lamneth - The biggest epic of the 2. Just under 20 minutes long, this piece is amazing. The riff in the 2nd and last part is amazing and is one of the first ever real polyrhythym sections in a song. The rest is very epic, with an amazing drum solo as the 3rd part. The lyrics are also amazing, telling of an epic story of a fountain on top of a mountain that has a substance named Panacea that gives you long lasting life. Really is something amazing. I wish I was a child of the 70's, then I would have been able to listen to this music and be more in love with it than I already am.

CONCLUSION: The first of a string of masterpieces. If you don't have this album, then you should be buying it now.

Conor Fynes
'Caress Of Steel' - Rush (8/10)

'Caress Of Steel' has long been one of my most fond Rush releases. It was essentially the turning point for Rush leaving their generic classic rock roots behind, for greener fields. Putting 'Caress Of Steel' into context, it is without a doubt their most revolutionary and ambitious effort. While the three first songs could have easily been part of the prior album 'Fly By Night,' 'Caress Of Steel' really shines with the presence of not one, but TWO epics, 'The Necromancer' and 'The Fountain Of Lamneth.' For both of this compositions, there is a heavily Tolkien-influenced fantasy theme that abounds. 'The Necromancer' is a very dark and progressive piece. There's alot of weird effects heard here, and it adds to the atmosphere. After a monotonous bit of dialogue setting the stage, Geddy Lee's voice comes in and begins the story of the tale of 'three travellers going deep into a dark realm' (anyone else thinking of 'The Two Towers?') After a very prog section, a refreshing happy-sounding finale comes, with some nice melodic leads. It's very beautiful, and a sharp contrast to the mainly dark mood of the song.

'The Fountain Of Lamneth,' while not as strong as it's successor '2112,' is still a very good song that ages well. It tells a very different story then 'The Necromancer' although it feels like it's being told in the same mileau. An inhabitant of paradise goes on a perilous journey to find the fabled 'fountain of lamneth,' which apparently can grant him eternal life. I find the concept for this song is much more interesting than the first epic, simply because theres an aspect of complexity and psychological tension in it. Musically though, while there are alot of fantastic parts, 'The Necromancer' feels more concise as a song, although that simply may be because of the shorter song length. There are some really fantastic parts of this song, such as the acoustic 'Panacea' and the optimistic 'Bacchu's Plateau.' The most beautiful part of this song comes at the end, where the intro of the album is reprised, except with vocals. The final few closing phrases of this song are so beautiful, each time listening to it I feel like crying. There is such a power to it, and it really shows what a profound impact powerful music can have on the soul.

'Caress of Steel' is amazing, and if only the first three songs were a bit more distinguished from the album's mediocre predecessor, I'd be able to easily give this a five star rating. But seeing as I only really love two songs of the five, a four star rating it is.

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