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.

hard rock top albums

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hard rock Music Reviews

CLUTCH Sunrise On Slaughter Beach

Album · 2022 · Stoner Rock
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Kingcrimsonprog
Clutch are one of the most consistent and hard working bands in rock and roll. The Maryland Stoner Rock outfit released their thirteenth full-length studio album, Sunrise On Slaughter Beach, in 2022. It was produced by Tom Dalgety (Ghost, Royal Blood, Pixies) and released on the band’s own Weathermaker Music.

I think its fair to say Clutch have never made a bad album, and although some albums are more popular than others, if you like Clutch you are probably in for the long haul, enjoying something off of each of their varied but always distinctly Clutch-sounding albums. Sunrise On Slaughter Beach is a great album. I mean, of course it is, it’s a Clutch album, that almost goes without saying, you know you are going to get a couple of songs you’ll remember for the rest of your life, a load of clever quirky memorable lyrics, some cool guitar/bass lines that get stuck in your head for weeks and exceptional drumming beyond all of their peers… but even for a Clutch album, and the inherent high standards that implies, this is a strong outing.

The first two singles from the record, “Red Alert (Boss Metal Zone)” and “We Strive For Excellence” were so ridiculously strong, so profoundly catchy, so superbly satisfying and intensely memorable that I was convinced this would be in the top their of their discography before it was even released. For weeks (or is it months, my memory is failing) I’ve been listening to those songs multiple times daily, and got into a ritual of not getting out of bed until I’d heard them. With songs this strong, I was guaranteed to love the album, and sort of envisioned another Earth Rocker / Psychic Warfare style all killer, no filler, heads down, hyper focused hard rocking affair.

Their previous album, The Book Of Bad Decisions, was also excellent, but if there was one criticism to be laid at it, this would be that it was perhaps a bit too long and one or two songs could be cut to make it more streamlined. ‘Slaughter Beach seems aware of this, and clocks in at barely half an hour long, with songs that are concise, succinct and have not an ounce of fat on them. Contrary to my initial expectations however, it isn’t the heads don’t pedal to the metal rager I thought it would be, but rather is arguably their most diverse and exploratory album in a decade and a half, although crucially, having learned the lessons from their focused period, this is not bloated, self indulgent or superfluous experimentation the way some critics of the second halves of their longer records might previously have accused them of, the album is a best of both worlds, allowing the band to stretch their wings and broaden their horizons without sacrificing the flow of the album, the efficiency of the song writing or the patience of the more sober listeners. There are some really cool touches, such as soul singer backing vocals, theremin, vibraphone. However, its still just half an hour of the utmost, cleverly crafted, high-quality bangers, rather than the loosey-goosey jamming of say, Jam Room.

There are only nine songs, so its hard to sit here and pick out highlights, as there isn’t a single one I wouldn’t want to hear live or have in a compilation (in fact, on a recent livestream at time of writing, they played every single song from it live, amongst classics from various eras of the band’s history, and it all fit so well), but if forced to pick some stand-out tracks to recommend to new commers, the first three singles are all utterly essential for all new Clutch fans forevermore. A clever blade-runner and pandemic-conspiracy inspired utter fist pumping banger, a truly triumphant tale of young kids building a bike ramp that sounds like the very best moments of the first three QOTSA albums filtered through Fu Manchu’s most catchy moments and Pure Rock Fury’s personality (the bass groove when the cowbell kicks in makes me grin like a schoolboy every time), and a groovey as hell Sabbathy stoner anthem title-track that educated me about horse-shoe crabs having blue blood overused by the pharmaceutical industry to the point of threatening extinction on the species.

Tales of D&D twelve-sided die and chaotic evil, or being accosted in space by an unknown menace to rumbling drums and expansive sounds almost match this for quality, as do ghost and witchcraft stories that are more moody and diverse, but the other real highlight for me is the enormously catchy “Three Golden Horns” with its almost Thin-Lizzy-esque lyrical story telling and super catchy “Jazz Music Corrupts The Youth” chorus. The album ends on a more sombre note, about previous heroes/legends being cast aside as criminals/tyrants by future generations that seems to subtly reference recent turning in political tides towards previously lauded forefathers who are now viewed less favourably due to their problematic deeds, with an almost folky slow drum beat and ghostly guitar lines that sound like the emotional climax of a movie.

This is an album I’ve been listening to on repeat, listening to every day since its release at time of writing, and which I will absolutely rinse for the next few years, if not forever. I couldn’t recommend it enough. Just put it on, get into the vibe, and repeat until in love with it. More highly recommended than water or oxygen!

KING'S X Three Sides of One

Album · 2022 · Hard Rock
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Necrotica
If I could sum up the majority of King’s X’s output in one word, I would call it “reliable”. Their signature blend of hard rock, progressive rock/metal, and alternative metal really hasn’t changed much over the years, despite a few experimental releases here and there (Please Come Home… Mr. Bulbous immediately comes to mind). But in all fairness, their sound never really needed to change in the first place; despite only bubbling up beneath the mainstream, you’ll find no shortage of musicians who have praised them over the years. From Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament proclaiming that they invented grunge to Devin Townsend including Gretchen Goes to Nebraska in his list of the “Five Albums That Made Me”, King’s X have garnered a reputation as “your favorite band’s favorite band” for a reason. With that said, the last decade hasn’t exactly been kind to our rock trio: in the time since 2008’s XV, drummer Jerry Gaskill and frontman Doug Pinnick had suffered their share of health issues, including two heart attacks in the former’s case and a lymph node infection in the latter. Combine that with the members’ respective solo projects, and it was understandable that production on Three Sides of One would be a slow and difficult process. But now that it’s finally out, how exactly does it stack up against their previous works?

Right from the get-go, opener “Let It Rain” makes it apparent that these guys haven’t lost a step since their absence. It’s a warm, inviting midtempo rocker with all the spiritual imagery and charismatic vocals that you would typically expect of a King’s X song. You have to give it to Pinnick as well: the dude is in his 70s now, and yet his vocals sound like they did in the band’s early days. His singing manages to range from low vibrato sections to high impassioned wails, as if he’s still exalting the music he heard in “Over My Head” all those years ago. Meanwhile, Ty Tabor is cooking up all sorts of diverse guitar tones and techniques throughout the record; you’ve got the absolutely nasty sludge-influenced intro to “Flood Pt. 1”, the bluesy crunch found in the riffs of high-octane rocker “Give It Up”, the gorgeous clean tones of power ballad “All God’s Children”, and much more. While Pinnick and Gaskill provide an excellent rhythm section as always, it’s Tabor who brings much of the stylistic diversity on Three Sides of One.

What’s especially welcome about the record is the presence of the gospel and soul elements that defined the trio’s best works. “Take the Time”, for instance, is rife with lush vocal harmonies and an overall life-affirming atmosphere; the whole song just exudes feel-good vibes. The aforementioned “All God’s Children” is another good case of this, as even its heavier sections retain the reverent spirit of its subdued acoustic moments; of course, having lovely vocal interplay between Tabor and Pinnick helps too. But if there are any genuine surprises found in Three Sides of One’s tracklist, they’re in the metal side of things; seriously, this record gets startlingly heavy at times. “Flood Pt. 1” and “Swipe Up” are both marked by sludgy downtuned riffs that channel the likes of Alice in Chains or Melvins, although the former does ease up in its verses. Elsewhere on the album, we get the proggy off-kilter riff that introduces “Holidays” and the down-and-dirty southern grooves of “Watcher”, displaying a band who aren’t afraid to express their heavier side in new ways 43 years into their career. However, it would have been nice to have just a few more of such experiments on the record. Much of Three Sides of One is just business as usual for King’s X, the tracklist largely being occupied by midtempo melodic rockers in the group’s traditional style without a ton of surprises; a little dose of unpredictability could have strengthened the experience as a whole.

Still, having a new record by these guys is like hugging an old friend you haven’t seen in years; even after such a long absence, there’s still a warm familiarity you get as a King’s X fan when putting the album on for the first time. The classic Beatles-esque melodies? The soulful vibes? The rock-solid musicianship? The heavy semi-proggy riffs? They’re all here, and all get their due spotlight over the course of the album. Three Sides of One doesn’t reinvent the wheel in any major way, but it serves as a nice continuation of the band’s career after such a long gap between releases; moreover, it’s just incredibly satisfying to see them finally putting out new material again.

THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA Aeromantic II

Album · 2021 · Hard Rock
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Kev Rowland
Just a week after the band kicked off the tour to support ‘Aeromantic’ Covid hit, everyone got sick, and dates were cancelled. They soon realised the lockdowns were going to be there for a while but instead of sitting there feeling sorry for themselves the band went straight into writing mode to work on the follow-up. Given that both David Andersson and Björn Strid are also in Soilwork it must be hard to separate the two both artistically and in time, yet somehow, they manage it, and Strid in particular revels in this band as it allows him to approach elements musically which he would never get away with in his main band. Mind you, given that TNFO have been nominated for two Swedish grammies, can they really still be considered a side project, especially as they have now been around for 10 years, and this is their sixth album?

It is hard to describe exactly what TNFO, but it is solid Seventies with some American influences, music designed for large stadiums. What 10 CC might sound like if they hit everything harder perhaps? Björn is the focal point, with some wonderful female harmonies providing support, while the rest of the band rock on without ever getting too over the top. Unless one knew the background, one would never imagine that behind this are some solid metalheads, as there is never any threat of the band taking anything too far in a metallic direction, but rather this is about solid performances with great hooks and guitars that are never too far away. “You Belong To The Night” even contains a heavy dose of disco! There is no doubt that yet again we have a collection of radio-friendly songs which are enjoyable the very first time they are played, and anyone into Seventies style commercial rock would do well to seek this out.

STEVE VAI Flex-Able Leftovers

EP · 1984 · Hard Rock
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UMUR
"Flex-Able Leftovers" is an EP release (later re-released as a full-length studio album featuring additional material) by US, California based guitarist Steve Vai. The EP was released through Akashic Records in 1984, while the album re-release was released in 1998 by Epic Records. As the title also suggests the material on the EP/re-release album are leftover tracks from the recording sessions for Vai´s debut full-length studio album "Flex-Able" from January 1984. Vai recorded 24 tracks during the sessions, but only picked 11 to be included on the original version of "Flex-Able". A further 8 tracks from the sessions were released as the "Flex-Able Leftovers" EP later that same year, while the 8 tracks from the EP and the remaining 5 leftover tracks finally was released as the "Flex-Able Leftovers" full-length studio album in 1998.

Stylistically the material on this release (both the EP and the album versions) is a continuation of the wacky, comedic, adventurous, and Frank Zappa influenced rock of "Flex-Able". It´s actually a bit hard to figure out why Vai picked some of the tracks he did for the debut album, and left some of the tracks from this release out, as all tracks are of a similar quality and style. Some tracks are instrumental while others feature idiosyncratic vocals and quirky lyrics (in the case of opening track "Fuck Yourself" the lyrics are relatively offensive), and while the music on display are a far cry from the virtuoso guitar sound that Vai would be known for on subsequent releases, he still on occasion shows his skills and plays some pretty crazy things. As the material wasn´t recorded at a professional recording studio there is an air of demo recording quality to the whole release, but Vai still manages to make the material sound relatively decent. A 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

STEVE VAI Flex-Able

Album · 1984 · Hard Rock
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UMUR
"Flex-Able" is the debut full-length studio album by US, California based guitarist Steve Vai. The album was released through Urantia Records in January 1984. Vai started his music career working for Frank Zappa, transcriping his songs, but from 1980-1983 he became part of Zappa´s touring band. After he left Zappa in 1983, he became a solo artist and built a studio in a shed in his back garden. The recordings featured on "Flex-Able", were recorded at his home studio. Vai handles synthesizer, bass, guitar, percussion, and keyboards on the album, but he is helped out by several guest musicians, including a couple of his old colleagues from the Frank Zappa band in Tommy Mars (violin, keyboards, vocals), Bob Harris (trumpet, vocals), and Chad Wackerman (drums).

The material featured on the album was recorded between 1982 and 1984 and the recording sessions spawned 24 tracks. Only 11 tracks are featured on the original version of "Flex-Able", while later reissues feature 4 extra tracks, which are culled from the 1984 "Flex-Able Leftovers" EP. The "Flex-Able Leftovers" EP originally featured 8 tracks, but was re-released in 1998 as a full-length album featuring all 13 tracks, which did not originally appear on "Flex-Able".

Stylistically the Zappa connection is obvious when listening to the music on "Flex-Able", which is a wacky, comedic, and challenging type of rock music, featuring idiosyncratic vocals, quirky lyrics, and all sorts of sonic experiments and adventurous time signatures. This is a far cry from the sound Vai would develop and be known for from the early 90s onwards, although a few tracks do featured some of his crazy signature guitar abuse. "The Attitude Song" is the track which sounds most like the Vai most people know, but a few other tracks also feature his unique guitar playing. Most of the other tracks are quite creative and experimental rock songs, even at times touching avant-garde territory. It´s not all pretty and sometimes it all becomes a bit too silly for its own good, but there´s nothing wrong with the high level musicianship on display.

As the material was recorded on an 8-track recorder, it´s not always professional studio sounding, and there is definitely an air of demo recording to some of the material. Especially the drums feature a powerless and sometimes programmed sound, and I´m pretty sure some tracks were recorded using a drum machine, which is a real shame, as the drum machine sound doesn´t do those tracks any favours.

Wearing your influence (Frank Zappa) on your sleeves as much as Vai does here is maybe just a bit too much, and thankfully Vai would later find his own path, but "Flex-Able" is still a relatively interesting release, and a 3 star (60%) rating isn´t all wrong.

hard rock movie reviews

KISS Kiss Meets The Phantom Of The Park

Movie · 1978 · Hard Rock
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Vim Fuego
KISS have long had a reputation for doing anything for a buck, and getting their name out in public. There are KISS coffins, er… sorry I mean KISS Kaskets, KISS cologne, KISS checkers, KISS Visa cards, and of course, the KISS comic books. Is it over-the-top tacky marketing of image over substance, or is it capitalism and market forces in action, and simply giving people what they want? With KISS, it’s an unclear mixture of both.

The Marvel Comics Super Special 1977 comic book saw Space Ace, the Demon, the Starchild, and the Catman battling villains Dr. Doom and Mephisto with their superpowers. The comic even has the band members’ blood mixed in with the ink. And so what does every comic book superhero want? A live action movie of course.

So the world got “Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park”, which first aired on the NBC network on 28 October 1978.

It’s like an overlong live action episode of Scooby Doo, but without the stoner humour. The plot is a bit convoluted. KISS are playing a series of shows at an amusement park. However the park is inhabited by a mad scientist who is supposedly developing animatronic robots for the park. But of course, he’s mad and therefore evil, so he’s creating robots of real people. He creates a Demon Gene robot which smashes up the park. While the band are busy performing, another robot is sent to steal their talismans, from which their superpowers come. And then it starts to get silly and confusing…

There’s more than half an hour of snoozefest before there’s any “acting” from the band themselves. None of the four had any acting experience, and the stilted delivery of their dialogue shows. Originally, all Space Ace was scripted to say was “Ack!” When the real Ace found out, he threatened to pull out unless he got some more lines. After demanding more lines, Frehley also didn’t show for filming some days, so his stunt double filled in. Peter Criss’ Catman lines were mostly feline puns, and his voice ended up being overdubbed anyway, as he didn’t turn up for looping (re-recording lines in post-production), and his broad accent. Gene’s Demon voice ended up either a demonic roar or a Satanic hiss.

Despite all the cheap and nasty sets, effects, and costuming, the fight scenes are actually pretty entertaining. There’s a kung fu fight after one of the concerts onstage and in the empty arena, and there’s a great slapstick/comic book-style brawl against various classic horror movie monster robots. And of course, there’s the climactic KISS robots vs KISS superheroes fight in front of a crowd going wild.

There’s concert footage interspersed through the movie. These parts offer sweet relief from the hammy acting. It was a real concert at a real theme park, set up especially to be filmed for the movie. After the real concert, the band also lip synched several tracks for filming. As you’d expect from KISS, the live performances are flamboyant and over-the-top. Perhaps a more traditional concert movie would have been a better idea?

So how did it all turn out? It was a fucking disaster of course! KISS hated it. For years, after, it was forbidden to mention the movie to anyone in the band. Gene Simmons compared it to “Plan 9 From Outer Space”, often considered the worst movie of all time.

Fans hated it. It got a worldwide release in theatres to a pretty tepid response. It was oddly popular in Australia, but this was probably because free tickets could be obtained by cutting 20 diamond shaped coupons from an ice confectionery cup called an "Icee" and pasting them onto a printed sheet.

KISS fans being what they are, eventually warmed to the movie. It slowly gained cult status, and was released on DVD as part of the “Kissology Volume Two: 1978-1991” box set. It’s one of those movies you see to say that you’ve seen it, but won’t remember well, and definitely won’t remember for the right reasons. The thought of a second viewing is a brand new horror show all of it’s own…

DEEP PURPLE The Video Singles

Movie · 1987 · Hard Rock
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martindavey87
Don’t get me wrong, I love Deep Purple, and I really enjoy the songs on offer here, but these videos are all pretty hilariously bland and uninteresting, and sure reflections of the times and music genre. Besides that, this DVD is barely half an hour long, and comes with no extras, and all these videos are available on YouTube. Not even some additional chit chat between the videos. So there’s really no point in owning this unless you’re an OCD collector like me, who needs to own everything. And even then, it only takes up space.

But I’m a collector, and I only paid 50p for this. So why not?

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.

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