Call them the Re-Working Men.
On April 15, to mark Rush’s 40-year recording career, Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) will reissue the original Moon Records release of Rush as part of Universal’s reDISCovered vinyl series. Some history: In March 1974, Rush released their self-titled debutthrough the band’s own indie label, Moon Records, in Canada, and sold out of the initial 3,500-copy pressing. Moon Records would soon morph into Anthem Records, which launched in 1977 and continues to serve as the band’s Canadian record company. In the United States, Rush has been on Mercury, Atlantic, and Roadrunner.
The package looks to be impressive. Housed in a sturdy, custom box with a lift-off top, Rush is pressed on 200-gram, audiophile-grade vinyl. The mix comes from the original 1974 analog stereo masters, cut to copper plates using the Direct Metal Mastering (DMM) process at Abbey Road Studios in London. Rush also features the original Moon Records jacket art, complete with the original MN-100-A/B Matrix etching, and will include a 16×22-inch reproduction of the first Rush promo poster, three 5×7-inch lithographs of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and John Rutsey, a 12×12-inch Rush Family Tree poster, and a digital download card for a free digital copy of this newly remastered release. (Rutsey, who died in 2008, was the band’s original drummer. Neil Peart replaced him before the band went on tour in July 1974 and also became the band’s signature songwriter with 1975’s Fly by Night.)
I’m very much looking forward to putting the needle down on a 200-gram pressing of Rush. I went to the Rush section of my vinyl collection and found that I own three (count ‘em) copies of that album: two on Mercury (both with the of-era blue-sky/green-tree “skyscraper” label), and one on Anthem, the 1977 pressing with the light-blue “fading” label. (If memory serves, I bought the latter during a trip to Toronto.) All three LPs are in fair enough condition, but, at this point, I wouldn’t put the Blackbird cartridge on my PerspeX ‘table down on any of them.
Rush is essentially a straight-up power-trio rock album, with only hints of the more progressive route the band would travel once Peart joined the group. Each side contains four songs, and both end with 7-minute barnburners. Side 1 finishes with the moody “Here Again,” while Side 2 closes with the instant anthem “Working Man,” still a band favorite to this day. “Working Man” is the track that broke Rush in the U.S., thanks mainly to Cleveland program director/DJ Donna Halper, who championed the band with fervor on legendary radio station WMMS. Halper is given “Special Thanks” on the back cover of the original album, in fact.
If you want to hear more classic Rush from that era, seek out ABC 1974 (available on CD and LP), which contains the earliest American broadcasts of the band playing in Cleveland on August 26, 1974, not long after Peart joined the band, plus a few bonus live tracks from 1975.
Other choice Rush cuts like the album opener “Finding My Way” and “In the Mood” have found their way into the band’s live repertoire in recent years. Wishful Thinking Department: I would have so loved it if this package included the band’s very first Moon Records single from 1973, a cover of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away,” with “You Can’t Fight It” on the B-side. Neither song ever saw an official on-album release. But, hey, the hour is getting late, and I’m quite in the mood for a fine 200-gram Rush refresher.
Mike Mettler is the former editor-in-chief of Sound & Vision, and he interviews artists and producers about their love of music and high-resolution audio on his own site, The SoundBard, at www.soundbard.com.