Rush - Rush
Mercury Records
Classic Rock
8 songs (40:04)
Release year: 1974
Rush, Mercury Records
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Although we know and love the Canadian trio as purveyors of contemporary, intelligent Rock, back in the day the band channelled Led Zeppelin almost single-mindedly. Geddy Lee’s voice has always had a touch of Plant about it, but here his shriek is determinedly herbaceous (just count the number of ‘ooh yeah!’s in the first song alone…) and it rides over the top of the music with pure infectious joy. It goes without saying that this is a product of its time – the clichéd lyrics (‘ooh yes, I need some love!’) the Bluesy guitar, the laid-back atmosphere – the 70’s were the greatest thing to happen to popular music since the invention of the guitar, and I never get bored with the sounds of that time. If you like bands such as ZZ Top, Black Sabbath, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Blue Cheer and so on then you’ll like this, guaranteed.

Of course, the album is infamous in most Rush fans’ mind for being the only one in their entire discography not to feature Ayn Rand’s biggest fan: drummer extraordinaire Neil Peart, and whilst the late lamented John Rutsey does a damn good job, he’s not The Professor. Still, we have Lee’s bass – clearly audible and already more than the backing hum that most bands consign it to – and Lifeson’s guitar, and it’s Alex that is the star of this particular show. The former Mr Zivojinovich has always been an excellent guitarist, and even at this early stage his playing is stellar, easy to miss under Lee’s vocals but never short of golden. There’s a great deal of restraint at work – even on album finale Working Man the solos are hardly the overblown showstoppers of Zeppelin, but rather are structured perfectly around the song, hinting at future Progressive masterpieces without compromising the Rock element.

Rush is ultimately all about the Rock. This band, for me, has always epitomised the youthful exuberance that music can hold, and even at their most stereotypically nerdy Rush seem so caught up in the excitement of it all that you’re carried along helpless. Here, there’s not a bad song, from the initial outburst of Finding My Way with its AC/DCic energy, through the short but sweet Need Some Love, Take A Friend’s bisexual hints (‘whether woman or man/it makes you feel so good!’) and Here Again’s Sabbath vibes, all the way to In The Mood, a paean to feeling horny, and Before And AfterHendrix meets Cream. Yet it’s Working Man that stays with you, the first indication that Rush would go on to more political and social topics than just plain ol’ lurve. As mentioned, this is a taste of the future sound of the band, and is a great song to boot.

Before going into the studio Rush had spent a good deal of time on the live circuit, and it shows in the quality of this album. Amazingly, no label would touch Rush at first and the band was forced to release it on their own label, Moon Records. After Working Man was picked up by a local radio station the initial run of 3500 was sold out and the album was re-released on Mercury Records. Becoming the largest selling debut record in Canadian history may well have helped the band to their later status, but it would be a few years before the band found international fame with 1977’s Closer To The Heart.

People tend to have polarised, extreme opinions about Rush – you either really, really love the band or you really, really hate it. Whatever the case, no one can deny that Rush itself is a damn fine album, overlooked at its time and since, yet surprisingly timeless in terms of quality. Fans can’t afford to ignore it, and haters can’t admit that it’s good enough to appeal to more than the stereotypical Rush fan. Whichever group you fit into, this deserves a place on the playlist of any 70’s fanatic.

Killing Songs :
Finding My Way, Need Some Love, Take A Friend, What You’re Doing, In The Mood, Before And After, Working Man
Goat quoted 87 / 100
Other albums by Rush that we have reviewed:
Rush - Clockwork Angels reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 90 / 100
Rush - Beyond The Lighted Stage reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Rush - Test For Echo reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Rush - Counterparts reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Rush - Roll The Bones reviewed by Goat and quoted 87 / 100
To see all 26 reviews click here
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