2010 is turning out to be a very good year for Rush fans. So far we have been treated to the first in-depth documentary film about the band, Beyond The Lighted Stage, and a sold-out tour that is receiving rave reviews. And now the great VH1 series Classic Albums has stepped in to honor them. I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone who disagrees with the two albums spotlighted here, because 2112 and Moving Pictures are two undeniable classics.
When it came time to record album number four, Rush were really feeling the pressure from their label. In fact, they were almost dropped, until the managers stepped in and promised that the new music would be much more commercial this time around. One of the things Rush fans like so much about the band was their response to all of this. Since they knew there was no way they could compete for Fleetwood Mac or Doobie Bros. listeners, they went all the way the other way, with the side-long suite “2112.”
During the new interviews that were conducted for the program, it is fun to watch the three of them talk about the time. Neil Peart in particular mentions how angry the whole commercialization business made them, and how they were able to channel that into what became 2112.
2112 was a huge turning point for Rush, they went from perennial openers to headliners, and started selling records in large quantities for the first time. But their 1981 LP Moving Pictures was the one that broke them wide open. It remains their biggest seller to date, and contains their anthem “Tom Sawyer.“ They even played the album in its entirety on this year’s tour. As long time manager Ray Daniels put it, “After Moving Pictures, we knew we were never going back to where we came from.“
Released just five years after 2112, Moving Pictures was a quantum leap forward for the band. Now they were writing songs that were being played (and still being played) on radio. In fact, it is almost wall-to-wall hits, including the aforementioned “Tom Sawyer,” plus others such as “Limelight,” “Red Barchetta,” and the show-stopping “YYZ.”
The extras on the DVD add up to an additional 54 minutes of interviews with the band that were not included in the broadcast. In these segments, the three talk about a variety of subjects including discussions of their influences, Neil’s reasons for writing “Red Barchetta,” and how the “2112 Overture” came about.
While Classic Albums: 2112 & Moving Pictures is nowhere near as ambitious as Beyond The Lighted Stage, it provides some fascinating insights into how each of the records came together. It goes without saying that the hardcore fans will want it, but I think the DVD will appeal to the casual listener as well. The Classic Albums people have done another superlative job with this one.