Released February 12, 1981.

Happy 40th Birthday to Rush’s 1981 album ‘Moving Pictures’.

This is the album that has ‘Tom Sawyer” and “Limelight,” aka the only 2 songs most non-Rush fans know (ok, maybe “The Spirit of Radio,” too.)  It went to #3 on the Billboard charts and became their biggest selling studio album.

But, ‘Moving Pictures’ is so MUCH more than these tracks.  Put on your touque and let’s head to Le Studio for 5 other reasons why this album is such a masterpiece.

                               

                                                                                           YYZ

Some people don’t like Geddy Lee‘s voice (whatever.)  Ok, fine.  This instrumental track proves they don’t even need vocals to amaze.  The letters are identifier code for Toronto Pearson International airport, near their hometown. The rhythm is the letters Y-Y-Z in Morse code.  You can hear the entire song here, but for you Geddy-voice haters (again, why?) check out his isolated bass track below.  And bow down.

 

                                                                             The Camera Eye

For Rush fans that missed the long songs from “2112” and “Hemispheres” here’s one song in 2 movements (one about New York, one about London) filled with nearly 11 minutes of prog-rock precision and plenty of synth.  Alex Lifeson’s guitar solo is killer.

                                                                                             

                                                                           Vital Signs

Lyricist Neil Peart comments on the human condition over an awesome reggae-ish song.  Police, anyone?

                                                                                                           

                                                                                Witch Hunt

The music sounds like a horror movie soundtrack while the lyrics challenge us to question intolerance, fear, and prejudice. Just more proof Rush is better than (insert other band here.)  Plus a percussion party like no other:  cowbell, glockenspiel, tubular bells, conga, vibraslap, wind chimes, and an angry mob.

 

                                                                            Red Barchetta

The best song on “Moving Pictures” is a contender for best Rush song, period.  Based on a futuristic short story Neil Peart read, this tale of taking a beautiful red car on an exhilarating drive through the countryside while eluding the police is storytelling at its descriptive best, with a musical soundtrack that ebbs, flows, peaks, and shrieks along with the ride.

If you only listen to one Rush song in your life, make it this one.  If you aren’t smiling and saying “wow” when it ends, we’re so sorry.  We’ve done all we can for you, but you’re hopeless.

Wanna geek out even more?  See Rush’s best 50 songs ranked here and let the debate begin.

 

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