One Track Mind: Rush, "Caravan" (2012)

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In a way, Rush got lucky. Things were looking bleak after Fly By Night, and there was record label pressure for something more commercial. The guys decided to be true to themselves and follow their own instincts. Instead of an album with a three and a half minute, radio-ready single, they came out with 2112. The “luck” I speak of is the fact that the label left them alone after that, figuring that they knew what they were doing. Not many bands obtain that kind of freedom. Not many bands are around long enough to get there.

Longevity has become an extremely rare thing in the rock world. Record label near-sightedness and ghetto-ized and consolidated radio have held risk-taking at arm’s length. At least, that used to be the story.

These days, bands rely less on major labels and more on their own energy to attain their goals. Yeah, we’re not completely sure where it’s headed, but I’m heartened by the fact that interesting music drops into my lap nearly every week (strangely, a lot of it comes from Brooklyn; what’s in the water over there?), almost none of it has involvement from the majors. It feels like a new era is here, where artists can do what they do best, without having to deal with pressure from some dude in a suit.

I remember watching a nearly hour-long interview with Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee of Rush. Their relationship and history is a rare one in rock music. Heck, it’s rare in any creative endeavor. Longtime friends, they met before high school. Who else can we put in that category? Jagger/Richards is one. Lennon and McCartney certainly would have been. Maybe the U2 fellas?

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Join as as we dig into our teetering stack of old Rush albums, uncovering favorite tracks from classic efforts like ‘2112,’ ‘Hemispheres,’ ‘Roll the Bones’ and ‘Presto.’]

While watching the interview, I was struck with how down to earth the guys are. They actually got into that a little bit, the fact that they purposely avoided most of the trappings of rock stardom, feeling that the attachment to a certainly level of celebrity can be one factor in the dissolution of a band. The other big reason they’re still together is a simple one: they like each other. Friendships over the long term are tricky things to maintain, especially in situations where creative activities are forced to be “work.”

This track is part of a long-awaited new album Clockwork Angels, due on June 12, 2012, and it’s great to see a band hang around for so long, still doing vital work. Here’s hoping that this new era of unshackled creativity produces similarly great results on the full-length effort.

Let’s talk about it: Forty years from now.

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Here’s a look back at our previous thoughts on Rush. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

SOMETHING ELSE SNEAK! PEEK: RUSH, “HEADLONG FLIGHT” (2012): Building off a hard-charging instrumental, the initial single from Rush’s forthcoming Clockwork Angels finds the trio referencing its storied musical past — in more ways than one. “Really good. The only thing I don’t care for,” our Tom Johnson says in a new watercooler conversation about “Headlong Flight, “are the blatant homages to past songs, like “Bastille Day” — why? Unless I’m missing something and it somehow ties that song into this album …” The seven-minute “Headlong Flight,” was called “Take That Lampshade Off Yo’ Head” before the legendary trio added Neil Peart’s lyrics.

RUSH – TIME MACHINE 2011: LIVE IN CLEVELAND (2011): Rush used this opportunity to, as they really have been doing each tour lately, rifle through catalog and pull out some dusty old gems (“Time Stand Still,” reggae “Working Man,” “Marathon,” “Subdivisions,” “Stick It Out” and “Leave That Thing Alone”) and even one bonafide “never been played before” fan favorite (“Presto”) but, most importantly, a run-through of their entire classic Moving Pictures album for its 30th anniversary. Some of those tunes have been played a lot (“Tom Sawyer,” “Limelight,” I’m looking at you) but others have disappeared for far, far too long. Welcome back to the stage “The Camera Eye” and “Witch Hunt.” Maybe you’ll stick around for a couple tours?

SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: RUSH: When most think of Rush, it’s their instrumental virtuosity (especially drummer Neil Peart) that comes to mind first. Or the love or hatred of Geddy Lee’s vocals. Other times it’s Peart’s second role as lyricist for the band that garners attention, and it’s another love or hate area of focus: Ayn Rand, sci-fi, songs about balding, fights between dogs and, well, whatever a Bytor is, these are all common targets for those who want to throw stones. We’re here to present an argument for the defense.

RUSH – ROLL THE BONES (1991; 2011 reissue): Listeners will hear immediately that the sound is indeed lighter and quieter, and the soundstage is thinner than either previous version. But it’s all to better show off the album’s immaculate recording, which does get a bit muffled in the Atlantic pressings. This is where you can revel in the tone of Geddy’s maturing voice, or the textures of Alex Lifeson’s guitar, or the layers of keyboard washes that are now magically so much more discernible from one another. With regard to those keyboard washes, what’s funny is that once you hear them here, you can’t help but notice them in the other versions, too. It just took this delicate audiophile edition to separate them out.

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to, and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at
Mark Saleski
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