Sunday, January 2, 2011
Ripple Theater – Classic Albums: Rush - 2112 & Moving Pictures
As most of you should know by now, I’m a big Rush fan. I’m not the biggest, most fanatical, or most passionate Rush fan, but I’ve always appreciated their music and their approach to making music. It always felt like an honest approach, calculated to some degree, but not overly plotted out like a Clancy techno-thriller. Anytime that I can get a new perspective on how a band creates a masterpiece or pivotal piece of its catalog, then I find that it’s time worth spending in front of the television set. Classic Albums: Rush – 2112 & Moving Pictures is just that kind of DVD that had me glued to the couch with a piping hot coffee in hand and an ear to ear grin on my face.
Most of you have probably seen the Classic Album features on VH1 at one time or another, and if you have, you probably know that these folks do a great job at producing in depth, behind the scenes documentaries on the artists approach to said classic albums. With Rush and 2112 / Moving Pictures (kinda’ funny that they couldn’t pull just one single record out of the back log) the DVD is no exception. Pulling in the three band members, manager Ray Daniels, producer Terry Brown, label rep Cliff Burnstein, and a veritable who’s-who of industry voices to add color commentary, this documentary provides some insight in the making of these Rush classics that I hadn’t picked up on in my past readings of the band.
Of greatest note for me was fresh insight on how the three musicians work together and collaborate on ideas to create the music that has become the fabric of my existence. Sure, I’ve always known that Geddy and Alex write the majority of the music and Neil provides the lyrical content, but this video shows in greater detail how that process actually works. You see . . . I always imagined that it was simply that Neil penned the lyrics and handed the finished product to Geddy to belt out, but in actuality, it’s a more involved process of editing lyrical lines without losing a poignant emotion, and then making sure that the words all fit within a measure of music without killing the singer. Really fascinating stuff . . . at least it is for me.
I also found it rather interesting how the influences of Ayn Rand’s writings, as well as the anthems of adolescent rebellion helped form the musical message of Rush. Even up to recent years, I had always thought of Rush as a very calculated, precise, progressive rock band . . . maybe a little pretentious at times, but this DVD dispelled a lot of that from my cerebral cortex. Rush is a much more reactionary band, much more rebellious and anthemic band, at least in the case of 2112 and Moving Pictures, than I had originally thought. These guys were all about creating rock n’ roll like their idols of The Who and Cream, but they wanted to inject a more intelligent string of thought to the lyrics than simply getting in the back seat of a car and humping the night away. The lyrical themes of 2112 are purely of an individual entity separating themselves from the confines of totalitarianism by way of music, essentially rebelling against the status quo and rocking out. Yeah . . . up until this DVD, I didn’t get that. Of course, I’ve always had a hard time reading between the lines . . . just ask my wife.
The bonus material on this DVD is even more insightful than the feature presentation. So, if you did catch the original airing of this documentary and were left with some questions or curiosities pick up this DVD and watch the bonus footage. There’s a great part where the band bring up a demo version of “Tom Sawyer” and to listen to that version in comparison with the version that we’ve all come to know and love, it’s extremely eye (and ear) opening. The original version was considerably faster in tempo and after years of listening to the final recorded version, this demo is a little jarring to listen to. Totally cool though, and further insight that I got on that song was the rebellious attitude and anthemic theme of the song. Again, I’m not the brightest bulb in the lamp shop and for thirty years, never really knew what this song was about.
The super passionate Rush fan will probably know everything there is to know about this band and the recordings of these two classic albums, so this DVD might . . . just might not appeal to them. For the Rush fan, like myself, who is fascinated with the inner workings of the bands creative process, this DVD is well worth the time and money. For folks who are interested in the band and don’t know where to start or really don’t know what the big fuss is over these two records, this DVD is a must. 2112 and Moving Pictures are two albums that helped forge Rush’s sound and cement them in rock n’ roll history. When someone mentions Rush, inevitably someone says in response, “Yeah. Tom Sawyer”, “Yeah. Limelight”, “Yeah. That side long epic song . . . 2112, isn’t it?” These two albums are quintessential Rush and are certainly classics, but like Caress of Steel or Hemispheres, both of these classic albums also act as launch pads for further musical explorations from the band. Personally, I’d like to see the making of Grace Under Pressure and Roll the Bones, or even Vapor Trails . . . all albums that I feel usher Rush’s sound into a more modern age. Any takers on this project? Hhmmm?