Rush - Grace Under Pressure
In the annals of Rush's extensive back catalog, much of what came in the 80's is rarely spoken of and easily forgotten by many. It seemed that Moving Pictures would set a standard the band would not be able to consistently live up to. Such a collection of songs, polished and perfected, would be something of a demon haunting the band. Of course, that's all dependent on perspective, isn't it? In fact, one could say that they've done much good since, and I would be one of those people. Grace Under Pressure was further evidence of the band's dependence on synthesizers and their real hallmark of an era notorious for said element. A wonderful album front to back, which live staples and hidden gems to boot, Grace Under Pressure is a fan favorite and an album many have unfortunately overlooked in Rush's catalog.
"Distant Early Warning" is one of their all-time grooviest and catchiest tracks, with Lifeson given more space than was usual at this point in time to drive the song with his melodic riffage. It also highlights some tasteful passages utilizing synth punches to accentuate Peart's fluid and rhythmatic fills to fantastic effect. "Afterimage" is a touching, moving tribute to a loved one lost. It is general enough to allow any of us to find meaning in it's longing words and generous enough to provide enough up-tempo groove to leave a positive mark. "Red Sector A" has a darker vibe to it, a portrayal of the concentration camps familiar to the family history of Geddy Lee, whose grandparents were both isolated in and liberated from during World War II. "The Enemy Within" has a sort of funky tempo and groove to it that the band had been incorporating in doses since the days of "Spirit Of Radio" and it has a nice, change-of-pace effect. "The Body Electric" is, frankly, strange to my ears. It has a very odd pacing to it, and for some reason seems hindered by it's tempo only up until the last minute or so. I've always felt that "Kid Gloves" was, despite the somewhat lackluster lyrics, one of their better songs with some classy riffs courtesy of Lifeson and some of Geddy's more engaging basswork on the album. "Red Lenses" has some very cool instrumental passages, and really highlights the creativity of the band in all essences; from tempo shifts to instrumental prowess and precise yet spiraling songwriting. "Between The Wheels" ends the album on a very climatic note, with snyths pushing the din foward while Lifeson provides some darker, more dramatic leads.
You get a sense that Grace Under Pressure was, more than anything, one of the most band-oriented album's of Rush's somewhat forgettable "synth era". Alex Lifeson has a lot of say in the way these songs unfold, and Geddy's synths are more an effective accompaniment than a real focal point. While they still fill space that was typically reserved for a guitar run or creative drum fills, they proved with Grace Under Pressure that they could still be a relevant band with their newfound sense of musical direction. Of course, attempting to prove this again would end up leaving a small trail of tears for some fans...
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