Friday, May 07, 2010

Rush Movie "Beyond the Lighted Stage"

A new movie that began shooting almost 40 years ago comes out soon. "Beyond the Lighted Stage" documents the slow rise and steady popularity of Rush. No. Not Rush Limbaugh. Rush, the rock band.

If you are of a certain age, and a fan of what was once called Album Oriented Rock, chances are the soundtrack to your life story includes at least one Rush song.

There was nothing like them. Who else sang about black holes? Trees as allegory? And I'm glad I never listened to close to the words to "The Necromancer." I don't even want to know what that's about. And they played with a technical precision unmatched by most of their contemporaries.

Rush had its critics. Ken Tucker, commenting on its lyrics, wrote that drummer/lyricist Neil Peart had the best deal because "he gets to write this caca but doesn't have to sing it."

Fortunately for the band, critics have little sway over record sales. But radio airplay did so it was a dose of irony that gave Rush its first mega-smash on AOR stations. "The Spirit of Radio" decried the very thing that most stations had become.

"Integrity, yeah, integrity!" Yeah.

That song came from the album "Permanent Waves," which was the first Rush album I bought (on cassette tape!). Some of their earlier work was a little too out there for me, as it was for the legions who ignored it when it first came out, but "La Villa Strangiato," a 9-minute instrumental from the LP (or cassette, in my case) "Hemispheres," was always a favorite.

Rush's 1981 release "Moving Pictures" continued Peart's trend of more accessible themes, though I never found any meaning in the band's most famous song, "Tom Sawyer." If that was the song that sparked Ken Tucker's comment about Rush's lyrics, I wouldn't argue, but it's one of the coolest sounding songs ever.

That was the last Rush record -- and I actually bought the vinyl version of this one -- that I bought. After that their music veered too far into electronics and preachiness for my taste.

But I enjoyed Rush's 2003 concert DVD "Rush in Rio" and will probably buy "Beyond the Lighted Stage" when it comes out on DVD too, especially if it delves beyond their struggles to find an audience and into their creative process. Even on the songs I don't like, I can appreciate the artistry that went into making them.

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