Review

RUSH Moving Pictures

Album · 1981 · Hard Rock
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4/5 ·
Modrigue
Rush's best album of the 80's

Last 20th century RUSH album to really contain progressive compositions, "Moving Pictures" is clearly their most varied and colorful studio opus. Its predecessor, "Permanent Waves", marked a turn towards more radio-friendly material, and so do this eighth offering. However, although the record contains several of the band's best-known songs, the music itself has a rich orchestration and still remains quite adventurous, with complex rhythms structures, while approaching different styles. The tracks can be seen as a link between their long elaborated 70's suites and their short and direct synthesizer-reggae-rock songs of the 80's. As ever since "2112", the keyboards become more and more present, whereas the incursions in the metal territory are rarefying. Another point denoting this evolution: there are no acoustic guitar passage.

Inspired the famous book of American writer Mark Twain, "Tom Sawyer" is RUSH's most successful hit single. A powerful and retro-futuristic rock song, with changing rhythms, setting immediately the tone. Great! Alternating softer passages and raging guitars, "Red Barchetta" is enjoyable. With "La Villa Strangiato", "YYZ" is the best instrumental composition of RUSH, and even one the finest of the hard rock genre! YYZ is the international identity code assigned to Toronto's airport. Transcribed in Morse code, these three letters form the opening rhythmic of the track, at bells and guitars. As Toronto is the town where the members live, "YYZ" has a particular meaning to them, as it means home sweet home. This track possesses all you could expect from the Canadians: uncommon time signatures, different ambiances, epic passages, various soli and even a spacey interlude... Fantastic! Highly influential, this complex jazzy heavy rock is simply breathtaking! On the contrary, I'm not really a big fan of "Limelight". Although also elaborated and evolving, this piece is rather average.

Longest and most progressive song of the disc, "The Camera Eye" features both somber and dreamy atmospheres. These 11 minutes contain nice guitar works and rocking passages. Not the best mini-epic from the band, but still good. The two last tracks are the most surprising for the fan. The dark fantasy "Witch Hunt" is quite particular in RUSH's discography. Cover art designer Hugh Syme's synthesizers' layers create a deep, haunting mystical ambiance, increasing more and more in intensity. Love it! Rather lively, the electronic reggae "Vital Signs" foreshadows the style that the trio will develop in their next two albums. It rocks!

The mixture of genres displayed in "Moving Pictures" was quite unique at the beginning of the eighties, when prog has already declined. Varied, original, risky and refined, the music should even please the seventies' purists. I find this album a bit overrated though, as "Red Barchetta" and "Limelight" tend to bore me. Nevertheless, the other compositions are great and more remarkable than "Permanent Waves"'s. At the beginning of the eighties, Lee, Lifeson and Peart still remain pioneers and adventurers.

One of the best and most eclectic albums from RUSH! Highly recommended!
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