Counterparts (1993)


1.Animate
2.Stick it Out
3.Cut to the Chase
4.Nobody's Hero
5.Between Sun and Moon
6.Alien Shore
7.The Speed of Love
8.Double Agent
9.Leave That Thing Alone
10.Cold Fire
11.Everyday Glory

 

In the interim between this record's release and their last album, two significant things changed in the music business: 1) The internet and online community appeared – and – 2) Grunge. When services such as America Online and Prodigy appeared for those fortunate enough to own a computer with a modem, it allowed users to virtually meet from all over the world to discuss just about anything – including Rush music. Although this seems very trivial two decades later, this was a big deal back then, and it was kind of cool to hear details about this record before it actually appeared.

Then, 90s music "officially" started with the birth of bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam, giving the industry a hard shake that was desperately needed. How would Rush respond? Would they put out a grunge record? How big of an influence would it have? To be honest, most fans didn't really want a grunge album. Rush still mainly had an "older" legion of fans that weren't really ready to accept something quite so radical. Word was out, however, that Rush was interested in stirring up the pot a bit, not surprisingly.

What was surprising was their choice of producer - Peter Collins.

Wait, Peter Collins??
Wasn't he the guy that produced those "80s" records??
Why was he being chosen to escort the band, so to speak, into the 90s?

Well, for whatever reason, the experiment was a good one. Collins proves that he's not limited to "one kind" of music. Also, safe to say, this is not a grunge record. They do get a bit heavy on some of the songs, and this record has a lot more force than the Rupert Hine records, but this album simply turned out to be, in most people's opinion, a very solid Rush record.

In a strange way, you can't really compare this album to anything that they had ever released, yet at the same time, it doesn't really make any bold leaps into future musical territory. It simply comes across as "quite good". The most easily accessible thing here is the title track Animate, which leads of with a count-off "1,2,3,4,1,2…" and then the band rip into a steady, very Rush like tune that sets the tone for the remainder of the record. As mentioned, they do sound a bit Seattle influenced on a couple of tunes – the first singe Stick It Out is very heavy, along with Cold Fire, near the end of the record. In both cases, the band never deviate much from the classic Rush sound, so no one in the fan base could really whine about it.

There are a few instances where the songs come off short of stellar. The Speed of Love is one of those songs that, had they been limited by the time constraints of vinyl, would have easily been the first song dropped. Other instances such as Nobody's Hero and Everyday Glory have potent lyrical themes and powerful messages, yet once those are digested, the musical aspects of the songs don't hold up as well as one might like.

The "theme" of this record are things (people, mostly) that are counterparts of one another – such as the band itself. It's an interesting theme, especially when Neil writes about love and romance. Wait, Neil writing about love and romance? Well, yes, but nothing on here is wooey. As a matter of fact, he's such an objectivist in his observations and reflections, that it leaves one quite cold. Let's just say that the guy probably won't be supplementing his income writing romance novels in the foreseeable future.

It was the consensus of most that this record was mostly good, maybe great – if not spectacular, and unlike the last two records, seems to have aged a bit better.


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