It's time to move across the Atlantic again and back over to Canada for the first time in a while with prog band Rush and their 2004 EP Feedback.
Before their 2004 30th Anniversary tour, the Canadian trio surprised fans by releasing an EP of tracks that had inspired them from the sixties. On a record where you might've thought you'd get a smattering of Led Zeppelin or Rolling Stones tracks, Rush took a different path to a usual covers album. For Feedback, they take some proper sixties classics and give them the Rush treatment.
The EP opens with an Eddie Cochran classic Summertime Blues, although this particular rendition is inspired by the heavier cover by The Who during their live sets. The sound of this track isn't too dissimilar to their last album by this point, 2002's Vapor Trails, and it's certainly fair to say this version does hold a candle to the original. It's brash, reckless and features some great drum fills from the late Neil Peart and that gritty guitar riff from Alex Lifeson sounds as fresh as the original release. The following Graham Gouldman-penned and Yardbirds-recorded Heart Full Of Soul is certainly brimmed full of talent with Geddy Lee's best vocal of the collection with a certain elegance to the sound that only Rush can create. Compared to Summertime Blues, it's the simplicity of Heart Full Of Soul that's the draw, and even though it's a slightly heavier version, Rush's rendition stays close to the original for a standout performance.
For What It's Worth, the Buffalo Springfield classic, is as timeless here as when it was first released back in December 1966. It's as instantly recognisable as Stephen Stills' original composition, with a certain lightness to it that contrasts the other offerings nicely. Moreover, Stephen Stills' lyrics during an age of poignant protest have never seemed so relevant as they do today and Rush certainly did this track justice back in 2004. There’s yet more British inspiration on the following The Seeker, one of the signature tunes of The Who and certainly one of their best. This version allows Geddy Lee to showcase the higher notes in his voice which sound as crisp as they did back in 1974 and it’s certainly a brilliant song to do it. There’s as much attitude as on the original and it’s abundantly clear that this is the most powerful offering on Feedback, especially given those low and purposeful guitar riffs and drum fills.
Feedback's darkest track, Mr. Soul, another Buffalo Springfield tune that was written by the great Neil Young, is also one of its slowest, offering up something with a bit more swagger and drive than those before it. Those gritty guitar riffs and purposeful vocal from Geddy Lee draws another similarity to Vapor Trails with a darker sound that was unmatched on any previous Rush album. It's a great example of how they can take what already was a pretty sinister track and give it the prog treatment to make it even more evil sounding. Love's Seven and Seven Is follows on with something that hurtles out the gate like a bolted racehorse. It's got a real southern rock sound to it which under any normal circumstances wouldn't sound right, but somehow the Canadian power trio just manage to make it work and in all due seriousness, Seven and Seven Is might just be one of the quirkier tracks in their back catalogue.
On its final two tracks, Feedback highlights the brilliance of the entire band and doesn't just focus on individuals. There's yet more British covers with both The Yardbirds and Cream chosen for the EP's last two, with Shapes of Things and Crossroads respectively. Shapes Of Things shifts focus away from the guitar and vocals to the back of the stage and Neil Peart's superhuman ability on drums. His Keith Moon-like mad drum fills in the song's closing seconds make it an irresistible listen, as does how tight the band's sound feels on this particular track. Everything slots together perfectly from Geddy Lee's melodic vocal and Alex Lifeson's psychedelic guitar work. Crossroads, Feedback's last tune, opens with one of the most iconic riffs in rock music history and it's clear for all to see that Alex Lifeson stays true with its rugged sound and brilliant guitar solo. Crossroads also demonstrates the tightness of sound once again with everything layered to perfection, especially on the instrumental breaks with the overlapping of Lee's bass and Peart's drums creating something that makes for an incredible listen.
At twenty-seven minutes in length, Feedback might not be a typical Rush release, but rest-assured, it's one of their best. It offers a different flavour to the typical prog seen on the likes of 2112 and Feedback is certainly a brilliant collection of sixties classics done in the best way possible.
If you want a copy of this record, I'll leave an Amazon link here: https://amzn.to/3hGJdOL
Or, if you'd prefer, here's a Spotify link:
More musical magnificence to come next week!
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