CLASSIC ALBUMS: RUSH – 2112 and MOVING PICTURES (2010)
Featuring Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart, Terry Brown, Taylor Hawkins, Ed Robertson and Ray Daniels.
Directed by Martin R. Smith.
Distributed by Eagle Rock Entertainment. 112 minutes. Not Rated.
If you have seen last summer’s great comedy I Love You, Man, you will remember scenes of Paul Rudd and Jason Segel bonding by rocking out the the music of Rush.
Rush is the ultimate guy band – a mix of hard rock riffs and slightly goofy prog rock pomposity, the band has put together a thirty-some year career by showing working class Joes the world of rock superstardom.
I Love You, Man recognized that bond that men have with Rush and now so does VH1’s Classic Albums series. However, unlike most episodes of the series, the show is not an in-depth hour-long look at a single classic album. Apparently VH1 couldn’t decide and decided to smash two classic albums together in one package, giving the DVD more of a career-overview feel than previous installments in the series.
Okay, I have to admit while I’ve always appreciated Rush’s music, I never really followed it that closely. I only ever had two of their albums, one of which is covered here and undoubtedly Rush’s best-known album, Moving Pictures.
2112, on the other hand, I have honestly never listened to and I did not recognize any of the songs played here. It all sounds just a bit ridiculous, but in a cool over-the-top prog way, featuring a 22 minute suite based loosely on Ayn Rand’s novella “Anthem.” Yeah, the death of the concept album is probably for the best.
However, there is some fascinating background on the making of the album.
By far the most interesting part of the 2112 discussion was when the band acknowledges all the backlash they received from the music press because they acknowledged the conservative novelist Rand in the liner notes. The band – which appears to be left-leaning, but who knows? – explained, correctly, that just because they appreciate her art does not mean they believe in her political philosophies. Lead singer Geddy Lee – the child of concentration camp survivors – seemed particularly stung by the harsh allegations of the music press.
The other great part here was drummer and lyricist Neil Peart bitching about how the record label was pressuring the band to do something commercial. They got the last laugh, though, it may not have been at all commercial, but somehow it became a hit.
Still, Moving Pictures is an album that is commercial, and it is the better for it.
Of course, Classic Albums sort of oversells that commerciality. The video several times says that Moving Pictures is wall-to-wall hits, which is a bit of a stretch. Actually, only “Tom Sawyer” became an actual hit (and even that did not hit the Billboard Top 40), though “Limelight” is also a classic tune and “Red Barchetta” got a bit of airplay.
Still, the album was then and stays now a smart and tuneful set of songs (and thankfully, there was no overriding concept to the songs.) In the few years since 2112, Rush had noticed the changing prevailing winds in music coming from punk and new wave and were able to incorporate the new sounds into their own work.
That album, more than any other, made Rush the commercial force that they have remained for over three decades (though the previous album, Permanent Waves, may actually have been their commercial breakthrough.)
All these years later, Rush still tours regularly. Geddy Lee acknowledges that people still request songs from Moving Pictures more than any other album in their catalogue. Classic Albums does make the case that Rush was a groundbreaking and extremely talented band.
And somewhere, in a man cave in Santa Monica, two guys like Paul Rudd and Jason Segel are watching this DVD and air guitaring along blissfully.
Living in the limelight, indeed.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2010 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 3, 2010.