Rush: The (Partial) Series – Moving Pictures (1981)


This album should be required in every home, maybe with a little shrine in the corner with some candles and incense burning for the truly dedicated. What a monster record!

Now, this is one I don’t (yet) own, but I will. Oh yes, I will. Mike, if I don’t have this one by the time we go to Taranna on our next excursion, I’d be very surprised. But in case I don’t, it’s tops of the search list! For now I had to content myself with hearing the full album on the youtubes. It’s a lifesaver for me, in this series and with my need to be complete as I go along, that they had it all up there for free!

So. Do I even need to tell you about this record? Surely you know it forwards and backwards and love every inch of every song as much as I have. I mean, the first four songs (three of which are on my Chronicles set) will take the top of your head off, pour it full of awesomeness and then send you reeling into the last three tracks so blissfully you’ll come back for more as soon as the last note ends.

Look at this:

01 Tom Sawyer (a fucking monster track you know so well)
02 Red Barchetta (one of my all-time Rush fave tracks!)
03 YYZ (an absolutely mind-blowing instrumental… about Pearson airport?)
04 Limelight (yet another monster hit)

I mean, that right there, they could go home and call it a total success. But they’re not done with us yet. No no, this is Rush. They wanna make sure we’re well and truly ridden hard and put down wet, fully satisfied after a listening session, so there’s three more tracks! Ready? Of course you are!

The Camera Eye seems to know we need a bit of a breather after all that awesome, so it slow builds for a while with synth stabs before becoming an oddly muddy-sounding slow-but-heavy rocker for a while. Then we shift gears again into a higher energy section that sounds very happy. Almost poppy. Fun! We slow back down and reprise the previous bit for a while, before bringing back the faster part. The back and forth isn’t jarring at all, feels natural as it happens. Like all epic Rush songs, this is an expedition. See YYZ, above. And as you know, one must prepare for expeditions.

Witch Hunt (Part III of Fear) quickly builds into a fairly menacing rock tune. More cowbell! It almost sounds like it’s going to fall apart at any moment (of course it won’t, this is Rush, after all) but it adds to the cool effect. And then it starts to soar… This is trippy and fascinating and beautiful… perfect soundtrack music for something. Whatever “Fear” is, I suppose.

Vital Signs brings back the rock with a reggae thing that sounds like Rush doing a Police song. It’s not a criticism, just pointing it out. Wow, that snare has a weird smush sound to it. It all improves when the bass finally joins the mix (missing from the intro). I really enjoyed this! Rush does reggae! Haha awesome. Good on them for trying it out.

In sum: This is an incredible album that fully speaks to the band’s boggling talent, versatility and hit-making skills. As with all of their other records before it, I think I’ll benefit from repeat listens, glean far more with each spin. One this is for certain, I will not stop spinning it. This one’s gold. Thanks, youtubes! I will be buying this shortly, I’m sure.

23 thoughts on “Rush: The (Partial) Series – Moving Pictures (1981)

    1. keepsmealive says:

      Indeed, this one’s a great one! Incredible how many songs these guys wrote that are classics. It’s not like most records of the era, one or two great songs, the rest filler. Rush is all killer, no filler!


  1. KamerTunesBlog (by Rich Kamerman) says:

    I’m sure there are some fans who no longer rate this album as highly as others simply because a few of their most popular songs are on it, but I never let popularity or the “overplayed” criticism affect my opinion when an album is this awesome. I’m glad they finally brought “The Camera Eye” back into their set list a few years ago (they had to when they chose to play Moving Pictures in its entirety), since it’s as good as any of their other epics but a little darker than usual.

    Another thing I loved about this album was the multiple meanings of the title depicted in the artwork. It showed their sense of humor for the first time, something that has become part of their charm over the years.

    Glad you loved it. Hope you get a hold of a physical copy soon. I have the reissue that includes a DVD with the 5.1 surround sound mix, but I don’t think that’s an essential purchase. Most of their 5.1 mixes range from pretty good to not-so-good, and even though this is one of their better ones, any of the remastered stereo versions should suffice.


    1. keepsmealive says:

      Thanks Rich, yeah this one’s a must-buy. I’m sure it’s fairly easy to get. I will look for the remaster, even though I generally don’t. The rest of this set here is from the remaster series, so I may as well keep ’em all the same.

      Andnow I’m off to look up a picture of the cover in greater detail, thanks for the tip. The youtubes had a picture but it was sort of small, I didn’t pay much attention to it…


      1. mikeladano says:

        Well, it is just one of those songs. It struck me as special the first time I heard it, and every time is the same. It’s amazing, a diamond among many gems.


      2. keepsmealive says:

        I’m thinking of making a CD of the best tracks based on the comments on this series. Vital Signs, Natural Science, Xanadu, and so on. Everyone has fave tracks I wouldn’t necessarily have guessed soI’m thinking a CD of those would be fun.


    1. Phillip Helbig says:

      “An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure.” No-one but Peart could write lyrics like that.

      I wonder what fraction of listeners get it right away? Like a joke, understanding it after having heard an explanation rarely results in the same response which immediate comprehension gives.

      We discussed the 4–live–change-direction scheme, which is definitely there. However, there are differences within a group; Moving Pictures sounds little like A Farewell to Kings. Also, some things on Moving Pictures, like the lyrics to “Vital Signs”, the shorter songs, and a different type of synth point the way to Signals. And Signals is different (I would say better) than the following three albums in that group. I think the music dropped in quality after Moving Pictures, but Peart’s lyrics didn’t. In some ways, they improved (I like science fiction, but not really in rock music; the less Ayn Rand the better), becoming more compact, saying so much in so few words, such as “style without substance, stuff without style”. (Let me give a brief analysis. First, “style” is negative, then it is positive, solely due to comparison to the other word in the same phrase. However, note that “stuff” and “substance”, taken individually, actually mean almost exactly the same thing. (BTW, the native German word for “substance” is “Stoff”.))

      Another thing I like about the 4 albums in this group is the perfect production. They do sound different, but the differences suit the albums. A Farewell to Kings is somehow soft (much like Tull’s Songs from the Wood, recorded in the same year and another of my favourite albums), Permanent Waves is hard, Moving Pictures is clear and transparent. Hemispheres is somewhere in-between, but perfect. But in all cases, one hears everything and the mix is perfect. Rush have moved back to good music in the last few years, but I find the modern production too muddy.


      1. keepsmealive says:

        Here is my vote for Phillip’s continuing analyses of these great Rush albums. Here is a man full invested in them, and with insightful, great things to say! Thanks Phillip!


      1. keepsmealive says:

        Also an excellent track.

        What I’m learning, through this series, is that there really isn’t a bad track in the bunch. So it comes down to preferences for one track or another, but acknowledging that honestly they all rock, in their own ways. 😉


    2. latindrummer says:

      Yesssss, I gotta agree with Mike about Vital Signs. To me it sounds like a remnant from the Permanent Waves era, upbeat and with that New Wave aire. And I can’t forget The Camera Eye. Rocks my socks off every time. And they’re great tracks to drum to. Great blog by the way, keepsmealive.


      1. keepsmealive says:

        Hey latindrummer, thanks and welcome to the KMA! Camera Eye is indeed a great song. If I had a drum set (and ohmygoodness to I want one so badly), I would totally try playing along to Rush – if only to remind myself that I am a human being and Neil Peart is some sort of god. 😉

        I hope you find much in these pages to read, enjoy, laugh at, disagree with… Cheers.


        1. latindrummer says:

          You seriously need to pick up the drums, at least tinker around, try them out. I remember when I was younger, around 20 and first started playing. I was working graveyard shifts for a troubled boys’ group home. One of the kids was an aspiring metal guitarist. I mentioned how I could place most of Moving Pictures on drums. And he was ASTOUNDED. He was like “maaaaaan….you can play RUSH drums????” Hell yes I can 🙂 err…most of the time lol.


          1. mikeladano says:

            I don’t know what it is about the lyrics specifically to Vital Signs that I love. A combination of the way the words sound, and their abstract nature. I don’t know. I just love it.


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