Rush - Exit Stage Left
Hard Rock/ Progressive Rock
13 songs (76:36)
Release year: 1981
Reviewed by James
Archive review

Rush, for whatever reason, are a band who like to close each phase of their career with a live record, Exit Stage Left closing out the band's most critically acclaimed period just as All The World's A Stage closed out the early years. For someone who's, shall we say, a more casual Rush fan (I'm ashamed to say I haven't ventured post-Moving Pictures bar Snakes And Arrows, or pre-2112) the setlist is nothing less than fantastic, taking in pretty much all the band's best known songs (with the likes of Between, Beneath & Behind and Jacobs Ladder there to satisfy the die-hards). For a long period of time, I couldn't figure out why this is the least appreciated of Rush's live catalogue, the fans generally going for Rush In Rio or All The World's A Stage. “But it's got The Spirit Of Radio, Tom Sawyer and Closer To The Heart on it! Why does no one particularly care for it!”

Well, it turns out a great setlist does not a great live album make. It's not that Exit Stage Left is a bad album, far from it, it's that the songs are practically identical to the studio versions. Indeed, were it not for the crowd piping up every now and then there's barely anything to tell you it's a live record. The songs are fantastic in their own right, of course, and I actually prefer this version of A Passage To Bangkok to the one featured on 2112, but there's very little here to make this worth a purchase unless you're a completist or just want all the “hits” in one place. And in the case of the latter, why not just buy a greatest hits release? I suppose it's nice that the band don't go off on the kind of tangents that would have The Mars Volta checking their watches impatiently, but let's face it, the odd little flourish would have been nice. The only thing here that really separates Exit Stage Left's songs from their studio counterparts is Neil Peart's obligatory drum solo (one of the better drum solos I've heard, for what it's worth) and a classical intro to The Trees known as Broon's Bane which is, as far as I know, exclusive to this record.

Yet despite it pretty much being the studio versions played with an unpleasant soggy mix, Exit Stage Left is still in fairly regular rotation at my house. It's probably because I like live albums quite a bit. I don't know why, I just do. Maybe it's because I can imagine I'm there, or if I'm feeling particularly nerdy pretend I'm Neil Peart and air-drum the whole thing (the drum solo on YYZ being particularly prone to sending poorly-coordinated limbs a-flying). And if you're like me, and can detect that certain nebulous je ne sais quoi that live albums have, then Exit Stage Left is well worth you're time and money. The rest of you, though, may want to go for a greatest hits, or, so as not to compromise your music-geek cred, investigate the Rush catalogue further.

Killing Songs :
It's Rush, they're all killer!
James quoted no quote
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
1 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 5 replies to this review. Last one on Sun Nov 23, 2008 2:53 am
View and Post comments