Rush Series 2: The 1990s – Retrospective II: 1981-1987 (1997)

Only one month after the release of Retrospective I, and only one month before Neil Peart’s life went off the rails, comes this second volume of a look back on Rush’s hit songs. Yes, it had (largely) already been done, on Chronicles, seven years prior. Anyway.

Also, one question: It was noted that these compilations were released to coincide with the Sector boxed sets of the remastered albums. Does anyone know if the tracks on these compilations would be the remastered versions from the boxed sets?

So, to work.

What do we get on the second installment?

The Big Money
Red Barchetta
Subdivisions
Time Stand Still
Mystic Rhythms
The Analog Kid
Distant Early Warning
Marathon
The Body Electric
Mission
Limelight
Red Sector A
New World Man
Tom Sawyer
Force Ten

And, same as Retrospective I, now you get even more of a sense of just how humungous this band is. Look at these track lists. It’s insane. SO MANY GOOD SONGS.

Anyway, this set is identical to CD-2 of the Rush – Gold set that came out a while later. Except, as we discovered, The Analog Kid is listed as the “Complete Version” on the Gold set, where as here on RII it’s simply The Analog Kid.  If anyone knows and can tell us what that Complete Version even means, we’d love to know!

As for how it compares to Chronicles, Retrospective II contains many of the same songs, just in a different order. Where it differs is its inclusion of The Analog Kid, Marathon, The Body Electric and Mission, which Chronicles does not have. But Chronicles replaces those with A Passage To Bangkok (Live), Manhattan Project, and Show Don’t Tell.

I imagine most of you serious Rush fans skipped this disc, same as you skipped the first volume, but I got it simply because it was cheap and, honestly, who can resist?

Strictly for the noob, same as Retrospective I. Missing a bunch of essential songs (but you should just have all the records, right? RIGHT!). But whatever else can be said about it, this was still a really great friggin’ listen.

12 thoughts on “Rush Series 2: The 1990s – Retrospective II: 1981-1987 (1997)

  1. KamerTunesBlog (by Rich Kamerman) says:

    Another excellent post and a solid compilation (can’t complain about any of the songs that were included). I should clarify that the ’97 remasters are completely separate from the Sector box sets, which didn’t come out until 2011. I had skipped over the ’97 remaster series since I already owned the catalog on vinyl and then the original ’80s-pressed CDs. My collection wasn’t upgraded until those excellent Sector box sets (as well as the Atlantic “Studio Albums” box set) were released.

    Hope you have a Rush-filled weekend and looking forward to finding out how you feel about the upcoming studio & live releases in this series.

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    1. Phillip Helbig says:

      I had everything on vinyl up to and including Power Windows so, like with The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Jethro Tull, I didn’t buy any first-generation CDs. All have been remastered since then, and I have the excellent remastered Beatles (stereo and mono), the first remastered Floyd box set (so I couldn’t be bothered with the recent immersion editions etc), and the Rush remasters. I am pretty sure that newer remastering wouldn’t bring any more audio quality I would be interested in (correct me if I am wrong).

      Most recent remastering tends to be with special-edition disks including things like the original album which the fan already has (probably more than once in many cases) and B-sides, radio sessions, live tracks, demos etc which are aimed only at the fan. I don’t like this and see it as a slap in the face (or elsewhere) to fans who support bands by buying new CDs. Yes, first-generation CDs left something to be desired, but those things have been fixed for a while now. The way to do it is to wait until technology is good enough, then do it once, with no bonus stuff, like The Beatles and the Rush Remasters. Additional stuff can come out as just additional stuff, like Tull’s Nightcap. (Tull did do remasters after Nightcap and included bonus tracks. I did buy these as I had no Tull CDs at the time and don’t mind the extra tracks and, while they were not the first CDs, they were the first good CDs. I still think that Nightcap was a good idea, though. Tull are now bringing out Steven-Wilson-remixed 40th-anniversary editions of their old albums. I don’t think I need them. It would be nice, though, to be able to buy really interesting “bonus” stuff on a single CD, rather than having to shelve out for the album itself, which I already have, remastered, and in many cases vinyl which I am not interested in at all. (I do understand vinyl nostalgia, but anyone who really claims that it sounds better per se doesn’t know what he is talking about. Yes, some first-generation CDs were bad, and there were the loudness wars, but these have nothing to do with the CD format per se and both problems are now gone. Yes, some people might like the sound of vinyl because of nostalgia, but it is not objectively better. This is similar to a woman I knew who had a record player which ran too fast. She was a huge Bob Dylan fan and it took her years until she could get used to the fact that his songs were longer and his voice deeper than that which she had come to love.))
      .

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      1. keepsmealive says:

        Wow thanks for your huge reply Phillip! That vinyl vs. CD debate has been raging for a long time. For me, CD is fine, but I own certain records on vinyl specifically because, to me, they feel warmer. Mostly that’s jazz and soul records. But on a rock record? Not usually much of a difference to me. Although I do have a fairly low-end stereo so… maybe better gear would help e hear more? Hard to say.

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    2. keepsmealive says:

      Thanks Rich! It was indeed a Rush filled weekend. So. Awesome.

      Funny, I just saw these comments now. Don’t know why I didn’t see them in my emails. Ah well. Series is all wrapped up now, and it was all so very, very, very, VERY good!

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      1. KamerTunesBlog (by Rich Kamerman) says:

        Any plans on a “Rush In The New Millennium” series? Four studio releases and a seemingly endless supply of live & archival releases could keep you busy for quote some time. But most importantly there is so much great music to be heard, especially on Snakes & Arrows and Clockwork Angels.

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      2. keepsmealive says:

        Hey Rich, oh yes absolutely! Man I’ve come this far and loved (most of) it, so stopping now is not even an option.

        It may be a little while before I get to it, though. Same as I did with this 1990s series, I have to slowly buy everything (when I can afford to do it) before I can begin writing – I won’t start a series like that without everything in front of me. And therein lies the time it takes to save up and get the records I need. I already have Clockwork Angels (thanks, Mike!) and have recently gotten in a couple more towards the new goal. A long ways to go, yet, but I am dilligent. When funds allow, I will collect.

        But it will happen. Oh yes. There is more Rush I have not heard, and I will hear it all! I’m also looking forward to the satisfaction of having listened closely to every single one of their releases, and writing about them all. I’m closer to the end now than to the beginning, so I am no longer daunted by such a huge discography. It’ll also look awesome on my CD shelf, having that big long line of RUSH in the ‘R’ section. 😉

        Stay tuned, it will happen!

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  2. Daddydinorawk says:

    Can anyone tell me what the track timing for Analog Kid on Gold is? On Retro II the timing is 4:48. The timing on the track from Signals is listed at 4:50. I don’t have either comp because I have all the Rush albums.I did buy Chronicles due to the inclusion of the live cuts What You’re Doing and Passage to Bangkok that weren’t included on the original discs.

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    1. mikeladano says:

      That’s a good point — when Chronicles was released, the three live cuts were previously unreleased on CD. (I’ll be bringing this up again tomorrow on my blog.) Back in the day they couldn’t fit the entire double live albums on a single CD so those three tunes didn’t make it. But the 1997 remasters finally fixed that.

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