Rush’s 2002 Vapor Trails reunion project has been long overdue for a remix

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The long-awaited remix of Rush’s 2002 return to action Vapor Trails is coming October 1. Rush fans have been waiting for ages for this news, teased with two remixes (of “One Little Victory” and “Earthshine”) by long time Rush engineer Richard Chycki on 2008’s Retrospective 3 that, frankly, were pretty weak sounding and didn’t bode too well for a full-album remix.

A full five years later comes news that the entire album has indeed been remixed, as promised, but now having been remixed by the hands of Grammy award-winning producer/engineer David Bottrill — who may be known to some for his work with Tool, King Crimson, Sylvian/Fripp, Dream Theater, and Muse, among many others.

Vapor Trails, while a triumphant, jubilant return to form for a band that seemed as if it might never record again, suffers some terrible recording and mastering mistakes. When drummer Neil Peart lost both his wife and his daughter in a short time period not long after the Test For Echo tour ended, he chose to put away his drumsticks, and Rush silently disbanded. As chronicled in his book Ghost Rider, Peart motorcycled around the country, taking time to heal, and never truly planned to get back to music.

But at some point he felt it was the right thing to do, and Rush got back in the studio.

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Geddy Lee, in discussing his hopes that Rush’s ‘Vapor Trails’ would be reissued, says ‘I think the material there deserves a second shot.’]

In the spirit of this reunion, the band was more concerned about capturing the energy they were feeling than making a pristine recording. And pristine it is not. Vapor Trails is loud, “bristling with the energy,” if you will, of three guys thrilled to be making music again. It’s a wall of sound, brash and in your face, but it’s thrilling and beautiful. It was recorded too hot and then mastered with a heavy hand. The fear of a remix — and what Chycki’s remixes, in fact, did do — was that its beautiful energy would be sapped out. I remain cautiously optimistic about what an expert like David Bottrill can do with this material.

Also out October 1, for those who like to collect or who are playing catch-up, is the seven CD Studio Albums 1989-2007 box, which includes all of the studio material Rush recorded for Atlantic Records — Presto, Roll The Bones, Counterparts, Test For Echo, Vapor Trails Remixed, Feedback, and Snakes and Arrows — in “wallet sleeves” that show the original artwork, save for Vapor Trails Remixed, which gets brand new artwork derived from and inspired by the original album.

There is no word on whether these will be new remasters, but it seems likely considering these albums have recently shown up on iTunes in this form (with the exception of VTR) and as high-resolution 24-bit/96kHz downloads at HD Tracks — which also remains the only place to get a truly “remastered” Vapor Trails that goes a long way to restoring much of the distorted mess that mastering made of it.

If you are a big fan, this is one download that is worth coughing up the money for: You’re not going to see this on CD. The remix, of course, is probably a no-brainer for most Rush fans.

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Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson has contributed to Blogcritics, and maintained a series of stand-alone sites including Known Johnson, Everything is a Mess and others. He studied both creative writing and then studio art at Arizona State. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Tom Johnson
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