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Various Artists: New World Man – A Tribute To Rush

Someone over at Magna Carta Records must be one hell of a Rush fan 'cause if I'm not mistaken this is album number three of Rush covers. What's the real head scratcher here is why some of the tracks that appeared on the previous collections Subdivisions and Working Man are repeated on this tribute disc entitled New World Man.

"Tom Sawyer" apparently deserved to be included twice, so you get a rather forced version done by a band called I, Omega that fails to really capture the spirit of the song, while on the flip side at least Alex Skolnick's superb jazz interpretation with his trio puts a different spin on things. The tracks that do work quite well on this collection are "The Trees" performed by Shadow Gallery with the late Mike Baker on vocals, who get some help here from Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy and Billy Sheehan on bass. Likewise both "Subdivisions" ,which features Zebra's Randy Jackson and no less than three keyboard players, and "Jacob's Ladder" with former Skid Row belter Sebastian Bach accompanied by Sheehan, Portnoy and fellow Dream Theater member John Petrucci on lead guitar, all offer somewhat fresh interpretations on the originals. Unfortunately as is often the case with tribute albums the rest kind of falls short of the target. While I understand the desire to cover all the bases of the band's career, songs like "New World Man", "Mission" and "Force Ten" never floated my boat in the first place so I can't say their inclusion here did much to convince me otherwise.

In the end New World Man is an average album at best and that's primarily because there just aren't enough fireworks contained in these renditions to make a significant impact on the listener. New World Man may serve as a curio for fans of the band, but I still think that when in doubt it's best to just go to the source.

Track Listing
1) New World Man (Robert Berry – vocals)
2) The Trees (Mike Baker – vocals)
3) Fly By Night (Sal Marrano – vocals)
4) Mission ( Eric Martin – vocals)
5) Tom Sawyer – I, Omega
6) Jacob's Ladder (Sebastian Bach -vocals)
7) Limelight (Kip Winger –vocals)
8) Force Ten (Robert Berry –vocals)
9) Subdivisions (Randy Jackson – vocals)
10) Tom Sawyer – Alex Skolnick Trio

Added: June 6th 2010
Reviewer: Ryan Sparks
Related Link: Magna Carta
Hits: 1298
Language: english

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Various Artists: New World Man – A Tribute To Rush
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-06-06 18:05:16
My Score:

In these pages the influential Canadian rock band Rush need no introduction. For the past few decades Rush has influenced a great many artists. As a tribute to the band, Magna Carta Records has released New World Man which includes many musicians from the world of progressive rock and metal such as Robert Berry (ex-Ambrosia), Gary Wehrkamp (Shadow gallery), Billy Sheehan (ex-Mr. Big), Randy Jackson (Zebra), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater), Trent Gardner (Magellan, Explorer's Club), Matt Guillory (Dali's Dilemma, Explorer's Club), Kip Winger (Winger) and Sebastian Bach (Skid Row) to name but a few. There is no doubting the talent Magna Carta has assembled and many of the performances are first rate. It is clear these artists have taken this compilation seriously and it shows in some excellent playing. I have no problems with the songs chosen, although I do question two different versions of "Tom Sawyer". Although both versions are competent, played by I, Omega and the Alex Skolnick Trio, one version would have sufficed which would have made room for a different track. Another curiosity is the fact that this is the third such Rush tribute from Magna Carta. The previous releases entitled Subdivisions and Working Man contain a total of five tracks found on the new CD which makes it hard to justify purchasing New World Man if you have any one of the previous two. It would have been nice if all three releases contained different tracks. Now that my sour grapes are out of the way, just how does New World Man measure up? Quite well in my opinion.

One of the best things about this tribute is that the versions presented are not carbon copies of the original tracks. If I wanted that I would just listen to the original albums. Many of the songs take on a heavier approach which should not be that surprising considering the guest list reads like a who's who in heavy progressive rock and metal. Highlights include a crunchier version of "The Trees" featuring the late Mike Baker on vocals who does a great job and "Jacob's Ladder" from Permanent Waves that has Sebastian Bach on vocals leading a more metal rendition. Also kudos to Billy Sheehan and Matt Guillory who do a fine job on the bass and keyboards respectively. Winger's vocal talents absolutely slay the classic "Limelight" featuring an interesting prog metal intro along with the talented Andres Kisser of Sepultura who provides some heavy handed axe slinging.

Tribute albums are hit and miss but I feel this one mostly hits the mark. If you are a Rush fan you will probably be interested in New World Man as the musicianship is excellent and the players show plenty of passion in performing these classic songs. Of course, if you already own any of the previous Rush tribute CDs released on Magna Carta I am not sure if you will want yet another version to add to your collection.

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