While I was born in the very early 70s my musical tastes were not affirmed until the 80s learning that not one single decade hones my ear for input, rather what the musicians create that captured my attention. There’s obviously The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Alice Cooper, Blue Oyster Cult, and plenty of others, but discovering the progressive landscape is always expanding, and there’s no better place to start than Rush’s “Moving Pictures,” with it being their 40th-anniversary of this release their eighth full-length album. It’s a masterpiece and still influences others and is highly relevant to all types of musicians today, to deny its importance is impossible. As for those unaware of Rush’s music, it’s simple, one either enjoys it or dislikes it, there isn’t much wiggle room. Hence on February 12, 1981, from Mercury Records, the Canadian rock-trio band Rush unleashed this album capturing the hearts and minds of their fans, gaining so many more, it was produced with their long-time friend Terry Brown who mixed their first same title album in 1974. I have thought about how does one review such a stellar classic album which likely many know, but there’s some who have no clue of the dynamics incorporated in the music on this record, I want to take you on a journey through the musical landscape of this my favorite Rush album. However, an understanding of the musicians who conduct our soaring flight, this album marks really the first time that Geddy Lee, played some keyboards, while continued his normal duties as bass player and vocalist, and this work magnificently to strengthen Alex Lifeson‘s guitar position. Neil Peart generated the power from is premiere style, blending different tempos and genres into his one distant unique sound.

Likely the best known and perhaps most popular is the the first track that leads off the album which “Tom Sawyer” it’s simply cool, highlighting each musician’s skillset; the work that Neil puts into the song is incredible. Speaking of Neil, he took themes of and expanding the difference between characters in the song, as first presented by lyricist Pye Dubois, and from a poem called “Louis the Lawyer.” The captivating melody used on the synthesizers actually originated from Lee, which he used in numerous pervious soundchecks, this really isn’t all that uncommon, lots of artist do it, most notable Prince. The second song “Red Barchetta,” also took influence from another source namely author Richard Foster’s “A Nice Morning Drive,” that was published in 1973, and the song tells of a futuristic place. The track’s lyrics tell of story where a young man takes a joyride in car, which is forbidden in the future. An incredible instrumental piece checks in as the third track “YYZ” (which stands for the call letters for Toronto’s Pearson International Airport) and it starts with morse code of the letters (unique, I can’t think of anyone else doing that); the song really allows the musicians to each have trade-off solos, it all works seeming less. Some state a hint of the jazz quality to piece, however I’m not sold of that element, not because I’m not a fan of jazz, its merely a personal choice, the tune just rocks. There’s a serious song on the album entitled “Limelight” which captures a lot of the pain, suffering and how the industry, fans, touring all nibble at a musician life, the sacrifice, well it’s done as a self-reflection as Peart wrote the lyrics. He isn’t the first artist to note this so many others have mentioned the trade of fame and fortune versus loneliness and intrusion and noting the fantasy life. If one thinks about it, is fun to think wow to tour so cool, but the cost is dear, from artists such as Jackson Browne, Bob Segar, and Twisted Sister.

“The Camera Eye” presents Lee’s vocal strength, as equally noting his bass, and keyboard work just amazes me every time I sit back and hear this song. This is the longest song on the album and would serve the last long track over ten-minutes on their full-length records, though it is the absolute longest that’s “2112” from album of the same name clocking over 20-miuntes. It starts with a slow opening, the synthesizer takes center stage, and mimics the commotion of the big city, the filters in Peart’s drumming, before a crescendo of all parts for the band forming together. Actually, I have to be honest it’s really a two-partner ‘New York’ and ‘London’ and created by Neil’s walks in the cities and hearing a symphony of sounds that fill the air. The sixth song is likely a favorite amongst many, “Witch Hunt” opens with many faint voices, and instantly generates a lasting atmospheric start, a haunting quality, which includes cool sound effects and feature guest keyboardist Hugh Syme. The song, which later revealed as part 3 of the fear trilogy designed around a story of an old man who though life ruled by fear than love, power, or money. It works to show both musically and lyrically that fearful emotions excite a mob mentality, a hint to the Slem Witch Trials and other events to this day. If you’re curious the ‘Grace Under Pressure Tour’ (2009) features all three parts presents at once 1) The Enemy Within (Part I of Fear); 2) The Weapon (Part II of Fear) and 3) Witch Hunt (Part III of Fear). The final song is “Vital Signs,” contains a strange hint of reggae, as to allow the band to exploration another genre of music, then again one can’t expect anything less from a progressive rock band like Rush.


Track Listing:

Tom Sawyer

Red Barchetta

YYZ (instrumental)


The Camera Eye

Witch Hunt (Part III of Fear)

Vital Signs



Band Members:

Geddy Lee – Bass, Synths, Vocals
Alex Lifeson – Guitars, Synths
Neil Peart (RIP 1/7/2020) – Drums & Percussion

In all of their 19-albums this one is regarded as their all-time best, when ranking their studio releases it often tops the lists, and its essential for people to have in their collection. In addition, a lover of the drums, especially Neil’s style knows this albums and details of his playing and truly reinventing the drummer’s influence into a band. ‘Moving Pictures’ reached the status of quadruple platinum from the worldwide sales which continue to climb upwards, their progressive music clearly influences elements of intergraded arrangements found in a little of Iron Maiden, Fates Warning, and Dream Theater. You need to listen to this amazing album – now!


Band Links: