Rush: The (Partial) Series – Caress of Steel (1975)

Mike The Almighty Lebrain sent me this, Rush’s third album (and third in two years)! It’s a good one, and they’re really starting to let their freak flag fly. Let’s give ‘er.

Bastille Day is, of course, a stone classic, and one helluva way to open a record! That opening riff  has always reminded me (a bit) of the Chili Peppers’ Catholic School Girls Rule, though my brain screams at me that there is an old school punk song that sounds similar too, and for the life of me I can’t place it. Anyway, this would have come before all that, and of course being Rush, this riff isn’t the only killer lick in the song and it all rules.  The hard rock crashes into a majestic chorus. I love the instrumental bit with the solo. Even the fanfare at 4:05 (to fade out) is rousing. Yes!

I Think I’m Going Bald confused the hell out of me. It’s silly. Seriously, who decided that this was worthy of inclusion? It sounds more like a sketch, words he was making up in studio while they were working on the music for the tune. It’s a one-off gag, anyway. Decent music, though. Bluesy, and a big solo.

Lakeside Park is another tune we all know backwards. So. Good. And it swings, which pleases me greatly.

And here is where the record takes a turn for the concept album. Two massive tracks, broken into sections. Ready? Of course you are.

The Necromancer is 12:29, and broken into three parts:

i) Into The Darkness has a strange spoken intro with effects on the vocals. It becomes a slow blues jam that I quite liked, before the odd spoken part comes back. ii) Under The Shadow stutter-start rocks into another blues jam instrumental. (iii) Return Of The Prince carries it along, and around the 7:05 mark it blasts off into full rawk noodling. The tune ends as a rock ballad.

The Fountain Of Lamneth, at 19:58, is even more ambitious with six parts:

i) In The Valley is a pretty acoustic intro that becomes a full band jam that alternates between lovely tune and full-on rock out. ii) Didacts And Narpets has (maybe) one the coolest track names ever. Didact is easy, but I have no idea what a Narpet is. Anyway, it’s a lot to write about a 1:02 song section that is essentially Peart noodling around on the drums. It becomes a strange shout-thing while he wails away. Odd! iii) No One At The Bridge is a slow tune. Geddy really wails, here. So does Lifeson, on the solo. iv) Panacea starts out gentle and stays there. Lilting and calm. v) Bacchus Plateau goes mid-tempo but is still a rock tune. I quite liked this. Interesting how the guitar walks across to the left speaker only (around 15:50) as it fades out. vi) The Fountain brings back the rock… then takes it away again to go slow momentarily, then they rock that stutter-riff again. It all ends on gentle acoustic again.

Whew!

With these last two excursion tracks, I’ve found myself just listening to the music. On this run-through I didn’t pay too much attention to the lyrics, so I really haven’t much of a clue what they were on about in all of this. Never fear, repeat listens will give me the story too.

In Sum: The album opens with some rock tunes, and then they stretch their legs with some concept tracks. Light your lava lamp. Spark up the candles, incense and a j, and lay back for the show.

Epic!

Thanks heaps, Lebrain!

9 thoughts on “Rush: The (Partial) Series – Caress of Steel (1975)

  1. Deke says:

    Still never bought this one though….having said that the first Rush album I ever bought was All The Worlds A Stage and it opens with Bastille Day and I still remember the first time I heard Bastille Day was on that release and I think it was by the 2 minute mark I was like woooooooah listen to those vocals !! And what hell is he sayin??!..hahahaha….
    I mean I was just finishing trying to figure out Johnson’s or was it Scott’s lyrics on Back In Black and well here comes…..Geeeeeeeeeedy!

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  2. Phillip Helbig says:

    “Didact is easy, but I have no idea what a Narpet is.”

    The internet is your friend.

    It’s probably an anagram, maybe for parents, or for N Peart. Didacts for addicts. Take your pick.

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    1. keepsmealive says:

      You are right – Wiki says this:

      Regarding “Didacts and Narpets” (which consists mostly of a drum solo), in the October 1991 news release from the Rush Backstage Club, Neil Peart said: “Okay, I may have answered this before, but if not, the shouted words in that song represent an argument between Our Hero and the Didacts and Narpets – teachers and parents. I honestly can’t remember what the actual words were, but they took up opposite positions like: ‘Work! Live! Earn! Give!’ and like that.” A didact is a teacher, and “narpet” is an anagram of “parent”.

      I like your anagram N Peart better, personally. 🙂

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  3. mikeladano says:

    I sold my lava lamp 😦

    I find Caress of Steel to be one of the most difficult Rush albums to get into. The band thought this was going to end up being their final album, so they pulled out all the stops. Without Caress there could have been no 2112. Again there’s transition here…or perhaps evolution!

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    1. keepsmealive says:

      I’ll admit that when I looked at the back cover and saw those grouped tracks I thought “oh here we go!” but in the end it was all OK. Why on earth would they think it was their last record? Even not knowing what we know now, surely they weren’t worried about contract renewal?

      Evolution is a good word. I would add ‘restless.’ Or maybe ‘relentless’ to it. 🙂

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      1. mikeladano says:

        They referred to the tour as the “Down the Tubes” tour…they figured lack of record sales meant it was all but over!

        You gotta see the movie Rush – Beyond the Lighted Stage!

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