Saturday, January 21, 2006

Rush turns 30 and gives us a present!

Artist: Rush
Title: R30
Format: DVD-Video

Surround Mix By Richard Chycki, Alex Lifeson and Adrian Lifeson

Rush is 30 years old???? Good Lord, that makes me feel old. I still recall getting Hemispheres for my 15th birthday, putting it on and saying OH MY GOD!!!!!! I was always impressed with their musical prowess, and loved their sound from the get go. I've been a fan for over 25 years, so this will be a biased review!

The R30 DVD is a celebration of their 30th anniversary tour. Recorded in Frankfurt, Germany, the band retains if not exceeds the energy that they had onstage in their prime of the late 70's. They pluck some gems from the entire Rush catalog and as a longtime fan, it's a very rewarding performance.

The music: Starting with an amazing animated history of Rush's album covers which morphs into a "dream" by the always funny Jerry Stiller, who introduces the band, Rush kicks off the show with an instrumental medley of their earlier songs, including Finding My Way, Anthem, Bastille Day and Hemispheres, finally concluding the opening sequence with The Spirit Of Radio. The band tears through songs from every album you can think of, and the performances are fantastic. They're tight as usual. More obscure songs such as Force Ten and Between The Wheels are treats for Rush fanatics. Alex Lifeson plays with his usual precision and class. Spot on like always. Neil Peart, considered by most music fans as one of the best drummers in the world, plays his special 30th anniversary drum kit as perfectly as we would expect. Geddy Lee is, well, Geddy Lee! Tirelessly playing bass, keyboards, foot pedals and finally sitting down for 2 acoustic numbers, Resist and The Yardbirds' Heart Full Of Soul. And excuse me for almost blowing a fuse when they launch into Xanadu!!!! Wow!!!!
Score: 10/10

The mix:
After the giant mush ball that was Rush In Rio ( which was supposed to be a "from the 15th row" type of mix). R30 offers 5.1 fans a great mix. The opening "dream sequence" is fantastic! Sounds swirl around and make full use of all 5 speakers. Once the band kicks in, we get a mix featuring drums and bass up front, guitars that seem to be in every speaker at times, and some keyboard and effects in the rears. I've read some complaints of "digital distortion" in Alex's guitar sound, but I hear no evidence of this in the 5.1 mix. Alex's sound is big, wet, fat and very enveloping. After the overpowering crowd noise of Rush In Rio, R30 keeps the crowd noise to a respectable level. I'm satisfied with the 5.1 mix. Sure, it's not perfect, but hey....The Eagles Farewell Tour DVD may be a perfect sounding disc, but it's as exciting as watching oatmeal soak up hot water! I don't mind a live DVD sounding live!
Score: 8/10

The sound:
As stated above, it's not perfect, but it's a great sounding DVD. It could use a bit more definition in the bottom end and Neil's drum sound is a bit thinner, but this is more due to his "new" drum sound, which is higher pitched and a bit hollower. Highs are much smoother than Rush In Rio, and Geddy's voice is much clearer this time around.
Score: 8/10

Overall: 8.5

Alex Lifeson was once quoted as not being much of a surround fan. Looks like he saw the light! There has been much speculation that Rush is working on 5.1 mixes of their older catalog. Let's hope there is some truth to these rumours! Rush remains one of the classiest, hardest working bands in the world. Here's to many more years of great music.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Sorry everyone. Not much time or energy for posting. The wife has a broken collarbone and she's taking up most of my time. Here is some Rush news from our friend Ron at surroundablog (see my links). Thanks Ron!
If R30 is any indication, then Rush is becoming more 5.1 friendly. That DVD has good use of the rear channels. Hopefully "Exit..." will continue this trend


RUSH: 'Exit...Stage Left' DVD Delayed - Jan. 3, 2006
According to a posting on the RUSH fan site Power Windows, Zoe/Rounder has pushed back the projected U.S. release date of the the DVD version of RUSH's classic "Exit...Stage Left" concert film to March 7 from the previously announced February 7."Everything's been remixed to 5.1, and that was the intention — to keep it all intact, except for the remix," guitarist Alex Lifeson recently told "So it's available in surround."Lifeson told he enjoyed taking a trip down memory lane while refurbishing the material. "It was interesting to see the development in the arrangements, and how our sound changed over the course of a decade," he said. "I definitely found it fascinating, looking at that. And how the stage show changed over the years — of course, [in] 10 years a lot of stuff changes. But it was a little fascinating to watch that, actually.""Exit...Stage Left" was filmed at The Forum in Montreal, Quebec on March 27, 1981 and was issued in 1981 on VHS/Laserdisk (out of print). The 60-minute video featured the following track listing:
01. Limelight
02. Tom Sawyer
03. The Trees
04. Instrumental
05. Xanadu
06. Red Barchetta
07. Free Will
08. Closer To The Heart
09. YYZ (with voice over)
10. By-Tor and the Snow Dog/In The End/In The Mood/2112 Finale