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Retrospective II: 1981 to 1987 – Rush

Retrospective II: 1981 to 1987

(1997), 8.5/10
While conventional wisdom is that Rush’s 1980’s albums decreased in quality through the decade, as Geddy Lee’s synthesisers became louder and Alex Lifeson’s guitar was turned down, their 1980’s Retrospective is  much stronger than its 1970’s counterpart. It collects material from their albums from 1981’s Moving Pictures to 1987’s Hold Your Fire. While the 1970’s saw the group trying different styles to establish their career, their 1980’s highlights are more consistent, both in quality and in tone, and more than most compilations, Retrospective II flows like a studio album.

The three songs from 1981’s Moving Pictures are all highlights – ‘Tom Sawyer’, ‘Limelight’, and ‘Red Barchetta’ – as is ‘Subdivisions’ from the followup Signals. The group purposefully turned up the guitars for 1984’s Grace Under Pressure, and ‘Distant Early Warning’ and ‘Red Sector A’ both rock. 1985’s ‘Marathon’ is also large sounding and excellent, but my favourite Rush song is 1987’s ‘Time Stand Still’, an uncharacteristically  tender lyric from Neil Peart, with backing lyrics from Aimee Mann.

While I’m lukewarm about Rush’s 1970’s work, their 1980’s work represented on Retrospective II is much more palatable, and often excellent.

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