Out of all the Rush discography, ‘Power Windows’ is the album that I have played the least. However, I could chastise myself endlessly for putting this album on the back-burner. The production here is amazing, the keyboard work even better than before.
Written by: gdmonline
ALBUM: Power Windows
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Canada
LINEUP: Geddy Lee – vocals, bass, keyboards * Alex Lifeson – guitars * Neil Peart – drums, percussion
Additional Musicians: Andy Richards – additional keyboards * Jim Burgess – additional synthesizers * Anne Dudley – strings arrangement * Andrew Jackman – conductor, choir arrangements * The Choir – additional vocals
TRACK LISTING: 01 The Big Money * 02 Grand Design * 03 Manhattan Project * 04 Marathon * 05 Territories * 06 Middletown Dreams * 07 Emotion Detector * 08 Mystic Rhythms
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Out of all the Rush discography, ‘Power Windows’ is the album that I have played the least. Though still quite prolific through this stage of their career, ‘Power Windows’ was consigned to the back of the house when other more popular albums took precedence (Michael Bolton‘s ‘Everybody’s Crazy’ anyone?).
As we’ve read with Rush’s prior albums during the early 80’s, the band were embracing technology, more so than many other acts, while their lyrics were taking on a socialist view of the world. For me this is a catch up opportunity with ‘Power Windows’, and I could chastise myself endlessly for putting this album on the back-burner. The production here is amazing, the keyboard work even better than before.
The trio bought in keyboardists Andy Richards and Jim Burgess to flesh out the layers and their contribution should not be understated. Rush spent most of 1985 in preparation for this release, which eventually saw it on the shelves at the tail end of October that year.
The material here is even more synth driven, Lifeson’s guitars are more about fills and sunbursts, rather than stinging leads and solos. It wouldn’t be the first hard rock album to keep guitar solos to a minimum.
Neil Peart’s ‘The Big Money’ takes a look at the commercialism during the mid 80’s. If Neil thought it was bad back then, what must he think about it now? A beautiful clean sounding synth is the underlying feature of this track, it segues into a hi-tech wonderment that gets this album to a fantastic start.
‘Grand Designs’ contains more of the same, the whole musicianship/interplay working well in unison, some of the passages border on stunning.
‘Manhattan Project’ is a track that will appeal to all the conspiracy theorists out there, based on the splitting of the atom and the eventual creation of the atomic bomb. References to Enola Gay, fateful August day, shut-down the Rising Sun are all included.
‘Marathon’ is Rush’s tribute to survival, again the guitar and synth lines are incredibly rich and clean, Lee’s popping bass lines also a feature. Call it nationalism, tribalism whatever, Rush explore the issue of independence of nations on ‘Territories’, a big theme to cover for sure.
While on the next track ‘Middletown Dreams’ they retrench completely, and head back to the suburbs, and look at the normalcy of life on a smaller scale. Emotions and feelings are the drivers for ‘Emotion Detector’ while the closer ‘Mystic Rhythms’ toggles between reality and the dream world, with the music alternating between mainly synths and percussive passages.
‘Power Windows’ captures Rush at the forefront of their technical capability, some of the songs made suitable candidates for MTV as well – that much is a given. The album made it to #10 in the Billboard Charts, a handful of songs also saw minor chart action, ‘The Big Money’ being the most successful of these.
Rush’s love affair with synths and keyboards would continue with 1987’s ‘Hold Your Fire’, but by 1989, the band had chucked all the keyboards out of the studio and returned to zero with that year’s album ‘Presto’.
The Big Money
Entire Album (Select Tracks)