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Limelight: Rush in the ’80s
Excerpt

 

“The right time, the right place, the right song, the right parts”

 

Pleased with the live/work arrangements for A Farewell to Kings, Rush tried it again for Hemispheres. Pleased with the live/work arrangement for Permanent Waves, Rush tried it again for Moving Pictures. Fortunately, the sequel effort this time didn’t disappoint, and the guys found themselves more Canadian than ever. Living and raising families in Canada, writing on Canadian farms, recording immersed in the Canadian forest, bridging the divide between English Canada and French Canada, winning Junos and paddling canoes . . . Rush were celebrating everything it meant to be Canadian.

 

“We went out to Ronnie Hawkins’s farm, out in the Stony Lake area,” begins Alex, on preparations for the record that would serve as Rush’s Machine Head and Paranoid, or Fragile and Not Fragile, as it were. “I guess it’s just north of Peterborough. He had a really nice little home up there, nice cottage with a big barn on it. We converted the barn into the studio, and set Neil’s drums up, and had areas for Geddy and myself. And it was a really nice location.

 

“We were there in the summer and everybody was in good spirits. There was a good energy to the work. We started writing there and basically wrote everything in rehearsal there, and then moved into Le Studio later that fall and started recording. There was a real positive energy, not unlike what we went through with Snakes & Arrows years later. But at that time, there was just something that was very strong and positive about where we were with that record. I don’t want to say it was effortless, but the effort seemed to be very smooth. We had some guests visit and we had a lot of fun across the whole process. It wasn’t just in the studio — it was a really nice place to be at that point in our lives.”

 

Geddy was enthusiastic about carrying on the concept kicked off with the last album. “Yeah, it was great, really exciting, Alex continues. “Because instead of one story you had five stories in the same time span, but you could link them with a sentiment or with an idea. A little bit less so with Permanent Waves but more so with Moving Pictures — that whole idea of a collection of short stories is what we were after and that’s what Moving Pictures is.”

 

Consensus is that Moving Pictures is the record where Geddy toned down his patented high shriek. “I bought it at Kresge’s,” laughs Lee on coming up with it in the first place. “I keep it downstairs in my studio for when I need it. Lifetime guarantee.”

 

“As the music changed, the desire to shriek changed,” explains Geddy. “I think I can still shriek if the music requires it. I have no conceptual adverse feelings about it. As the music changed, it became more interesting for me to write melodies as opposed to shrieking. It was basically used for cutting through the density of the music. And sometimes we would write without any consideration for what key we were in in the early days and I would find myself with twelve tracks recorded in a key that was real tough to sing in, so I didn’t have a choice at that point. Re-record the record in a different key or just go for it.

 

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