Power Windows (1985)


1.The Big Money
2.Grand Designs
3.Manhattan Project
4.Marathon
5.Territories
6.Middletown Dreams
7.Emotion Detector
8.Mystic Rhythms

 

Although the prior year's Grace Under Pressure didn't immediately woo all of the faithful, the guys must have decided that they were either a) on the right track –or- b) enjoyed the hell out of what they were doing and wanted to go further still. Probably a combination of both. Going with a new co-producer, Peter Collins, the band further embraces the times by implementing so many keyboard and synth elements, it would make your head spin. It's almost as if they walked into a record studio that already had layers upon layers of these sounds already recorded, and decided to then make an album of Rush music on top of all of these new fangled sounds.

Although there will always be those in the "I hate all keyboards and they don't belong in rock and roll" club, most of the public recognizes that this still turned out to be an incredible album. It's not because of the new sound, it's just that Rush will always be Rush, and they seem to have mastered the technique of not letting anything new ever compromise their sound. They always seem to know exactly how much of an outside influence to incorporate into their recording. In other words, had these songs been recorded in a different, "bare bones" format, it still would be a great record.

It really is hard to imagine such a thing, though. The synthesized sounds are simply everywhere. Had the band had a time machine (pun partially intended) from 10 years prior to this album and listened to it, they probably would have agreed that it sounded great, but how and the heck were they supposed to replicate this record on stage? Something that was usually always in the forefront of the band's mind. In addition to the new love for ivories and electronics, they also use an entire orchestra for Manhattan Project and Marathon. As if that wasn't enough, they even add a choir to the latter track.

Again, it's amazing how well this record actually works. They don't lose anything. To be truthful, you could argue that the whole album doesn't necessary rock (although it does quite well in places, especially the first three cuts), we must remember that Rush has always been a band that have gone beyond the traditional head-banging, fist-pumping, in-your-face guitar shredding compositions. Consider a song such as Territories, that sounds more like a Caribbean dance tune then anything with a rock and roll label. You can tell Neil Peart had a great time hammering out the percussion on this one. The last track Mystic Rhythms is also a band and audience favorite. In many ways, it's a lot like Territories only slowed down. It's one of those introspective pieces about acknowledging phenomena that, as hard as humans try to, we can't really fully understand.

As a post-script, it should be noted more than a quarter of a century after this album came out, Rush still felt so strongly about this album that their tour in the year 2012 would feature five out of the eight songs from this record. If that's not a compliment to this album, I'm not sure what is.


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