Critical Collage: Rush vs. the Critics

A by no means comprehensive or conclusive survey of a Canadian power trio who once upon a time (much less so now) got under the skins of more rock critics than any other rock or pop artist going.

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Creem, June 1981

“For the record, those three are drummer Neil Peart, who writes all the band’s lyrics and takes fewer solos than might be expected; guitarist Alex Lifeson, whose mile-a-minute buzzing is more numbing than exciting; and bassist, keyboardist and singer Geddy Lee, whose amazingly high-pitched wailing often sounds like Mr. Bill singing heavy metal. If only Mr. Sluggo had been on hand to give these guys a couple good whacks…”
Steve Pond, review of Rush live in Los Angeles, Rolling Stone, 1980

Geddy Lee’s high-register vocal style has always been a signature of the band – and sometimes a focal point for criticism, especially during the early years of Rush’s career when Lee’s vocals were high-pitched, with a strong likeness to other singers like Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin. A review in the New York Times opined that Lee’s voice ‘suggests a munchkin giving a sermon.’ Although his voice has softened over the years, it is often described as a ‘wail.’ His instrumental abilities, on the other hand, are rarely criticized.
Wikipedia entry on Rush

rush-rs-guide
Mark Coleman and Ernesto Lechner, The New Rolling Stone Album Guide, 2004

Continue reading “Critical Collage: Rush vs. the Critics”

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“One-shots, nobodies, ex-somebodies…”

Kogan on Ken Emerson: Ken Emerson was my first rock critic hero, before Nelson, before Meltzer, before Christgau. Wrote about the Dead, about the Yardbirds, about the Stones, about Bowie, but also about one shots, nobodies, and ex-somebodies I’d never heard of. “Without the Zombies, rock would be no different, just poorer.” Emerson uncovered the artistry of entertainers and craftsmen who didn’t officially matter in … Continue reading “One-shots, nobodies, ex-somebodies…”

Corporate Rock and Cultural Capital

From The Middletown Blog: However, I think that déclassé reputation is part of the reason why I always preferred to think of Yes or King Crimson as Rush’s peers, instead of Boston or Styx. Prog rock had its image problems with the critics, but so-called corporate rock is probably the most disrespected genre that ever attained popularity in rock’s history. So corporate rock lacks cultural … Continue reading Corporate Rock and Cultural Capital

Back to School Days

The first genuine attempt at creating a forum for a dialog between rock writer and rock fan was Paul Williams’ Crawdaddy. The photocopied pages of that magazine carried analysis and interpretation of the importance of rock n roll in articles that were insightful, ridiculous, passionate, literate, embarrassing, brilliant and moronic, often within the span of the same paragraph. Crawdaddy proved there was an interest in … Continue reading Back to School Days