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Various Artists: Subdivisions-A Tribute to the Music of Rush

Magna Carta built its early reputation on a series of tribute albums to such artists as Jethro Tull, Genesis, Yes and Pink Floyd that were classier than practically any tribute albums before or since. Despite its recent shift away from progressive metal to jazz-fusion and even Southern rock, Magna Carta has returned to its roots with its second tribute to Rush. Unlike 1996's Working Man collection - which featured a revolving door of musicians and such progressive-metal vocalists as Dream Theater's James LaBrie, Fates Warning's Ray Alder and Shadow Gallery's Mike Baker - Subdivisions primarily uses talented singers who got critically shafted via their involvement in Eighties hair bands. Here we have Geddy Lee soundalike Randy Jackson (Zebra) singing "Distant Early Warning" and "A Farewell to Kings;" a subdued Sebastian Bach (Skid Row) turning in credible versions of "Lakeside Park" and "Tom Sawyer," on which Baz's performance is almost too laid back; and Jani Lane (Warrant) admirably covering "Bastille Day" and "2112 Overture/The Temples of Syrinx" - proving in the process that Rush can influence anyone.

Actually, quit snickering. These dudes turn in strong performances built around slightly altered arrangements that aren't too far removed from the originals. Plus tight, flawless playing comes courtesy of a steady band that includes rhythm guitarist Vinnie Moore, bassist Stu Hamm, drummer Mike Mangini and keyboardists Robert Berry, Jeff Feldman and Trent Gardner. Various guitarists take solo turns, but most impressive is Daniel J., whose work can also be heard on Jordan Rudess' latest album, Rhythm of Time. Special mention goes to Kip Winger, who lends surprising grit to "Limelight" and "Spirit of Radio."

This is one tribute album you won't mind playing again -- although it would be nice to hear how Rush's fellow musicians interpret the band's Nineties output.

Track Listing:
1) Distant Early Warning (Vox: Randy Jackson/Solo: Daniel J.)
2) Lakeside Park (Vox: Sebastian Bach/Solo: Daniel J.)
3) Limelight (Vox: Kip Winger/Solo: Andreas Kisser)
4) Subdivisions (Vox: Randy Jackson/Solo: Dominic Cifarelli)
5) Different Strings (Vox: Robert Berry/Solo: Robert Berry
6) Tom Sawyer (Vox: Sebastian Bach/Solo: Dominic Cifarelli)
7) Bastille Day (Vox: Jani Lane/Solo: Alex Skolnick)
8) A Farewell to Kings (Vox: Randy Jackson/Solo: Andreas Kisser)
9) The Spirit of Radio (Vox: Kip Winger/Solo: Jeff Stinco)
10) Didacts and Narpets (Instrumental)
11) 2112 Overture/The Temples of Syrinx (Vox: Jani Lane/Solo: Vinnie Moore)

Added: March 28th 2005
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Magna Carta
Hits: 2938
Language: english

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Various Artists: Subdivisions-A Tribute to the Music of Rush
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-07-24 18:19:42
My Score:

Magna Carta Records follows up their Rush tribute "Working Man" with "Subdivisions" and while there is nothing quite like the original, this album continues to showcase the other side of some Progressive and Rock greats it makes for a nice companion to the first release. The original "Working Man" found Mike Portnoy on most of the drumming, and he is clearly a monster talent capable of all things Peart; his adventures in Dream Theater have allowed him to take drumming to the next level. "Subdivisions" however lets all the drumming be handled by Steve Vai and Annihilator skin basher Mike Mangini. Mike is a killer player who does the album justice. Vinny Moore and Stu Hamm handle the rhythm guitars and bass on the whole recording as well and that makes the key focus be on the vocal talent this time around. Sebastian Bach is once again present on the album and he does a great considering his level of expertise. As a result "Tom Sawyer" and "Lakeside Park" have a new heaviness to them. Yet despite Bach's presence I was more interested this time around in the contributions of the other singers and I feel many listeners could enjoy this as well. Joining the talented folks who put this together is Randy Jackson (Zebra), Kip Winger (Winger) and Jani Lane (Warrant). For those who have never heard Randy Jackson, you are missing out on one of the best Rock singers ever. His work with Zebra and his ability to handle Robert Plant with ease make listening to "Subdivisions" and "Distant Early Warning" a very interesting experience. Kip Winger does great as well and gives a slightly different vocal sound to "Limelight" and "Spirit Of Radio". I also think that the singer who will surprise the Progressive fans most is Jani Lane who shows that he really can belt them out on songs such as "2112 Overture/Temple Of Syrinx" and "Bastille Day". Don't sell him short for the Warrant stuff which held high the Hair Metal banner because he does the legends some justice on this tribute album.

Of course listening to the real Rush albums is much better to do, but sometimes a tribute album when put together well is worth giving some attention to. If you love Rush and some of these players appeal to you then I say give it a chance.

Various Artists: Subdivisions-A Tribute to the Music of Rush
Posted by Steve Ambrosius, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-03-28 09:44:36
My Score:

I am of the opinion that a tribute CD should do that, pay tribute to the artist. If all you want to do is cover the song as it originally sounded on the CD the artist put out, you might as well buy the original. The eleven songs on Subdivisions: A Tribute to Rush simply have other artists recording the CD version of some of Rush's most popular songs.

The performances are solid and you can tell that Magna Carta worked hard to get an all-star lineup that would fit the music. But what's the point? There is not one version of these songs that is better than the original. I expected Robert Berry to have re-worked some of these old favorites to pay tribute to the band but use the songs as influences. The booklet states how Rush influenced each of these artists. But apparently that influence was to mimic and not to inspire creativity.

If you ever wanted to hear what a Rush song would sound like with a different singer or lead guitarist, here is your chance. But if you are looking for good Rush music, buy the original.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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