Rush: The (Partial) Series – Fly By Night (1975)

Here we have Rush’s second album. It sounds like their tenth, meaning only that they seem to have sprung fully-formed into this seasoned, incredible sound so early on and holy hell it’s amazing. Once again may it be noted that this remastered version was sent to me by our brother in rawk Lebrain.

Let’s hop to it!

Anthem serves notice that this band is here to rock you. There’s an obvious difference in the drums, moving from Rutsey to Peart, but the energy is still there. It’s a huge riff from Lifeson, and Geddy’s voice is in full wail. Pure classic hit song.

Best I Can keeps the rock coming, another supremely big rock song. This shoulda been a hit. Why wasn’t this a hit? An embarassment of riches from which to choose, perhaps? Anyone have another guess?

Beneath, Between And Behind is the third massive 70s rock-out track in a row. The musicianship here (and everywhere, of course) is awesome. The shifting time signatures are dizzying. It’s as though they had so many good song ideas so they just jammed them all into one song. Cool!

By-Tor & The Snow Dog keeps the record’s relentless need to burn and rock alive. Yes! The instrumental bit around 2:00 is…um… weird, very spacy and with this odd growling thing over top. The stop-start timing at 4:00 hints at intricacies in future songs. So cool. The track then becomes this quiet, minimal echoey thing (which goes on a little long, in my opinion) before ripping into a huge blues guitar solo, and that’s all before crashing into a reprise rock out ending. Damn, Now they’re making entire albums into one song!

Fly By Night is a Total Classic. You know this song. ‘Nuff said.

Making Memories has a sweet acoustic intro that layers in electric guitar and drums as it builds. This is a real feel-good track. Why was this not a radio hit, when it has accessibility written all over it? Anyway, it’s also a good seque track into…

Rivendell, a gentle acoustic tune done in the old style, as though some bard was singing it beside a fire in a tavern. Of course, given the subject matter, they’ve nailed the only way to play a song like this. Lovely.

In The End eases us gently, as well. It’s all a ruse, though. Before the 2:00 mark the big guitars are back and we’re hitting the theme heavily. This is truly a beautiful song. As it gently rocks us out at the end, I realize that this record has a split personality. Big rock and gentle caress.

In sum: Goddamn, all of that was brilliant. I could play this ten times and still get new things from it. Thanks heaps, Mike!

15 thoughts on “Rush: The (Partial) Series – Fly By Night (1975)

  1. Deke says:

    Your right remember when bands would drop a couple of records a yr even 3 like Kiss!!? In the 70s??!
    Man those were the days by the time I started buying albums 1980 or so bands were down to 1 a yr!!
    Hahaha…..

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      1. keepsmealive says:

        Sorry, I assumed you’d all know… Guided By Voices. Robert Pollard is one prolific sumbitch. 🙂 But as I noted, it’s not all under the name GBV. There’s tons of projects he does. Trying to keep it all straight could be a full-time job.

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    1. keepsmealive says:

      Transitional is an interesting word. I mean, when you look at the discography, they were dropping an album a year, sometimes even two per year, through that early period. I thought of it more as an ongoing project, like, these are the songs we like together, right now. It all seemed to be happening so fast, for them.

      I played Rivendell again this morning and really, really liked it. Not necessarily what I think of, when I think of Rush, and that may add to the appeal.

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      1. Phillip Helbig says:

        “Lying in the warm grass
        Feel the sun upon your…face”

        Could almost be be Benny Hill, though of course North American pronunciation or, better, vocabulary is needed to make it work. (The Rush guys certainly have typical Canadian pronunciation.)

        Dig Lee’s voice on the chorus. Not quite as high as Kate Bush in “Wuthering Heights”, but almost. 🙂 In any case, their hairdos were about the same around this time. 🙂

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      2. keepsmealive says:

        You have to remember, I am sitting in my car as I listen to these, no access to the interwubs for deeper knowledge. However, Wiki says:

        “I Think I’m Going Bald” was written for Canadian rocker Kim Mitchell, who at the time was the frontman of the band Max Webster and a close friend of the members of Rush. It is also stated in the book Contents Under Pressure, that the song “I Think I’m Going Bald” was written as a homage to KISS’s “Goin’ Blind”.[8]

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