Rush to Listen: A Band Worth Hearing

Rush first made a name for itself in the 1970s, but its music is still played regularly and its fan base remains strong

The Spirit of Radio: Greatest Hits (1974-1987) Album Cover

The Spirit of Radio: Greatest Hits (1974-1987) Album Cover

Sophia Caneira, Staff Writer

Rush was formed in 1968 in Toronto, Canada, and made its breakthrough in the early 1970s. The band, consisting of Geddy Lee (lead vocalist, bassist, keyboardist), Neil Peart (drummer, percussionist, lyricist), and Alex Lifeson (guitarist), became legendary for defining the hard rock and prog-rock genres for over forty years. 

The Spirit of Radio: Greatest Hits (1974-1987)

Sixteen tracks of pure gold (and hard rock).

  1. Working Man

The album opens with a few glorious chords of Alex Lifeson’s guitar. Then Neil Peart’s drums and Geddy Lee’s vocals join in. Geddy’s bass especially shines in the midsection. From “Working Man,” we get a full dose of Rush’s power and sound. The song is the longest on the album, but certainly worth a listen (or many!).

  1. Fly by Night

“Fly By Night” goes a little lighter on the guitar, but still remains high up on the list of Rush’s best songs. The melody is energetic, with a few fun solos throughout.

  1. 2112 Overture/The Temples of Syrinx (Chronicles Version)

“2112 Overture/The Temples of Syrinx (Chronicles Version)” seems like a song that belongs on the soundtrack of a science fiction movie. The song progresses like a story, with turns that suggest a beginning, middle, and end. The first half or so really showcases Neil Peart’s drums, while the second half places more emphasis on guitar.

  1. Closer to the Heart

If we’re going to talk bass lines, “Closer to the Heart” is a great example. Behind the electric guitar, Geddy Lee’s bass supports all of this upbeat song’s moving parts.

  1. The Trees

Track five, “The Trees,” only starts out mellow. The plot of the song revolves around the Oaks and the Maples, two groups that are at odds—a parallel to the nature of humans. The song experiments with a mix of percussion and builds up to a rolling finish.

  1. The Spirit of Radio

Number six on the album was what made me fall in love with Rush and remains my favorite of their songs. “The Spirit of Radio” shares a truly poignant message in this modern day where our lives are so heavily influenced by the media. Its metaphorical lyrics and on-point drums speak to how powerful music can be.

  1. Freewill

“Freewill” is simply a fun ride. The song contains effective turns and tempo changes, and has a perfect balance of vocal and instrumental sections.

  1. Limelight

“Limelight” was the first Rush song I heard, so it obviously left an impression on me. Perhaps one of their most famous songs, “Limelight” is the picture of hard rock and expresses the important message about the dangers of living in the spotlight. Another great example of a song that demonstrates how incredible of a drummer Neil Peart was.

  1. Tom Sawyer

Another Rush classic, “Tom Sawyer” combines edgy guitars and synths for a highly enjoyable listen. And yes, the story is loosely based upon Mark Twain’s novel Tom Sawyer.

  1. Red Barchetta

“Red Barchetta” is a song with a nostalgic and perhaps wistful tone. Many of us have meaningful artifacts from our past, and that is what this song encompasses—with a mix of deep and light guitars.

  1. New World Man

Many people think “New World Man” is a metaphor for the United States, in its long and complicated history. The song is full of catchy guitar riffs and drums.

  1. Subdivisions

“Subdivisions” is not only a great song, but has a message that is easy to identify with, especially in a high school context. The lyrics are delivered with punchy guitar chords and synthesizers.

  1. Distant Early Warning

“Distant Early Warning” is one of the more fast-paced songs on the album. The melody corresponds to the lyrics and has the tone of a warning, as the title suggests. It is also another example of a song that effectively mixes guitar and synths.

  1. The Big Money

The lyrics of “The Big Money” tell of the many risks of a world based on wealth. The song itself, however, has an almost hopeful melody and buoyant guitars.

  1. Force Ten

According to Neil Peart, the lyrics of “Force Ten” encourage listeners to not be afraid of failure. A powerful intro, catchy bass lines, and fiery guitars deliver the message with a punch.

  1. Time Stand Still (feat. Aimee Mann)

“Time Stand Still” is the album’s perfect finale. The lighthearted song is a reminder to be present and live in the moment; take a step back and appreciate life. Aimee Mann’s vocals are a wonderful addition and complement the resonating beat.