Rush: The (Partial) Series – Exit… Stage Left (1981)

Author's true-to-life depiction of Rush in concert.
Author’s true-to-life depiction of Rush in concert.

I took one look at the track listing for this CD and knew it was gonna be a corker. It reads like a greatest hits set (because it is). I mean, look at this. JUST LOOK!

The Spirit Of Radio
Red Barchetta
A Passage To Bangkok
Closer To The Heart
Beneath, Between & Behind
Jacob’s Ladder
Broon’s Bane
The Trees
Tom Sawyer
La Villa Strangiato

Yeesh! If your mind isn’t blown after all of that, you haven’t been paying attention!

Now, I did make some notes as I went through this. But I found that I was repeating myself, track after track, so I will just put it all into a paragraph or two:

I definitely noticed the bass as being prominent, on this record. That’s awesome. I love Geddy’s playing and it really stands out in all of these tracks. Every single song here is a great, great version. Many of them are very close, nearly note-perfect, to the album versions. Which leads me to say HOLY HELL CAN YOU IMAGINE BEING THERE?!?! I don’t know how anybody walked out of those gigs. Me, I’d need to be carried out.

I loved the crowd sing-along in the intro to Closer To The Heart. According to the liner notes, that was in Glasgow, so our metal brother HMO can stand proud that his city-mates did us justice! I had to look up Broon’s Bane, which turns out to have been written for this tour/album as an intro to The Trees. Nice! The little 50s pop song intro to Jacob’s Ladder was fun.

Commenter Phillip Helbig recommended I check out Rush live playing Xanadu (a fave of his). From what I’ve heard on this record, it’s guaranteed to blow my mind. I still need to get to the youtubes and take care of his recommendation of seeing it.

Honestly, folks. This live CD melted my brain. If this was all you heard of Rush, you’d still say that they are Rock GODS.

Two metal horns all the way up!  \m/  \m/

PS Also interesting to note: I swear that this is a true story. My only witnesses are 5 and 2.5 years old, as my kids were in the car with me, but I swear it happened exactly like this: I played Exit… Stage Left all the way through as we waited for my son to get out of school (I recently blogged about how my daughter and I hear all these CDs). Once I had him in the car and we were headed home, the CD spun again from the top. On arrival, I ejected the Exit.. CD so I could bring it back into the house. And, I swear this is true, our local rawk station (named after an animal, as they all are) was blaring the studio version of Working Man! Talk about fantastic timing! And hey, that in itself is interesting, but hearing it right after Exit… like that brings to mind an valid point: not to knock the track listing of Exit… in any way, shape or form, but I’d say that Working Man’s exclsuion from that setlist is a fair oversiiiiight! So, thanks to our local rawk radio. I was so caught up in all the awesome of Exit… and never even noticed that Working Man had been omitted.

No matter. Exit… Stage Left is a fucking killer, top to bottom. GREAT live album!

Thanks big heaps to our illustrious Lebrain for this one too!

57 thoughts on “Rush: The (Partial) Series – Exit… Stage Left (1981)

  1. Phillip Helbig says:

    “Commenter Phillip Helbig recommended I check out Rush live playing Xanadu (a fave of his). From what I’ve heard on this record, it’s guaranteed to blow my mind. I still need to get to the youtubes and take care of his recommendation of seeing it.”

    There is an Exit Stage Left DVD. Get it. You know you want it.


  2. Phillip Helbig says:

    “I definitely noticed the bass as being prominent, on this record. That’s awesome. I love Geddy’s playing and it really stands out in all of these tracks.”

    As much as I am a fan of Geddy’s playing, I’ve always thought that this album was too bass-heavy. Actually, not the bass guitar (that’s fine; check out Maiden’s “Die With Your Boots On” for some serious bass (from Geddy-Lee-fan Steve Harris) or Wishbone Ash’s “Sometime World” from Argus (if this doesn’t ring a bell with you, YOU ARE MISSING SOMETHING TRULY WONDERFUL)), but rather I think the EQ is to bass-heavy.


  3. Heavy Metal Overload says:

    Haha love your illustration. Looks like Geddy is about to do some serious gymnastics on that horse that’s next to him. Love it!

    You’re posts are making me realise how under-acquainted I’ve become with this band. I started off my re-listening today with the debut.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. keepsmealive says:

      Thanks! But, um, man that’s not a horse. That’s his keyboard. Or wait, could it be… SYNTH HORSE! How could I not have noticed! Man, I haven’t seen that guy in years. He hasn’t seen me either, since he HAS NO HEAD!

      I’ll tell you, Dude, being able to go back through all of this gold has been a beautiful, beautiful thing. I am nowhere near capable of wrangling the proper adjectives to describe all that I’m hearing. Suffice it to say, and to sum it all up: RUSH! YEAH! WAHOO!! Like that. I heartily recommend you go back and dig into all this early stuff. So. Good.


                1. mikeladano says:

                  Yes. When I was at the store we sold it for like $16 used. Now may be a different story. Rush did their best to try and bury that tribute record — they had nothing to do with it and were vocally unhappy about it. I don’t know if any of them ever heard it.


                    1. mikeladano says:

                      Yeah exactly! Gene would appear on a pudding commercial and probably has.

                      Possibly their coolest tribute album appearance was backing Garth Brooks uncredited on Hard Luck Woman.


                    2. keepsmealive says:

                      I’ll bet Gene really loves pudding. That’s a natural, for him. I mean, with that tongue, he can get right down to the bottom of those cups… not a drop of pudding wasted, with him around! Worse than giving the finished cups to the dog, I’d wager.

                      Uncredited cameos! Cool.


            1. mikeladano says:

              Original Rush tracks, unreleased on album! I don’t know if they originate from the pre-album period, or the inter-album period. But who cares eh! Fancy Dancer rocks.


      1. keepsmealive says:

        Mmmmm that looks yummy. I called it up on Amazon, and I loved the seller’s Product Description:

        “Our product to treat is a regular product. There is not the imitation. From Japan by the surface mail because is sent out, take it until arrival as 7-14 day. Thank you for you seeing it.”

        We love you, Japan.


  4. Deke says:

    I had mentioned at Mikes page before Xmas that every Xmas I always end up throwing this one and playing it like crazy,kinda like my Xmas album..ha
    The reason is I got this album from my parents at Xmas time 1981 and for some reason it still resonates with me all these yrs later..totally bizarre as other Xmas I received other albums as well but for some reason Exit sticks out for me.
    Love the production,chops everything..have to agree with Mike possibly the best live Rush album…Different Stages is a close 2nd though…..


  5. mikeladano says:

    You’re welcome dude!

    I want to point out something about each of the live albums you’re reviewing. These are the 1997 remastered editions, not the original CDs — which is a good thing. For whatever reason, each of the Rush live albums were missing one track when originally released on CD. In this case, “Bankok” was missing on the original CD. The good news is that Rush released these loose live tracks in 1990 on the Rush Chronicles CD, so it was still possible to get all the songs from each live album — just that you couldn’t get them ON the live album.

    Anyway, this might be my favourite live Rush album.


    1. keepsmealive says:

      It’s a great one! What a monster. Drives me nuts when they leave tracks off, and then slide them elsewhere. Just put out the fucking record as a whole, in the first place, ya know?


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