Moving Pictures at 40

This is one of my favourite albums of all time.

Rush’s career in the 70s was defined by them finding their sound and establishing themselves as a progressive rock band. The debut album having a clear influence from Led Zeppelin, the introduction of Neil Peart’s lyrics and drumming prowess on their second album ‘Fly by Night’, a flop that was critically panned in their third album ‘Caress of Steel’ and then a ferocious response that could be considered more of a double down than a pivot in their breakthrough album ‘2112’.

The band was relentless in their work ethic. Making records, then touring and they had started to pay their dues towards the latter half of the 70s with the subsequent releases ‘A Farewell to Kings’ and ‘Hemispheres’ which include some of the most fascinating, fantastical concepts and outright crazy musicianship.

Towards the beginning of the 80s, Rush went through a more stylistic transition with the biggest transformation in Neil Peart’s approach to lyric writing with less of a concern on big fantastical concepts and more of the human condition. The 1980 album ‘Permanent Waves’ certainly did this extremely well and then the overall sound aesthetic was taken up a notch with the 1981 album ‘Moving Pictures’ where the band truly captured lightning in a bottle.

Tom Sawyer is an absolutely iconic way to open an album and demonstrates an extraordinary level of focus and artistic execution.

Red Barchetta is a rocking nostalgia trip on the thrills of driving in an old school car.

YYZ is one of the best instrumentals that Rush ever penned down (Along with La Villa Strangiato) , based on the morse code for Toronto airport.

Limelight is one of Rush’s most poignant songs, where Peart explores his notions of fame and the difficulty he had with it interfering with his personal life.

Camera Eye is the epic number and one of the last songs that Rush would use extended form and focuses on city life in both New York and London.

Witch Hunt is a fantastic meditation on the Salem witch trails that covers the theme of discrimination and prejudice in a way that is as relevant as ever.

Finally, Vital Signs is about adaptability and the way in which humans can ‘elevate from the norm’.

Rush elevated from the norm and beyond with Moving Pictures and I keep my description of the record sparse for the experience of listening to it is where the magic is.

Every track is superb and the whole album is a masterpiece.