This week we turn our attention across the pond to Canada for 1981's Moving Pictures courtesy of Rush.
Now, I've been into the prog-rock genre for a while and no album collates its mastery better than Moving Pictures. I do appreciate that it's their best-selling album in the USA and that some may perhaps deem it too commercial, but that really doesn't detract from one of Canada's most-loved musical exports. The opening track, Tom Sawyer, both in title and lyrics, references the character created by Mark Twain in the mid-1870s. It puts a spin on a modern-day version of the character with high levels of integrity and how he epitomises early eighties culture and all that goes on around him. Sawyer is ultimately an individual in society but in his own little way, he represents the times around him.
Songs like YYZ truly portray the masterworks that Rush become as a purely instrumental band. It demonstrates why Geddy Lee has been described in many ways as "the best bassist of all time" and along with the guitars of Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart's magnificent drumming, YYZ acts a great follow-on from Red Barchetta. The title originates from the international airport code for Toronto International Airport and the song makes use of its Morse Code designation at the start of the track, using various instruments to play the series of dots and dashes. Limelight, the album's second single, details Neil Peart's disgruntlement at Rush's commercial success and his dealing with these sustained levels of fame. It's much more personal than the rest of the tracks and the guitar solo from Lifeson is especially brilliant and somewhat melancholy, perhaps becoming an instrumental version of Peart's lyrics.
The Camera Eye is, personally speaking, the most "prog-like" in structure with its multiple parts and intentionally tries to capture the energy in two English-speaking cities, New York and London. Unlike the rest of the album, it's a little longer in duration, clocking it at around ten minutes and was rarely performed live. It critiques the society in these two large cities and how it is business that drives them and nothing else. Peart talks of the fact there is potential within the two cities to do well, but ultimately, nothing will ever come of it for the common man - there's this "wrench of hard realities" that is what hits people, saying that they'll never make it, but the privileged few will instead.
Moving Pictures collects the best of the prog-rock genre at this time and places it all gracefully onto this seven track LP for the delectation of the listener. It's a record that I can't fault and one that is a stalwart in any prog-rock fan's record collection. With Rush, there is no finer place to start.
If you want to pick up a copy, I’ll leave an Amazon link here: https://amzn.to/304cZHg
Or, if you’d prefer, here’s a Spotify link:
More musical magnificence to come next week!
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