Posted 26 April 2015 - 11:42 PM
A number of other albums have great production as well, but these cases tend to be a more exotic "flavor" than MP/PeW, great for the album, but never as strikingly brilliant as MP/PeW. Such albums include A Farewell To Kings, Power Windows, Counterparts, Hemispheres, Caress Of Steel (to an extent), Signals, Clockwork Angels (will explain), and 2112. 2112 is a special case as it is the absolute benchmark of production for their just hard rock power trio songs and albums, but it's not the core of their sound and isn't necessarily remarkable rather than just being great. A Farewell To Kings is awesome and my favorite Rush album, but it has a huge Tolkien/high fantasy vibe to it all over which is not central to their sound as a band. Hemispheres actually probably comes closest to the MP/PeW benchmark, but the production here is almost too perfect for its own good. It's overly sophisticated and seems to lack a certain punch and tension which MP/PeW thrive on. Perhaps it's just the fact that the band was really quite stressed out making this album and it comes out in the playing, but nevertheless, the sound lacks a certain humanity which is fundamental to any good band's sound. I would argue that on Hemispheres they sound more like an orchestra or a concert band than a hard rock power trio, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Power Windows is stellar production wise as well, but the sound is not core Rush, it's just the perfect example of balance, blend, and synthesis between guitar and synthesizer while not drowning out the rest of the band. Signals is great because it brings with it the kind of freshness that PeW emirates on every listen, but of course it's very synth heavy, and, more importantly, not as guitar heavy as Rush aught to be. Counterparts seemed loud to me at first, but that was probably just the fact that they hadn't really rocked out like they do here since the seventies. Great sound on CP, but, like 2112, not really remarkable. Caress Of Steel shares the freshness and summery vibe if PeW and Signals, but the production isn't masterful. Perhaps it's just the sound of the early/mid seventies, but it's easy to tell that the band didn't sound quite like Rush yet, and Rush sounds better than the best moments of CoS. Jacob's Ladder vs. The Necromancer sound wise? A bit close, but Jacob's Ladder wins every time. Clockwork Angels is a touchy case, because, while the production or mastering or whichever one is responsible makes the album sound almost overbearingly loud. However, if you can manage to hear past the "wall of sound" production/mastering (and I've heard you can on vinyl), so much great stuff is going on sonically. The guitar tones are sick and deep like MP/PeW, the bass is heavy but definite, and the drums, while not perfect, aren't particularly bad. All other instruments on the album are certainly audible enough, and Ged's voice somehow manages not to get significantly buried under the many sounds going on. They sound classic, it's just the filter they've been put through which doesn't translate that cleanly/clearly.
Worst sound goes to Roll The Bones. It should have been what Counterparts was, but a few unremarkable songs and totally misguided production kept it from being great.