By David Fricke,
Yukon Blade Grinder, Sr. Editor
Few pleasures I've experienced in my work compare with this evening. Naturally, when the Yukon Blade Grinder dialed my number, I hopped on that puppy. Been on Willie Nelson's tour bus and hit fat j's that would make Bob Marley envious. I've sung with Springsteen during his now famous rendition of "Fire" at the White House, and been to Maggie's Farm with Bob Dylan. However, this was different. As stars go, these guys are famous for being normal. As in boring. On the way to Anthem Entertainment Internation HQ's from the airport, all four of us hopped in Peart's standard family minivan. So freaking cool that they picked me up from the airport on the way to the presser. As I sat in the passenger seat and got comfortable for the ride, Neil popped in a disc inscribed Moist. He said, "Welcome to the new era of Rush--Geddy and Alex can now count to four! Sesame Street is really helping them along".
As we drove out of the airport headed for downtown Toronto, I felt like, to qoute the famous Lou Gehrig speech: "the luckiest man on the face of the earth".
Neil points out the first track is the prequel to the immortal Jacob's Ladder, called Adam's Rib. When I reviewed Permanent Waves in 1980, I had to call out the music jack-holes of the day. With that album, Rush accomplished something I never suspected they could--mainstream accessibility while maintaining the uniqueness of their sound. It happened, and they did it well.
In his words, "Adam's Rib" is about being alive, knowing that you're heading for the scythe of death, only to come into the presence of the next reality--the mystery of life answered. Of course, Alex has to throw in his two cents worth "I thought it was about sex, drugs, & rock n roll when Geddy and I were pumping it at first...Neil always takes the fun out of the jam!" Hmmm I sense a bit o' tension there.
The album starts with a wind blowing gently. You can hear rustling leaves along the ground. A dog's bark is a distant early warning for an encroaching bliss of metal, as a floating voice recites what sounds like a Psalm, only to resolve in a human tornado of drums, bass, and guitar. As always, Neil provides the listener with plenty of food for thought:
For years along the Darwinian path
ambition lifted man to the skies.
Searching beyond the veil for the echo of our past
Only to discover wisps of terrestrial lies.
Not alone, yet we can't see our guests
Walking beside us, step by step.
We've never seen the coming hordes
As we stare into empty nests.
Arriving at the points between enchantment and disillusion
Our lives are revealed for what they are.
Life is nature's tedious ad-lib,
We come from Adam's Rib.
Well, whatever the hell that means, it sounds awesome, and I want more!
For 10 minutes I'm in total bliss. If anything, the music of Rush has been idiosyncratic to the hilt. They play what they like, and what they're doing now is indicative of musicians in total control of their craft. Steering a ship into waters that demand focus by playing in time signatures sure to make you puke in your hat, if your eyes aren't on the horizon. Gnarly!
The epics were thought to be long gone in the lexicon of the band's music, so this was a surprise. Moist contains two. Unlike the band's last effort, the highly ambitious Clockwork Angels, this album is clear and totally balls to the wall. The second track "Twice a boy, once a man" creates something new for Lee--the use of voice modulation. Relentless in melancholy, I'm reminded of "Madrigal" from A Farewell to Kings. I was mesmorized when Lee shouts the chorus, complete with backing vocals supplied by none other than the Blind Boys of Alabama, sounding like an Irish wake, only hipper:
When you climb the hill to arrive on top,
You forget the journey never stops.
Spindled by the weavers hands,
I was twice a boy and once a man.
Play in dirt
make castles of sand.
Build a fortress of stone
with cold chapped hands.
Time has now
worked it's plan
I was twice a boy,
and once a man.
Instrumentals have been something the band has always enjoyed making. Moist has one--"Little Blue Pills". Think YYZ meets Jerry was a Racecar Driver. Craziness knows no bounds.
Man, it's really getting warm in this car as the music keeps pumping.
Suddenly the conversation turns to marketing. Eager to please, the band's been breaking out new products left and right. Wines. Cheeses. Plus, the purchase of legendary Le Studio in Morin Heights. But now they're tapping into the adult market with products that'll help their fan base. PMS medication--outside of the box thinking. Neil says it was all Geddy's idea.
"Hey when those difficult times hit the family--we wanna help" quipped Alex, pulling a flask from his jacket. Now that is some Canadian hospitality. The goodies don't stop there. Here's one for the aging Rush male fan:
Wow indeed! But we moved on to other topics. The album cover. Geddy has moved into aquatic art and felt the theme of water needed to be brought in, since it has three forms. "Album covers are important. Hugh's out of pocket, so we comissioned some chick from Frisco to hook us up. Hugh may be out of a job soon!"
"Yeah, we're going back to the epics in every sense. 10 minute space jams. No more pansy stuff. This is what we do! I can't wait to play these songs on tour", says Geddy as we head into Anthem Entertainment International HQ's. The world is awaiting to be told of the grand reunion of Terry Brown and the golden boys of Canada.
Part II in the next epic issue of The Yukon Blade Grinder
Edited by Tombstone Mountain, 25 April 2015 - 08:08 PM.