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Sunday, May 26, 2013




Ray Manzarek
1939-2013 (R.I.P.) :: RAY IS ALIVE, MAN!

Martin Popoff
Rush: The Illustrated History (Voyageur Press) :: Just because the author of this weighty 200 page hardcover tome describes himself as a “cranker-outer of 43 heavy metal books” doesn’t mean he’s a hack writer. Quite the contrary, that’s a mighty impressive statistic for anyone to compile given that I’ve only managed to crank out one such stat during my past fifty years as a rock critic; namely, my true crime exposé Scandinavian Heavy Metal Black Mass Murdering Musicians And The Norwegian Women Who Love Them To Death.

So it’s obvious that cranker-outer Popoff knows his Rushistory like nobody’s beeswax—which explains why this buzzin’ book is a sweet cover to cover must read compendium for any Rushki who can’t get enough historical analysis, rare memorabilia, and mostly insightful record reviews about their favorite band.

I say mostly insightful record reviews because the biggest blight blemishing this book is the first record review on Page 19 of the début Rush album that begins the proceedings and is wretchedly written by one of the book’s contributing “panel of rock critics.” It’s an unfortunate way to start the book and an especially unforgivable piece of hack work that relies more on a slovenly style of comma-eschewing emdash-addicted breathless alliterative run on sentences than it does on astute analytical authoritative insight.

Even worse, the reviewer shows an appallingly callous lack of social sensitivity and common human decency by daring to compare the sound of the first Rush album to the sound of a child locked in a refrigerator. That’s not funny, that’s sick. Have we really come to this? Because if we have, then it’s time that we all took a good long look at ourselves in the mirror to rethink what exactly it is that we find entertaining these days—and why.

For this is the kind of shameful sensationalism that tragically transcends mere bad writing and seeps into an unspeakable realm of reprehensible gutter-style base vulgarity that gives all legitimate music journalists a tarnished reputation.

Which is why I refuse to give this so-called “writer” any additional publicity by publicly mentioning his name. Regrettably, even if I don’t identify him, you’ll still be able to tell who he is by his puerile style of purple prose.

RushRush (Moon) :: Ask any working man who wouldn’t know Ayn Rand from Saran Wrap and he’ll tell you that not only is Rush’s eponymous album the greatest Canadian rock ’n’ roll record ever waxed, it sonically smearcases all other would-be Canucklehead contenders and leaves them tied for first loser. In other words, this one oozes to overflowing with everything you’d want a raucous rock record to reek of. It’s the only Rush album I’ve ever heard and it’s the only Rush album you’ll ever need to hear, too.

And while we’re on the topic of singular events, the first—and only—time that I saw Rush perform live was in 1973 at their inaugural recital when they opened for the New York Dolls at Toronto’s Victory Burlesque, where illustrious cleavage heavers such as “Alexandra The Great 48” would regularly strut their stacks down the long center runway which bisected the seats some 10 rows deep.

Nowadays everyone says that they were there that night, but I can prove it with unimpeachable authority because I still have my ticket from that epochal evening. The Dolls were great, but what we’re here for is the opening act which, at the time of their appearance, hadn’t even released an album.

Not that it mattered because the lay-down-the-law firm of Rutsey, Lifeson & Lee MFIC proceeded to storm the stage and decimate the entire area with an unrelenting salvo of heavy metal shrapnel which began with the opening riff of “Finding My Way” and didn’t end until the last brain-buffeting power chord had peeled the pasties off the panting usherettes. But that advance onslaught was nothing compared to the main invasion which occurred four months later when Rush’s first album was released on their own Moon Records label. After wearing out several copies in as many days, I barely managed to recuperate long enough to write the following review:

“To say that it’s a killer is the understatement of the year. Rush is virtually perfect from start to finish and it continues to burn rubber every time I sandwich it between my De-Stat disc and my Dual pickup. I’m listening to it right now as a matter of fact and, even though it’s 2:45 in the morning, I’ve got it cranked up full to give the next door neighbors an impromptu education in what real rock ’n’ roll sounds like. It’s non-stop splatter music and you don’t even notice the silence between the tracks. Power, power, power, that’s what this LP is all about and that’s why you owe it to yourself to grab a copy now. It wails like a child trapped in an abandoned refrigerator—and is twice as much fun.”

Four decades later, I still stand by that accurate assessment. Objectively speaking, you don’t have to be an individualist to know that the ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity—but how extraordinary is it that Rush’s first step was to build their own ladder by self-releasing an iconic album that continues to represent the living embodiment of everything that rock ’n’ roll stands for? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. But if you’re looking for answers, Rush contains eight of them.

Which is why my writing this Rush reiteration has got me thinking that it’s time for me to upgrade my fond memories of 1973 by going to see them perform live in concert for a second time—and as soon as I scrape up another four bucks, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I hear they’ve got a new drummer.

Be seeing you!

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