June 30, 2010

I must help my mother stand up straight

Rush's 1984 album, Grace Under Pressure, continues in the evolution of their sound away from traditional hard rock toward a more synthetic style. For whatever reason, this album has always sounded different to me from other Rush offerings: whether it's because it presents a heavier "wall" of sound, or because its musical influences are a little more diverse, I can't say. It just strikes me as being somewhat outside of the natural evolution of Rush's trademark style.

The recurring theme in many of the tracks on this album is (as the title suggests) how we respond to various types of pressure. Neil Peart's lyrics to "Red Sector A" evoke impressions of an apocalyptic, futuristic wasteland. In fact they were inspired, in part, by Geddy Lee's mother's memories of her internment in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp during WWII, and how she believed civilization must have been done in, even as the Allied liberators came for them.

This video is a live version, taken from the Grace Under Pressure tour in 1984.

"Red Sector A" is one of those songs that grew on me over the years. Back in 1984, this was my first impression of Rush, and at the time it really didn't do anything for me. I'm glad I gave it (and them) a fair shake.