|Rush - 'Clockwork Angels' (Wea/Roadrunner)|
|Written by Jim Rowland|
|Saturday, 19 May 2012 04:00|
A few older readers may remember a BBC Saturday night game show called 'The Generation Game', where at the end of the show, the winners had a conveyor belt full of prizes whisked under their noses, and they had to remember as many of them as possible in order to take them home. That sprung to mind for me today as I'm sat in the lush surroundings of Islington's Angel recording studios, with 14 brand new Rush tracks, comprising the forthcoming 'Clockwork Angels' album, paraded past my ears, just once. My task is to remember as many of them as possible in order to review the album.
The task is made even more difficult because this is a bit of a concept album, with some of the tracks interlinking with each other, making it a bit tricky to know exactly which track you're listening to. Oh, and there's a table at the back stacked with free booze. It's not looking good Uber Rockers.
The first two tracks are easy, as the album kicks off with 'Caravan' and 'BU2B', the two tracks released a year ago on record store day. So that's the cuddly toy and the fondue set out of the way. Rush fans will be familiar with these tracks already, so there's no point in elaborating, other than to say both tracks are fairly representative of what follows, and there is a 'BU2B2' towards the end of the album.
As already mentioned 'Clockwork Angels' marks a return for Rush into the realms of the concept album, with Neil Peart's science fiction inspired lyrics describing a "future as seen from the past". As this kind of sci-fi concept has perhaps more to do with Rush's past, such as groundbreaking albums like '2112' and 'Hemispheres', it was interesting working my way through the album to see if Rush were going to be heading into a musical future from the past. There are certainly moments of retro Rush riffing that give hints of tracks like 'By Tor and the Snow Dog' and 'Bastille Day', and the album really does heat up towards the end. One classic Rush sounding track towards the end, which I believe to be 'Headlong Flight' (though I may be wrong), certainly made a lot of ears prick up, and drew a loud "awesome" from one scribe seated very near to me. Indeed it sounded like the album's highlight even after the first listen. There's plenty of hard riffing throughout the album, countered by some orchestrated acoustic sections, and a belting anthem at the end entitled 'Wish Them Well'. There's also a very strong finish in the shape of the orchestrated 'The Garden'.
As I say, it's hard to give an accurate assessment of the album on one listen, but my gut reaction is that 'Clockwork Angels' is a very good modern Rush album, easily holding up against, or even bettering, the likes of 'Vapor Trails' and 'Snakes And Arrows'. It isn't, however, something to rival the real classics like 'A Farewell To Kings', 'Permanent Waves', 'Moving Pictures' or 'Hemispheres'.
To pick up your copy of the Classic Rock Presents: Clockwork Angels Fanpack - CLICK HERE