Hard Rock

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

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

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

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

Inclusive Hard Rock Genres

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

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

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


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

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hard rock Music Reviews

LEE AARON Power, Soul, Rock N' Roll - Live In Germany

Live album · 2019 · Hard Rock
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Kev Rowland
It is strange to realise that this is the first official live album from Lee Aaron, given that she has been fairly constant on the live circuit and released the anthem ‘Metal Queen’ back in 1984! During her 2017 German tour the concerts at Balingen and Nuremberg were recorded and now form the basis of this CD-DVD set in Digipak. Given I haven’t heard any of her material for some years I was somewhat surprised just how well her well-known numbers have aged, and the new material certainly doesn’t sound out of place beside them. This is the same as it always was, commercial hard rock with some great hooks and a singer who wants to be taken seriously for her music and not just her looks, although it must be said THAT magazine cover from 1983 did her image both harm and good at the same time.

Muscially this album feels a little like a dirty secret, no-one wants to admit owning it or even liking it but put on “Metal Queen” and it is impossible not to have a smile on your face. But I found I was really enjoying a lot of the material here, with “Tomboy”, "Barely Holdin On" and "Whatcha Do to My Body", in particular really standing out. I’m still not sure of the opener, her take on “Mistreated” as it doesn’t really work for her style but she has balls for going for it. All in all a fun album, and sometimes that is what we really want from our music.

KISS Hotter Than Hell

Album · 1974 · Hard Rock
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voila_la_scorie
I’ve never been a big KISS fan. I had a couple of the eighties albums on cassette in the eighties and in the last couple of years I bought “Lick It Up” and the debut. I actually found the debut kind of interesting and liked three, maybe four tracks. The other tracks were alright. But I heard that the debut was not the strongest album even though it’s held in fairly high regard compared to some albums. I watched a video where one fellow was listing some of his favourite hard rock albums of the seventies and he mentioned that this, “Hotter Than Hell”, was his favourite KISS album of that decade. As I often have the same opinion or close to the same as this guy, I went and ordered KISS’s second album.

The CD notes said that the debut had been a disappointment, unable to capture the vitality of the band’s live act. This album was said to be a grand improvement. After the first listen, however, I felt the album was totally unmemorable except for perhaps one track, possibly two. A second listen didn’t make it sound better. “Hotter Than Hell”? This album doesn’t even get hot enough to keep toast warm, I thought. So I put on my reviewer cap and gave the album one more listen, a careful one!

The opening track, “Got to Choose” is pretty mild. It’s mid-tempo, lacks any thrill and rush, and in no way hints that this is supposed to be a band with a spectacular live act. The song lyrics are pretty lame, too. It’s about a guy who finds out his girlfriend might leave him for another guy. So she “has to choose”. Deep, man.

The album does improve, though. “Parasite” is a little heavier than hard and sounds like it could go somewhere when played on stage. But “Goin’ Blind” is goin’ bland and just another throwaway power ballad. The title track should be a thrilling rocker I imagine but I isn’t. It starts with one of those typical hard rock riffs: power chords, pause, power chords, pause. But I’ve heard it a lot of times and done way better. The lead break is the only thing that kind of stands out.

“Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll” is alright and we are actually starting to rock out more. A typical blues-based rocker, it reminds me a little of Rush’s debut album. It’s not my favourite approach to seventies rock but the song moves. Then there’s “All the Way”, which is surprisingly not about “going all the way”. This song strikes me as KISS trying to do a hard rock song a little differently from the rest of the album. There’s some cowbell! It’s a good follow up to the previous track because at least now we seem to have gotten our asses of the couch even if it's just to confirm the track number.

At last I feel the band is making use of the dual guitars and bass when we reach track 7, “Watchin’ You”. Good riffs and musical structure. I am now finally warming up to this album! Then with "mainline" the band decides to do a southern rock-styled song that sounds like something I’d hear on a Nazareth album, like “Gone Dead Train” from “Show No Mercy” except Nazareth were better at it. Who is doing the vocals here? Ace?

“Comin’ Home” (these guys don’t like the “g” in the present continuous). What happened? This sounds like a demo! Paul Stanley sings this fun-ish rock song with a melody. Maybe something you’d hear from Cheap Trick. Then we get another heavy track, possibly one of Gene’s, with “Strange Ways”. It’s not bad but sounds very familiar, it doesn’t particularly stand out for originality. I get the impression that KISS were better at wearing make up and costumes than they were at writing and recording songs. Maybe that's why they were most popular among my friends when we were 9 years old.

It’s okay, I guess. There are some tracks that are worthy of adding to a seventies’ mixed playlist or that should be good live. Perhaps that was KISS’s strong point after all: their live shows. I have plenty of albums in my collection that totally rock out, songs that make you want to do scissor kicks and punch the air. This album needs to be cranked at a frat party and then only certain tracks played. Perhaps it’s best for people loaded on beer and hormones. Or am I too finicky?

VAN HALEN Van Halen

Album · 1978 · Hard Rock
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siLLy puPPy
VAN HALEN has been without a doubt one of the major forces in modern music having debuted all the way back in 1978 with this stunningly energetic and off-the-wall self-titled debut that kept hard rock relevant in a time when punk rock, disco and new wave were taking over the world. The eclectic quartet of lead vocalist David Lee Roth, guitarist Eddie Van Halen, drummer Alex Van Halen and bassist Mike Anthony literally swooped onto the music scene and forever altered its course and would ultimately spawn the glam metal scene of the 80s although VAN HALEN itself was a much more interesting act than any mere imitators as the band was larger than life mostly due to the wild antics and brash bravado of frontman David Lee Roth along with Eddie Van Halen’s virtuosic guitar antics that took hammer-ons and lightning fast soloing to unthinkable stunning levels.

While VAN HALEN would go on to sell over 80 million albums worldwide making it one of the top selling bands of all time, like any other this band had humble beginnings. After having moved from the Netherlands to Pasadena, CA as kids, Eddie and Alex took up music at a very young age and as is well known, Eddie started on drums and Alex on guitar until one day they suddenly switched instruments and never looked back. The brothers formed its first band The Broken Combs as early as 1964 playing in backyard parties and then changed the name to The Trojan Rubber Co and then in 1972 formed a band called Genesis and played for a couple years in which time recruited Roth as vocalist and Anthony as bassist. Once they discovered that another band Genesis already existed (remember this was before the internet!), they quickly changed the name to Mammoth but Roth insisted that the name VAN HALEN had a certain ring of success to it. Wow, he was right!

After establishing itself as an energetic and charismatic band that found regular gigs at clubs like the Whisky a Go Go (the photos on the album cover are from that venue), VAN HALEN caught the attention of Gene Simmons of KISS and once Warner Bros. producer Ted Templeman caught the band live, it was recording contract time and the band was headed for the big time fast. The album was mostly recorded live in three weeks time to keep that authentic band sound from sounding too overly produced. The album was released in February 1978 and quickly shot up the charts with songs like “Runnin’ With The Devil” and the remake of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” becoming instant classic rock radio hits that have been played ever since. The album has since been certified diamond having sold more than 10 million copies.

Opening up with “Runnin’ With The Devil,” VAN HALEN immediately established itself as a bad boy band with playful mischievous intent and the ability rock like nobody else ever had. The track begins with Michael Anthony’s pounding bass groove which signifies the band’s emphasis on melodic grooves above all else but once the fiery guitar and drum sections let loose, both the Van Halen brothers fire off their best chops but of course it’s the flashy charismatic charm of Roth that steals all the attention his way. Having established the band’s sound which in many ways was a typical if not upgraded hard rock not too overly distant from what had been happening all through the earlier 70s, the album is followed by the thundering intensity of “Eruption” which at only a minute and forty-three seconds immediately established Eddie Van Halen as the king of rock guitar thus giving him that instant guitar god status for his fiery pyrotechnic virtuosity. Basically the track took the basic intro from Cactus’ 1970 track “Let Me Swim” but added blood-curdling squeals, tremolo bombs, hammer-on gymnastics and unparalleled tempos that would give birth to the legion of guitarists that spawned the countless forms of more extreme metal to come.

Having dropped the nuclear bomb on the listener with the mostly guitar oriented “Eruption,” the band reverts back to, well a band with the following Kinks cover of “You Really Got Me” which takes it to the wild 70s with heavier guitar heft and sizzling solos along with Roth’s talent of turning everything into a Vaudeville extravaganza. This track was released as the fist single and reached #36 on the Billboard singles charts and paved the way for a many cover tunes to follow on following albums. This is one of those songs that i swear is being played somewhere in the world at any given minute of the day but displayed the band’s love of classic rock music that they could easily adapt into the repertoire. It is well known neither the band itself nor Ray Davies who wrote it have claimed that they really liked this version. The band was disappointed that the Warner Bros chose a cover as their first single but considering it all worked out they probably no longer care!

“Ain’t Talkin Bout Love” is a two-chord blast of energetic guitar bravado that started out as a spoof of a punk song. VAN HALEN was notoriously vocal in their disdain for punk rock and even went as far as posing as a punk band called the Enemas in 1977 where they claimed they were from Scotland and they talked shit about the punk rock scene before the band was quickly booted from the stage. Despite the song starting off as a punk rock parody somehow it took on a life of its own as Eddie added lightning fast riffing along with Roth’s sensual sensibilities coming out of the woodwork. This one has also become a classic rock staple. Next up is the heavy metal rocker “I’m The One” which kept the adrenaline supply surging despite the track actually taking on the characteristics of a swinging showtune piece which only becomes obvious when the band steps out and Roth is left to employ a rather competent “Bop bada, shoobe doo wah, bop bada, shoobe doo wah” vocal performance.

“Jamie’s Cryin” is another beloved classic from VAN HALEN that has also been on heavy rotation for over 40 years now and was only made all the more popular when 80s rapper Ton-Loc sampled the guitar riffs for his mega-hit “Wild Thing” in 1989. This track showed a more serious side of the band and recounts a tale of a girl named Jamie who had a one night stand with some undisclosed guy with whom she tries to kindle a bonafide relationship only to find the guy has not interest. This high school drama has resonated with audiences from the moment it was released. While VAN HALEN straddled the border between hard rock and heavy metal, they mostly veered toward the hard rock side of the equation but VAN HALEN I (as it’s often called) does deliver the metal goods on the tracks “Atomic Punk” and the closing “On Fire” which turns things up a few notches and delivers the incessant guitar rampage, fast tempos and proper metal bombast.

The tracks “Little Dreamer” and “Feel Your Love Tonight” provide the blueprint of how VAN HALEN would often skirt the line between hard rock and melodic pop with strong vocal harmonies and emphasis on the melodic groove over the flashy virtuosity of the heavier songs. These types of tracks also display the excellent vocal counterpoints of bassist Michael Anthony whose backing vocal duties added a whole extra layer of melodic flavor to the mix. “Little Dreamer” in particular showcased Eddie’s excellent guitar playing to find a solid grounding in a simple melodic flow without the pyrotechnic excesses while Roth was allowed to deliver some heart-string tugging vocals that would become the band’s style of delivering the more pop infused ballads. The backing oooo’s and aaaah’s also showed the band’s love of the classic vocal harmony bands of the 60s .

One of the best tracks of VAN HALEN’s career came in the form of “Ice Cream Man” which is a cover of the rather unassuming blues song from John Brim recorded in 1954 and turned into a veritable VAN HALEN classic. The track begins with the rare acoustic guitar performance of David Lee Roth as he plays contemporary folk dude but then taken into the stratosphere as the band bursts in and rockets off to heavy rock heaven. The track was a favorite of Roth which he performed regularly before joining VAN HALEN and displays his love of boogie boogie blues sounds that he brings to life in a rather Las Vegas strip nightclub performance. The song perfectly encapsulates the band’s fondness of double entendres as the lyrics of “Ice Cream Man” quickly reveal themselves to have nothing to do with tasty frozen treats. While the track adheres to its bluesy stomps that made it so Chicago bluesy cool AF, the musicians deftly adapt it to the world of hard rock and Eddie even crafts the perfect mind numbing solo to its irresistible charm.

VAN HALEN I is indubitably one of the classics of the heavy rock world with its audacity to take the world of hard rock into arenas hitherto unthinkable. Thinking outside of the box while maintaining the integrity of the genre with its bluesy hard rock underpinnings that nurtured irresistibly addictive melodic hooks is what propelled VAN HALEN to the top of the music scene virtually overnight. Tarnished only by its popularity of being played to death, VAN HALEN I still is one of the most entertaining albums in the world of rock music and although i have to stay away from this album and band for long bouts of time due to overdosing on many of the classic songs on here, once i throw this album on after a few years it still retains all that magic that made it so special upon first exposure. While this album was historically innovative beyond anyone’s dreams at the time of release, i never rate albums on that aspect alone but rather on how well the album hold’s up in its own right. Despite all the years of glam rock bands that borrowed a thing or two from VAN HALEN, this album still remains the best of the style and was never topped by even the band itself. This was their crowning achievement where every track is perfect. If i could change only one thing i would put “Ice Cream Man” as the last track so that the final words would be “all my flavors are guaranteee-eeeee-eee-eeeeeed to satisfy!”

HÄLLAS Excerpts From A Future Past

Album · 2017 · Hard Rock
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siLLy puPPy
HÄLLAS is one of those Swedish retro prog bands that has been getting a lot of attention in recent years for mining the 70s prog and hard rock world and adding some of the more modern production technologies along with influences from various genres ranging from black metal to synthpop. This band was formed in Jönköping in 2011 with the stable lineup of Tommy Alexandersson (bass, vocals), Alexander Moraitis (guitar), Marcus Pettersson (guitar), Kasper Eriksson (drums) and Nicklas Malmqvist (keyboards).

The band spend a few years honing their chops and released the self-titled EP independently in 2015 and while that four-track debut perfectly showcased the band’s intent of bridging the gap between 70s Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep and Wishbone Ash, the tracks sounded a little too retro for my tastes although these guys clearly displayed their fiery passion for the retro melodic hard rock sounds that made the 70s such a wonderful musical place to begin with! While touted as a progressive rock band, the debut EP was clearly missing that aspect.

Two years later in 2017, HÄLLAS finally unleashed its debut full-length album titled EXCERPTS FROM A FUTURE PAST which saw the band develop its sound into something more unique and crafted a more sophisticated blend of their influences which found its way onto the Swedish indie label The Sign Records. While the band’s proclivities are clearly rooted in the 70s hard rock action of Uriah Heep, the band dropped many of the Sabbath aspects and instead focused on the organ driven prog of early Uriah Heep with some of the blues rock inclinations of Wishbone Ash. Also more emphasized in the mix were ample uses of progressive rock as well as the organ parts adding more textures beyond a mere atmospheric backdrop.

With so many prog acts taking the leap into oft perceived complex pomp, HÄLLAS on the other hand keeps such excesses at bay and prefers the time signature deviations and overproduced slickness to be kept on a leash. What HÄLLAS focuses on instead are catchy hooks based in 70s inspired bluesy hard rock with the crossover prog characteristics shining through via organ driven technicalities and somewhat extended compositions at least on the ending tracks “Shadow of the Templar” and “Illusion Sky,” however for the most part these tracks are based on simple guitar riffs in the vein of 70s bands like Rainbow, Wishbone Ash, UFO or Uriah Heep. Alexandersson’s vocals display a tender vulnerability at odds with some of the brasher bravado that the 70s exhibited and the entire mood is a bit on the spacier side with subject matter revolving around medieval fantasy worship.

Gosh, these guys even look the part and if someone told you this band really was from 1974 or somewhere around that time, you could totally believe it! While many such retro bands go the full mile to play the part by recording on analog equipment, i’m not sure if HÄLLAS went to such extremes however given the warm organic sounds that perfectly replicate the guitar tones, groovy bass lows and period piece organ sounds, i would not doubt it for one minute if that was the case. The entire album that exceeds 42 minutes is actually rather dreamy for a hard rock album as the vocals are fairly monotonous and not even a tiny bit dramatic and the organ sounds are always providing an ambient backdrop if not outright taking the lead. The guitar riffs go up and down the scale while the bass and drum provide a stable if unremarkable rhythmic background.

If period piece retro rock is your thing with the additional touches of prog lite then HÄLLAS will be your up your alley but to be honest i’m not as impressed as many seem to be about this band. Yeah, all the boxes are checked for that authentic feel but when it comes down to it the compositions are hum along in a similar manner without a lot of dynamic changes. There seems to be missing that extra mojo that makes this style of music truly compelling and while the band is quite competent at crafting an album’s worth of retro pseudo-prog from the 70s, it just feels a little too safe for my liking.

HÄLLAS Hällas

EP · 2015 · Hard Rock
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siLLy puPPy
As far as progressive rock goes, Sweden is the gift that keeps on giving with seemingly no end in sight of extraordinary bands emerging from this nation of just over 10 million inhabitants. Emerging from the interior city of Jönköping is yet another band that has been catching the world’s attention in the last few years. HÄLLAS is one of those retro bands that adapts older sounds to the newer sonic palettes of the 21st century.

The band formed in 2011 and was inspired by various artists ranging from Wishbone Ash, Kebnekaise, Anekdoten, November, Camel as well as disparate genres ranging from black metal to synth pop. The lineup has remained the same since the band’s inception with the members Tommy Alexandersson (bass, vocals), Alexander Moraitis (guitar), Marcus Pettersson (guitar), Kasper Eriksson (drums) and Nicklas Malmqvist (keyboards).

This four-song self-titled EP was released independently in November 2015 and set the stage for the retro sounds that HÄLLAS has amalgamated into its own with a little Wishbone Ash blues rock mixed with Black Sabbath heft which makes this feel like a relic from the 70s with those classic guitar stomps, bluesy guitar licks and that familiar vocal style that sounds more like something from the Blue Oyster Cult but overall the musical flow comes off more as something Uriah Heep might have released in the early 70s.

HÄLLAS needed a bit more time to develop its sound a bit as this earliest offering is a bit too retro for my tastes and sounds more like a tribute to the past than anything innovative but yet this little EP sets the stage for greater things to come and the band nails these retro sounds quite well which accompanied by the benefit of a modern production job makes this a delight to listen to however at this point HÄLLAS is just getting warmed up. This one is probably best for those who have already warmed up to the band’s sound but it’s not a bad place to start either since it’s only 24 minutes long.

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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