on June 28, 2016
This is a very good-sounding vinyl reissue of 'Counterparts', the album Canadian music legends Rush originally released on Anthem/Atlantic Records in 1993. It reflects some of the trends at that time in North American music, with an earthy, straight-ahead pop/rock production style. This reissue replicates that sound very well, spreading the songs across three sides of long-playing high-quality vinyl for maximum fidelity in this format. There is also an etching of the rear cover artwork on side four, which is interesting, but not exceptionally cool like the spinning hologram etching on the recent vinyl reissue of Rush's classic '2112' album.
By the time 'Counterparts' originally came out, CDs and cassettes had taken over as the dominant music formats, and consequently vinyl-lovers found the nearly 55-minute-long album originally sounded disappointingly thin when it was squeezed onto two sides of a single LP, which negatively affected its sound quality due to physical space limitations. While the Atlantic vinyl reissue corrects this problem, and reproduces the original packaging, someone did not take into account the practical concerns that accompany storage of two heavyweight 12" discs. Each disc is housed in a static-free sleeve, keeping it modestly protected from scratches and damage, but these sleeves are stored side-by-side in the outer cover with a reproduction of the credits and lyrics sheet stuck between them, instead of an individual pocket for each disc that would be available in a gatefold LP sleeve configuration. The reissuers could have chosen to put the lyrics and credits sheet on the inside of such a gatefold design, rather than reproducing the slightly-too-small single sheet of artwork from the original, but either that was not approved by the band or not in the budget for the reissue campaign, so instead we have a faithful reproduction slightly widened cover that can hold two discs inside it but not without being prone to bends and crushed corners.
Personally, I store my vinyl in a bookshelf with the spines facing out, generally handling them with the utmost care, but even before a day's worth of use, the widened outer cover had bent from the pressure that two heavyweight discs exerted on its flimsy walls. Be careful if you are actually going to play this album, which I recommend you do, or perhaps store the discs separately from the cover if you don't want the cover to suffer the same fate of crushed edges.
Abbey Road mastering engineer Sean Magee did a great job of cutting this reissue from the original tapes, very faithful to the original album, except for a few added measures of music in the song "Nobody's Hero" that were edited out on the original. Kevin Gray at Cohearant Audio has also done a remaster of the album on the audiophile hybrid stereo SACD format, which also sounds great; it also has an even more extended edition of this track as well as a slightly longer version of the song "Stick It Out" that was not included on this vinyl reissue. I don't mind missing those extra few bars of music, as they are basically just added repeats of the same phrases, but it's nice to hear them once. This vinyl edition also comes with a download card that will allow you to access full-resolution 96kHz/24bit FLAC files for each song to play back on a compatible digital audio device. I really appreciate having this, although the download for some reason cuts out the spoken "count-in" at the very start of the album, whereas the vinyl itself preserves it.
Overall I would recommend any serious Rush fan who likes vinyl should have this edition of the album in their collection, but casual fans may be happier exploring their earlier catalogue first or getting a standard digital edition just for convenience. If the packaging had been expanded to a full gatefold, this would be a four-star review.
on December 21, 2003
Counterparts continued Rush's return to the heavy sound of their earlier releases. While their albums from 2112 to Moving Pictures were fantastic all the way through, most of their subsequent albums were uneven, even though the musicianship was always stellar. Counterparts was their first album since Moving Pictures that was strong all the way through, containing no mediocre tracks.
The uptempo "Animate" starts out the album with a bang and hints at the heavier direction of the album. Geddy Lee's bass playing is in fine form throughout, particularly on "The Speed Of Love" and on the instrumental "Leave That Thing Alone." His vocals are also in fine form, especially on the excellent ballad "Nobody's Hero." Neil Peart's drumming continues to be impressive and his lyrics on many of the tracks, particularly on "Nobody's Hero", are among his most personal. Alex Lifeson continues to be pushed closer to the spotlight and his solos on the heavier cuts "Cut To The Chase" and "Alien Shore" are among his best. His background vocals are also more prevalent here than previous albums. Other strong tracks here include "Open Fire", "Double Agent", "Between Sun & Moon" and their ode to grunge, "Stick It Out." There are no instant classics here, like "Tom Sawyer" or "The Spirit Of Radio", but this is certainly one of Rush's more consistent albums and is definitely worth checking out.
on July 20, 2009
Geddy is still using the Wal bass, but here it sounds so much better than on the previous few albums. Alex is still using Paul Reed Smith guitars to great effect. It seems that Engineer Kevin Shirley was able to really bring out the strengths of those instruments.
Overall the album has a warm, luxurious sound. The drums are full and thundering, unlike the previous couple of albums. Alex is playing in the mid- and lower-range which really pushes Geddy down into the lower registers where his bass really shines. The improvement over the last couple of albums is immediately obvious.
The boys are BACK!
This new sound really comes across in the opening track, "Animate". They really rock out for the first time in a long time--probably not since 'Hemispheres'. In certain places Geddy takes the beat and enables Neil to focus on some incredible fills. This song reminds me of some of the most powerful parts of '2112'.
"Stick It Out" has a really cool opening with a simple, biting riff and loads of feedback. Like "Animate", this is a solid rocker with some of Geddy's best singing on the album. I am fondly reminded of "Cygnus X-1". It is also very "Zepplin-esque". Alex burns up the solo!
The album continues with one great song after another! "Cut to the Chase" rocks out with beautiful doubling of bass and guitar in the opening riff. Again I am fondly reminded of "Cygnus X-1".
Then comes "Nobody's Hero". Erk! This song just doesn't belong beside "Cut to the Chase". It is too simple and melodic. It kills the momentum of the album. It really should have been grouped with "Alien Shore" and "The Speed of Love". "Hero" is a nice little song, but a bit over dramatic and over produced compared to the first three tracks. Frankly, the use of the orchestra makes me think of those overwrought European hair-bands from the late 80's.
I love the guitar and drum doubling of "Between Sun and Moon". The guitar sound is really great. The drums are so loud--but perfect. Maybe this one should have come before "Hero". "Between" works great as a rhythm and melody song--but played in a hard rock/metal style.
"Alien Shore" features a cool groove and a great riff. I love the touches of feedback. It is a nice, dark tune--a real feast of layers. It is a spacious song with a lot of things going on in the spaces.
"The Speed of Love" is a lovely, melodic song that brings the pace down a bit, but still applies the same principles of volume, edge, depth, and power that are featured on the hard rockers at the beginning of the album. On this song, Alex shows off just how inventive he can be. None of the choices he makes are the obvious ones, but they are all perfect.
We return again to "Cygnus X-1" with "Double Agent". The arrangement, riffs the darkness, and the power all invoke that old song. "Agent" features an awesome opening with just bass and voice. The overdriven guitars that come next give an insistent edge to the song. I'm not sure why this great song did not stay in the setlist after the 'Counterparts' tour.
I absolutely love the instrumental "Leave That Thing Alone". It is truly incredible how much they accomplish--how much they manage to get in. I just love the riff, the groove, the swing, the sing-song guitar lines, and the ebb and flow of emotion. Each instrument sounds just fantastic. Being free of vocals gives so much more space for the music.
Just when you think it can't get any better, it does! "Cold Fire" takes off on such a wild ride then switches gears to become melodic and complex. The riff contrasts with the melody to show the shifting emotions of the dialog contained in the lyrics. This song has a Dire Straits feel to it, but harder and faster.
Like "Hero", "Everyday Glory" is a bit out of place. It should also have been put with "Speed of Love". I think that while this is a great song in its own right, it is not the ideal closing track. It sounds incredible. It is really gorgeous on its own. Like "Hero", it is melody driven, but here it works because it avoids being overly sentimental. Alex's playing reminds me of The Edge from U2.
on May 22, 2001
This has to be Rush's best complete album they have ever done. Now granted some of their work from 1974-1981, was great, the albums only contained 7-8 songs, due to the epic proportions of PRog Rock. This album with more than 7 -8 songs, is complete. Kevin Shirley does an excellent job of getting a raw sound out of Rush. This also is is the most stripped down Rush album too. Alex Lifeson, was really getting into the Seattle grunge sound, and it shows on this album...
My only beef with this album is the song "Nobody's Hero". This could have become Rush's first top 20 single, but the opening line alienated too many. As it comes off as a song about homosexuality from the opening lines, many of my friends quickly skipped this song, and many others would too. All this and without knowing that the song was pened about heroism, and the first part about a friend of Neil Peart's who was a homosexual and died of aids...Just a risky opening line to start off a song that could have become their biggest...
"Between Sun And Moon" is very "Who" and "Cut to the chase" is very Grunge-like. A very great mix of songs, and an excellent come back from the synthesizer days of the 1980's
on May 16, 2000
After the glassy, relatively pop-oriented sound of "Roll the bones", "Counterparts" is a welcome return to more provocative lyrics and a harder rock edge. Obviously, this album was inspired by early-'90s grunge rockers like Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. It's the closest Rush have ever come to alternative rock music -- with straightforward rhythms, loud guitar riffs, powerful melodies, and tight arrangements. Alex Lifeson is a prominent figure on most of the tracks, however, his riffs sometimes sound overblown and forced ("Stick it out"). Also, Peart's 'sex & death'-lyrics are quite a step from previous albums, and his stripped-down drumming is one of the most memorable aspects of "Counterparts". Geddy Lee turns in workmanlike, unobtrusive bass performances, but his I think his vocal delivery is often listless and cool. Standout tracks are "Cut to..", "Cold fire", the moody "Between sun..", and "The speed.." with some atmospheric, floating guitar lines. Equally, there's not a bad song on this disc, and it's one of Rush's most focused and consistent efforts. A rather untypical album in Rush's discography -- it almost could be a live performance in the studio -- but the results are, as to be expected, very satisfying.
on May 19, 1999
During the 1980's, I knew of Rush's existence, but it was limited to just "Subdivisions" and "Tom Sawyer". It took one wondrous Saturday in March 1995 for me to open my eyes and my ears to what is now one of my all-time favorite rock bands in the entire known universe! "Counterparts" was the Rush album that become the hair of the dog that bit me with their lyrical and instrumental genius! It was my freshman year at Purdue, and I was a DJ for my residence hall's radio station. I was looking for something new to play since most of the CD's down in the studio were those of crappy, hot 'n'cold, nondescript Gen-X bands that all sound the same when all of a sudden, "Counterparts" had caught my eye. Seeing that it was Rush's latest album at the time, I decided to give "Speed of Love" a listen to. Two words instantly came to mind at that track's conclusion: INDELLIBLY CAPTIVATING!!! After hearing the rest of the tracks, I wondered where Geddy, Alex, & Neil had been all of my life?! I bought this 1993 masterpiece a few days after that rock religious experience. 20+ albums later, I am proud to say that I will be a Rush fan until the day I depart this good Earth! Anything more would sound redundant based of the multitudes of rave reviews that this Canadian "thinking man's" trio has received on all of its delightful works. But to all of my friends who think that Geddy sings like a little girl, I'd toss champagne in all of your eyes (HAH)!
on June 5, 1998
I love this album, as any dedicated RUSH fan would, but I find myself falling into the shoes of some of my educators in saying that I think their best is yet to come, and has been coming. I like the direction that they have been going. I wonder why more people haven't been turned onto them... I find their music better than a lot of the so-called-"popular artists" played on the radio. Their music is NOT for those who have no brain! The lyrics are complex and thoughtful, and the instrumentation is complex. This is not your typical,simple, droning, boring pop music album. MY favorite song on the album is "Nobody's Hero" because the lyrics are true and poetic. I think that Neil Peart is a realist with a cynical side, balanced with a spiritual side and a bit of subtle humor that's reminiscent of an "inside joke" ( the more you listen, the more you know & understand). Their music pronounces the feelings conyeyed in the lyrics (unlike a lot of pop music today). The spirit I feel from their music is individuality. I also like "Coldfire" and "Speed of Love". If you like this album try some of the earlier albums: "Hold Your Fire", "Roll the Bones", "Presto" to name some but certainly not all my favorites... Their earlier music which can also be described as when Geddy Lee used to scream (?) (no offense...) is great too. I especially like a song of several parts, that is based on Ayn Rand's Book "Anthem". (Anthem is a great short story - read it - check Amazon.com) This is a different and less commercial side of Rush. To get an idea, try one of the Chronicles albums... although the Chrnicle album is only one person's idea of the best of Rush... be open minded. Rush is REAL MUSIC.
on July 14, 2000
I'm one of those Rush fans who has almost all of their albums, which means I'm not quite rabid about them. I also only have three of their concerts to my credit.
I'm also one of those Rush fans who was nonplussed by Roll the Bones and Presto. Thus, I am very happy with Counterparts, it is the best Rush album in years and a worthwhile addition to anyone's Rush collection--and an excellent starting point for those just getting into Rush.
I cannot judge a single album by any group in isolation, thus I have to say this is not my favorite Rush album nor does it contain my favorite Rush songs--so many excellent Rush tracks have come before, to name a few: Fly by Night, Caress of Steel, Hemispheres, Signals, Hold your Fire . . . Permanent Waves . . . Power Windows . . . you get the idea.
However, what Counterparts does contain is traditionally poingnant lyrics and well-written, appealing music. It is very much a solid Rush album. In short, you must have this album.
on September 5, 2000
'Back to basics' was very much the approach on 'Parts', the guitar is really given the priority here, as demonstrated in tracks like 'Cut to the Chase', 'Stick it out' and 'Double Agent'. These three tracks feature some of the trio's heaviest sounds for many a year. There are lighter, more commercial sounds like 'Cold Fire' and 'Everyday Glory' and the blues-ish 'Between Sun and Moon'. The track that really stands out however is the poignant ballad 'Nobody's Hero', it features moving orchestral work from Michael Kamen, who worked with Metallica on their 'Black' album in 1991. I have to admit it nearly had me in tears when I first heard it, and not many Rush tunes do that! Rush were clearly getting back into their stride with four impressive albums on the trot ('Fire', 'Presto', 'Bones' and now 'Parts') but even better stuff was to follow in the shape of 'T4E' (check review).
This the first album Rush started to move back to their power trio roots. Except for Show Don't Tell on Presto this the heaviest Rush got until the last couple of records. Was not sure about this one until a friend told me to give it another try. Glad I did because it's an excellent SACD. As for the SACD it sounds great. Only in stereo but the bass has much more of a presence here then the current domestic CD. If you are a fan and have equipment to play it I promise you will love it.
Hopefully there will be more but it's hard to say what if any they might be. Between the early catolog being reissues in 5.1 and the fact that Rush's new material is their strongest in years I doubt very much it's at the top of their list.