You Have Spoken: Comments on Vapor Trails

 

rush vapor trails remixed[I’m thrilled by the responses to our recent review of Vapor Trails, remixed.  In hopes these very worthy comments get more attention, I’m posting them as a separate post.  Enjoy–BB, ed.]

 

 

  1. Nice review Brad. Wish it was enough to convince me that I’d like Rush as much as the fans do. I always feel like I’m missing out on something when I read this stuff.
    I had a brief flirtation with A farewell to Kings which ended when I couldn’t take anymore of Geddy Lee’s high pitched vocals. But I have Grace under Pressure.. and I haven’t played it for twenty odd years. The world weighed on my shoulders in the 80s too.
    I’m going to visit the attic later and dig it out… Got to start again somewhere.

    • Eric, I wonder what I’d think about Rush if I heard them for the first time at 46 instead of 13. Geddy’s voice has always been “normal” for me. I also think that Americans and Canadians have an unusual relationship with Rush–maybe in the same way that Brits have with Yes? Just thinking out loud here.

      • I don’t get the people that have voice issues with Geddy and then laud Zeppelin. Robert Plant’s voice is a Holy Mess compared to Geddy’s and just as high in many spots.

  2. Brad,
    I listened to the remixed version as I read your review. Like you, I never quite understood the vehement denunciations of the original’s sound when it was released – I was just happy that Rush had returned, and Neil was okay. That said, this new mix is amazing! The separation of the instruments is a revelation, particularly Geddy’s bass lines (for example, the fade at the end of “Secret Touch”). I saw them on the tour for this album, and they were outstanding – obviously having a great time playing together, and the new songs were highlights.

  3. Tad–agreed. So great you saw them on tour. I didn’t for that one–but should have.

  4. I LOVE Vapor Trails and never understood the whiners. I was just glad there was new Rush and that the lyrics and music was as good as ever, and better as a whole than any work they had done in a long time. I lost my mother in 1999, had my wife go through a life threatening illness in 2001 an the birth of our child shortly after. An of course, there were the events of 9/11. Vapor Trails touch me personally and helped me deal with all those life altering events. I sounds silly, but it’s true. I was extremely incensed by all the complaining. The Vapor Trails tour was a real treat as I finally had the financial wherewithal to see them a few different times and get up-close seats. To this day I still regularly listen to Vapor Trails.

  5. Kam Mohtashemi | October 6, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    Fantastic review that pretty much echoes everything I have thought and experienced over the years with VT. Well written and well said. Very sorry to hear of your personal loss.

  6. Brad, clearly you are a kindred spirit to myself and a few fellow die-hard Rush fan friends of mine. I totally relate to your narrative about the band (particularly Neil) and the meaning of their music in your life. I am so sorry to hear about your daughter, I have a dear daughter myself, and I cannot imagine the unbearable pain. Like with Neil, I’m glad to see you’re OK. I look forward to reading your stuff in the future, and thanks for the article man.

  7. Michel Gastkemper | October 7, 2013 at 4:42 am

    Except listening to the new record (I don’t have it yet), I agree with every word–I feel the same. Thank you very much! (I am from Rotterdam, Holland.)

  8. Love this review, really great way to sum up Vapor Trails. I’ve always thought the same about Vapor Trails and would have loved it with or without the remix. But now that I have it, I wouldn’t be able to take it back. It’s just so good.

  9. “Indeed, if Grace Under Pressure examines the state of the world and laments, Vapor Trails examines the state of the soul and rejoices” … that is an excellent observation. Well put.

    • Tom, I wish I could take credit for it. I’ve been teaching history of western civ this semester. The line is Plato! But, you know, Plato, Peart. . . .

  10. What a great review!

  11. Brad,

    Great and personal review.

    Being a Rush fan is a personal choice. Those who aren’t, can shake their heads and wonder what all the fuss is about—but those of us, who have made the deep connection to the music and the words, know the pure gold that dwells within them.

    Rush has been the soundtrack from most of my adult life. I listen to other things, but my “go to” soul music is Rush.

    It’s a chicken and the eggs kind of thing perhaps, but I wonder sometimes if I’m so happy and content is because of listening to Rush, or I just am, and Rush provides the score.

  12. Hey Eric. Your comments to this review were perfectly expressed. Sometimes a person just can’t identify with what another feels, especially in music. Nonetheless, your respect for the band as a non-fan bleeds through. Definitely give G/P another shot!

  13. Great Article, through and through! It is amazing how similar our connections with Neil and with Rush are! My parents divorced when I was 3, and my older brother and I was raised soley by our mother. Although our father re-entered our lives when I was around 8 years old, I had already unknowingly been gravitating toward father figures from whom I could gleen guidance from. George Lucas and Steven Speilberg were my 1st surrogate fathers. My introduction to rock and roll officially happened when I was introduced to Rush, via Moving Pictures. The music was astounding, but I immediately gravitated to Neils Lyrics. I think I was actually more a Neil fan than a Rush fan, so much in fact, that when I back tracked to assimilate Rush’s older music, I refused to accept the 1st Album for the longest time, because Neil was not on it. Hugh Syme bringing image to Neils vision fits like Hand in glove.
    I too experienced heinous & tragic loss, when my father took his own life, in late 2010. I had always learned so much from Neil, but to be in a similar situation with losing someone close to you, I really feel in my heart, that Neil’s example to pick himself up, and dust himself off, and to rise up and become greater even than he imagined, is just so Obi Wan Kenobi!!! It’s fucking Awesome!!! :) Turn around and walk the razors edge! Clockwork Angels is his and their Masterpiece! “Got my sites on the stars, won’t get that far, but I’ll try anyway!” – and just look at the result from such a mindset!!! Thank you Neil, So Much! You probably are unware that your words and your example of how to live life, has indeed saved many lives! Than you Sir! Rock On, Endlessly! :)

  14. Vapor Trails suffered from a lack of dynamics due to a kind of heavy-handed compression (i.e., a sort-of leveling of the aural plane so everything can get jacked up) at mastering, which I think was fashionable a decade ago and was a hangover of grunge and rock radio competing for ears. Who can forget the sonic thrill of hearing Nirvana’s Smell’s Like Teen Spirit for the first time, as Dave Grohl’s drums introduce Cobain’s guitar roar? Nevermind was a good example of applying compression right, retaining the dynamics while upping the volume and blowing away everything else. Unfortunately, as the 90s wore on and rock radio started seriously compressing what went out over their waves, by the time the sound squirted out of a radio it was as limp as it was loud. Heard Stairway to Heaven recently on the radio? It’s shocking how bad it sounds at its climax. Packing more into the bandwave was what it was all about, and right about the time Rush made Vapor Trails I think a lot of rock bands/artists started seriously backing away from so much compression because of the backlash from the serious listeners, which included themselves (this is all me conjecturing, but I think it’s true — one of the exceptions I can think of is Mastodon’s Leviathan, which is a great album compressed to tattered shreds, although something makes me think this was intentional, as it may have been with Rush back in ’02). Anyway, yeah, the remix. I’d like to hear it, but I kind of agree with you, Brad. I’d say that it’s tricky to play with artistic history. I recall when the Stooges Raw Power was remixed, removing that weird in-a-tin-can production Bowie put on it, and it just sounded wrong. Same would go for Metallica’s …And Justice for All if it received that kind of treatment: I’d totally get why they did it, but a lot of what makes that album, now, is exactly the claustrophobic, bass-less production that critics thought would sink it 25 years ago.

  15. Great article, I absolutely agree with your review. Didn’t think it needing remixing, but love the remix, and still the original mix has a place in my heart too. Important to note that when Rush fans were also grieving (and not comparable to the loss of child or spouse), some fans got together and started RushCon as a well to celebrate their work and as a way to get together as there were no shows to go to. 13 years later we are endlessly rocking….

  16. The 2002 Vapor Trails distorted like crazy in spots when pushed hard. To this day, it’s the only Rush recording I can’t listen to for that reason alone. I will definitely be checking out this new remaster. Every since I discovered Rush as a kid, they have and will always hold a very special and dear place in my heart. I will forever be one of their biggest and most grateful fans!

  17. I loved Vapor Trails before, despite the compression and harshness. I love it even more now, much more depth and complexity unfolding, like finding great beauty in an old friend.
    I’ve also been a diehard Rush fan for more than half my life (old NMSer too) and found Neil’s lyrics saving me time and again. Would they were not needed, but so glad we have them. My condolences for your loss, Brad.

  18. I never heard the original album/mix, but am listening to the remix now and it sounds fabulous: lots of separation, depth, and dynamics. And Geddy sounds great. I think his voice has aged incredibly well; I like it even better now than twenty years ago.

  19. Just the fact that after the long layoff Vapor Trails dives right in with A killer Neil Peart fill is enough to make this a great album.

  20. Great review, Brad. I totally agree on two points: first, that Neil Peart (and Rush) had a stronger influence on who I am today than any didact or narpet ever did. (As that tearful young woman says in the “Boys in Brazil” documentary: “It’s not just music. They teach… they teach us.”) Second, that Vapor Trails has ALWAYS been a great album. I loved it from the start, and love the remix even more. I disagree, though, that the album is similar to the two which followed it; I see Vapor Trails as being something completely unique in the Rush catalog, with a feel and color all its own. The guys really took a lot of chances here – in the guitar layering, the vocal layering, the total absence of keyboards, the dearth of guitar solos – and the result was not only another hard-rocking Rush album, but also something “artsy,” and yes, EMOTIONAL, too. Although I’d rank Vapor Trails below Permanent Waves, Moving Pictures, Signals, Hold Your Fire, Counterparts, Clockwork Angels, and perhaps a few other Rush albums, I posit that nothing else in their catalog is as ARTISTIC as Vapor Trails.

    (Another area of disagreement: I’m no great fan of Grace Under Pressure. But hey, fans differ on which Rush albums are the gems and which are the clunkier ones.)

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