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.
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.
Thanks heaps, Lebrain!