Rush - Caress Of Steel
Mercury Records
Classic/Progressive Rock
5 songs (45:04)
Release year: 1975
Rush, Mercury Records
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Released in the same year as Fly By Night, Caress Of Steel is something of a disappointment when viewed against the excellent albums that fill Rush’s early period. Seen as a commercial failure by the band’s label despite actually selling more in the US than Fly By Night, it laid down the path that would culminate in 2112, and where that album succeeds, this album has failed. Yes, it showcases the band’s technical skill, and yes, fans of 70’s Prog will appreciate it more than Rush fanboys in general, but overall unless you have to own every single Rush album, you can safely skip it.

So what’s good about it? Well, the first three songs, for one. Bastille Day is a wonderful opening track, a live fixture for years, mixing Zeppelinesque Classic Rock with the new, more technical Prog sound. Both Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart are on fire, great soloing from the former and some excellent beats from the latter – you can tell he’s champing at the bit to really let loose. Geddy is his usual high-pitched self, providing a solid bass foundation. Many people dislike I Think I’m Going Bald for some reason, but I love it; the central riff is excellent and the song is the catchiest on the album. Lakeside Park is a bit of a step-down, starting well but meandering a little before the electric guitars come in partway through. Rush is always hit-or-miss when they bring the acoustics out, and although here the final section saves the song it comes close to disaster.

Not nearly as close as the next track comes, however. The Necromancer (made up of Into The Darkness, Under The Shadow and Return Of The Prince) opens with some very stoned-sounding narration, something that will rightly put most people off – I can’t offhand think of an album where narration works without being ridiculous. Fortunately some spacey guitar and Geddy’s normal voice are along soon enough but the damage is done, and by the time you realise there’s a fair amount of narration present even great moments – such as when the heaviest riff this side of Black Sabbath comes in – are tainted by the knowledge that you have to sit through the first section to get there, The Necromancer being one long track on the CD remaster. All three musicians shine, Lifeson especially with an asskicker of a solo, but the sections don’t flow well together, and Prince By-Tor should really have been left fighting the snow dog, where he belonged.

The Fountain Of Lamneth (In The Valley, Didacts And Narpets, No-One At The Bridge, Panacea, Bacchus Plateau, The Fountain) suffers from the same lack of flow, although there’s no narration. Technical riffs that stop and start under Geddy’s vocals turn suddenly into a drum solo with strange shouting, before stopping as waves crash against a shore and acoustic strums begin – and that’s just the first six minutes! It’s a good song all in all, better than The Necromancer, but really should have been split up into its different sections. When listened to as a single track, it’s simply frustrating, as is the album as a whole. Listening to this it’s hard not to feel the spectre of 2112 waiting just around the corner, and indeed it’s such a superior release in every way that really Caress Of Steel might as well not exist. Hardly a recommendation, then, but hardcore Rushians will get something from it.

Killing Songs :
Bastille Day, I Think I’m Going Bald, Lakeside Park
Goat quoted 60 / 100
Aleksie quoted 80 / 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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