By the end of the period covered by this book, the early eighties, Rush (the ‘Holy Trinity’ to their global fanbase) were probably the brightest stars in the rock universe. In 1980, Led Zepplin ceased on the death of John Bonham, Bon Scott died which temporarily brought AC/DC to a standstill, Ossie had left Sabbath and Deep Purple were on hiatus, whereas Rush were riding high on the strength of albums like 2112, A Farewell To Kings and Hemispheres, as well as building a well-deserved rep as a blistering ‘live’ entity.
Rush built their rep on taking chances. Their third album, Caress Of Steel, had contained the lengthy side-long prog-like epic ‘The Fountain of Lamneth’. Rush then completed the ‘Down The Tubes’ tour, so-called as album sales were well below expectations and they were convinced their record label was about to drop them. Indeed, Mercury Records had stated they were looking for Rush to produce a more commercial-sounding album .. so instead, Rush gave them the very conceptual 2112, working on the assumption “if this is it, let’s at least go out with a bang.” The album was to prove pivotal in Rush’s upwards trajectory, reaching the charts in Canada (no:5) and in the US (no:60), ultimately achieving triple platinum status (3 million plus). This gave the band the confidence needed to raise the stakes, and they released A Farewell To Kings in 1977 and Hemispheres in 1978, described by the doyen of rock critics, Geoff ‘deaf’ Barton, as being a ‘masterwork.’ In between they put out the classic ‘live’ album, All The World’s A Stage, which in this reviewer’s humble opinion, is one of THE greatest ever ‘live’ albums.
This book captures Rush on their upward accession to the top of the pile, featuring some classic pictures of them in concert .. interest declared, this reviewer is in one of the pictures taken on the Hemispheres tour in 1978 at Hammersmith Odeon .. and what’s noticeable about them is, as the decade progresses, their appearance hardly changes. Only when they reach 1980 and the release of Permanent Waves, featuring hit single ‘The Spirit of Radio’, does Alex Lifeson cut his hair and wear a tie. For a band often written about as being dour and humourless, as reflected in their lyrics, they certainly look as though they’re having a whale of a time in many of these backstage and onstage pictures.
Rush ceased to be a viable entity upon the sad demise of drummer and lyricist, Neal Peart, ‘the Professor,’ in 2018. But their legacy will live long and their music will continue to be played, and the pictures in this entertaining book captures Rush during the era when they were evolving into the supergroup they eventually became.
Portraits will grow into a series of books released across the year and will be produced in a limited, worldwide run of 666 numbered Unofficial books. They will sell for £55 plus shipping. In addition to these, a much larger, ultra-limited Leather and Metal edition measuring 375mm square and presented in recycled leather and a hand welded aluminium metal slipcase is also being prepared in a run length of just 50 numbered copies. This will sell for £500.