Rush: The (Partial) Series – Grace Under Pressure (1984)

And here is where I fully realized the lengths to which Rush is willing to go to make the record they want to make! You guys were talking about the synths, and an 80s sound, and here is where it’s most prevalent for the first time (for me). Oh yes, tracks up to here had it, but this whole album… I heard this and I pictured big hair and.. shoulder pads. Ugh.

But what a record! I love the paranoia, very evocative of bomb shelter 50s cold war stuff. Great writing!

Distant Early Warning starts us off, a certified Rush classic tune. And hey, there’s that reggae feel to it a bit, too, in parts. This is another favourite Rush track, for me. If I were making a mix CD, this one would be on there, for sure.

Afterimage is straight-on rock with a bit of a swing beat, in spots. And lots of synths. For what we’re used to (by this point) from Rush, this track is fairly basic. And honestly, that’s refreshing! The bit at 2:20 is atmospheric. An OK track!

Red Sector A is another classic, yes! Very 80s. You know that thing I mean.

The Enemy Within has more of that reggae feel to it, but sped up. Still a solid rock song. Wow this record is definitely a sound change.

The Body Electric has a half-tempo verse, 1001001! Fun. I really liked the whole feel and tone of this song. It’s stronger than Afterimage.

Kid Gloves is a slinky rock tune fully ensconced in the era of its creation. It’s fully realized, but one might expect more from these guys on this one. I dunno, maybe I’m being harsh – it’s hard to fault a Rush song. But this one surely isn’t a hit track.

Red Lenses is a bit chaotic, and… funky! Yes! The drum work here is excellent.

Between The Wheels has this stabbing-synth thing that I at first found a bit annoying, then realized it’s integral to the song. So be it. I liked this one better when they got down to the rocking out.

In sum: I am taking this one in stride, consulting my inner 10 year old (that’s how old I was when this was released) and I deem it worthy. It’s an excellent record, these guys simply showing up guarantees that. But it’s a departure, and I’ll need another spin or two to fully assimilate it. There are parts of the old Rush I miss here (and which might have made it a very different record), but there are new Rush things here and I’m also enjoying the discovery process. I won’t be taking this one out of my player just yet!

Thanks so much, Mike, our grand master Lebrain!!!

31 thoughts on “Rush: The (Partial) Series – Grace Under Pressure (1984)

  1. mikeladano says:

    I really enjoy Grace Under Pressure. It has a coldness to it that I enjoy. Some of these songs such as Red Sector A and Distant Early Warning are bonafide classics.


      1. mikeladano says:

        It’s more a feeling I get. Coldness…maybe a little harsh. Not necessarily in the sound, just an overall vibe of the album. Where something like Moving Pictures sounds very warm to me.


  2. Deke says:

    Well Aaron I was 17 when G.U.P hit the deck. And like all things I purchased it on vinyl and for me it was a continuation of Signals so for me I’m ok with GUP!
    To be honest I have not listened to it in many a yr and thanks to u I gotta go and dig it out !
    I remember liking the songs but over time I would drift back to Signals over GUP.
    Still though a little weaker Rush album is better than 99% of a band with a definite weak album (ummm can u say the Elder!)
    But they just decided to go into a different direction and for them it was there call and for me it was good just to have Rush putting out product.


      1. Deke says:

        Not bashing Kiss but just saying it compared to some of there other stuff is well different…..
        Listen I like the Oath,the Frehley songs are food but it lacks sumthin…..


    1. keepsmealive says:

      I’m glad this (partial) series is inspiring you guys to go back and listen to some of this stuff again!

      A little weaker Rush album is still better than a lot of bands’ best albums!

      That was totally it, a direction change. Down the rabbit hole of the tech at the time. Me, I’m glad they did it. Would we be bored of Rush if they just kept cranking out guitar-rock albums? Of course not! But at least this was an interesting avenue to walk for a while!


  3. Heavy Metal Overload says:

    I’d say this one would grow on you with further listens. It’s bookended with probably my two favourite Rush tracks. I know a lot of people say there isn’t enough guitar on the 80s albums but I’ve never seen it that way. The guitar blends in with the keyboards more and the sound is more Andy Summers than Tony Iommi but the guitar is there and I love his playing on these albums.

    Signals, Grace Under Pressure and Vapor Trails would be my Top 3 Rush albums I reckon.


    1. keepsmealive says:

      I had initially noticed the guitars not playing so prominently and just written it off as the 80s, thinking “well at least he didn’t switch to key-tar.” Remember those things? haha. Anyway, on closer inspection you’re right, he’s still there. It’s just not the big solos. And who knows, maybe he was tired of all that wankery anyway, and this style allowed him a bit of a break in the setlist!

      I’ve heard Signals and GUP now, I liked both! And you’re right, GUP will requite some more listens. I have to get my head into half a lifetime ago to truly appreciate it. Hearing it now it’d be easy to dismiss it but I never do that. Especially not with Rush! Vapour Trails will have to wait as I slowly build up to it. I’ll collect the rest chronologically, with Moving Pictures, Hold Your Fire and then everything after 1990 or so.

      I’m really appreciating all your guys’ comments on this stuff. I know that Rush MATTERS, and I’ll admit I’m out of my depth as to actual knowledge about the history of any of this stuff (in-depth, anyway), so I’m glad I decided to say screw it and do it anyway!


      1. Heavy Metal Overload says:

        I think the guitars mix in with the keyboards really well, personally. And a lot of the actual synth tones that they used have aged pretty well I think. Better than maybe a band like Genesis who used some sounds that haven’t aged so well. I think Rush’s synths have held up well.

        With the GUP stuff I came to it after hearing live versions of Distant Early Warning, Red Sector A and Between the Wheels so that helped me get into it as the live versions are much beefier (as you can imagine).

        I’m really enjoying this series, dude! I’m only a middling fan compared to the enthusiasts around here so it’s fun to see all the opinions and comments.


      2. keepsmealive says:

        I’m glad you’re enjoying the series, thanks! I am too, it’s a real treat to be able to go through all of this stuff. So we all have Mr. Lebrain to thank for supplying all the goodness!!!

        Oh man, as far as sounds that have not aged well… there were so many bands that needed to stop. Just stahp. Damn. I wonder if they shudder now, in their office jobs, as they look back on the big hair and the outfits and that music. They must.


  4. Heavy Metal OG says:

    Permanent Waves, Grace Under Pressure and Hold Your Fire are my top 3 RUSH records. I’m a huge lifelong fan. My son is currently working on a RUSH tribute show for his rock school and I walked into my living room the other day to find him watching the Exit Stage Left DVD. I’ve never been so proud! lol. Great article!


    1. keepsmealive says:

      Thanks, Heavy Metal OG! Your son goes to a rock school?

      Yes, it is our mission and our clear duty to raise up a new generation of rockers! My two-year-old daughter is with me through all of these albums, as I listen. She seems to like Rush! I know she likes Maiden. I’m working on the metal horns. If I can get her doing that before 3 years old, I claim vitory!

      Hearing all of these albums now, I wish I was like you and other commenters here – a lifelong fan. I’ve long known the hits, but am just now getting to all the albums proper. What a pleasure! But I feel like i’m definitely playing catch-up, here… I’m loving every minute.

      Thanks for chiming in!


      1. Heavy Metal OG says:

        Underrated for sure. And, yeah, I can see your point about the slowing. “Tai Shan” is a bit much. I’ve even seen a interview with Geddy where he calls it the most embarrassing song that they’ve ever done !


            1. keepsmealive says:

              Seriously, no apologies required. This is just where you lifers have the advantage over me – I’m learning as I go. And it won’t be long til I get there anyway, Power Windows goes up tomorrow morning, Hold your Fire is next after that! Comment away, I’ll do my best to catch up, guys!


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