Eighties top albums: Rush - A Show Of Hands


The Big Money
Turn The Page
Manhattan Project
Distant Early Warning
Mystic Rhythms
Witch Hunt (part iii of fear)
The Rhythm Method (drum solo)
Force Ten
Time Stand Still
Red Sector A
Closer To The Heart

I became familiar with Rush in 1982 when I got a tape with a copy of the double lp "Hard Rock Live. The first album I bought from them was "Grace Under Pressure", an album that leaned heavily on the new synthesizer sound of the band and can be described as one of the darkest if not the darkest album in the history of the band. The numbers are heavily influenced by the increasing tension of the Cold War and the thread throughout the songs is "pressure" and how people act under the influence of it. Despite the dark themes, the group experiments with reggae and even returns to the classic hard rock sound. 

Although "" Grace Under Pressure" certainly belonged to my favorites, with songs like "Red Sector A", "The Enemy Within" and "Red Lenses", it was just "Power Windows", the eleventh studio album of the band, released in 1985, that completely convinced me. It was the first time that the band collaborated with producer Peter Collins, who at that time was one of the top producers in the music world. I remember that the album was launched on Dutch radio during the Tros LP / CD show.

It was Rush's first album that appeared directly on CD (the vinyl version did not appear until 2015). Wim van Putten played "Big Money", at that moment the single, and the brilliant "Marathon" and "Manhattan Project". With "Power Windows", the band launched an era in which she deepened and capacitated in new sonic directions in which the synths were even heavier than on predecessor "Grace Under Pressure".

In retrospect, a period that Alex Lifeson regretted, but it turned out that the band was getting quite productive. It was also the album where Geddy Lee switched to the use of a Wal bass, made by a small English company, which he would continue to use until the album and the tour of "Roll The Bones". Neil Peart's texts are mainly focused on different manifestations of power - "Manhattan Project" explores the origins and consequences of the development of the atomic bomb by the US Army and "Territories" comments on nationalism around the world. While "Marathon" expresses power, control and willpower over one's own body. It became the first CD that I bought. 

If that was not enough, "Hold Your Fire" went one step further. Beautifully balanced songs with new influences, think of the Asian sounding "Tai Shan", and although the synthesizers dominate as much as on Power Windows, Alex Lifeson got more room for his guitar riffs and solos, which made him more dominant. Initially the band released a nine-track album, but Peter Collins persuaded them to add another tenth song that resulted in the overwhelming album opener "Force Ten".

It brings me to their top album of the eighties and the first live album in this series, which became an accumulation of the highlights of its predecessors. After all, Rush was still in the habit of publishing a live album after four studio albums and "A Show Of Hands" was recorded during the Hold Your Fire tour, where, after five years of not being in the Netherlands, Rotterdam Ahoy was also affected. An unparalleled concert that seemed to be raging with beautiful highlights, such as the lattice lighting during "Manhattan Project", the big red balloons that are lowered to the audience, but especially the setlist, which follows "Tom Sawyer", "Closer To The Heart" and the medley encore, largely composed of songs from the four previous studio albums. 

People were treated to "Force Ten", "Subdivisions", "Red Sector A", "The Big Money", "Distant Early Warning", "Marathon", "Mission" to name a few and more like the many animations on the screen behind the three. Although the drum solo is on "A Show Of Hands", the intro to the solo lacks the dazzling "YYZ (Toronto Airport code) and the Laserdisc still has the number "" Lock & Key" as extra.


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