SIGNALS (1982): A Song Cycle by Rush

signals
Rush, SIGNALS, 1982.  A New Wave-Prog Song Cycle.

The last album produced by the then fourth-member of Rush, Terry Brown, Signals (September 9, 1982) marked yet again a major progression in the music of Rush as well as in the lyrics of Neil Peart.  The pressure to produce something similar to the previous year’s Moving Pictures naturally proved immense, as they had never encountered such success.  On the Moving Pictures tour alone, fan attendance doubled at concerts, and almost anyone in the American Midwest could hear one of three tracks from the album almost anytime on FM rock radio.  But the three main members of Rush decided that a second Moving Pictures would be too easy.  They had done that album, accomplished what they had sought to accomplish, and they wanted to take their music in new ways.  In particular, Lee had become more and more interested in keyboards and composing on them.  He never planned to become a “Keith Emerson,” but he loved the challenge the keyboards brought him. [1]  Not surprisingly, especially given Lee’s interest and the learning curve he needed to understand and overcome regarding synthesizers, the keys employed on the album had either 1) a deep, booming bass sound or 2) an airy, soaring feel.  Lee remembers:

I was getting bored writing. I felt like we were falling into a pattern of how we were writing on bass, guitar and drums. Adding the keyboards was fascinating for me and I was learning more about writing music from a different angle.[2]

Further, he claimed, the keyboards allowed Rush to expand beyond the trio without actually adding a new member of the band.[3]  With Signals and the following concerts to support it, Lifeson claimed he felt “almost re-born” with the new sound. [4]

Continue reading “SIGNALS (1982): A Song Cycle by Rush”

Kevin J. Anderson News

Some excellent news from Kevin J. Anderson, co-author of Clockwork Angels and Clockwork Lives.
Hi Bradley,

Stalag-X  What is Human?

Guess what? The graphic novel, Stalag-X, that I wrote with TV writer-producer Steven L. Sears (remember Xena, Swamp Thing, The A-Team?) is almost here. It’s about human prisoners caught in an alien POW camp during a ruthless future war. Mike Ratera did the art, and the hardcover graphic novel is being published soon by The Vault.

Joe Human is taken to a harsh POW camp on a distant planet where he’ll be examined, tortured, and forced to endure experiments that rip into his very mind as the alien Krael seek to answer the question What is Human?—a question that, in their hellish situation, the human prisoners are finding hard to answer.

 

Steven and I have been working on this graphic novel for years (the saga of getting it into print is almost as long as the story is!), and we’re really excited that it’s finally coming out. It’s worth the wait, I promise! Stalag-X will debut during Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle at the beginning of March. Our original bonus Stalag-X novella, “Not a Prisoner” will be included in this edition.

 

Paying It Forward: Prepping for This Year’s Superstars Writing Seminar

In 2010, Rebecca and I got together with fellow bestselling authors Brandon Sanderson, David Farland, and Eric Flint to launch a career-oriented writing seminar. The Superstars Writing Seminars have grown each year, and hosting it is a huge job.

This year’s Superstars is Jan 31–Feb 3 in Colorado Springs, and it’s our biggest one ever. Right now, Rebecca and I are scrambling to finish our PowerPoint presentations. For weeks we’ve been working with our assistants Chris, Diane, and Marie—and lots of other volunteers—to gather and organize boxes and boxes of materials for Superstars (enough to fill the basement and several offices). Next time you see Chris, Marie, Diane, Nancy, Ike, or any of our staff, tell them how awesome they are.

People are already here for the seminar, and we can’t wait. I’ll fill you in later, but if you want to find out more, check out our Superstars website superstarswriting.com.


I’ll write you again once the Superstars whirlwind is over. Keep reading!

KJA

Continue reading “Kevin J. Anderson News”

Farewell to Kings (and Faith): Neil Peart, 1977

In honor of the 40th anniversary of the release of A FAREWELL TO KINGS.

rush farewell
40th Anniversary Edition

What followed, 1977’s A Farewell to Kings, though, had far more in common with 1976’s 2112 than it would with 1980’s Permanent Waves.  Not appearing on the market until September 1, 1977, A Farewell to Kings ended the new album every six months schedule Rush has followed thus far.  A brilliant album in and of itself, A Farewell to Kings still belongs to Rush 2.1 as I have defined it.  So does the follow-up album, Hemispheres.  Certainly, Rush tried many new things—in terms of album structure, lyrical depth and story telling, and musical complexity—than it had on the first several albums.  “We had written material that was a little beyond us, considering our level of musicianship at the time,” Lee later admitted.[i]  But the progress is in continuity, a major reform rather than a revolution.  “Our progress has always been sincere—not in an arrogant way, but for our own pleasure,” Peart stated in 1982.  “We’ve always incorporated music from people we liked, so it has made us stylistically schizoid.”[ii]

While there are no side length tracks on A Farewell to Kings, the album revolves around its two major songs, “Xanadu” at 11 minutes in length and “Cygnus X-1” at almost ten and 1/2 minutes.  Thematically, Peart continues to embrace both the fantastic—“Xanadu” based on the iconic romantic English poem, “Kubla Kahn,” by Samuel Coleridge—and science-fiction, “Cygnus X-1.”  At the time, Peart lauded fantasy writing in lyrics.  “It’s a way to put a message across without being oppressive.”[iii]

Continue reading “Farewell to Kings (and Faith): Neil Peart, 1977”

Clockwork Lives Graphic Novel

ClockworkLives_AvatarV2

Well, in perusing Cygnus X1’s website just now, I found even more information about Rush.  Stuff that had totally eluded me.  Cygnus, what would we do without you???  Thank you!

Kevin J. Anderson has just announced that CLOCKWORK LIVES will be a graphic novel soon.  How very cool.

Here’s the Cygnus X1 link: http://news.cygnus-x1.net/2017/04/clockwork-lives-graphic-novel-coming.html

And, here’s the direct link to KJA’s website: http://kjablog.com/clockwork-lives-graphic-novel/

Rush’s 2112 at 40: The Super Deluxe Edition

Rush, 2112 (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition).  2CDs, 1DVD, 3LPs, 1 vinyl single, starman turntable mat, three collector buttons, June 1976 handbill, June 1976 ticket stuff, starman sticker, LP-sized photos of the three members of Rush, LP-sized liner notes by Rob Bowman, code for digital download, cd-booklet and liner notes, vinyl single adaptor, and starman sketch.  http://www.rush.com/2112-40th/

pr_image-820x502
So much stuff, I can barely contain my emotions!

***

Is there a greater anthem of individualism and anti-conformity in all rock history than Rush’s 2112?  No folk song of the 1950s or protest song of the 1960s comes close to matching Rush’s power of words and music.  Even more than “Bohemian Rhapsody,” 2112 makes us want to bang our heads and raise our fists.  Sorry, Garth.

Continue reading “Rush’s 2112 at 40: The Super Deluxe Edition”

Ending at the Top: RUSH, TIME STAND STILL, Part I

rush time stand still cover.jpg
2016, available now.

A two-part review of Rush, TIME STAND STILL (2016).

Between May and August, 2015, Rush performed to jam-packed audiences in cities across the United States and Canada.  Rush captured this tour with its own 2015 release, R40 LIVE, a three cd/1-bluray set.  This tour attracted an immense and diverse crowd.  Generations of men in the same family (grandfather, father, and sons) sat together, women attended in larger than usual numbers, and my two oldest kids (Nathaniel and Gretchen) drove with me nearly 10 hours to see the band perform R40 in Lincoln.  That magical show will always remain one of the greatest of my life.  Not just because I was seeing Rush for the umpteenth time, but because I got to share the band with my children for the first time.  They’ve grown up with Rush—listening to the music and watching their concerts over and over again; indeed, all six of my kids can readily name the members of the band, the songs, and the albums—but they’d never experienced the joy of an actual concert.  It was, to be sure, a glorious spectacle.

When I looked out the bedroom window the other day to see Nathaniel shoveling snow and head banging, I could tell he was head banging to 2112.  Every few moments the shovel came up and served as an Alex Lifeson air guitar.  Needless to write, it took a bit for him to complete the driveway.  Regardless, I’m deeply proud that my children recognize the greatness of the three Canadian artists, even older than their dad!

Continue reading “Ending at the Top: RUSH, TIME STAND STILL, Part I”