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Power Windows, by Rush is wedged right in the middle of Rush's more synth orientated era, where the guitars were turned down somewhat and keyboards featured more in the production of songs. I have to admit I have had a love/hate relationship with this album. I initially liked it, but then for a while it did not appear on my choice of music to play. However, having watched a Rush live DVD recently I re-discovered the classic that is Marathon and have had cause to take another look at this album. Although Rush where more keyboard orientated, they still made some great songs.
Yes... I know, I know... there will be some of you out there who have never heard of Rush, so let's get that bit out of place right now. Rush were formed in the late sixties in Toronto, Canada and released their first album in 1974. They started as Led Zep wannabees, but have managed to form their own kind of rock music. Modern Rush sound is very gritty and more guitar driven, but they have been through varying kinds of style, without forgetting their rock roots. Rush are Geddy Lee - Bass, Vocals and Keyboards; Alex Lifeson - Guitars; Neil Peart - Drums.
1. "The Big Money" 5:37
We begin this the first single from the album and things start off pretty impressive with a grandiose intro. But things don't quite carry on in that vein and we have a mixture of fusion, rock and pop. Like all Rush songs, though, they are a journey and offers more once the whole song has been listened to. We have a fine guitar solo which saves the song, along with a heavy, foot stamping ending.
2. "Grand Designs" 5:06
Next up is another rock and funk fusion with a hint of reggae for good measure. It is a bit of a quirky little number, but soon the passion takes over to unveil many other such layers. It begins 'A - B, different degrees,' and this is just a little bit format in my view. But we have another fine guitar solo to help it out.
3. "Manhattan Project" 5:07
The third song has always been a favourite of mine from this album. A gentle into and crisp and clear vocal and arrangements. Things build up for a truly good chorus with rocking guitar and thumping drum and bass.
4. "Marathon" 6:09
This is followed by Marathon, the highlight of the album. It took me a while to appreciate this song and now I feel it is one of Rush's classics. A superb guitar into and a crazy bass line that powers and drives this song on. Things build up more and we have an emotional and intense last few minutes which leave you breathless... great live!
5. "Territories" 6:20
The next song begins with a drum beat and various oriental sounds to boot. An eerie keyboard ensures and in comes Geddy's vocal in this what appears to be light number that has an edge to it. But Rush do what they do best here and lead you into a false sense of security. Things soon 'heavy up' and we have a fine song.
6. "Middletown Dreams" 5:15
We have a chaotic fusion of funk and rock to begin this song and things soon settle into a gentle song that builds up. This is a good song with a great arrangement. Let's not forget a great solo. Although Rush seemed to 'turn down' the guitars in this era, Alex still did some great solos.
7. "Emotion Detector" 5:11
We have a keyboard into and beginning that is almost Tangerine Dream here. But a slow guitar changes things briefly. The intro is a whole amalgam of sounds and styles, but things pretty much go along in a gentle manner that builds up. We have a really good solo and a fine ending.
8. "Mystic Rhythms" 5:54
This is the last song on the album, which an intro that is similar to Territories. This is just a bit too funky and monotonous for my liking, but like all Rush things change mid tempo.
Released in 1985, and produced by Rush and Peter Collins.
I am not a great fan of this era of Rush, and feel they play far better music now, but of this era, this album has some great songs. The production and the arrangement are faultless, even though there might be the odd arrangement I might not be too keen on. This was an experimental time for Rush and they changed their music style in the eighties so that is coincided with other music of that era. They did it well. But I am glad they have turned up the guitars again...
Rush with their own brand of soft (or progressive) rock surprised many fans with this album. Perhaps more famous for their classic progressive rock in a similar style to Pink Floyd and many others they started to rewrite their style in the early 80s (Grace under pressure). The culmination of this was a more 'pop' like sound combined with rock that produced a unique sound not disimilar to early Rush but different enough to appeal to a younger audience. (Rush even have a little Rap on this album!) In the early eighties Rush began to use heavy synth; in this album this continues with a clever melodic combinaion between the synth, the standard heavy guitar we are accustomed to and the unforgettable bass work of Geddy Lee. Neil Peart has a fairly quiet album by his standards but is still very evident throughout the album. The combination produces a different sound to the early Rush which was very raw and powerful. <Big Money> Perhaps the most recognised song of the album, and one that was a hit around the world (with a top 40 placing in the UK) is 'The Big Money'. Blending classic Rush rock with synths it discussess the corruption in the world. Geddy Lee's voice is particularly powerful in this song as he belts out his almost mocking lyrics. The theme is continued throughout the album as Rush attempt to produce a total concept album similar to their earlier albums such as 'Caress of Steel'. As is apparent in the whole album Rush have concentrated on perfecting the sound; the use of the digital technology that was becoming available in the 80s is very apparent as Rush produce a flawless album in terms of production and quality. <Manhatton Project> This starts of with quite a profound beat, somewhat like a military march. The guitar begins out very simple and quite. It tells the tale of the creation of the atomic bomb and how it has changed human kind forever. This is a changing song that
features several different styles as it builds up in speed and power. The lyrics are Rush's typical mocking almost angry lyrics which most fans will be accustomed to. <Marathon> Slightly off theme, this song is about the strength endurance and desires required to win a race. Like many Rush songs this can be viewed metaphorically as being about the struggles and triumphs of life. The song has great bass work, Geddy Lee really adding much passion to this song; the vocals are very inspiring with their positive theme. It is a little different to many Rush songs which are often darker and depressing. Again the lyrics are very good, but for a change are very inspirational. <Territories> As the title suggest this song is about how mankind lives for territory; how mankind is intent on conquest and struggle to gain more territory. Like many of the songs on the album it is about power and money. This is perhaps the strongest album for Beail as his drums are very prominent on this album; the lyrics are typical of Rush, thought provoking and deep. This is a song directly aimed at those in power, although I doubt it will ever be heard in Downing Street or the Whitehouse. <Middletown Dreams> This is a very relaxed song that describes how people can leave their drudgery behind and follow their dreams. It is perhaps the most ballad like song on the album and features strong lyrics and a pleasant tune. <Conclusion> There are several more good songs on the album that continue in the same way with Rush's standard format of power combined with thought provoking lyrics. The addition of the synths leads to a different style for Rush that may not appeal to the original fan base but may add some new members to the fan base. In an age where many bands were rediscovering themsleves, Rush managed to combine old with new to produce a well polished and produced al
bum that features some of their most successful commercial hits. It is not one of their greatest albums but perhaps was a turning point for Rush as they explored their musical styles.
Power Windows came out after Grace Under Fire, and before Hold Your Fire. This may have been the peak album of the synthesizer-keyboard expirement, that started with Signals. Rush lays it thick and heavy on the synthesizers in this album. It is an album truly worthy of Rush. Mystic vocals, soothing synthesizers, lyrics with meaning, add one of the greatest guitarist and THE BEST DRUMMER, and how can this album lose?! I must warn you, that our opinions may vary greatly when it comes to Rush! In Britain, especially, I know you prefer early pre-80`s Rush. If you know the history, Rush was given a lot of air play there. Don`t misunderstand, Rush was played, but mostly by request. Basically...they must have angered a record executive(this is my theory, but I`ll back it up in the future!), who didn`t want Rush to make it! In the US, Rush was making fans on THEIR TOURS! Now let us get into this album, that is my favorite. I know what you are thinking"You said Moving Pictures was the Greatest Album!" And it truly is, and I love every song on it! BUT...this album gets more air play, and it contains my all time favorite Rush song. If you listen to the very last song on Grace Under Pressure(Between The Wheels), the very last notes sound as if a rocket, or missle, is being launched! I have said it before, and I`ll say it again, The Last Song To MOST Rush Albums CONTAIN A Prelude to the NEXT Album. Early Rush was a kind of continuing Science Fiction Novel(Peart fascination). Moving Pictures(Vital Signs) ended with heavy synthesizers. At the start of Big Money, it`s almost like a thunderous explosion! Big Money, to me, is kind of what Rush has to do now that they are famous! I know how they move through airports, and remain inconspicuous. It`s a song of being rich. Grand Design is about trying to find yourself, or to reach another state of being(ZEN), no matter what the odds. Manhattan Project is about the
A-Bomb meets Japan. It was the code name given to the bombing. Rising Sun is the old Japanese flag! Marathon makes you feel as if you are involved in one. Peart, an avid cyclist, has taken cross-country trips. He knows how to make you feel the highs and lows of an actual race! Territories is a way Rush has to take a shot at wars. It looks at the different reasons we use to justify our KILLER INSTINCTS! Middletown Dreams at first doesn`t really sound like something from Rush. Give it a chance, it gets better. The song is about middle-class America. Although you`re not going anywhere, you justify the reason you are there. Emotional Detector is yet another Love Song a la` Rush! Mystic Rythms is my all time favorite Rush song! The African and Oriental influence are very apparent! It is a song that will send your spirit soaring, as it takes you on a new plateau of well being! `NUF SED!
I certainly agree with the comments in gnomie's review about this CD sounding too clean. I think this was a problem with digitally recorded rock albums. However, with Rush there is so much happening in the instrumentation that it can only be given fair justice with a high quality digital recording. Since remastering this CD now has an improved bass response and some of the harshness of the original has been toned down. I would also agree that the first 4 tracks are the best part of the CD, especially The Big Money which is a fine bombastic opening and the following Grand Designs is indeed a grand song. The CD has a theme of modern technology running through it and much modern technology was used to make it. As always the vast array of instrumentation is a pleasure to listen to and each time I listen to any Rush CD I find something I hadn't heard before. Especially so on Power Windows. There's more use of synthesised sounds but they are credible and Alex Lifeson's Guitars are well mixed up although they can sound a little harsh and clinical. Neil Peart's status (in my opinion) as the best drummer/percussionist to have ever lived is apparent here. Neil is more than a drummer. He's a key part of the sound and I find the attention to detail in his performances quite breathtaking. Take a listen to the rhythm on Territories. Superb. gnomie, take anothe rlisten to the last four tracks - they do require more attention and they're not as immediate but I persevered and I got right into them.
The highly evocitive designed cover leads you in to what starts off to be a great album..indeed the first three tracks are really great if slightly too clinical the sound is so clean which is great if you like that kind of thing but I personally like a bit of grit and dirt on the tracks. It then seems ( to me ) to take a sharp downhill plunge and I must admit that I rarely play furthur than track 4 these days. All the songs are of a good length and there's plenty of value for money.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Big Money
2 Grand Design
3 Manhattan Project
6 Middletown Dreams
7 Emotion Detector
8 Mystic Rhythms