This fall I'll be taking a rock-history class. I got the textbook today, and have been paging through it. Here's the section they have on Rush:
QUOTE Revamped Prog From the North: Rush.
Perhaps the most enduring of the progressive rock-influenced bands to emerge in the second half of the 1970s is the Canadian power trio Rush. The band first made its mark in 1976 with its fourth album, the concept album 2112, and followed with a string of records that did better and better on the album charts. In 1980, Permanent Waves hit the number four spot in the United States when most bands were turning away from ambitious concept albums. Because the band included no keyboards during the first few years and depended on Alex Lifeson's guitar playing for its harmonic color, their sound avoided some of the classical pretension that generated so much criticism of the original prog bands. Bassist Geddy Lee's high-pitched vocals were reminiscent of both Jon Anderson of Yes and Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant, and it was probably this similarity to Plant that kept many rock critics from including Rush in their prog-bashing diatribes. Still, the band kept the prog flame alive in the mainstream, and Neil Peart's virtuosic drumming and ambitiously poetic lyrics made it clear that there was no return-to-simplicity to be found in Rush's music. The Canadian trio were able to remain commercially successful into the 1980s and 1990s, with top-selling albums and sold-out tours, long after most other prog bands had broken camp.
Not anything beyond the basics, but it's kind of interesting to see how a more academic survey of rock history looks at them.