Rush - Working Men
Rush are a difficult band to pigeonhole, which may explain why they’ve found themselves continually overlooked by the mainstream music press for over thirty years. Falling inelegantly between the two stools of prog rock and heavy metal they are a band that will have left music fans scratching their heads in confusion or genuflecting in adulation in equal measure. They are, for me, a useful indication of the passing of time for, as the years tumble like dominoes, the warmer my feelings become towards the music of Geddy, Alex and Neil.
This is, of course, entirely logical as there is great depth and maturity to the Rush canon. They are, much like the equally derided yet successful Police are first and foremost virtuoso musicians who also happen to be part of the hype and hoopla of the music industry. Working Men brings together a selection of live favourites culled from the previously released Rush in Rio, R30 & Snakes & Arrows Live albums. So, essentially it is a distillation of the best of their live recordings into a single, digestible introduction to the power and complexity of their oeuvre. The perfect Christmas present for the aging rocker in your life but fans will want to head straight for the source material.
The choice of songs is solid and makes for a well balanced set although, due to unsubtle track fading, it never actually feels like you are listening a cohesive concert performance. Individual performances are, as you’d expect, flawless and intricate and the dynamism of their performance is well represented, although there is a degree of variability in the recording quality of the various source material. Set highlights are the punchy ‘Spirit of Radio,’ which may surprise newcomers to the band with its raunchy groove, the stomping ‘Working Man’ and the previously unreleased ‘One Little Victory’. The album closes with the epic instrumental ‘XYZ’ which is the perfect showcase for the band to demonstrate, not only their technical virtuosity but also an innate ability to create melodic harmony from head spinning complexity.