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 July 3, 2004
In my eyes, there are four different types of Rush fans.
1)Those that think that they like Rush because they've heard some of their songs and think they sound cool, but still don't really appreciate Neil's lyrical genius, or the entire trio's musical ingenuity.
2)Those that just think that Rush could never do better than Moving Pictures
3)Those that think the band has serious musical talent but can't stand Geddy's voice, and finally
4)Those who buy every cd they have ever released, eat, drink, breath, and sleep their music, have every single lyric memorized, and would do just about anything to get to meet the band.
I consider myself a member of the fourth group, as I fit almost all of that criteria, and becuaes none of the other three are close to me. People who think that Counterparts is a bad album, or not their best or slightly less than what they are capable of achieving should find themselves in the first three groups. Any fan who is true to the band, and who understands and appreciates both the entire trio's musical talents, as well as Neil's sheer lyrical genius should know that this is another winner. This band has been making the best music around for a long time, and they continue to do so with this album. Some say that some of the songs are lacking in various areas, and to those people I say this: Are you out of your mind? This is some of my favorite Rush material ever. The powerful opening tracks(Animate, Stick it Out, and Cut to the Chase) demonstrate Alex's ability to write strong, moving riffs, and almost shows Neil's ever present skill behind a drum kit. The ballads of the album(Nobody's Hero, Speed of Love, and Everyday Glory) clearly show Neil's talent in lyric writing. The instrumental song "Leave That Thing Alone" shows the band's obvious ability to play together, and to compliment each other in song. The songs "Between the Sun and Moon", "Cold Fire", and "Double Agent" show the band's ability to be creative and to have fun while making their amazing music. I will admit that I do not take a very heavy liking to "Alien Shore", but it is still a strong song that I listen to with the rest of the cd. There are no bad tracks on this cd in my opinion, I'd say they all demonstrate a different strength from the band and each of it's members. I personally find myself with almost any of the songs on this cd stuck in my head close to everyday. All in all this cd is a powerful album from start to finish, and show's the bands unbelievable ability to not only produce moving music, but to do it with an exceptional finesse found very rarely in most modern music.
on June 21, 2004
Rush's album Counterparts was released in October of 1993. The album was the band's first since 1991's Roll the Bones and first with returning producer Peter Collins since 1985's Power Windows and 1987's Hold Your Fire. The band recorded this album in early 1993 at Le Studio in Montreal. For this album Alex Lifeson, Neil Peary and Geddy Lee decided to go for pretty much guitar, drums and bass respectively and do away with the synthesizers. The first taste of this album for me and America was Stick it Out which was a huge hit on American rock radio and helped push this album to #2(the highest position any Rush album ever hit surpassing Roll the Bones and Moving Pictures' chart placing) and Platinum sales. Other standouts are the opening Animate, the rocking Between Sun and Moon, the ballad Nobody's Hero, the great instrumental Leave That Thing Alone and the wild Double Agent. It was in support of this album that I saw Rush live for the first time with Candlebox opening and Rush just kicked ass, especially Neil, the real professor of the drum kit!
on February 14, 2004
This is an excellent release by Rush. I really think that "Counterparts" is very highly underrated. It has one of the strongest vibes of any Rush release to date IMO. The songs are very well written, and the guitars / percussions are some of the best Alex and Neil have put forth since the early 80's. There are really no lame tracks here what so ever. It's heavy too!!!
Rush really put serious effort into this one, and they've come away with one of the best releases since Permanent Waves / Moving Pictures IMO....
I bought this a few months ago after reading many mixed reviews. At first listen, I was very impressed with it. This is one of those CD's that really jumps out at you IMO. It's a masterpiece, and is now one of my favorite Rush releases...
1.) Permanent Waves
3.) Moving Pictures
5.) A Farwell To Kings
Regardless of the bad reviews, you need to give this a good listen. It's one of the strongest Rush releases to date....
STICK IT OUT!!!
on November 20, 2003
This album is a little "cold" for Rush...not that they are known for their warmth! But it feels just a bit more slick that usual. So a little bit of a barrier is set up between the listener and the band. But give it a second listen, like I did, rather than dismiss it. I'm a HUGE Rush fan, but this one took me longer than any other album to warm up to...but now I'm a big fan. Almost all the tracks are stellar, but there are three I'd like to highly recommend:
1) ANIMATE, the opening track, is almost three songs in one. The opening riff is catchy, but the least interesting. Later in the song, when the tempo goes upbeat, this thing really starts rocking! Lyrically, it's interesting too...Peart makes some interesting comments about the need for our "manly" side to be balanced by more "feminine" aspects, either internal or external. Peart is always exploring the idea of balance, between heart and mind, usually, so this is a departure of sorts.
2) STICK IT OUT Kinda in the vein of FACE UP (my favorite from ROLL THE BONES), it's the closest that Rush does anymore to a kind of anthem...a crowd sing-a-long, if you will. It jams!
3) BETWEEN SUN & MOON. The song rocks pretty hard, with a clear, crisp guitar riff, more "shiny" than usual for these guys. But the song has a real beauty behind it as well. They performed it during some of their shows on the recent VAPOR TRAILS tour, and even though it was one of their lesser-known songs on the set list, I found it one of the high-points of the show for me.
The low point of the album is NOBODY'S HERO. I appreciate the sentiment, particularly as Peart, through the voice of Geddy Lee, expresses the pain at his loss of a friend due to AIDS. It's nice that the guys feel politically correct, but the lyrics fit VERY awkwardly with the music, and frankly, I just skip this track most of the time. Everyone can misfire once in awhile and be forgiven.
The musicianship is, as always, stellar. Alex Lifeson's guitar is more front and center here than in the last few albums, and the keyboards are starting to recede into the background...a foreshadowing of their disappearance on VAPOR TRAILS. For the most part, the lyrics are very direct, and Rush fans won't be disappointed. The album got virtually no radio-play, and didn't sell as well as others...which is a shame. I think it is worth a second look. Not the album to introduce someone to Rush, but for fans, it really deserves a place of honor.
on November 4, 2003
Counterparts(1993). Rush's fifteenth studio album.
By now, Rush has gone through no less than 4 phases in their entire 30 year career span. First they started out playing classic hard rock (debut-Caress Of Steel), their wildly progressive sci-fi period (2112-Hemispheres), their condensed yet introspective pop/rock period (Permanent Waves-Hold Your Fire), and the brief adult contemporary pop/rock period (Presto & Roll The Bones). Counterparts is the beginning of the modern hardrock era for Rush, as they decided to push the keyboards aside in favor of the crunchy guitar oriented rock they were known for in the beginning. After the low-key Rupert Hines production of the previous two albums, Rush brought back producer Peter Collins, who collaborated with them on the albums Power Windows(1985) and Hold Your Fire(1987). As the editorial review indicates, Windows and Fire bashers should take note that this is THE most polished, overproduced, and clean sounding Rush album ever made (the three albums were all produced by Peter Collins, who is known to push production values to the maximum). The drums, bass, and keyboards (yes there are still keyboards people, just used more subtly) are all clearly heard, while you get the impression that this album was designed to center in on the grunge-like guitars.
I'm sort of divided when it comes to this particular album. Rush does sound much heavier than they've ever been in the 80s and the trio still has what it takes to play great music. However, while half the songs are outstanding, the other half or so come off as uninspired and contrived. Others have noted that Rush takes a backseat on Counterparts and becomes influenced by the then-current Seatle Grunge scene (who in turn were originally influenced by Rush). Even though this is probably one of my least favorite Rush albums, oddly enough Counterparts does contain my two favorite modern era Rush songs, Cut To The Chase and Coldfire, which both display Rush at their all-time melodic best. Basically, when the songs work here they work very well, though there are also many instances of when some of them just fall flat. It's a hit or miss album, so to speak.
The main theme of Counterparts lies clearly in the self-spoken title. It covers a topic that most every band beats to death: love. Thankfully, Rush knows how to delve into love without risking at sounding cliche. The mood on this album is also dark and melodic, similar to how Moving Pictures(1981) was. At this point, Neil's lyrical talent starts to wane a bit (a problem that was solved by the new Vapor Trails(2002) album). I know that many people can interpret what each song means far better than I can, but I will provide a brief explanation of the tracks, so please bear with me. Here's the breakdown track-by-track:
1) Animate- A decent, yet predictable song about love. Nice backing of organs to compliment the song, though it doesn't retain very many qualities about what makes Rush sound like Rush. Still, it has a nice build up towards the end and it makes for a great opener. 9/10
2) Stick It Out- This track is about surviving no matter what. A hard rocker with plenty of punch, but something missing also. Probably the heaviest track on the album. Not bad, but not great. 8/10
3) Cut To The Chase- EXCELLENT TRACK. Very moody and engaging. Lyrically, its a throwback to the previous album's main theme of chance. The guitar solo here is one of the best that Alex has ever done. Clearly a standout track. 10/10
4) Nobody's Hero- A song that deals with the topic of homosexuality. This is one of those tracks which excells musically, but fails on the lyrical front. Michael Kamen's orchestrations fit well during the chorus. 9/10
5) Between Sun & Moon- As another reviewer put, it's a fantasy themed song with a compimenting rocker structure. Not bad, but definitely not a standout either. 8/10
6) Alien Shore- This track is about understanding the opposite sex. It works the opposite way of track #4: Lyrically it shines, but musically it falls flat. 7/10
7) Speed Of Love- I'm surprised that nobody seems to like this song. It's not as hard rocking as the rest of the album, but it captures Rush in one of their more melodic overtones. I agree that it's not very progressive, but it serves as a good break from the rest of the album. 9/10
8) Double Agent- OUTSTANDING. At first I didn't like this track, but it quickly grew on me and now I consider it one of the album's best songs. It's about the struggle between good and evil through dreams and everyday life. Very progressive in its structure, this track has one thing that Geddy Lee does with his voice which you'd never expect: sound menacing. His "spoken word" verses are something that has to be heard to be believed. 10/10
9) Leave That Thing Alone- A perfectly crafted instrumental which sounds like a minor take on the previous album's instrumental. At parts it sounds like 'Red Sector A', 'Animate', 'Territories', and 'YYZ'. A varied and clever jam session. 10/10
10) Coldfire- THE OTHER STANDOUT TRACK. Coldfire is a song that has a very melodic 80s commercial vibe to it, but at the same time, it sounds like nothing Rush ever did in the 80s. It contains a very infectious chorus and rocks hard and light during different parts of hte song. It's another track about love. 10/10
11) Everyday Glory- This closer track fails to really make a lasting impression, and it's a slight letdown from the previous 3 fantastic tracks. It's about the ordinary way of life that people get caught up in. 8/10
Counterparts is not a bad album at all, but at the same time it's not an essential addition to the Rush catalogue either. Here's my reason for this review's title: Counterparts is underrated because it came out well after Rush's peak years, so people will tend to ignore this release. However, Counterparts is also a bit overrated too because those that do praise this album tend to bash anything that came out after Moving Pictures and before this one. True, Rush is and always has been a band about guitar technique, but every period of the band's history deserves some credit. BUY THIS ALBUM ONLY IF YOU ARE A DIE HARD RUSH FAN.
on October 28, 2003
After roughly ten years of crafting slick synth/pop records of varying quality, Rush started moving towards a more organic approach with 1989's Presto and 1991's Roll the Bones. Those albums were still too polished and the vibe too neutered to pass for real rocking albums (blame it on producer Rupert Hine), and the band wisely passed over Hine in favor of the return of producer Peter Collins, who helped the band produce two of their previous discs. The result would be this album, Counterparts, arguably the best Rush album since Signals in 1982.
Sonically, Collins does a fine job of capturing a much more exciting sound from the trio, breathing new life into a band that was treading dangerously close on becoming stale. The balance between all the instruments is great, especially with Alex Lifeson's guitars roaring back to life again after lying somewhat dormant for years. Listen to tracks like Stick It Out, Cut To the Chase, Between Sun and Moon, and the jazz/rock stylings of the instrumental Leave That Thing Alone, and you can hear a guy falling in love with playing all over again. Indeed, the whole band sound alive again. Even the sparse synthesizers are where they ought to be: far enough in the background not to tread on the three main players, but noticeable enough to add color and depth.
Other strong tracks are the linear, bass grooves of Animate, the pensive 'love song' (!) Cold Fire, and the slightly schitzo number Double Agent.
There are weak points though: the band had been falling into the 'power ballad' trap over their previous few discs, something Rush is not known. Here, they offer us two, Nobody's Hero, which is somewhat cheesy and contains rather forced-sounding lyrics from the usually adept drummer Neil Peart; and The Speed Of Love, which never really hits on all cylinders, sounding more like filler than anything else.
Also, some fans detest the move into the use of backing vocals. I don't mind so much -- it adds a new dimension to the songs. (I just don't like the band using pre-recorded backing vocals in concert, which they do often). However, the pros outweigh the cons. This is a good album.
So if you want a great example of latter day Rush, pick up this disc. You will not be disappointed. It ain't 2112 or Moving Pictures, but it's still a solid album that, on repeated listens, will have you hooked for good.
on October 7, 2003
On the positive side, nearly every song on this CD is at least good. Some are excellent. On the negative side, Rush's in your face progressive rock sound is an influence rather than a focus of the music. I suppose that Rush may have felt the need to try different things, and this album is the result. The music on this CD is well-produced and slick, but in its production it does lose some of what has appealed to many Rush fans. In places the music sounds like it was influenced by Foreigner, which is a bit strange given Rush's longevity.
'Animate' kicks the CD off with a solid rock beat. The song is solid, but portions of the lyrics are poetry. Strangely, the very interesting portions of the lyrics are balanced by some of the most simplistic lyrics modeled a bit after 'The Moody Blues' song 'One More Time to Live' from 'Every Good Boy Deserves Favour.' While the lyrics of the latter worked well at the time, the 'polarize me, sensitize me, etc.' lyrics of the former seem as though they could have been approached differently.
'Stick It Out' kicks out with power, with better balance between the music and the lyrics. Some of the lyrics are poetic, but the music is pure power to drive the poetry into your brain.
'Cut to the Chase' has a strong flavor of the Rush of old, and is one of my favorite tracks on this CD. There are a couple of changes in tempo in the music that match the lyrics really well. Further, the plaintive notes in the instruments complement the vocals nicely; a solid and interesting song all around.
I struggle somewhat with 'Nobody's Hero.' The music here is interesting, but the lyrics seem to struggle, either in fit to the music, or the topic, which seems a bit confused from the outset. While I want to like this song, I suspect the lyrics needed different music and vice versa.
Then we come to 'Between Sun and Moon,' a fantasy song in the spirit of progressive rock. One of my favorites that combines the power for which Rush is known so well with wonderfully smoky lyrics that obscure enough to make you feel versus think too hard; a great listening song to listen to the spell-binding combination of lyrics and music.
The next song has a title that makes you think it might be a science fiction song, but 'Alien Shore' is about the difference between male and female. The bass rumble could almost be threatening, but really is trying to hammer the point that we need to understand each other; we need to reach each other; we need to reach the alien shore. This song is solid rock with a modest flavor of blues in the heavy rock, and more than a touch of progressive elements.
'The Speed of Love' follows. However, the speed seems to be something you would achieve when mired in molasses. The lyrics are too mellow and never break out the way they seem as though they should. The music matches the lyrics, but the change in tempo that you keep expecting just never happens.
We change structure and style with 'Double Agent,' which has received mixed reviews. I like this song. I didn't like it at first, but after listening to it numerous times, and reading the lyrics, I believe this song verges on the borders of nu-metal or thrash. The hard-driving drums and bass combine with the dark lyrics to yield a surrealistic vision of the land between wake and sleep, between right and wrong, and between darkness and light. A song worth making the attempt to understand in its musical and lyrical entirety.
The instrumental 'Leave that Thing Alone' is solid rock. There are moments when you capture a flavor of the Rush from the days of 'Moving Pictures.'
The CD closes with 'Cold Fire' and 'Everyday Glory.' The two songs bear some similarity in that they have a certain consistency to them, though the topics are quite different. The songs are decent, but once again they seem a bit tame for Rush, and perhaps a bit on the commercial side.
One difficulty with a group such as Rush is that we continually expect them to top themselves, and when they create acceptable rock, we can be disappointed. We probably shouldn't be. After all, not every work of an artist will be a masterpiece. This album is a worthy addition to your Rush collection; generally good, occasionally excellent, and very accessible throughout.
on October 2, 2003
The return of guitar-driven music by Rush is a welcome relief from the heavy synth music of the 80's. Although the 80's Rush music was good, Rush was always at it's best as a guitar, bass and drums trio.
Alex Lifeson finally comes back from the dark side of the control room and actually plays in the studio...through an amp! Wow! Can he do that? What a difference. For the first time since Moving Pictures, his guitar sound is deep and resonating. Because of the return to the other side of the glass, the songs have real power. That is something the last two albums (Presto, Roll the Bones) were missing desperately. Kevin Shirley, the engineer, captures the energy and power needed for this album.
The songs on the whole are very good. "Animate" is a nice start to the album and "Stick It Out" is known for its airplay; however, it is starting with the third track that the album really starts to take shape.
"Cut to the Chase" has a strong groove to it that is hard pounding from start to finish and "Between Sun & Moon", as it is with all Pye Dubois collaborations, is an amazing song and perhaps the best on the album. "Nobody's Hero" provides a softer counterbalance (or counterpart) between the two, showing a human side that Peart has rarely shown in his lyrics over the past 20 years.
The album then hits a snag. "Alien Shore" misses the mark due in part to the lyrics (saying "you and I/you and me" over and over gets old quickly). The melody never really feels resolved, either. Geddy Lee seems to be searching for a plausible melody and doesn't quite get it.
"Speed of Love" is just bad. I have tried to like it. I really have, but I just skip it now. It feels like someone took their foot off the gas. It feels like the band wants to play faster, but just can muster the energy to do it.
After that, though, Rush comes blazing back. "Double Agent" is probably their darkest song ever. Rush harkens back to their early days and gets down and dirty in their playing. Lee's haunting spoken vocal over the music invokes Peart's lyrics, an inner battle to decide between "right" and "wrong." In my mind, it is a fantastic return to those early days.
Following right behind is "Leave That Thing Alone", a syncopated flight into instrumentals. This rivals YYZ as their best. The song practically takes flight on the beautiful guitar work by Lifeson. Lee is, of course, brilliant on the bass and the band plays with a rhythm and soul that doesn't normally come out in their music. Close your eyes and drift through the song. It is beautiful.
"Cold Fire" is exceptional, especially for anyone who has ever been in a relationship. Read the lyrics while listening to the song. It is the classic argument between men and women that will never be resolved.
Unfortunately, the last song, "Everday Glory" is a poor end to the album. The lyrics and music do not match. The lyrics talk of pain and frustration that must be overcome on a daily basis, but the music tries to be more of a "bright sunny day walk in the park." Although it is an okay listen, it just isn't a fitting end to this power album.
All in all, this is a very good Rush album. Remove three songs and it is one of their best. It certainly is a more powerful album than anything they had released since Moving Pictures. Fans of pre-"Exit...Stage Left" will probably love this one. Fans of the 80's will be very disappointed.