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Popoff, Martin: Rush-Contents Under Pressure (book)

It's here...the first book to be officially authorized by Rush, written by the highly regarded metal journalist Martin Popoff. Contents Under Pressure-30 Years of Rush At Home & Away comes across more as a discography & tour journal than an actual band biography, and I think that was Martin's intent from the beginning. Sure, there's lots of info on the formation of the band, complete with loads of actual commentary from the boys, but what's really great to read are all the personal notes from Geddy, Alex, and Neil, as they talk in-depth about each album, each tour, and the bands they played with.

Fans of such classic Rush albums as Hemispheres, 2112, Farewell to Kings, or Moving Pictures, will gain some good insight into the trials and tribulations that went into the recording of these albums, and reading the band talk about one of their most underrated albums Caress of Steel as one of their most important early albums might be a surprise to many. Plus, who can resist the band sharing stories about early touring partners Kiss, Aerosmith, Pat Travers, Uriah Heep, and the many other acts that they shared the stage with? Priceless stuff. No period of the bands history is left untouched, as the band also shares their feelings about all the 90 's albums as well, right up to and including the recent Vapor Trails album and tour.

You'll really feel how this legendary band has grown and matured over the years after reading this book, and perhaps gain a better understanding of how and why Rush altered their sound and approach to music so many times over the years. It's a fast and fun read that just might bring you back for seconds and thirds. For the serious fan, there are a boatload of amazing photographs included throughout the book (quite a few from the 70's...doubleneck guitars, need I say more) giving this an almost "tour program on steroids" feel. Highly recommended!

Added: February 26th 2005
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Martin Popoff's Website
Hits: 4838
Language: english

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Popoff, Martin: Rush-Contents Under Pressure (book)
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-02-26 07:16:01
My Score:

When one thinks of Rush, one of the first things that comes to mind is the lengthy and diverse musical expertise that they possess. They are probably one of the most talented bands to ever exist in modern music no matter how you look at it. They are often referred to as the "Fathers Of Progressive Metal" and this truly applies given the time that Rush first provided us with music. Their rich and unique style eventually gave bands like Dream Theater, Queensryche and Fates Warning a niche to apply their talents. In recent years their World tours (billed as "An Evening With Rush") have sold out consistently and given their legions of fans a reason to return again and again.

This Autobiography by Martin Popoff takes the bands history and presents it in an album by album manner. Each chapter is essentially a title of one of the bands albums and runs from their premiere release of "Rush" and ends with "Rush In Rio" as well as making brief comment on the eve of their 30th Anniversary Tour. At first I was put off by this, since I am used to the more day by day histories that one gets with a book like "The Dirt" by Motley Crue, or "KISS and Tell" by Gene Simmons. However, as it dawned on me that Rush was not the type of crash-bang lifestyle as these others I looked beyond that and really enjoyed the way Mr. Popoff presented the band.

Scattered throughout the chapters the band outlines the many bands who either opened for them, or who they had opened for during their career. As a fan of the live shows, I enjoyed seeing this as an inclusion. It was also very interesting to hear the members of Rush add their commentary to some of these bands. I felt this added a more personal touch to something that most fans will never really be all that privvy to.

As referenced already, the chapters are the album titles. The diehard as well as someone who is a casual listener is able to get an inside look to what was on Rush mind when the particular album was released. You hear of production issues and personnel who helped them create some of the masterpieces. You also find out some of the bands personal favorite albums as well as songs to play in the live scenario. It is also interesting to see what songs Rush themselves are not happy with and overall what was in their head at the time of the release. There are many tour highlights for one to enjoy and given its chapter by album setup, someone who only cares for "Moving Pictures" and "Hemispheres" can refer easily to these sections.

The book is also a quick and easy read. Filled with photos from the bands thirty years. Some are absolutely terrific and made this all the more enjoyable. Check it out.

Popoff, Martin: Rush-Contents Under Pressure (book)
Posted by Michael Popke, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-02-19 16:43:02
My Score:

Rush fans new and old can read all about the band's experiences throughout its career in Contents Under Pressure, a 236-page journey through every Rush album and tour penned by renowned rock and metal critic Martin Popoff, who has also written the amusing books, The Top 500 Heavy Metal Albums of All Time and The Top 500 Heavy Metal Songs of All Time.

This is a thorough treatment of a band that deserves at least that much -- from its beginnings as Led Zeppelin wannabes in the Seventies to its wall-of-sound arrangements in the Eighties to its consummate songwriting capabilities in the Nineties and culminating in the mother of all live albums, 2003's Rush in Rio. Contents Under Pressure boasts in-depth interviews with bassist/keyboardist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart. Rush spills the beans on why the band doesn't like Steve Lillywhite, the nontraditional manner in which members managed to play sequencer-heavy songs from Power Windows and Hold Your Fire on stage, how the band began the tradition of writing last-minute songs for a given album, what techniques the musicians use with their individual instruments and what incident may have changed Rush's impression of Japan forever. It's intriguing to read members' detailed impressions of their work from both individual and collective viewpoints, drawing comparisons and connections beween eras, albums and songs.

What Popoff sometimes lacks in critical commentary about tracks he opts to let Lee, Lifeson and Peart share their own, often candid, thoughts rather than offer his own analysis he makes up for in touring details. Set-list notes and long roll calls of touring partners most of them inactive these days (Chilliwack, Chalk Circle, Fastway) but some still kicking (KISS, REO Speedwagon, Saga), a few that treated the band exceptionally well (Bob Seger) and others that didn't (Aerosmith) pepper each chapter, divided by album. There's even a final chapter devoted to last year's 30th Anniversary Tour.

Beautiful color and black-and-white photographs and an inviting layout make Contents Under Pressure a sight to behold, but it's a shame that Popoff didn't include track listings, release dates and production details next to the album cover that opens each chapter. That would have enhanced the reading experience. As it is, though, Contents Under Pressure makes for a worthy companion to trekking through the entire Rush catalog, album by album, song by song. You'll be surprised how much you forgot just how good these guys were and still are.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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