Finding My Way
I wonder how many people there are who bought this when it first came out? How many of them stayed the course, and are still here, endlessly rocking? What can it have been like to know nothing about this other than what you can read on the sleeve, to put the needle carefully down on Side 1, Track 1 and hear this riff? What I hear now is the stereo separation - I realised, as I was powerwalking around the village earlier, that I had probably never really heard this through stereo headphones before. I genuinely didn't know that the guitar sound wanders from channel to channel at the start. It's really rather effective and means that the entrance of the rest of the band is particularly satisfying, having been prefigured like that.
(look, I'm going to try not to be pretentious, but sometimes it'll just come out. Sorry.)
Pretty much all the Rush ingredients are right there: the voice, the bass, the guitar sound, the-
Oh, hang on. What's the one thing we know about this record? That's right - it's The One Without Neil. Well, you know what - the drumming is just fine. Not pyrotechnic, but all things considered, it's more than just OK. The lyrics - well, that's a whole other story, quite literally. But, actually, on this track, there's nothing wrong. It feels right, it rocks along very nicely, and it stops.
Personal quirk no.1 in a series of way too many: Why can't people write endings to songs? If you're going to play it live, you're going to have to work out an ending, so why not do it right from the start? Where did this practice of the fade-out come from? And why does it irritate me so much?
I think I'm going to like this project - first track, and I'm ready for more. Of course, that's how it always used to work, wasn't it? The strongest track goes at the start of Side 2; the next strongest at the start of Side 1, and the complex, difficult one goes at the end. Do bands still do that?
Need Some Love
The first track I really don't remember, and it's really not what I was expecting at all. Now I've heard it again, I still don't remember it, but I can easily fit it into the time and place - here's a bunch of guys who have been listening to lots of British music, and extrapolating from it. I think this is what they used to call a 'fast-paced rocker' with a nice changedown into the chorus. Doesn't really do much for me - maybe it's the lyrics - but I have a clear vision of a sweaty club, and this song getting everyone bouncing. And are those guitars double-tracked? How did this sound live?
Take A Friend
Hoo, you're trying to annoy me aren't you? Fade - in? Eep. All together, boys and girls - can we say Led Zeppelin? I think that the ambience of hearing this on a mono record player with a dusty needle would have improved the lyrics no end; they really don't need to be heard in clear stereo, piped directly into my ears. Meanwhile, it's gradually dawning on me that the production on this is pretty damn fine, considering the time and place it was done. It's fun, but it's not going to be in the top ten personal favourites at the end of this, I can tell.
Ah, yes - that's the other given, isn't it? The obligatory 'slow-burner' at the end of Side 1 - look; we don't just rock out, you know. Actually, this is pretty odd, hearing Geddy's voice over an instrumental track which could have been laid down by - I don't know, Mountain? Time I paid a bit more attention to the guitar solo, I think. And that just reinforces my first reaction to hearing this all again - musically, Geddy and Alex hit the ground pretty much fully formed, didn't they? That bass sound is already distinctive, and the lead is derivative, sure, but full of ideas. You can't help seeing this through the lens of 30 years of music, but they've definitely got something.