Saturday, February 21, 2015

Review: New Vinyl Edition of Rush's 'Caress of Steel'


Neil Peart was well integrated into Rush when they made their third album, and his obsessions with fantasy and long-form storytelling that brought us “By-Tor and the Snow Dog” would clearly be integral to the band’s destiny. Unfortunately, he still hadn’t learned the best way to channel those obsessions. Two cumbersome epics occupy the bulk of Caress of Steel, only leaving room for a scant three concise songs. These include “I Think I’m Going Bald”, a generic blues-metal riff that at least shows Peart continuing to tackle unlikely topics (what other heavy rock band would lament aging so early in their career?), “Bastille Day”, a stronger opener than “Anthem” was on Fly by Night though still somewhat unformed, and the nostalgic “Lakeside Park”, another terrific piece of pop in the tradition of the previous album’s title track and by far the best thing on Caress.

The album’s main problem is that, at this point, Peart’s desire to tell a story was a lot stronger than his willingness to tell one. Both “The Necromancer” and “The Fountain of Lamneth” waste a lot of grooves describing journeys on which very little happens. There are musical moments worth hearing, such as Alex Lifeson’s ominous arpeggios and backward guitar shrieks that begin “The Necromancer” and Geddy Lee’s catchy “Bacchus Plateau” section from “Lamneth”, but most of this rambling fluff would never have gotten through quality control if it hadn’t been thumb-tacked to a larger concept. Peart must have realized this himself because he really buckled down when penning his next epic, making sure to compose a purposeful plot with a clear arc and a more assured tie to the baser joys of Rock & Roll than any of the fantasies on Caress of Steel. But that’s a story for the next album…

As it did with Fly by Night, UMe is presenting Caress of Steel with warm and profoundly deep sound via Direct Metal Mastering on 200g vinyl with bonus download code. Get this new edition on Amazon.com here:
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