Here is my ranking. I take no offense if you disagree - I'd love to hear what you all think!
1) MOVING PICTURES - Sure, this is a cliche #1, but there's a reason. A flawless Side 1 that one plays like a greatest hits. A Side 2 with three hidden gem classics. Acknowledgement by the band that they pretty much became "Rush" with this album. You just can't beat it.
2) PERMANENT WAVES - Remove the plodding "Jacob's Ladder" which has never been my favorite (sorry everyone!), and this might've been my #1. Every other song is ridiculously excellent.
3) COUNTERPARTS - Yeah, that's right. This album proved Rush could rule in the 90's and beyond. Flawless production. Great hooks. A renewed focus on riffs. For me, this album is even greater than their 70's output - it's a sum of everything great they'd done over the previous 20 years.
4) HEMISPHERES - The best of their 70's prog goodness, and as far as they could take the formula.
5) CLOCKWORK ANGELS - Like 'Counterparts' before it, this albums proves how truly relevant this band still is. I wouldn't even call it a "return to form" - it's simply Rush producing brilliantly crafted music. And the fact that this comes nearly 40 years into their career is just astonishing.
6) GRACE UNDER PRESSURE - My favorite of their synth period, it's dark, heavy and not quite as keys-saturated as the next two albums.
7) 2112 - This may be the lowest anyone has ever put this album on such a list, but I feel it tends to rank higher solely because of the epic title track. Side 2 is good, but not great.
8) SIGNALS - Epic first side; so-so second side.
9) A FAREWELL TO KINGS - Some of it's a bit 'chirpy' for my tastes, with all the keys, bells, etc. and Geddy's voice gets a little out of hand at times (again, 70's Rush is no my favorite period), but it's still in my top 50% of Rush albums.
10) SNAKES & ARROWS - Prior to the release of 'Clockwork Angels' I would've ranked this album higher. I found it infinitely better than the mess of 'Vapor Trails.' But time hasn't been as kind, as I now find much of it a tad boring. That being said, there are some phenomenal tracks on here.
11) POWER WINDOWS - I like this album a lot more now than I used to. Previously it sounded like little more than a wash of synths to me, but I've come to appreciate a lot of the hooks and subtleties over the years. "Marathon" is a beast of a song.
12) PRESTO - Many good songs, but only half are super-memorable. Production is a little thin. But "The Pass" is worth the price of admission alone.
13) ROLL THE BONES - I love the first three songs (even the polarizing title track), but the album largely loses me after that. Not a bad album; just doesn't hold up as well as others.
14) FLY BY NIGHT - "Anthem", "By-Tor" and "BBB" are so damn good it's hard for me to put this album so low. But the reality is that Rush was still finding their footing here, and for me, Side 2 is just not all that good (including the title track - I'm not surprised the band hasn't played it in 35 years).
15) HOLD YOUR FIRE - Too synth-y overall. But "Time Stand Still" is one of my very favorites, and "Force Ten", "Mission" and "Lock & Key" are great too.
16) TEST FOR ECHO - The production is great. The first three songs are epic. And then the rest of the album goes from decent to mediocre to just not good.
17) VAPOR TRAILS - This album is kind of a mess. The production plays a big part in that, but the songwriting is just not their best. This is not an album I find myself listening to on a whim. That being said, the title track is stellar (why "Earthshine" and "Secret Touch" get played over this is beyond me).
18) CARESS OF STEEL - I love "The Necromancer." "Bastille Day" has a great riff/opening. You can keep the rest.
19) RUSH - Simply put, the band just handn't grown into the Rush we know and love quite yet.
Edited by pdurbin22, 10 August 2012 - 12:10 PM.