*** minor tour SPOILER alert ***. Thanks to snowlynx at Rush Tour, we have a photograph of the stage setup from Rush's rehearsals. There are no huge spoilers here, but if you don't want to see it don't click on the thumbnail. The picture is a little grainy but Neil's kit, described in this post, is clearly displayed. In case you're wondering, the photograph was obtained from someone who works for the company which suppplies the large video screens that Rush uses.
The latest Billboard chart information is out and Snakes & Arrows has dropped out of the top 40 to #51 (from #35 last week) in its 4th week of release in the US. On the Canadian charts it's still hanging in there in the top 40 at #29, down from #18 last week.
As I'd mentioned on Monday, Alex Lifeson was recently interviewed on UK digital radio station Planet Rock by Mark Jeeves. The interview aired about an hour ago on the Nicky Horne show and I recorded it. You can download it at this location or listen using the player below. No earth-shattering news, but Alex does mention that they'll play 9 songs from Snakes & Arrows on the tour and that Workin' Them Angels is his current favorite.
The Larger Bowl is the next single from Snakes & Arrows
UPDATE - 6/2@9:30AM: The next single actually is Spindrift. See this post for details.
UPDATE - 5/31@8:20AM: I now have a list of stations who have received the single. Just go to the bottom of the post and click on the more link. If you have a spare minute or 2, contact a few of these stations and request they play it.
I recently found out that The Larger Bowl is the next single from Snakes & Arrows. Copies of the single were sent to radio stations yesterday under the following formats; Rock, Heritage Rock, Adult Contemporary, and Country. Yes, you read that correctly ... Country and Adult Contemporary. I hope to have a list of stations who received the single sometime today. In the meantime, it might be worth the effort to give your local stations a call to see if they have it.
Click the more link below for a list of stations with contact info.
UPDATE - 5/30@7:41AM:CORRECTION: The cd preview is for Guitar World not Guitar Player. Oops.
Here are a couple of quick Rush sightings in the current and upcoming issues of Guitar Player magazine. Mandydog at Counterparts reports that the July 2007 issue lists the top 40 live albums of all time (in no particular order) and Rush's All the World's A Stage makes the cut. And RedSectorA points us to the August 2007 cd-rom preview posted on the Guitar Player website which showcases a couple of short clips of Alex and Geddy.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Snakes & Arrows MVI release date delayed ... again
Late last week those fans who had ordered the Snakes & Arrows MVI through Amazon began receiving emails telling them that the release date was delayed until June 19th. Now the Rush Backstage Club is also reporting the delay ... except they're saying June 26th - a week later. Not only that, but they're sold out of their allotment. From their website:
This Rush MVI is now SOLD OUT. We have reached our online allotment for this product, as it is a limited edition MVI.
The release date for this product has been changed to June 26. If you ordered this item as a pre-order, it will be shipped on the release date of June 26, 2007. If you ordered additional items with this MVI, the whole package will be sent out on the release date. Please note, the release date is June 26, 2007 for this MVI. Atlantic Records has changed this from a previously earlier date. We apologize for the confusion surrounding this release date, and we will do everything we can to get this product shipped as early as possible.
Just to be clear, only the Rush Backstage Club is reporting that they've sold out of their allotment. Other online retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy, etc. seem to still have the MVI in stock. Thanks to Jerry for the heads up.
It's a holiday here in the US and things are a little slow. I thought it an opportune time to clear out my backlog of random Rush stuff.
Snakes & Arrows has fallen to #39 on the United World Chart, which combines sales from around the world. It sold 40,000 copies in its 3rd week of release. In most countries the album is falling off the charts, but reader jp let me know that in Finland it actually moved up a couple spots in its 3rd week; it was #4 in its first week, #21 in its second week but then climbed back up to #18 this week.
... What I found as I listened to this CD is how mature this band is within the culture of their style. At heart, they are an instrumental band in that they really focus on the composition of their music. They have a very complex system of integrating their instruments together to create a powerful wall of sound. The lyrics, which are sometimes simple, sometimes profound, act as a thread that ties the whole package together. ... Yes, I like this album! My first take was that the second half was better than the first half, but after three times through, there are no songs that I would remove and only with Spindrift; the worst that I can say about it, is that I don't always notice it when it is on. This album is worth the time and you will find many of the tunes remaining in your head long after the music's done.
As a heads up, reader Grahm B let me know that Alex Lifeson will be interviewed on UK digital radio station Planet Rock on Wednesday, May 30th at 9PM (4PM EST).
Reader zenarcade2003 pointed me to this humorous video on YouTube. It's 2 guys (Matty and Tones) hosting an animated virtual music news program called the Matty & Tones SoundChaser Show. On this program their featured review is of Snakes & Arrows, which they both like. You can tell they're both Rush fans, Tones is even wearing a Hemispheres shirt. However, their music guru expert Martin did not like the album and thinks that Rush hasn't put out anything worth listening to since Caress of Steel. :)
I think this is a first for Rush sightings; Rush Forum member Jack Aubrey saw a Rush mention on a beer label. The beer in question is the He'brew 10th Anniversary ale from the Shmaltz Brewing Company. The beer label discusses how the number 10 is particularly important in Jewish culture and mentions Rush: ... On Rush's 10th album, Grace Under Pressure (number 10 on Billboard), Geddy Lee sings of his parents surviving the Holocaust..... You can check out the label at this link.
I recently received an email from reader Nick Bradbury who bought tickets to the opening show in Atlanta through Music Today after finding out about the tour from Rush is a Band. He also entered the meet-and-greet contest and was one of the lucky winners. So he and his family will get to meet the band before the show! He put up a post about this on his blog and also pointed me to a couple of other amusing Rush-related posts that you may want to check out. Some of you techies out there may be interested to know that, in addition to being a Rush fan, Nick is a software developer and the creator of HomeSite, TopStyle and FeedDemon.
PhillyMike let me know that in an interview with John Kruk of ESPN in the June 2007 issue of Philadelphia magazine Kruk talks about the ESPN fantasy baseball commercial that he and Geddy Lee were involved with:
Q: Did it take some convincing to get you into leather pants for the ESPN commercial/rock video? A: Shoot. I showed up and they said, "Here's what you're wearing," and I said, "You gotta be sh**in' me." Everyone assumes I'm a Harley-riding biker guy. I've never been on a Harley in my life. Again the disappointment shows when people hear I don't know anything about rock music. They said, "You're going to be on with Geddy Lee [of Rush]." I said, "Who's he play for?" I thought he was some rookie.
Tony Kornheiser is a sportswriter and radio/TV talk show host who has his own radio show and also is cohost of ESPN's Pardon the Interruption. PhillyMike alerted me that on Tony's May 21st radio show Tony mentioned at the beginning of the show that a listener sent him a copy of "Feedback" because he is a fan of music from the 1960s. You can listen to the show at this location.
In my updates post last Saturday I mentioned an Esquire article by Chuck Closterman titled Radio is History. It was in the June 2007 issue and it discussed the demise of radio in America using the Rush song The Spirit of Radio to illustrate the point. Dave gave me the heads up that the entire article is now online at this location. The article begins as follows:
In 1980, one song...canonized everything that is great about listening to the radio. In 2007, those qualities face extinction. ... Originally written about a Toronto radio station I couldn't care less about, the primary detail modern audiences know about this song is that the intro would be almost impossible to play on Guitar Hero. This is the shortsighted view. I think about 'The Spirit of Radio' a great deal more than that, perhaps because I've faithfully listened to it (approximately) no less than seventy times a day for the past twenty-five years. Let us begin with an examination of Geddy Lee's opening gambit: Begin the day...
It then goes on to break down each section of the song using it to bolster his argument. The article is tinged with sarcasm and at times it's hard to tell whether the author is poking fun at the song or genuinely believes in the profundity of the words. Either way, it's an interesting read.
Geddy Lee discusses politics, marriage in new interview
UPDATE - 5/26@10:27PM: Thanks to Xanagirl over at Counterparts we now have the entire text of the article. It's an excellent read. See the bottom of this post to read it.
Every month the Toronto Globe and Mail's Evan Solomon sends an unidentified image to someone in the public eye along with a challenge: Give it a title and share the ideas and experiences it evokes. This month it was Geddy Lee who submitted to the challenge. To read the entire article and see the image you need to be a subscriber, but from Geddy's caption and what he says about it we can get the gist of it. He titled the photo The Pain of Politics:
... I look at this photo and I see this suffering woman saying goodbye to a family member of some sort - perhaps her husband or her father, I can't tell - and he's reaching out to her. Korea is still, essentially, at war, 54 years after the ceasefire. This photo reminds me of the limited visits that North and South Koreans are allowed to have in order to reconnect families that have been torn apart. The Korean War is kind of a forgotten war and this picture really provoked me to think about that time and how little has really changed in terms of the division of life for family members in Korea. ...
Further on in the article he gets a bit personal and discusses his own family and marriage:
... But it's never that simple. Life got much more difficult. There were many times with my relationship with my wife and my kids where it was a very painful thing to have to leave. You know, things go on in your life that require your presence and the older I got the more I felt the damage from my continual departures, the divisions were growing. When you are not present in a marriage and not present in a parenting situation, there's going to be damage and there's going to be alienation.
So I realized at a certain point in my life I had make a stronger effort to be present, to tour less and to come home more and to make sure I keep my family together. I always tell my friends that marriage is the toughest job you will ever have and keeping a family together is tougher than any job in the real world....
... I will say my wife and I, we teetered on the brink at one stage in our relationship many, many years ago, but we both wanted to make sure that didn't happen. This was when my son was very young and I was touring at that point - oh my god, I don't know, almost 250, 300 shows a year. ...
You can read the excerpts above online at this link but, as I said, you need to be a subscriber to read the whole thing.
UPDATE - 5/26@10:27PM: Here's the entire text of the article thanks to Xanagirl over at Counterparts:
Evan Solomon: Geddy, when I sent you this photo, what caption came to mind?
Geddy Lee:Being me, I over-thought the thing a million times. But since I think the photograph is dealing with North and South Korea, the caption that struck me was, "The pain of politics."
Why "the pain of politics"?
I look at this photo and I see this suffering woman saying goodbye to a family member of some sort - perhaps her husband or her father, I can't tell - and he's reaching out to her. Korea is still, essentially, at war, 54 years after the ceasefire. This photo reminds me of the limited visits that North and South Koreans are allowed to have in order to reconnect families that have been torn apart. The Korean War is kind of a forgotten war and this picture really provoked me to think about that time and how little has really changed in terms of the division of life for family members in Korea.
You're right about the picture. It does show some South Koreans crossing that heavily armed border this week to be reunited with North Korean relatives that they haven't seen since 1953. But, of course, after the short visit, they each have to go back to their own countries.
I can't imagine that - family members that you have no access to. They can't phone each other. They don't have Internet contact with each other. Unfortunately the kind of comic presence of Kim Jong-il has made us look at North Korea in a slightly ridiculous fashion, but we forget they are half of a state that is divided and still at war. I was thinking about the Cold War that we all grew up through and this is a "cold war" of a different kind - it's totally out of our mindset as North Americans, but in that part of the world it is very real and it's an ongoing thing and you look at this picture and you see that.
Geddy, earlier you said that in typical fashion you over-thought this caption. What do you mean by that?
Oh well, give me a project and I'll think about it six ways to Sunday. I tried to think of a caption that would be revealing.
At one point, I thought "Not Enough Time" would be good. Because these two people, as they're feeling this pain, they're thinking we don't have enough time together. So that was one feeling I got from this photograph as well.
So much of your life - in a very different way - has been about not enough time. You are always on tour, making connections and leaving. How did you handle that with your own loved ones, as a father raising a family, always saying goodbye?
Well, that's an interesting question. When I was younger, it was easier for me because I was so enthralled with the dream. The dream of chasing my career. So I justified the leaving and the pain I caused my wife and my children by saying this is the job I'm meant to do and I have to follow my dream.
But it's never that simple. Life got much more difficult. There were many times with my relationship with my wife and my kids where it was a very painful thing to have to leave. You know, things go on in your life that require your presence and the older I got the more I felt the damage from my continual departures, the divisions were growing. When you are not present in a marriage and not present in a parenting situation, there's going to be damage and there's going to be alienation.
So I realized at a certain point in my life I had make a stronger effort to be present, to tour less and to come home more and to make sure I keep my family together. I always tell my friends that marriage is the toughest job you will ever have and keeping a family together is tougher than any job in the real world.
Did you almost lose your family?
I will say my wife and I, we teetered on the brink at one stage in our relationship many, many years ago, but we both wanted to make sure that didn't happen. This was when my son was very young and I was touring at that point - oh my god, I don't know, almost 250, 300 shows a year.
That is the rock-star life, isn't it?
It wasn't so much the rock-star life as trying to be a rock star. When you are trying to get there, you don't say no to anything. We would stay on the road for months at a time without coming home and obviously all of us experienced damage to our home lives.
And that's when we started to institute some pretty strong rules. We wouldn't go away for more than three weeks without coming home for a week and we began turning opportunities down in order to preserve our family lives.
I think that was the smartest decision we've ever made.
The Korean photograph also has to do with loss and how people try to cope with it. How has loss affected your life?
I experienced a massive loss very early in life. I lost my Dad when I was 12. And that was a terrible disruption and a terrible thing for a 12-year-old boy to handle.
How did he pass away?
Complications from the war. My parents were Holocaust survivors. My father was never 100 per cent healthy and his heart was not healthy from his labour during the war. And one night, his heart just gave out.
Was he in a concentration camp?
Yes. Most of my family was in camps. My mother and my father were both in Auschwitz and they then got transferred to different concentration camps. My mother was liberated in Bergen-Belson and my father spent some time in Dachau as well before he was liberated.
Was living with a sense of tragedy and loss, and even the guilt of survival, a shadow in your family?
My mom is an amazing woman and she very openly talked about [her] experiences. I know other children of Holocaust survivors tell different stories - how their parents won't speak of it, they won't discuss that pain - so I feel very fortunate that I had a tough mother who had a good sense of humour, who embraced life and handed it off to us too. It really helped me get over the loss of my father. I lost a friend a couple of years ago to cancer and that was a very tough moment for me. Witnessing what [Rush drummer] Neil Peart has gone through with the death of his wife and his daughter was another difficult time. But somehow or another I feel like my mother prepped me for all of this...
Your father died so long ago. He never saw you succeed, or raise a family. I wonder, does the ache ever really go away?
Not really, no. I think about that. I think about how great it would be to have him around to see my kids. More than my success, that's what I wish he was here to enjoy - my children and my wife and all that. But what can you do? Life throws you curve balls and you got to do your best to handle them.
You and the band are about to tour for your new album. Do you still get a kick out of playing older hits - or do you want to move on to the latest material?
One of the reasons we tour without an opening act is so we can have 2½ to three hours to indulge everything - play the old stuff and play a good amount of new stuff. But for me to walk out on stage and after, what, 33 years of touring, see people who still want to hear something I've written 25 years ago... Well, I'm very happy to play that for them.
Some people say that when rock musicians get older, they lose their creativity. Do you still feel creative?
Absolutely. We've been through a lot in the last couple of years on the personal side, but now I feel like we're acting like a band again. We're still having fun with it, so the spirit of rock and roll is back with us.
Is that the caption for Geddy Lee right now?
Maybe. It could well be.
Evan Solomon is a writer and journalist. He is also the host of CBC News: Sunday and Sunday Night. How They See It will appear monthly in the Focus section.
It's time for an update before us Americans go off to celebrate the Memorial Day holiday. The poll results are in and with 300 responses over 95% of readers gave Snakes & Arrows an above average rating (no surprise really). Nearly 17% say it's a masterpiece (10, 5 stars, A); 38% say it's excellent (9, 4.5 stars, A-); 30% say it's very good (8, 4 stars, B+); 11% say it's above or slightly above average; just over 2% said it was average and the rest gave it a less than average rating. Only one person said it was very poor (2, 1 star, D) and nobody said it was either awful (1, 0.5 stars, D-) or horrendous (0, 0 stars, F). Since the tour kicks off soon I thought I'd ask a tour-related question this week. How many times will you be seeing Rush on the Snakes & Arrows tour? Let us know here.
It's been another fairly quiet week in Rushdom. The big news I suppose was the rumor that some limited indoor venue tour dates for November will be forthcoming in the next few weeks. We may also hear about South American and possible Asian dates as well.
I came across another classic Rush video on YouTube that I know you'll want to see. Back in 1985 a charity single called Tears Are Not Enough was recorded by a supergroup of Canadian artists with the moniker Northern Lights, to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia. Included in this supergroup was our favorite bass player Geddy Lee. The video along with an interview with Geddy are now up on YouTube. You can check it out here.
Those who ordered the Snakes & Arrows MVI through Amazon have been receiving emails telling them that the release date has been delayed until June 19th. The last that we heard from the Rush Backstage Club was that it was delayed until June 12th. So whether the June 19th date applies only to Amazon or is now the official release date is unknown to me at this time. As of right now, the Rush Backstage Club still has it listed as June 12th.
El Norte alerted me to an MSNBC poll where they list the top CDs being downloaded on the internet and ask the reader to indicate which is their favorite. Snakes & Arrows is on the list and it's currently tied with Michael Buble for the top spot. Go help out and vote for Rush.
MitA wanted me to let everyone know that his site is now FireFox-friendly. FireFox users had been having trouble viewing his site in the past. As an avid FireFox user, I appreciate this - thanks MitA!
Brian B let me know that Alex Lifeson's April 4th interview on KDKB-FM has been posted online at this location.
Snakes & Arrows continued to slide off the Billboard charts; it was #35 in its 3rd week of release. Here are a few more reviews. The first is an audio review from Chicago public radio station WBEZ that reader a911driver alerted me to. You can listen to the interview at this location. One of the reviewers liked it, one didn't.
Billboard recently spoke with Rush's LiveNation tour agent Adam Kornfeld and had this to say about the upcoming Snakes & Arrows tour:
Prognosis: Rush at outdoor venues is destined to be one of the top 25 tours of 2007. Produced by Live Nation through its TNA division, the band has been a consistent draw every time it hits the road, without relying on a multi-act package to move tickets.
"Rush has been together over 33 years, and their fan base is not only not eroding, but it seems that it may be growing," the band's agent Adam Kornfeld says. "Rush is another testament to what happens when great songwriting and musicianship come together. People recognize it."
Rush toured quite successfully in 2002 and 2004, but its box-office muscle in 2007 could very well eclipse those efforts. With new album "Snakes & Arrows" released May 1, Rush may be the sleeper tour of the year.
Live Nation North American music president Jason Garner says Rush "came roaring out of the box" on initial on-sales.
"Having Rush back after some off time is very exciting for us," Garner says. "We think it will be one of the blockbuster tours of the summer."
The ever-mysterious Drew2112 over at Counterparts is reporting that information on more tour dates for November will be forthcoming in the next few weeks. These will include limited indoor venues in the US as well as information on South American and Asian dates. Asian? Perhaps a date in Japan? At least one of the US dates will take place in NY - I'm assuming at Madison Square Garden, most likely 2 dates. I'm unclear on whether the foreign dates will also take place in November, or after the New Year. Back in April I'd reported a rumor that tickets for a Madison Square Garden show would go on sale June 16th. This new bit of info seems to bolster this rumor.
The latest Billboard chart information is out and Snakes & Arrows has dropped to #35 from #20 in its 3rd week of release in the US. So it's still hanging in there in the top 40. Not bad. It also fell to #9 from #4 last week on the Top Rock Albums chart and is no longer in the top 10 on any other charts.
I've neglected the videos section of the site over the last few months due to the flurry of Rush activity that's been happening since the Far Cry release. But since things have quieted down a little I finally had a chance to add several new bootlegs that I've been meaning to add for a while now. These come to us courtesy thornybrush over at YouTube.
This first one is a real treat. It's a truncated 7-minute version of The Camera Eye that was shot at the Forum in Montreal, Quebec on April 8, 1983.
I've also added 3 more videos from the A View From The Palace professionally-shot bootleg from the Counterparts tour. You can check them out here.
And Ami W let me know of an audio bootleg that's available online this week at BigO. It's from a show at the Tucson Convention Center Arena in Tucson, Arizona on November 20, 1978. The show includes both Hemispheres and 2112 performed in their entirety. You can check it out here. It will only be available online for a limited time, so grab the files sooner than later.
As Neil Peart had mentioned in his last news update on his website, the May 2007 issue of Motorcylist Magazine contained an article written by Neil about his favorite motorcycle destinations on the R30 tour. Thanks to r60man I've obtained a scan of the article. The article contains many very cool photographs as well as several excerpts from Neil's latest book, Roadshow. Many of these photographs will no doubt show up in Neil's new book, The Roadshow Illustrated Companion, which releases this fall. Use the links below to access the pdfs.
UPDATE - 5/22@4:06PM:Cygnify informed me that he just received his July issue of Modern Drummer magazine and contained within are their 2007 readers poll results. Neil Peart placed second in the rock drummer category (behind Chad Smith of The Red Hot Chili Peppers). They also mention that Neil's essay The Game of Snakes & Arrows will appear in next month's issue.
It's been fairly quiet on the Rush front lately. The Snakes & Arrows PR machine seems to have slowed down a bit. No doubt the band is busily preparing for the tour which kicks off in 3 weeks.
The album has been in release for 3 weeks now and preliminary reports from HITS Daily Double have it falling from #20 last week to #40 this week. We'll have the final numbers later today and should have the Billboard numbers in the next couple of days. What's interesting is that when the Snakes & Arrows MVI is finally released in 3 weeks (hopefully) the album could potentially shoot back into the top 20.
The Snakes & Arrows reviews keep coming in too. John Cruz of SputnikMusic gives the album a rating of 3.5 - which translates to great on their scale. He concludes the review with this:
... The more things change the more they stay the same. A wise old adage that applies squarely to Rush just as it does most things. Nothing is new here, yet everything is new. A rebirth, if you will. Not that Rush ever went away. But in a career of a band with many peaks and valleys as is to be expected from such a long recording history, Snakes And Arrows definitely represents not just a peak, but coming after the shaky ground this band has stood on the last ten odd years, a peak that is an unexpected and welcome surprise. Meet the new Rush, same as the old Rush....and as it turns out after all these years that's a pretty good thing.
... [Snakes & Arrows] comes as a pleasant surprise, finding Rush recapturing a measure of the power it had in its prime ... Driven by some of the group's strongest melodies, lyrics such as "One day I feel like I'm ahead of the wheel / And the next it's rolling over me" and "Our better natures seek elevation / A refuge from the coming night / No one gets to their heaven without a fight" combines to create some of the smartest and best music the band has ever given us.
St. Petersburg Times pop music critic Sean Daly likes the album and gives it a B-.
Another 3 good reviews. So how would you rate the album? If you haven't done so already, submit your rating in this weeks poll.
In my last update I'd mentioned that there was a full page ad in Entertainment Weekly advertising the Snakes & Arrows album and tour. Reader PhillyMike sent me a scan of the ad which you can check out here.
Go vote for Alex! Reader Shane T let me know that Alex is up the Guitar Player Hall of Fame at Chop Shop radio this month. He's head-to-head with The Edge, Pete Townshend, Ted Nugent and Joe Perry. He's currently in the lead - but just barely. Let's help him out.
Michael P let me know that WWDC out of Washington DC is accepting votes for the Top 500 Modern Rock Songs of All Time. The votes are all write-in and the winners will be played over Memorial Day weekend. So go write in some Rush songs - and include a few from Snakes & Arrows while you're at it. :)
USA Today music critic and blogger, Ken Barnes, put up a blog post a few days ago where the topic was Best Canadian acts. And he had the audacity to not include Rush - intentionally no less! Go drop him a comment and tell him how you feel about this if you get a chance. Thanks to Drodham for the tip.
... Now you can't just do any old song. If Pearl Jam does a song by The Who, that makes perfect sense for the band to do that song. Soundgarden would do like a medley that included an Alice Cooper song, 'Working Man' by Rush, and it went into a Led Zeppelin song, but it all made perfect sense for Soundgarden to do ...
Neil Peart, drummer for the Canadian prog-rock band Rush. An outspoken Randian, Peart acknowledged the "genius of Ayn Rand" in the liner notes to the band's breakthrough 1976 album 2112
He's hardly an outspoken Randian these days (read his books). And the liner notes say the genus of Ayn Rand not the genius of Ayn Rand. At least they spelled Neil's name right. :)
Donal K sent me a scan of an article in the latest issue of The Word by Rob Fitzpatrick called Whatever happened to my heroes? The heroes he refers to are Rush, who he interviews for the article. The author talks about his childhood obsession with Rush and how excited he was to get to finally meet Alex and Geddy. It's a pretty standard interview except for one interesting bit where Geddy hints about a song that may be appearing on the setlist. The scan is cut-off and hard to read, but you can get the gist of it.
Michael at Neil Peart Drumsticks wanted me to remind you about the contest he's running. The deadline for entries is June 15th and you can check out all the details at his website. There will be 6 lucky winners and the prizes will include limited edition drumsticks, old tour sticks, shirts, hats, etc. And if you haven't seen it yet, check out the article on Michael in the June 2007 issue of DRUM! Magazine.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Geddy Lee surprise appearance on Bob & Doug McKenzie's Two-Four Anniversary special
UPDATE - 5/24@5:56PM: There is now video of the appearance available on YouTube. You can check it out here.
A couple of weeks ago I'd mentioned how the CBC would be honoring the 24th anniversary of the 1983 Bob and Doug McKenzie cult movie Strange Brew with a prime-time special to air over the Canada Day holiday weekend. If you're not familiar with the film, it starred Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas of SCTV fame who played brothers Bob and Doug McKenzie respectively. Bob and Doug were a pair of walking Canadian sterotypes who were originally introduced on SCTV in 1980. The pair hosted a panel show called The Great White North. The sketch became so popular that in 1983 they released a movie titled Strange Brew that has since become a cult classic. The duo's first album Great White North featured an appearance by Geddy Lee on the main track Take Off.
The special - titled Bob & Doug McKenzie's Two-Four Anniversary special - aired last night which also happened to be Dave Thomas's 58th birthday. It featured a long list of personalities paying tribute to Bob and Doug, including Canadians Martin Short, Tom Green, Paul Shaffer and Dave Foley. Geddy Lee was never mentioned as one of the guests but according to readers Shane T and Dino who were able to watch the show last night, he did end up making a surprise appearance. He came out and presented the guys with a donut birthday cake and then sat down and chatted a little. In true Canadian fashion he also said "eh" several times. :) I'll let you know if any video becomes available online.
MitA is back once again with some more Rush audio fun for us. This batch has something for rodeo fans, Cheech & Chong fans, several gems from past live performances and a couple of bits from the new album. You can access these 9 items directly using the provided links or use the player below. Thanks MitA!
The results of last week's poll are in and out of nearly 300 votes, here's what the readers of Rush is a Band think in regards to the question Snakes & Arrows is Rush's best album since .... The vast majority, about 80%, think that the album is at least their best since Counterparts. 20% think it's at least their best since Moving Pictures (this is how I voted). Since Signals, 25%. Since Grace Under Pressure, 31%. Since Power Windows, 38%. Since Hold Your Fire, 45%. Since Presto, 49%. Since Roll the Bones, 57%. 15% think it's their best since Vapor Trails which I think means that they just liked Vapor Trails better than Snakes & Arrows and don't necessarily dislike it. Less than 2% thought it's their worst album ever and 4% thought the opposite - that it's their best album ever. Thanks to everyone who voted - very interesting results indeed.
Since we've been inundated with reviews lately, I thought it was about time to give you guys the chance to give your rating of the album. I wasn't sure what the best scale to use would be, so I made a hybrid scale which has 11 options ranging from 0 to 10, 0 to 5 stars, or A through F. Use whichever is more comfortable to you and go VOTE!
The June 2007 issue of Esquire Magazine contains an article by Chuck Klosterman in his Chuck Klosterman's America column titled Radio is History. The article discusses the demise of radio in America and uses the Rush song The Spirit of Radio to illustrate the point. The article is on page 56 and begins thusly:
In 1980, one song...canonized everything that is great about listening to the radio. In 2007, those qualities face extinction. ... Originally written about a Toronto radio station I couldn't care less about, the primary detail modern audiences know about this song is that the intro would be almost impossible to play on Guitar Hero. This is the shortsighted view. I think about 'The Spirit of Radio' a great deal more than that, perhaps because I've faithfully listened to it (approximately) no less than seventy times a day for the past twenty-five years. Let us begin with an examination of Geddy Lee's opening gambit: Begin the day...
The article then goes on to break down each section of the song using it to bolster his argument. Thanks to readers Michael S, TheFountain and beekay20 for the info and excerpts.
Reader I am Jim let me know that there was a full page ad for the Snakes & Arrows CD and tour in this weeks Entertainment Weekly. It's opposite page 60 and lists all the tour dates as well as a blurb about the MVI.
We've known for a while now that Neil Peart graces the cover of the latest DRUM! Magazine. It's out on newstands now and several people have received/bought the issue. Lady April tells me that in addition to the Neil Peart article, the magazine includes a contest to win his Sabian cymbal setup. The magazine's website has also opened voting for their Drummies awards (takeoff on the Grammys). You can vote here. I shouldn't have to tell you who to vote for. :)
...With soulful rockers reminiscent of early '80s Rush contrasted with contemporary sounds, Snakes and Arrows, like most of Rush's post-Moving Pictures work, is a bit of a hit-and-miss effort. The single, "Far Cry" isn't the CD's best, but songs like "The Main Monkey Business" and "Workin' Them Angels" make this CD worth recommending. And three instrumentals might not be a good idea for most bands, but they work here. For those who never liked the band, Snakes and Arrows won't change your mind. But for fans, it comes recommended, even though it doesn't rate among the band's best work.
And I'll end with a bit of Rush humor courtesy reader Norm V. UrbanCougars.com is a website dedicated to older women who hunt for younger men. The site classifies these women in latin biology terms. One is categorized as: Genus: Felinae Americanus, Species: The Maple Leaf. The site warns that this species probably likes Rush. :)
I think we're all starting to get a little tired of the reviews; they're all beginning to run together in my brain it seems. Besides - the only review that really counts is your own... right? :) So this will be my last review roundup post. From here on out I'll just mention any more reviews that I come across in my regular updates posts.
Jim noticed that metacritic.com has now included Snakes & Arrows on their site. They are a site that collects reviews from several major publications, aggregates the ratings and then comes up with a metascore. Their analysis of Snakes & Arrows yields a generally favorable score of 76 and includes ratings from many of the reviews we've covered on this site and a couple that I'd missed. One of which is this generally positive review from Jason Keller of Toronto's NOW Magazine:
Five years after Vapor Trails, Toronto's most consistent stadium-fillers return with another epic journey of technical rock prowess. Neil Peart, as usual, delivers high-concept lyrics via Geddy Lee; this time spirituality, war and faith are the prevailing metaphors. By prog standards the songs are reined in (most clock in at five minutes), but in typical Rush fashion the compositions tend to feel coldly scientific or laboriously calculated. What with Peart's metronomic perfection, Alex Lifeson's restless guitar proficiency and Lee's shape-shifting vocal structures, you might find yourself wondering what just a minuscule amount of pop carelessness would do to this time-tested prog recipe. Nevertheless, it's a solid record on the hour-long whole, and definitely in keeping with the trio's inhuman standard of rock excellence.
He gives it 3 N's ... which I think means 3 out of 4.
Next up I have 2 positive reviews from BlogCritics. The first is from El Bicho and you can read the whole thing here. Here's an excerpt:
... The album drops in like a heavy wave at the Wedge with power not only in the music but in the lyrics as well, tapping into the Rush of old by combining the storytelling of the past with the ideas and passions of the present. ... even if the band moves into another direction with the next album, this one is a testament to a band that isn't afraid of making rock music with a point. ... I have to say that Counterparts, Test for Echo, and Vapor Trails left me wondering if Rush was still the same band I was looking for. I know bands change over time, that's a given, they have to if they want to succeed. Snakes & Arrows will go down as another change in the direction of Rush and one that will bring them a legacy of standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. The music is pure Rush while the words cut and sting like the lip smack of a cold winter wave. The melodies will keep you moving as the lyrics make you think, and thinking leads to change, and change is what these modern day Tom Sawyers are all about. ...
Rush return with their best album since Power Windows is the short review of this CD. Forget all the naysayers - this is a great album from a band back at their creative best. Neil Peart seems to have worked through all his troubles and is back on cracking form. There is not a duff track on this here CD. I can't get enough of this CD and will be taking it on honeymoon with me. Thirteen tracks of absolute prog perfection. Geddy Lee's voice has lost none of its power, quirkiness and majesty. This is probably a bit short for some of you readers. When its this good there is no need for long-winded gushing. If you have ever liked Rush, get this CD. If you claim to like good heavy rock...well you know the score.
... what the album lacks is a sense of danger; everything sounds so safe and cliched. 'Working Them Angels' almost sounds 'Spinal Tap' - with lyrics that would suit the heavy metal spoof band. "Taking high roads, working angels over time" - you gotta laugh. Then comes some wailing and several more humdingers. I doubt if this is going to turn off any of the die hard fans. But with so many new bands experimenting with sounds and lyrics, you wonder where Rush fit in anymore. Many of their ballads sound like Extreme's cast offs from long ago.
And yet another bad one that comes in from reader Dave S. Douglas Maher of Associated Content seems to have it out for Neil Peart in this bashing review. He still gives it 2.5 stars out of 5 though. He concludes with this assinine statement: Bottom Line: Snakes & Arrows is a great Tom Petty record.
... "Snakes & Arrows" is several steps ahead of more recent [Rush] efforts. The album manages to harken back to the band's prog-rock roots while addressing contemporary issues and laying down some zesty riffs. ... On the whole, though, the disc gets bogged down in songs built on predictable chord changes and rock-by-numbers melodies. If only the guys had held off going into the studio until they had a few more good songs written, then we'd finally have another great Rush record.
... Snakes & Arrows should please most Rush fans. From die-hards who drew pentagrams on their high school notebooks, to younger listeners just discovering Moving Pictures on iTunes, Snakes & Arrows slithers with confidence and nails its target.
Reviewer Jeb Wright concludes with this:
... In the end, this is a solid album. It is more prog oriented than it is hard rock. Snakes & Arrows shows that Rush is very in tune with where they want to be at the present time. Don't look for a new version of "Tom Sawyer" or "Working Man" though because there are simply not any songs with that spirit. Still, there is enough going on here to peak the curiosity and keep the disc calling back to you to play it again, which is the ultimate sign of a good collection of music.
Yes, it's true. The Snakes & Arrows MVI (DVD-album) release date has been pushed back once again. From the Rush Backstage Club:
The release date for this product has been changed to June 12. This Rush MVI is available for pre-order! If you order this item as a pre-order, it will be shipped on the release date of June 12, 2007. If you order additional items with this MVI, the whole package will be sent out on the release date. Please note, the release date is June 12, 2007 for this MVI. This date has changed from a previously earlier date. We apologize for the confusion surrounding this release date, and we will do everything we can to get this product shipped as early as possible.
Billboard has confirmed what I reported yesterday; that Snakes & Arrows has dropped to #20 from #3 in its 2nd week of release. Here are all the details regarding how the album is fairing on the various album charts.
There have been several Rush tribute albums over the last decade or so. They run the gamut from death metal to classical to all-star tributes. Run for Cover, a tribute to Rush is the latest of these. Released by Eclipse Records on May 1st to coincide with the release of Snakes & Arrows, it is unique in that it's the first Rush tribute CD where the musicians involved are all former or current members of Rush tribute bands. They are Carl Schultz (bass/keyboards) of Hemispheres and Archives; Michael Mumblo (drums) of Hemispheres; Mike Cappadozy (guitar) of Archives and Rob Jackson (vocals) of Limelight. The track listing is typical of Rush tribute CDs and focuses on material from the 70s and 80s covering every album from A Farewell to Kings through Grace Under Pressure. The songs are painstakingly reproduced note-for-note by this talented group of veteran musicians using the same instrumentation that the songs were originally recorded with; namely a Minimoog synthesizer, a Rickenbacker 4003 bass and Gibson ES335 and Gibson Les Paul guitars. The result is a fitting tribute to the greatest band that ever was. I have only a couple of criticisms; it would have been nice if they had included something from one of Rush's later albums and, although able to hit the high notes, the singer does not otherwise sound much like Geddy (but who does?). I particularly enjoyed their versions of Xanadu and Jacob's Ladder. If you are someone who typically enjoys tribute albums, this CD is certainly worth adding to your collection.
Rush was a topic of discussion on yesterday's Howard Stern wrap-up show on Sirius Satellite Radio. Towards the end of the show (the last 3-4 minutes) there's a conversation between the Howard Stern crew members all agreeing that the producer (Gary) should pursue booking them for a guest appearance. Reader Sarcaster taped the show and supplied me with a clip (a big thanks for that!) which you can listen to here or using the player below. Howard's apparently not much of a fan, but pretty much his entire crew is. If you'd like to push them to get Rush on, you can email the show at SternShow@HowardStern.com (or use this form). Use something like GARY - book RUSH! as the subject and tell them rushisaband.com sent you. :)
UPDATE - 5/16@3:40PM: It also looks like Snakes & Arrows has slipped on the Canadian charts too, but not nearly as much as on the US charts; it's down to #7 from its #3 debut last week.
Hits Daily Double is reporting that Snakes & Arrows came in at #20 this week on their charts (from #4 last week) and my sources confirm that the Billboard chart will also reflect this (down from #3 in its debut week). I was hoping it would stay in the top 10 or 15, but top 20 is ok too.
UPDATE - 6/9@12:48PM: The first setlist spoilers are out so I'm closing out the game now.
In four weeks from today Rush's Snakes & Arrows tour kicks off in Atlanta. Our friendly little dream setlist game has been a lot of fun so far. I think we've had at least 100 setlists submitted, and we realize now how hard it is to come up with a good setlist! Me especially... I'm still working on mine. Anyways, now that we've all had a chance to get familiar with the new album and know from interviews that they'll be performing around 8 songs (give or take) from it, I've been requested to have a round 2. This time we'll try to guess the actual setlist rather than our preferred or dream setlist. The rules are simple; leave the setlist that you think the band will come up with in the comments on this post - I figure they'll play around 30 songs. I sincerely doubt anyone will even come close to guessing the actual setlist, so we'll determine winnners based on how many songs you get right. Feel free to have some fun with the intros/medleys/encores/etc. To check out setlists from past shows check out the Power Windows site's tour setlist section. Entries may be submitted up until June 13th. In the event that there is some sort of major tour setlist leak before that date, I'll end the game early. If you decide you want to revise your submission, feel free - your most recent submission will count as your official entry. This time we're thinking we'll have a prize(s) but that's not set in stone yet. For now just consider this another for shits and giggles thing.
There's a new contest up at the Rush Backstage Club. This one is for an autographed Snakes & Arrows tourbook. The winner of the limited edition Snakes & Arrows Lithograph was Mark Anderson from North Dakota. Here are the new contest details from the site:
The winner of this contest will receive an autographed and personalized Snakes & Arrows tourbook. The book will be signed by Geddy, Alex, and Neil. The book is currently in production, and will be signed and delivered to the winner during the first two weeks of the upcoming world tour. This contest closes on May 31, 2007. Good Luck!
... Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson, whose catalogue of concept discs include "2112", "Hemispheres" and "Caress of Steel," says the Canadian trio has always been partial to large-scale thematic works.
But physical limitations of the vinyl LP restricted the way that vision could be realized.
"The format has changed so much," Lifeson says of today's digital world.
"Being able to play as long as you want to play now makes it a little easier to get into an idea, I suppose. On LPs you only had less than 20 minutes per side and you were sort of fixed with how far you could go with it." ...
UPDATE - 5/15@10:43PM: Here's the editorial description from Amazon:
A stunning companion to Roadshow: Landscape with Drums, The Illustrated Companion combines eloquent text with a range of full color photographs depicting the byways, bystanders, backstage hands, and other features of Neil Peart's ever-changing landscape as he journeys by motorcycle between dates on Rush's historic 30th Anniversary World Tour. Including concert photos taken by official Rush photographer Andrew MacNaughtan The Roadshow Illustrated Companion vividly chronicles Peart's ultimate travel adventure delivering a sublimely executed treatise on the art of travel.
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UPDATE - 5/15@10:37PM:CORRECTION: I seem to have misunderstood Spindrifter's email informing me of this. The information is not in the article. He picked up the magazine at Borders and looked up Neil Peart in the computer there and ... up popped the info on the book. It must have just recently been put in the system. Sorry for the mixup! I corrected the post.
Reader Spindrifter just picked up the DRUM! Magazine with Neil Peart on the cover at Borders and had some interesting news to report. He looked up Neil Peart on one of the store's computers and up popped info on Neil's next book to be released this September titled Roadshow, the Illustrated Companion. It's a photographic journal of Neil's travels that were detailed in his 2006 book Roadshow. The book will contain 172 pages and was completed with the help of Rush friend and photographer Andrew MacNaughtan. It will retail for around $45. The September release will coincide with the release of the paperback edition of Roadshow.
Back on May 3rd Alice Cooper interviewed Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson for his Nights with Alice Cooper radio show. Metal Tim just let me know that the show was recently posted online at this location. You can also listen to it using the player below.
Far Cry updates; #1 video at MuchMoreMusic, still charting strong
On Friday I informed everyone that the video for Far Cry had been added to the rotation on Canadian music channel MuchMoreMusic and pointed you to the location to vote for the video in their Top 10 list. The winning 10 videos are then counted down and played during their MMMtop10 show at 6PM. It turns out that all our votes helped to shoot the video into the #1 spot last Friday! Since I don't get the channel I was oblivious to this until reader Trevor V informed me that the results from Friday's show were posted on their website. So keep voting for the video so we can keep it in the top 10 this week too! If you haven't seen the video yet, you can check it out here.
Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart are currently all on the covers of major magazines for their respective instruments. We've known about these for a while but I now have large scans of all three covers so I thought I'd feature them all in one post.
Geddy Lee is on the cover of the July 2007 issue of Bass Guitar Magazine. Complete scans of the article can be found in this post. The tagline reads Inside the mind of Geddy Lee: Rush finds the perfect mix of chops & songcraft on Snakes & Arrows. Geddy discusses the Big & Bold rhythm section on Snakes & Arrows, flamenco chops, the Jaco bass and the return of the taurus pedals.
Alex Lifeson graces the cover of the June 2007 issue of Guitar One Magazine. The issue is a Prog Rock Special and the tagline reads Alex Lifeson goes retro on Snakes & Arrows. In addition to the Alex interview where he discusses the new album and what gear he'll bring with him on tour, transcriptions of 8 classick Rush licks are included. Thanks to tst4eko at Counterparts for the scans.
And last but not least, the June 2007 issue of DRUM! Magazine featuring Neil Peart is now on newstands. The tagline reads Neil Peart: return of a progressive powerhouse. Thanks to scottc for the heads up.
... oftentimes encores are planned well in advance much like the set list, particularly among bands higher up the fame echelon, says veteran Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson.
"Certainly, on our level, it's to be expected," Lifeson says of Rush encores, noting there's little variation among them, despite the group's vast catalogue of songs.
"It's the same thing every night. You know, we anticipate the encore, so it's just really it's just an opportunity for us to come out and play a few more songs."
The 53-year-old performer says that an old gem has been chosen for the encore on Rush's upcoming world tour, but he wouldn't say which one.
Encores certainly meant something different when the stadium rockers first started out, says Lifeson.
"When we were a young band playing clubs and opening acts and we would get an encore it was really special," Lifeson recalls. "You were thrilled to get one and hoped that the headliner would allow you to do it." ...
So ... an old gem. I like the sound of that. Thanks to Metal Tim for the heads up.
UPDATE - 5/14@10:33PM: A mini-review of the album from the magazine Rush fans love to hate - Rolling Stone - just came out today. Not surprisingly reviewer Rob Sheffield only gave it 3 out of 5 stars:
If you're a Rush fan, add two stars; if not, subtract two. Snakes & Arrows gives Geddyheads the first new Rush material in five years, unless you count Neil Peart's 2005 instructional DVD, Anatomy of a Drum Solo. Highlight: Alex Lifeson's guitar in the second half of "Malignant Narcissism."
Thanks to 1-2-bucklemyshoe for the heads up.
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I received several emails over the past several days regarding this first review. It was posted by Camp Chaos founder Bob Cesca in the Huffington Post last Thursday. He focuses for the most part on Peart's lyrics and gives probably the most insightful commentary on them that I've read yet. From his blog post:
... Rush isn't prog rock. Or, I've never seen them in that light. They've evolved into their own genre. Progressive, alternative, heavy rock. I have no idea and I don't care. But I've always liked Rush for their ability to reinvent their sound. So suffice to say, this album is very different from their previous release, Vapor Trails. No disrespect intended to Vapor Trails, but this is simply a better album in terms of production values and songwriting, and, thematically, Snakes & Arrows is a vastly more important album. ...
Adrian Begrand of PopMatters gives the album an 8 rating out of 10. He concludes his review with this statement:
... It's enough of a marvel that Rush has managed to remain intact for 33 years now, but the fact that they've done so while retaining their musical vitality and integrity is an even mightier achievement.
As deep and complex as Rush albums go, this one is especially deep and complex. The music is densely textured and nearly all midtempo, with ominous minor-key riffs and few obvious hooks. Acoustic guitars are more prominent than before, and Geddy Lee's layered vocal harmonies are a long way from the screechy leads of old. The lyrics are pro-faith and anti-religious, with drummer/lyricist Neil Peart getting both personal and topical. It's heavy going, but stay with it: The melodies start grabbing hold the second or third time around. And if you need cheap thrills, the instrumental "The Main Monkey Business" offers a good six minutes' worth. Download: "The Way the Wind Blows."
Thanks to rmull for the heads up.
Bad news last this time. Jocelyn P send me this negative review from Johnson Cummins of the Montreal Mirror. He only gives it 5 out of 10:
First, let me come out of the closet and say that I'm a big vintage-Rush fan. Unfortunately, what I love about Rush is when they're wanking up a storm, as Lee, Peart and Lifeson are all obviously masters of their instruments. Over the past 25 years or so, though, Rush have actually tried writing choruses while nipping at the heels of whatever the contemporary music of the day is-and Snakes and Arrows is sadly no wank. Rush obviously have the skills to show young bucks like the Mars Volta how it's done, but this just sounds like an I Mother Earth reunion.
5 years ago today, Rush released their 17th studio album, Vapor Trails. It marked their comeback after a long hiatus brought on by the dual tragedies of the passing of both Neil Peart's daughter and wife. The album peaked at #6 on Billboard and has yet to reach gold status. It has received a lot of criticism from fans due to the poor production on the album. A remastered version does exist but has not yet been released.
Last Monday YouTube user davenews2001 uploaded a couple of short preview clips from the Snakes & Arrows making of documentary that will be included as part of the MVI, DVD-album version of Snakes & Arrows which releases on June 5th. The clips came from a 5-minute teaser video that is included with the iTunes version of Snakes & Arrows. Now the entire 5-minute clip has been uploaded to YouTube. Showdonttell25 at Counterparts took his video iPod, played the clip, videotaped it with his camcorder and then put it on YouTube. So the clip is about the poorest quality imaginable, but it's all there. You can check it out here.
A couple weeks ago a Japanese TV interview with Geddy and Alex surfaced on YouTube. It was from a Japanese TV program called Rock City. It turns out that there was a second part to the interview that was just recently posted. You can watch part 2 of Alex's interview at this link and part 2 of Geddy's interview at this link. If you missed the first part of either interview you can check them out here (Alex) and here (Geddy). Thanks to bytor-jp at Counterparts for the heads up.
If you don't know who MitA (aka Chris) is, he runs a website where he collects rare and bizarre Rush-related audio files and photographs. Every now and then he updates his collection, which he has recently done. This time around his auditory alchemy has produced several nuggets of sound derived from tracks off of Snakes & Arrows, as well as a few other miscellaneous gems. First off he has a live clip of Geddy proclaiming that he needs a new dryer. Next comes the quote from the movie Team America that's used in Malignant Narcissism which you can listen to here. Then we have hidden guitar parts from 3 songs on Snakes & Arrows; Good News First, Armor & Sword, and Bravest Face. Here's a live clip of Geddy introducing Red Barchetta as an elephant song and yet another retro Rush remix . Then we have Geddy's hidden Middle-Eastern cry from Far Cry. This next one is my favorite: it's the recovered fadeout from Spindrift. And lastly it's the hidden rap vocal fadeout from Roll the Bones. Thanks MitA! Keep 'em coming. :)
UPDATE - 5/11@2:10PM:VOTE FOR RUSH!The Clansman 2112 just informed me that Rush's Far Cry video has been added to the rotation on Canadian music channel MuchMoreMusic. You can vote to place the video in their Top 10 list at this link.
The band continues to give interviews on an almost daily basis; if you haven't listened to the Rush Rockline interview yet, you can do so here you can listen to a rebroadcast on Monday. And I just added the KGON (Portland) Geddy Lee radio interview (thanks Lady April) to the radio interviews post.
Our fellow Aussie Rush fans can finally buy the album; it releases in Australia today.
The results of last week's poll are in. Over 350 votes were cast and The Main Monkey Business (20.3%) is the clear favorite song off of Snakes & Arrows for Rush is a Band readers with Armor and Sword (16.3%) running a close second. Also making a fair showing was The Way the Wind Blows (11.1%), Workin' Them Angels (9.1%), Spindrift (7.9%) and The Larger Bowl (7.7%).
Now it's time for another poll! Since I've been noticing that there's been a lot of discussion/debate of the new album based off of the phrase this is Rush's best album since..., I thought I'd make this very question the poll for this week. So - do you think Snakes & Arrows is Rush's best since Moving Pictures? Or do you think it's their worst ever? Or maybe just their best since say... Roll the Bones? Take the poll!
On the tour front, Rush is currently rehearsing in Toronto and they keep mentioning in interviews that the tour will continue in 2008 with a second leg; probably to include South American dates as well as additional North American dates. No details yet though. Reader Sean also informed me that several venues are offering free lawn seats to see Rush for kids 14 and under with an adult. This is a great opportunity to introduce your kiddies to the wonder of Rush. I've been asked to start a round 2 of the Setlist Game now that we're all more familiar with the new album. And I'll probably do that sometime over the weekend. This time we might even give away a prize! Nothing fancy though... maybe a signed 8-track version of Snakes & Arrows or something. :)
There were 2 primetime Rush TV sightings last week; one on My Name is Earl and the other on The Sopranos. On My Name is Earl Earl works overtime at his new job and Working Man is played in the background. A clip of this can be seen here. On The Sopranos, Tony pulls into his driveway jamming Tom Sawyer on his SUV's stereo, a clip of which can be seen here.
Duke of Url tells me that Rush is mentioned in the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone and it looks they are continuing their tradition of taking jabs at Rush fans whenever given the opportunity. On the page listing the top 40 albums there is a small picture of the band with the caption:
Rush vs. Christians: Nearly 100,000 prog fans emerged from their parents' basements to buy Rush's eighteenth LP - a theme album about the pernicious influence of evangelicals.
Many of you may be aware of this already, but back in 1971, a young Alex Lifeson appeared in a documentary film from Alan King titled Come on Children. There 's been a video clip from the film featuring Alex Lifeson floating around the internet for a while now. It's a clip with Alex Lifeson on guitar with an unknown vocalist playing an early Rush song called Run Willie Run. You can watch the clip here. Reader BusyLittleCreature informed me that The Museum of Modern Art in New York will be screening the film from May 9th to May 31st. Check their website for show times.
Eric over at Power Windows has created a very cool Snakes & Arrows desktop theme which you can download here.
Last week I mentioned the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life of Westminster MD this year will be raffling off a signed Rush collector's item. At the time of my posting they had not yet determined exactly what this item will be. But now they know; it's a PRS SE guitar signed by Alex Lifeson himself. The drawing will be held after the June 23 show at the Nissan Pavilion. For details and to enter the raffle go here.
And on a somewhat related note, reader Jeanette who is working with Jessica on her Rush to Fight AIDS project, is also a big supporter of hunger-relief organization Second Harvest. She asked me to plug the charity and in the name of easing some of the pain on the Earth I agreed. Tomorrow The National Association of Letter Carriers (AFL-CIO) will conduct the nation's largest food drive to combat hunger in all 50 states and U.S. jurisdictions. They will be collecting non-perishable donations as they deliver mail along their postal routes. So help out if you can.
Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson appeared on Rockline last night for the 19th time in their long career. Thanks to Counterparts members Tst4Eko (for recording it) and thorswitch (for hosting it) it is now available for download at this location. You can also listen using the player below. It's a decent interview, but there's not really any new information and the questions were all ones we've heard before.
UPDATE - 5/12@9:48AM:Snakes & Arrowsdebuted at #16 on Billboard's comprehensive European album chart.
UPDATE - 5/10@9:58AM: Reader mtb2112 posted some info on the Tastemakers chart in the comments and I thought I'd echo it here. According to Billboard, the Tastemakers chart is a core-panel chart, driven by sales from about 300 stores, including independent coalitions and small chains that are actively involved with artist-development programs.Here is a list of the top Tastemaker releases from 2006.
Billboard has updated their website and we now have all the details regarding how Snakes & Arrows faired on the various album charts.
And in related news, reader hemmetti let me know that the album debuted at #4 in Finland. Vapor Trails only made it as high as #11 and Test for Echo #9 (thanks to JP for this info) - so this is a very good showing. It likely has a lot to do with the fact that they'll be playing Helsinki for the first time on the upcoming tour.
UPDATE - 5/9@8:33PM: This is awesome. The Fox story got linked at Fark.com and given the dumbass tag. :) The reader comments are great. Thanks to jon for the heads up.
After yesterday's Snakes & Arrows round 4 post I got wind of several more reviews; enough for round 5 in fact. But before I get to the reviews I'd like to mention this Fox411 column from Roger Friedman. About every other email I've received today has been regarding this. Friedman mentions Rush and Snakes & Arrows in a very condescending manner:
Rush is back. The big hair, fake falsetto heavy metal group that made the 1980s so irrelevant musically sold 84,000 copies for Atlantic Records last week with a new album called "Snakes & Arrows." Never underestimate the low standards of the buying public, I guess. Journey, Poison, shoulder pads and perms shouldn't be too far behind at this rate.
There's not much to really say about trash like this. So let's get on with the reviews.
... The band's 18th studio album is a densely layered, painstakingly crafted work that sounds like it took the whole five years to assemble. The 13 cuts, which include three instrumentals, are piled high with Alex Lifeson's guitars - so high, bassist/singer Geddy Lee at times can barely be heard.
The complex arrangements caress and underscore another set of drummer Neil Peart's mystical/spiritual/apocalyptic lyrics. But the artistry doesn't translate into much excitement; the songs are too much alike and run together. An occasional jagged riff threatens to break through the smooth surfaces, but it quickly fades away. Is it too much to ask a rock 'n' roll band to play with some energy?
There was a short review in The Denver Post a couple days ago. No rating is given and it's tough to gauge the reviewer's overall opinion, but it sounds more positive than negative. I'll let you be the judge. Here's the review:
Prerelease word on Rush's new CD was that it would be a "throwback." Some expected - or feared - a return to the sci-fi of "2112" or the philosophizing of "Permanent Waves,"
"Snakes and Arrows" harkens back not to the ambition - or pretension - of those 1970s efforts but to 1989's and 1991's "Presto" and "Roll the Bones." Acoustic guitars provide the texture instead of keyboards. Neal Peart's lyrics are literate and probing, but the melodies often sound forced. Geddy Lee's voice stays in the lower register.
"Far Cry," the opening track and one of the strongest, serves notice that this is a guitar-driven album. Acoustic guitars dominate "The Larger Bowl," which would have sounded at home on "Presto" or "Bones."
Three instrumentals - "The Main Monkey Business," "Hope," and "Malignant Narcissism" - break up Peart's bleak lyrical landscape. "Hope," guitarist Alex Lifeson's acoustic showcase, is the album's most pleasant surprise. - Keith Morse
This next review from LiveDaily contributor Jon Voket has no rating given although one isn't really needed; it's fairly obvious that he likes it. The full review can be read at this link and here's an excerpt:
... If long-time fans have fallen from the fold as a result of lackluster output during the past decade, it's time to get religion again. "Snakes & Arrows" has all the musical ingredients that Rush devotees have been craving, and a lyrical bite signaling a new direction--a renaissance, if you will--for this tried and triumphant power trio from the Great White North.
The Austin American Statesman's Rob Palladino gives Snakes & Arrows a solid 4-star review. Here's an excerpt:
... the Canadian trio has seemingly thrown in all the finest moments from its lengthy career into "Snakes & Arrows." The result could be theband's finest moment. From thunderous opener "Far Cry," to lush, masterly rocker "Armor & Sword," and from the haunting guitar-play of "Bravest Face" to insane instrumental "The Main Monkey Business," "Snakes & Arrows" is a rare combination of well-written songs and warm, clear production. As with any Rush album, drummer/lyricist Neil Peart has more than a passing influence on proceedings. Past albums have had lyrical themes and "Snakes & Arrows" is no exception, as Peart writes of his distaste for organized religion. ... It all comes across as a tad over-emotive lyrically, and feels like Peart is overreaching in an effort to make a point. Despite this, "Snakes & Arrows" is an album of enormous musical muscle and song-writing creativity with a shimmering intimate subtlety.
And finally, a couple weeks ago I linked the first few batch of user reviews posted at progarchives.com. Since then there have been several more reviews submitted. You can check them out at this link. So far the average review is a little over 3.5 out of 5.
Here is yet another Snakes & Arrows chart update. Metal Tim just let me know that BW&BN is reporting that Snakes & Arrows has debuted at #3 on the SoundScan Top 200 Album Chart in Canada, garnering it gold status (50,000 units) in its first week of release.
Rush will be appearing on Rockline tonight with a rebroadcast Monday, May 14th. From what I've been hearing it will only be Geddy and Alex on the show. This will be Rush's 19th time on Rockline, which is the most appearances by any artist other than Ozzy Osbourne who also has 19 (thanks to Jaybird for this tidbit). The show will air from 8:30PM to 10PM Pacific time (11:30PM to 1AM EST) and to get your question on the air call 1-800-344-ROCK during show hours. For a list of affiliate stations check this page.
After teasing us with a 45-second clip on Friday Rush has released the complete version of the Far Cry music video to YouTube. It's a very clever video, using a lot of imagery from past Rush albums and snippets of old video mixed in with the new. The band members are only shown briefly here and there and never with their instruments or playing the song. You can check out the video here. Thanks to Rushmixtape5 for the heads up.
We've had several more Snakes & Arrows reviews come out over the weekend. Once again, they are overwhelmingly positive.
Ben Wener of the Orange County Register gives the album a B+ and concludes with the statement ... On this aptly titled return, they sound truly inspired. Much of it is among their very best work.. You can read the entire review here.
Brian Holland from Modern Guitars absolutely loves the album. No rating given but if you read the full review there's not much doubt. Here's an excerpt:
... Snakes & Arrows is a marvelous indication of just how tight and together the band is currently. The music is fresh and exciting, and the sound is massively full. It overflows with strong melody and sonic punch. ... Snakes & Arrows is a colossal journey and an epic saga, leaving no doubt that the live Rush shows of 2007 will be nothing less than amazing.
The New Haven Register gave the album a great review claiming that Snakes & Arrows is clearly, so far, one of the best records of the year. You can check out a scan of the full review at this link (thanks to reader Don B for supplying).
This lukewarm review from across the pond reads better than the 3 out of 5 rating would suggest. It's from London's Evening Standard. Here's an excerpt:
... The 18th studio album offers a neat sample of the Rush modus operandi: sinuous hard rock embellished with folky touches, Geddy Lee's tremulous voice and Peart's vastly pretentious lyrics (witness Workin' Them Angels: "Driving down the razor's edge between the past and the future"). But they sound more relevant than the likes of the Rolling Stones these days, and with the tough pop of Far Cry, a return to the charts wouldn't be out of the question in a more just world.
Math rock necromancers Rush emerge from whatever realm it is they exist in to release their first album of original material in five years. Stylistically similar to 2002's Vapor Trails (meaning no keyboards), their latest finds Alex, Geddy and Neil plotting out solid rocking vectors for lyrics concerning higher beings (like angels), and of course some swords 'n' stuff. Snakes & Arrows makes a case for the idea that bands way past their prime can remain vital if they continue to evolve, as Rush has done over the years. "The Larger Bowl" should win Best Song Title of 2007.
Blabbermouth reviewer Don Kaye gave the album an 8 out of 10 rating in this review.
... It's pointed and questioning without being too specific, and lyrically this may well be one of the saddest albums that RUSH has ever made. Yet it's musically one of the group's most inspiring since "Moving Pictures" and gives ample reason why this band's music is still valid 33 years after it released its first record - a claim that I doubt many bands working today will ever be able to make.
The Dutch Progressive Rock page released their round table review of Snakes & Arrows over the weekend. All 3 reviewers had high praise for the album. Louis Koot, with his 8 out of 10, gave the lowest rating of the 3 and concludes with this statement: Snakes & Arrows ends up being a great album despite the initial disappointment I had. On the other end of the spectrum, Martien Koolen gives Snakes & Arrows a perfect 10 out of 10 and states that the album is already my best album of the year 2007. Dave Baird gave it a 9.5 and had this to say: Really a superb return to form for the band and with such vitality I couldn't imagine them stopping anytime soon. Thanks to John R for the heads up.
... [Snakes & Arrows] is a wholly ambitious and fully actualized record from a group of musicians still passionately seeking new ground even as they mark some 35 years together. ... one notices the taut, visceral, crystalline nature of the album's production, which represents the first collaboration between Rush and Nick Raskulinecz, ... Clearly, Raskulinecz understands Rush and wisely concentrated on creating ample sonic space for the band's broad, grandiloquent sound. ... These songs have been constructed from the rhythm section up, and when your rhythm section is bassist Lee and drummer Peart, that's a serious foundation to lay. Above all of this, guitarist Lifeson does what he was put on this earth to do: construct intricate, detailed guitar arrangements blending creative arpeggios, robust power chords and solos that split the difference between the searing and the esoteric. "Snakes & Arrows" is also notable for the strength of Lee's singing, marking his apotheosis from the full-frontal shriek of the band's '70s epics into a singer of remarkable subtlety and invention. "Snakes & Arrows" finds Lee painting his masterpiece as a singer. There's far too much to discuss, too much meat to simply nail down in a few paragraphs. Suffice it to say that "Snakes & Arrows" finds Rush rounding yet another new corner. It's a remarkable piece of work.
Back in March a commercial surfaced on ESPN that featured Geddy Lee along with several baseball players and ESPN personalities plugging fantasy baseball. It was shot in the style of a music video spoofing a rock opera and featuring a fictional band called Iron Diamond. You can see the original 30-second commercial here. Reader SF in Prague noticed that there is now an extended 1:30 version of the commercial up on YouTube which you can check outhere. It includes the original commercial along with a bunch of behind-the-scenes footage. In the weeks following the commercial Geddy was all over ESPN and ESPN.com giving interviews where he discussed the commercial, fantasy baseball and baseball in general. I'd posted most of these interviews but missed one (thanks to Power Windows for the tip). On April 12th, Geddy appeared on ESPN's Cold Pizza. You can watch the video here.
Back in February I'd mentioned a Minnesota-based jazz trio called The Bad Plus that is known for performing jazz covers of well-known rock songs. Their latest album PROG is released today and contains a jazzified cover of the Rush classic Tom Sawyer as well as covers of Burt Bacharach's This Guy's in Love with You, David Bowie's Life on Mars, and Tears for Fears' Everybody Wants to Rule the World. An mp3 of their Tom Sawyer cover is available online (thanks to Dave for the heads up) at this location courtesy Sterogum. You can also listen to it using the player below.
Monday, May 7, 2007
Snakes & Arrows making of documentary preview clips
Several readers have alerted me that YouTube user davenews2001 recently uploaded a couple of short preview clips from the Snakes & Arrows making of documentary that will be included as part of the MVI, DVD-album version of Snakes & Arrows which release on June 5th. The clips came from a 5-minute teaser video that is included with the iTunes version of Snakes & Arrows. The first clip (watch it here) is 40 seconds long and shows Geddy putting down the vocal tracks on Far Cry along with all 3 guys jamming on The Main Monkey Business. The second (watch it here) is 19 seconds long and shows Alex playing the guitar parts to Far Cry as producer Nick Raskulinecz looks on.
UPDATE - 5/10@1:54PM: It's on YouTube. Check it out here.
Since I received about 20 emails about this last night I thought I'd better mention it sooner than later. :) There was a Tom Sawyer sighting on last night's The Sopranos (episode 82, Walk Like a Man). Towards the end of the episode Tony Soprano pulls into his driveway in his SUV while blasting Tom Sawyer on the car stereo. I missed the show last night so thanks to everybody who alerted me.
Reader Lee alerted me that Snakes & Arrows has debuted at #13 on the UK's Top 40 albums chart. This is very good considering Vapor Trails never even made it into the top 40. As I reported earlier this week, Rush is poised to break onto the US Charts at #3.
Alex Lifeson and Howard Ungerleider interview from CFRB Rock Talk
Alex Lifeson and Rush lighting designer/director Howard Ungerleider were guests last night on Torontos's CFRB Radio Rock Talk program. Howard was up first and spoke about his history with Rush and his involvement with creating the stage shows on their various tours over the years. The second half of the program was with Alex Lifeson talking about the album and upcoming tour. Thanks to Counterparts members Reed Lover for alerting us to the program and mrwal for recording it. I've made each portion of the program available for download. The Howard Ungerleider portion is available here and the Alex Lifeson portion here. You can also listen to the entire show using the player below.
... Lee said there were two key ingredients in making Rush sound fresh again: Recording the 2004 EP of '60s covers, Feedback, and recruiting Grammy-winning co-producer Nick Raskulinecz ... "It felt fresh," said Lee, relaxing in a back room recently at Rush's management offices in Toronto. "A couple of things happened. The way we recorded Feedback was so basic and so back to roots, you know the three of us just in a studio playing together, that made us realize how much more exciting recording should be, rather than computerizing the whole thing and belabouring it. And also, playing those songs from that period was a great way of reminding us about certain truths that existed about writing rock songs back then, that shouldn't have changed. But in our own way we got very dense about our songwriting, and that was a way of bringing us out of ourselves a little bit more and reminding us about some of the fundamentals that go into writing a great rock song." ...
In the second article titled Practice makes perfect Geddy talks about rehearsing for the new tour and mentions how he might fill up his side of the stage this time around:
... "Listen, if a guitar player can have a bank of amps that he doesn't really need, I can have a bank of things that I don't really need. It's a comment. People ask and you always have fun with it, 'Well, you know, we want that warm, dry sound.' I don't think I'm bringing dryers on this trip. I have a few ideas I'm working on right now."
Whew! It's been a busy week. Snakes & Arrows is out and poised to break onto the charts at #3. Most fans have their copy (copies) of the album now and have listened to it multiple times. The general consensus so far is very positive. About 4 out of every 5 of the professional reviews I've read so far have great things to say about it; the opinions of fans seem to reflect this as well. I'll be running a series of polls where you can express your opinion of the album over the next several weeks. The first question I've asked is what is your favorite track on the album so far?. To take the poll, just look to your right just above the Time Stand Still Rush calendar. As of this post over 100 people have taken the poll and The Main Monkey Business and Armor and Sword are way out ahead of the rest of the pack.
May 1, 2007 Hello everyone, It's been too long since I last checked in, but I've been thinking about you all a lot, so maybe the thought counts? Anyway... Today is a very important day. It is a day when you can stand up to be counted on the side of all things good and true in the world. When you can raise your voice and speak out for the purity and beauty of personal expression, of love and peace and harmony, and in celebration of the most kick-ass rock band ever. Yes, you can hightail it out to your local record store and buy the new Rush album, Snakes and Arrows. Just trust me on this one.
There's a song on there called The Way The Wind Blows that is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I've ever heard. I get goosebumps just thinking about it now. The album sounds fantastic - Alex' guitar playing is stellar, Geddy's vocals and bass playing are stunning, Neil's lyrics are insightful, thought-provoking and inspiring, and his drumming is, in my opinion, the most powerful drum performance of his career. Big words, yes, but this record is that good.
Get excited. Get inspired. Get in your car and get this record. Remember how it feels to be enthralled by the music? When you wake up in the morning just so you can hear that song again? I want the good guys to win in this world. Good guys who make GREAT records. Records we can love.
I LOVE THIS RECORD. And I'm standing up for it.
Thanks for checking in. I'll have more news on our new record soon. But today is all about my friends' new masterpiece. Best, Matt
I think it's safe to say that he likes the record. :) Thanks to bri_boy for the heads up. Matt recently spoke to Drumhead magazine about his friendship with Neil Peart. You can check out the interview here.
Rush.com was revamped for the album release and it looks great. There are several new features and they are even streaming the entire album. Yesterday they added a link to a YouTube preview for the new video for Far Cry. You can check out the 48-second preview clip here.
This past Thursday night Rush was supposed to appear on the CBC program The Hour but the interview was bumped because of the NHL Hockey playoffs. No word yet on when the interview will air. Also, Dave Thomas was recently on the show talking about Bob & Doug McKenzie's Two-Four Anniversary special that will air on the CBC over the Victoria Day holiday. If you don't know already, back in 1982 Geddy Lee (who went to school with Rick Moranis) sang on the track Take Off which appeared on Bob and Doug's album The Great White North. It doesn't sound like Geddy will be appearing on the special though.
There have been a few Rush TV sightings recently. Several people emailed me about one such sighting on the NBC show My Name is Earl. Earl gets a full time job on the loading dock of an appliance store and tries to get promoted into sales. Working Man is played in the background during a scene showing him working overtime. You can watch the show at the NBC website here.
Reader Hold_Your_Fire tells me that there was a Rush sighting on Countdown with Keith Olbermann last night. Keith was telling the story of a Prison that had to re-key ALL their locks after a set of the prison keys showed up on Ebay. In the background and after he was done with the story they played Lock and Key.
And reader L2blazerman let us know that during the Houston/Utah basketball game the other night on TNT, Malignant Narcissism was used as the backing track to a first-half highlight reel.
Geddy Lee graces the cover of the July 2007 issue of Bass Guitar Magazine. The tagline reads Inside the Mind of Geddy. Thanks to bptikhon for the heads up.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that Rolling Stone magazine had mentioned Rush in their Spring Music Preview. The feature is titled Spring Music Preview: Fifty Must-hear Albums and is now online at this location. Thanks to samscott for the heads up.
Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy recently posted a video of the band covering Rush's The Necromancer over at his website. You can check it out here. I'd love to see Rush dust this one off. :)
Kurt asked me to mention the petition to have Vapor Trails remastered. If you haven't signed it yet you can sign it at this link. They are close to 500 signatures now.
UPDATE - 5/6@1:04PM: Thanks to Counterparts members barney rebel and thorswitch this special (minus songs) is now available for download here.
I'd heard about this last week but at first just assumed it was one of the existing specials; the FMQB special or the Q107 special. Not so! ... it's a new one! This one is unique in that host Paul Morris speaks with Neil Peart rather than Alex and Geddy. This 48-minute special aired on Canadian internet radio station Iceberg Radio and can be heard at this link. As an extra bonus, I think the image from the website (shown above) is new. Many thanks to Counterparts member Snaked for the heads up.
Like in the other specials, Neil discusses the making of the album, focusing specifically on the lyrics. But there's one item in this interview that stood out for me. Back in June on his website, Neil refers to one song on the album as the masterpiece.
... one day I found myself driving into work with a sense of dread, knowing I had to face that knotty mess again. I didn't remember ever feeling that way about writing before, and all at once I fell into this "all washed up" state of mind, convinced I just couldn't do it anymore, and I should just give up. (I'm sure you know the feeling - all songwriters do!)
And wouldn't you know it? That day, I not only fixed up the problems with that song in a few minutes, but also started from scratch on another one that may well be the "masterpiece" of this album. ...
In this interview he essentially confirms that the masterpiece he was referring to was Armor and Sword. I'd tend to agree with this assessment. :)
One of the many reasons I admire Rush so much is their generosity. They've used their fame to help out countless charitable organizations over the years, raising millions of dollars for those in need and helping to ease a little of the pain on the Earth. So whenever I hear of a Rush-related charity or charity event I always try and give it some exposure on Rush is a Band. Reader Andy is the co-chair for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life of Westminster MD this year and asked me to relay the following message to all of you:
Register to win an autographed RUSH collector's item while you help fight cancer!
Go to www.acsevents.org/relay/westminster/rushraffle, make a $10 donation to the American Cancer Socety's "Relay for Life of Westminster" and you will be entered for a drawing to win a unique RUSH collector's item. Be sure to enter correct contact and address information in the on-line registration form, since that information will be used to contact the winner and deliver the item. Check the web site often, where details and updates will be posted. That is:
Enjoy the upcoming RUSH tour season. Good luck, and thank you for joining the band in helping their friends in the fight against cancer!
While I'm on the subject of Rush and helping out those in need, how about helping out our troops overseas with the gift of Rush? I mentioned Tunes 4 the Troops in a post a couple weeks back. They're an organization that collects CDs, DVDs, etc. and sends them to the troops on the frontlines. I know several of you probably purchased multiple copies of Snakes & Arrows over the last few days. Why not send an extra one to a soldier overseas? It's a great way to support the troops and Rush at the same time! For details on how you can help, visit the website here.
And last but certainly not least - I've mentioned the Rush to fight AIDS fan charity several times on this site and I thought I'd give you a brief update of where things stand with that. If you're not already familiar with the charity, you can check out this post or just go directly to the source and visit the Rush to fight AIDS website. The idea for the charity sprung from the mind of Rush fan and volunteer for the Southern Colorado AIDS Project (S-CAP), Jessica. It basically involves collecting toiletries and personal care items from travelling Rush fans over the summer tour to donate to AIDS patients. Jess recently emailed me to tell me how successful the charity has been so far and how much of a help the readers of this site have been. She recently put up several photos of all the donations they've received thus far on the website. I've included one of the photos here for those of you without mySpace accounts. Pretty impressive considering that the tour hasn't even started yet!
Metal Tim just alerted me to this post over at BW&BN which links to a 48-second preview clip on YouTube of the Rush music video for Far Cry. There have been several pretty solid rumors floating around for a few weeks that Rush had filmed a video for the song, but this definitely confirms it. The video was apparently directed by Christopher Mills and will debut next week (May 8th). Not sure where it will debut though. VH1 seems the most likely place.
It's review time again. This batch has 3 reviews in it; 2 good, 1 bad. I've also added a new poll asking you what your favorite track on the album is so far. The album continues to do well on iTunes US and currently holds the #6 spot - down from #5 yesterday. On Amazon it also lost a little ground, dropping from #2 yesterday to #3 today.
Bad news first. :) This review from Fox Channel 31 in Colorado doesn't give a rating but it's fairly obvious that the reviewer doesn't like it:
... Alas, after 18 full-length studio albums and a handful of live recordings, maybe Rush has finally run its course. The music and lyrics have never sounded more disconnected. It's as if Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson want to keep cranking out hard rock anthems, while Peart wants to go in a more poetic, less hook-driven direction. With three instrumental tracks on this album, I would not be surprised if Rush chooses to go entirely instrumental the next time around ... if there is a next time around. ...
Stephen Humphries from the Christian Science Monitor gives Snakes & Arrows a B grade; not bad at all. Here's the entire review:
Given that it's taken five years to release an album of new material, the Canadian power trio may want to rethink its name. In the meantime, the band has clocked up more miles on the road than a U-Haul fleet, significantly shaping lyricist Neil Peart's global perspective on current events. "Wide-eyed armies of the faithful/ from the Middle East to the Middle West/ pray, and pass the ammunition," he laments in "The Way the Wind Blows." A few songs on this otherwise strong set aren't as hummable as one would wish, but Peart, a drummer you can set a metronome to, has never sounded more vibrant going toe to toe with dextrous bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee and inventive guitarist Alex Lifeson on the ominous uncoiling spirals of "Spindrift." Also superb: "The Main Monkey Business," an instrumental that hurtles into fifth gear. Perhaps the band's name is an apt one after all.
And I saved the best for last. This review comes from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette pop music critic Scott Mervis. He gives it 4 out of 5 and has a lot of nice things to say. You can read his full review here. Here's an excerpt:
... "Snakes & Arrows" is an immaculately produced, smartly written record (by Peart) ... Rush manages to sound like a bunch of old pros -- without sounding like a bunch of geezers. In fact, this sounds every bit like a record many young alternative bands are desperately trying to make.
Yesterday evening Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson sat down with former Max Webster frontman (and Rush collaborator) turned Q107 DJ Kim Mitchell for a live interview at the Hard Rock Cafe in Toronto. You can listen to the interview using the player below or download it here. About 100 or so lucky fans were able to sit in on the interview including Rush is a Band reader Andrew W. Andrew snapped a few pics and took a couple short videos with his camera phone and sent them my way. You can check out the vids here and here. Thanks Andrew!
UPDATE - 5/3@3:28PM: Here's a quick FYI. For anybody who hasn't gotten the album yet and wants to listen to it, just go to Rush.net. They are streaming the entire album. You can't skip tracks or anything - but they're playing the whole thing. Thanks to highfocus for the heads up.
Based on one-day sales reports, Snakes & Arrows is on track to debut at #3 on the charts in its first week of release according to HITS Daily Double (free registration required). Ne-yo's Because of You will likely take the #1 spot and Michael Buble's Call me Irresponsible the #2. From the site:
BECAUSE OF YOU, NE-YO'S ON TOP: Reprise's Michael Buble, Atlantic's Rush Both On Target to Go Over 100k
May 2, 2007
Def Jam Urban star Ne-Yo is on target to hit #1 on next week's HITS Top 50 Album chart, displacing Arista's Avril Lavigne after two weeks.
His new album, Because of You, could hit the 250k mark in first-week sales, according to one-day sales reports from our crack group of retailers around the country... at least those still sober enough to call in after four rousing days close-talking with our own Mark Pearson at NARM.
Reprise crooner Michael Buble's Call Me Irresponsible is proving irresistible to record buyers to the tune of just this side of 200k, enough to make it #2 next week.
Anthem/Atlantic prog-rock progenitors Rush return with Snakes and Arrows, the latest album in the Canadian group's long and impressive career, with an estimated one-week total of 110k. ...
Thanks to reader deke for the heads up. Snakes & Arrows is also still holding at #2 on Amazon and #5 on iTunes US.
A press release just came out a few hours ago where Alex Lifeson pledged to appeal the US court decision that last month cleared officers of any wrongdoing in the New Year's Eve 2004 incident at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Naples, Florida involving Alex and his son Justin. If you're unfamiliar with the incident you can read a running history of it at the Power Windows site. In the article, Alex goes into detail about how the case has adversely affected him and how he's determined to fight the decision:
Lifeson ... says the ordeal has caused him immeasurable grief.
"I didn't sleep for months," Lifeson recalls of the altercation, in which he says he was punched in the face and Tasered several times.
"Not more than two hours. I was in total fear. My wife was in a deep depression and that was killing me to see that. She was worried that her husband and her son were going to jail and they were threatening me with 30 years in prison at the time. Like, I'm not the first person that's been beaten up in Florida ... but I can't just not do something. I can't just let it go."
Already weary from a three-year legal battle to clear his name, Lifeson says the appeal could take months to get to court. He suggested that his band's upcoming tour and recent album release may have something to do with the drawn-out process.
"It's a wonderful play by their lawyers to get this delayed at a time when there's a lot of notoriety around the band," Lifeson says.
"We're going on tour, Rush fans are all excited, it's all fired up. If I was going to court, there'd probably be a lot of Rush fans there."
... U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson wrote in a ruling last month that deputies' actions "were objectively reasonable." The judge also ruled that the hotel and a security employee weren't negligent in the case.
"We have thousands of pages of documents, we have about 15 witnesses, we have video, we have so much compelling evidence of the brutality that we went through that night," Lifeson counters.
"To have it just thrown out, and to have a judge, who advocates me being punched in the face twice by two cops, breaking my nose and Tasering me six times, (deem it) as adequate and appropriate conduct on the part of the police, that's not right."
"I feel terrible for the guy who doesn't have any money or doesn't have any celebrity who this happens to all the time. ... If I can do something to make it easier for the next guy who gets jumped on by the cops, then I'll feel good about it." ...
Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson sat down with former Max Webster frontman (and Rush collaborator) turned Q107 DJ Kim Mitchell this evening for a live interview at the Hard Rock Cafe in Toronto. Reader animateme taped and edited the interview (a BIG thanks for that) and I've made it available for download at this link. You can also listen to it using the player below. It was a very fun interview; it had the feel of just a few friends getting together and BS'ing over a couple of beers. Kim's old band Max Webster will be reuniting for a 30th Anniversary Concert and Live Radio Special happening Thursday, May 24th at The Docks. There will be several guest performances and toward the end of the interview a listener asked Geddy and Alex if they might be able to perform Battlescar live with Max Webster at the show. They totally dodged the question. :) They also revealed one of the songs from Snakes & Arrows that they will definitely be playing.
Just prior to the Rush tour MusicToday presale back in late March I'd announced that MusicToday would be running a special promotion for Rush is a Band readers. The last day for entry was Monday and the winners have finally been determined. The winners are Amanda McQuain of Arlington, VA; Larry Hatfield of Calgary, AB; and Tommy Jamison of Orlando, FL. You will each receive a prize pack consisting of a Limited-Edition Rush T Shirt, ONLY available from Musictoday, and a copy of the Snakes and Arrows CD. Many thanks to the over 260 people who participated and to MusicToday for offering the promotion.
UPDATE - 5/2@1:37PM:grand design just let me know that Snakes & Arrows is currently at #5 on iTunes US and #3 on iTunes Canada! Check out the entire top 10 list at this link.
I've gathered up another batch of Snakes & Arrows reviews. But before I get to that I wanted to mention a couple other bits of good news related to the album. According to several readers, the album is doing very well on iTunes. It was at #9 last I heard and at one point was as high as #7. As of this post, it's also #2 in music at Amazon US! And this is really cool; 6 songs from Snakes & Arrows are now on the Rock Jump! Menu at MediaBase. The Rock Jump! Menu is a look at the Top 20 rock tracks with the most increase in spins and the number of stations playing them. It's updated daily and reflects a 7-day rolling total. A lot of this probably reflects all the airplay the songs received over the weekend because of the multiple radio specials. But Workin' them Angels is really moving up and could certainly be the next successful single. I'm curious to see how it will debut on Billboard.
Now onto the reviews. This batch is full of positivity and the ratings range from 7.5 to 9 out of 10.
IGN Music's Andy Patrizio gives the album a 7.5 out of 10 and you can read his full review here. He likes the music but not the lyrics:
... Rush took their sweet time on this record and tried a new approach: the band worked with a producer young enough to be their son. They hired Nick Raskulinecz, who produced The Foo Fighters' One By One and In Your Honor and Velvet Revolver's debut album. Raskulinecz had also worked in Nashville and brought all kinds of different ideas. The result is one of the more musically diverse Rush records effort, as well as one of the most overwhelmingly negative lyrically. ...
... The album will take more than one listen to really appreciate. Trust me, when I first listened to it, I thought it was nothing special. However, by the third listen, the album just clicked with me. Snakes and Arrows is a strong release from Rush, but is nowhere near a classic. Instrumentally, the band is great. The problem is the acoustic guitars were used too much, in my opinion. After a while, the songs sorta blend together. If you are a hardcore Rush fan or are interested in something a bit lighter that still rocks from time to time, I would recommend this album. ...
This next review is surprising because it's from metal magazine Terrorizer and reviewer Joseph Stannard gives the album a rating of 8 out of 10. Here's an excerpt courtesy of mackeraljack over at Counterparts:
... in 2007 [Rush] are possibly the only genuinely adult-oriented rock group in circulation, as 'Snakes and Arrows' capably illustrates ... 'Snakes and arrows' is Rush getting on with the business of being Rush while keeping one eye on the precarious state of the world. The plain-speaking purity of Neil Pearts lyricism is lent additional poignance by his acknowledgement that as chaos threatens to encroach on all our lives, the best we can do is carry on regardless. The music is better produced and more disciplined than on 'vapor trails', the moments of heaviness (which are plentiful) constrained within tight compositional structures, although fans of a proggy disposition will thrill at the stop-start dynamics of any of these songs as well as the inclusion of three instrumentals. Often accused of pretentiousness, Rush have scarcely attempted to be anything they're not, and this integrity has ensured them a longevity and credibility few of their contemporaries can boast. 'Snakes and arrows' then is a distinct rarity, an adult rock album, intended, to quote 1981s Limelight 'for those who think and feel'. ...
... the record is another heavy guitar, bass, and drums...drums...and more drums record. ... Its subject matter is heavy duty: faith and war. From the opening track (and first single), acoustic and electric guitars, bass hum, and Peart's crash-and-thrum urgency in the almighty riff are all present. When Geddy Lee opens his mouth, you know you are in for a ride ...
... Overall, Snakes & Arrows is one of countless joyous occasions, a serious musical adventure where the price of admission is exceeded greatly by the footsteps trod. Name another rock act that has the longevity, consistency and prominence of Canada's revered three-piece. I didn't think you could. Another trophy for the shelf.
You may remember Buffalo News Pop Music Critic Jeff Miers from his glowing review of Far Cryback in March. Well, he likes Snakes & Arrows too not surprisingly. His full review will be published this Friday but he gives us his first impressions in this blog post:
The new Rush disc, "Snakes & Arrows," has hit the streets. I've had it for a few days now and can report that it's brilliant.
Longtime fans of the band will find much to love here - daring musicianship, intelligent and insightful lyrics, ambitious structures, and plenty of FUN stuff. New listeners should be attracted by the singular nature of this wonderful band.
The music is timeless but the production is pleasingly contemporary, meaning this music can't be written off as mere "classic rock."
Like all the group's best records - and this new one clearly ranks among the band's Top 5 - the listener is asked to invest a bit of his or her self in the process of the music's unfolding. That means the more you listen to the record, the more you'll get out of it. This material is ready-made for the stage, and expect to hear plenty of it when the band shows up for its 4th of July gig at Darien lake. Look for my full review of "Snakes & Arrows" in this Friday's Gusto.
The complete transcript along with some video clips of the Jeff Woods Q107 Snakes & Arrows world premier radio special are now available on the Q107 website here. There are 3 great video clips of Jeff speaking with Alex and Geddy in the studio. Both the videos and the transcript (just click on the Extras) contain several portions of the interview that were not included in the radio broadast, so you will definitely want to check it out. Thanks to reader syrinx for the heads up.
UPDATE - 5/1@6:49PM: Just as I mentioned a couple days ago, The Exchange independent record store in Cleveland (and Pittsburgh) is running a special Snakes & Arrows promotion where they're selling the CD for $6.99 and giving away a free limited edition poster with each purchase. I ran over to The Exchange after work, bought two CDs (only 2 per customer) and grabbed one of the last posters they had! It's a small 12"x18" poster with the Leela board on one side and the Desert Highway pic on the other. If you live in the Cleveland or Pittsburgh area check out your nearest The Exchange (aka The Record Exchange) to take advantage of this promo - it runs through Sunday (while supplies last). I think the $6.99 price is by far the best I've seen yet.
UPDATE - 5/1@3:29PM: There are 15 new Snakes & Arrows desktop wallpapers up at Power Windows bringing the total to 18!
UPDATE - 5/1@12:58PM: It looks like the Snake with Arrow through Head pic is not exclusive to the UK jewelcase release. It also shows up in the Wal-mart digipack version as the insert which displays the passcode for the exclusive video download. I'm trying to get confirmation but it also sounds like the exlusive download is just an old VH1 video interview. Thanks to MezcalHead for the news.
UPDATE - 5/1@10:29AM: The image shown right is from the jewel case insert from the UK release and cannot found in the digipak in the US issue. Thanks to Power Windows for supplying the pic. I love it. :)
UPDATE - 5/1@8:07AM:Rush.com has been revamped for the album release. There are lots of cool new graphics based on the album art, an updated gallery, updated band info with gear lists, and more! They even have a multimedia section up but nothing loaded in yet - just a "coming soon" message. It'll be interesting to see what they put in there.
UPDATE - 5/1@7:33AM: Apparently when you purchase Snakes & Arrows on iTunes you also receive a 5-minute making of video which, I assume, is a preview of the 45-minute documentary to be included on the Snakes & ArrowsDVD-Album. You can purchase Snakes & Arrows on iTunes at this link.
The time is finally here; Snakes & Arrows has officially been released in North America. Fans in Europe probably already have their copies by now. And a few of us in North America may have gotten lucky enough to score a copy from a local record store that had them in early. But for most of us today is the day when we will all be holding it in our hands, removing it from its jewel case digipack and popping it in the CD player for the first time. Even if we've already heard some (or all) of the songs by some other method, be it downloading a leaked copy or listening to the songs on the radio world premier - playing it for the first time is always a special moment. So I've opened up this thread so that everyone can share their experiences purchasing the CD and their thoughts after that first listen. And in case you didn't notice, I've added a poll to the site over on the right of the page with the first question being How will you be getting or how did you get your copy of Snakes & Arrows?. Rush on!