Rush mixed lyrics of a ponderously Canadian nature with English whimsical prog rock and never looked back. Their early stuff – ‘Anthem’ and ‘Caress of Steel’ – were horribly thudding metal. But then the trio relocated from their native Canada to Wales and got influenced by the likes of Van Der Graaf Generator.
Drummer Neil Peart was the band’s lyricist and claimed to be influenced by the ‘genius of Ayn Rand’. This political writer was a huge influence on some right wing Americans with a mix of unashamed elitism, worship of capitalism, belief in selfishness, an aggressive individualism and, unusual for American right wingers, atheism. Peart has denied being right wing himself and I believe has even called himself left wing and libertarian. So there you go.
Their middle era albums like ‘Hemispheres’ were very prog rock in their pretentiousness and 2112 had a classic concept story that gobbled up one half of the vinyl. A complete heap of Rand infused guff about a young man trying to rebel against evil communistic priests….oh God, I can’t be bothered to describe the rest of this plot.
But in 1980, Rush decided they’d rather like some pop success. And so out came ‘Permanent Waves’. Short songs like ‘Spirit of Radio’ saw them climb the charts and I nearly fell off the family sofa when they appeared on Top Of The Pops.
During a brief flirtation with NWOBHM – I joined my school mates and went to see them in Hammersmith. Dare I say – I enjoyed the experience. But I’m still kind of ashamed. If people ask which bands I went to see in 1980, I’ll say the Dead Kennedys or The Specials before I say…..Rush.