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Thread: Rush - Caress of Steel - first listen!

  1. #1
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    Rush - Caress of Steel - first listen!

    Believe it or else - I had my first complete listen to Rush's Caress of Steel just a few days ago. For some reason I had an aversion to listening to this album. I think it was the completely uninteresting looking cover that put me off. Maybe it was the cheesy Manowar-esque title. Also, while I like FBN, I don't listen to any pre-2112 Rush very often. I had heard Bastille Day a few times, I Think I'm Going Bald probably once 30+ years ago, and maybe Lakeside Park once back then too. But I'd never heard either of the epics. Maybe just the narrative intro to The Necromancer once. But I bought the remastered edition about a year ago, and finally last week popped it in the car CD player, and cranked it a couple of times while driving.

    Overall, it's a fun listen. The short songs, especially, are pretty good. I'm surprised to find that ITIGB is possibly my favorite - it kicks ass, and Geddy does probably his best Robert Plant impersonation ever. Basically, these three sound like the songs on the first album done better, so that's cool. The two epics are certainly enjoyable and have some pretty cool sounds, but to me they kept sounding like an initial attempt at 2112 that never reached the levels of 2112. Oddly, in some ways Fly By Night sounds more polished than Caress of Steel - maybe not the sound quality, but the compositions and execution. The shorter songs seem more assured, and By-Tor and the Snow Dog seems overall a more successful epic. More unique, anyway.

    Rush sometimes seemed to go two steps forward then three steps back sometimes. I've often thought that 2112 is a better album than either A Farewell to Kings or Hemispheres. It usually seems to me that this is just because the band was doing what it wanted, when it wanted, so I never usually found it to be a detriment. Also, I first got into Rush right after Moving Pictures came out, and it was 2112 I got into first, so I've always seen that album as my focal point for Rush. Everything was in some ways judged against that. The title epic is pretty much my favorite Rush piece of all, and it's like all the rest of Rush's work revolves around that, if that makes sense.

    I like pretty much all Rush, except there was this one hole, and also I've really never listened to the first album, but I've heard several of the songs in concert a lot. There are probably one or two songs on there I've never heard actually, but that doesn't bother me too much. So I'm glad to now have Caress of Steel as a fully-fledged entry in the Rush pantheon.

    What are your thoughts on this album? Where does it sit in your view of the band's work, and when did you first listen to it?

    There are some other albums I've surprisingly never heard, which I should probably also have a listen to - like Jethro Tull's "This Was," (again, know most of the songs from concerts and live albums, but still...) and the first two Yes albums. The horror!
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    Member Phlakaton's Avatar
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    I've had a few albums by bands I love get next to no attention for some reason and then later be the best thing ever... this is one of those for me. Lizard by KC is one I never took the time to get into my ears too - then 5 years later is was gold.

    Bastille Day -- well there ya go... a quintessential Rush song for me. Has it all... groovin' beat and a great riff. Relatively short song and a nice punch in the face to start off.
    I Think I'm Going Bald -- Just a goofy track and still heavy on the hook and Geddy's sharp yet smooth singing. Its cool how they can take a simple song and hang it out in the wind with a complex sound.
    Lakeside Park -- Just a great song and one I can put on any time. Bass is so good on this one. That swirling bridge section... love it!
    The Necromancer & Fountain of Lamneth -- Some good heavy guitar portions that keep me involved... the lyrics just dont matter to me - no matter how cornball they can be. Music is king for me. The 16 min mark of Lamneth - good stuff. Guitar riff!

    I dont grab for this one that much but it's still solid.

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    Insect Overlord Progatron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    What are your thoughts on this album?
    Loved it when I was a teenager but it slowly sifted its way to the "bottom five" over time. I love all their albums though, and know them all like the back of my hand. For me, this one is all about the two epics. First of all, I'll just throw it on the table and say I think "Lakeside Park" is one of the only Rush songs I simply don't like, lyrically or musically. I remember one of the band members expressing some negative opinions on it years later as well... can't remember who it was. It still gets played a ton on classic rock radio, at least in Toronto it does.The remaining two tracks are okay I guess but I don't ever get a hankering to hear them. "Bastille Day" has a great riff though and makes for a killer opener to All The World's A Stage.

    But "The Necromancer" and "The Fountain Of Lamneth" are both classic early Rush, and "Lamneth" in particular a heavily prog-influenced piece of music (all three were huge Genesis, Yes, Floyd and Tull fans on top of their heavier influences). Great stuff, no doubt about it, I just tend nowadays to drift towards the more 'refined' Rush.


    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    ITIGB is possibly my favorite - it kicks ass, and Geddy does probably his best Robert Plant impersonation ever
    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    I've really never listened to the first album


    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    There are some other albums I've surprisingly never heard, which I should probably also have a listen to - like Jethro Tull's "This Was," (again, know most of the songs from concerts and live albums, but still...) and the first two Yes albums. The horror!
    Some great material on all three of those albums, but they all fall outside of my favourite eras of the respective bands.
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    Member Paulrus's Avatar
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    I also came to Caress of Steel relatively late in the game (though for me that was like 15 years ago. ) It's a more uneven album than the one before and after it, and I think the band were caught getting ahead of themselves a bit. But it does scratch both the "early rawk" Rush and the "proggy" Rush in a way that even 2112 doesn't quite deliver on (something like "Didacts and Narpets" looks ahead to "Cygnus X-1" for example.)

    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    Basically, these three sound like the songs on the first album done better, so that's cool. The two epics are certainly enjoyable and have some pretty cool sounds, but to me they kept sounding like an initial attempt at 2112 that never reached the levels of 2112.
    Not being a huge fan of basic hard rock those three short tracks don't do much for me, and I think Rush did it better on the previous two albums.

    When it comes to the epics, I think the "Fountain of Lamneth" suite is pretty amazing. Individually the compositions are solid, though they weren't quite ready for a album-side epic and some of the influences are a bit pronounced (Alex has admitted he was aping Steve Hackett on his solo to "No One At The Bridge"). As for "The Necromancer", it's always been a tough listen for me. I just find it too stoner-metal-ish overall.

    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    Oddly, in some ways Fly By Night sounds more polished than Caress of Steel - maybe not the sound quality, but the compositions and execution. The shorter songs seem more assured, and By-Tor and the Snow Dog seems overall a more successful epic.
    Agreed. To me Fly By Night is clearly the winner of the pre-2112 era albums.

    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    I've really never listened to the first album
    You have to be ready for a straight rock album and not have any proggy expectations, but in that vein the debut is a kick-ass and energetic package. You can hear the whole thing on YouTube if you're curious.

    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    There are some other albums I've surprisingly never heard, which I should probably also have a listen to - like Jethro Tull's "This Was," (again, know most of the songs from concerts and live albums, but still...) and the first two Yes albums. The horror!
    Tull's first is a good comparison to Rush's first: different key personnel, a more raw sound and style, etc.

    But get thee to Yes' first albums post-haste! Sweet baby Jesus -- it's the Squire/Bruford rhythm section!

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    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    I guess I've probably heard about 2/3 of the first Rush album, but I've never heard the whole album in sequence. But I did think when listening to ITIGB that Geddy sounded even more like Plant on that song. Or he was more successful at it, somehow.


    Paulrus said:
    > But get thee to Yes' first albums post-haste! Sweet baby Jesus -- it's the Squire/Bruford rhythm section!

    Somehow, I never quite realized Bruford was on those first two albums. To me, The Yes Album always had a certain "first good album" feel to it that made me skip these two albums. But of course, I was presuming.
    "Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart...not smart, but genius....and a very stable genius at that!"

  6. #6
    You wouldn't find such primitive, obtrusively repetitive choruses, as I've Seen All Good People on each of the first two Yes albums.
    And Time and a Word is unfairly underrated here - which is surprizing. Even Tormato collect better reviews.

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    Insect Overlord Progatron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregory View Post
    You wouldn't find such primitive, obtrusively repetitive choruses, as I've Seen All Good People on each of the first two Yes albums.
    And Time and a Word is unfairly underrated here - which is surprizing. Even Tormato collect better reviews.
    Yeah, but you also won't find stuff like "Starship Trooper", "Yours Is No Disgrace" or "Perpetual Change". Great stuff on those albums though, I've always loved "The Prophet", "Beyond And Before", "Survival", "Astral Traveler", and some of the cover songs... terrific tracks from a young band chock full of energy and enthusiasm. I think Tormato might appear to garner more favour because it has been the subject of discussion so many more times than Time And A Word.
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  8. #8
    I always have a soft spot for this album. Got into Rush big-time in '77 with Farewell to Kings and immediately brought myself up to speed with the previous albums. I love the brash, youthful naivete and enthusiasm that comes through. You can see they were starting to test the boundaries of how progressive heavy rock could be, without quite knowing what the limits were or where they would end up. Still sounds good to me, still pull it out once a year for a listen.

    On the Beyond the Lighted Stage documentary, it's mentioned that Alex played this, pre-release, for Paul Stanley of Kiss while they were in a car, and he "didn't get it."
    You say Mega Ultra Deluxe Special Limited Edition Extended Autographed 5-LP, 3-CD, 4-DVD, 2-BlueRay, 4-Cassette, five 8-Track, MP4 Download plus Demos, Outtakes, Booklet, T-Shirt and Guitar Pick Gold-Leafed Box Set Version like it's a bad thing...

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    Member Vic2012's Avatar
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    I love the brash, youthful naivete and enthusiasm that comes through. You can see they were starting to test the boundaries of how progressive heavy rock could be, without quite knowing what the limits were or where they would end up.
    Very well said. Very good way to describe the vibe of this album. I've never been crazy about COS and have never been sure if I like it or not, but you nailed it. To me it's a step back compared to Fly By Night, yet it's raw and naive, and it has some killer guitar and bass riffs scattered all over it. I don't have a favorite song from it, and I don't think it sounds as good as FBN, Rush, 2112, etc. but it has its moments. I will say this, I'd take COS over Counterparts, Test For Echo, Vapor Trails, and Clockwork Angels.

  10. #10
    One of my favorites. Sounds like a long lost world to me. I heard most of this before 2112 and what came after, so I loved it without any comparisons. The Necromancer remains one of my favorite Rush tunes. The second half (what used to be known as Side 2 in dem dere olden days) took a little bit longer. I gotta be in a special mood for it.

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    Member Digital_Man's Avatar
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    [Oddly, in some ways Fly By Night sounds more polished than Caress of Steel - maybe not the sound quality, but the compositions and execution.]


    I can understand that and I know what you mean. Similarly Nursery Cryme sounds more polished than Foxtrot too. Sometimes a band takes a step backwards because they think they are moving ahead but without proper preparation they just wind up with a sound that doesn't push them ahead. It happens sometimes. Tormato sounds less polished than GFTO in many ways for yet another example.

    I like COS a lot though and it's probably one of my favorite RUSH albums(top ten at least).

  12. #12
    One of the best things on this album is the first section of Fountain Of Lamneth. That was one of the first things I learned to play when I got my 12 string. I remember picking one in a guitar store and playing that bit, and the owner of the store, who was sitting behind the counter with an acoustic lap steel started playing along. Really sounded nice.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Garden Dreamer View Post

    On the Beyond the Lighted Stage documentary, it's mentioned that Alex played this, pre-release, for Paul Stanley of Kiss while they were in a car, and he "didn't get it."
    Five years later, Paul would have a similar experience when he and Gene played Music From The Elder for people.

    BTW, I disagree that A Farewell To Kings was "a step back" or whatever from 2112. I like 2112, it's got some nice music on it, but I certainly wouldn't say it was better than A Farewell... Then again, I dig the way Geddy used the synths when he first started with them, and I like the 12 string on Xanadu. I also love that stop time unison thing on the front of Cygnus X-1. Would love to be a fly on the wall during the first rehearsals where they working that out and getting up to speed where they were staying in synch on that.

    And I just love the idea that they decided to expand their sound, but instead of doing stuff where they'd have to bring a keyboardist and/or percussionist on tour, they worked up arrangements that allowed the three of them to do everything themselves onstage.

    I know they use backing tracks and sequencers today, but that technology didn't exist back then, Geddy and Alex had to actually get good at playing synths in addition to their regular instruments, and Neil had to adjust to using other percussion instruments besides just the trap drums. I think he commended his drum tech in print at least once for always handing him the right set of mallets when he needed them.
    Last edited by GuitarGeek; 10-01-2013 at 11:50 PM.

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    Estimated Prophet notallwhowander's Avatar
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    I like this one. I'm not such a fan of Rush as to rate their albums, and I don't own many anyway. IMO Garden Dreamer is spot-on. I hear it more as a bunch of kids, rather than "Rush" if you know what I mean. There is a lot of fun in a callow, early-twenties kind of way.

    Re: Tull's This Was...
    I always thought it a splendid album. Not a bad note on it.
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    Love this record. Sweet memories... I'm gonna listen to "The Necromancer" with some headphones right now so I can hear Alex RIP IT UP. Kickass solo on that one.

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    I've always like CoS. As much as I love Rush, I've never owned the first two records. Just not that interested, and I was happy with what turned up on ATWAS. I can see what some are saying about it being maybe a small step backward. And I'm just hypothesizing here, but it could be sort of their "sophomore slump". Record #1 - plenty of material to pick from. FBN - massive new energy by way of a kick ass new drummer (haha!). CoS - "now what do we do?". Experimental for sure. The short songs harken back to the more early 70s sound of the first record. Dig that. The epics - By-Tor got their feet wet, but this was them diving in head first. They laid down some killer jams, and the whole experience, for better or for worse, set the stage for 2112 to become what it did. A big F U to the record industry! And let's just say that gatefold sleeve saw its fair share of dried plants... I will take this album over anything from Presto through Snakes. Maybe even CA.

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    facetious maximus Yves's Avatar
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    Doesn't Geddy comment about this album, in the movie, that they were pretty high when they wrote and recorded it?

    To me it's a transitional disc that bridges their earlier two albums with the 2112/A Farewell To Kings/Hemispheres era. I find the epic, Fountain of Lamneth, to be rather disjointed and long for long's sake.
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    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarGeek View Post
    Five years later, Paul would have a similar experience when he and Gene played Music From The Elder for people.
    Paul is pwned!
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    Member Jerjo's Avatar
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    I think Geddy said that when he listens to this album these days he can hear the hash oil in the grooves. I bought this after 2112 and the live album. I always thought ITIGB was a waste of time but the opener, Lakeside Park, and the epics were fine. In retrospect, Necromancer and Fountains are a bit disjointed and aren't as well plotted as the epics that came after. Both kind of fizzle to a slow end when there should have been something more dynamic.
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    Traversing The Dream 100423's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerjo View Post
    I think Geddy said that when he listens to this album these days he can hear the hash oil in the grooves.
    There is probably still some sift in my gatefold.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Progatron View Post
    Yeah, but you also won't find stuff like "Starship Trooper", "Yours Is No Disgrace" or "Perpetual Change". Great stuff on those albums though, I've always loved "The Prophet", "Beyond And Before", "Survival", "Astral Traveler", and some of the cover songs... terrific tracks from a young band chock full of energy and enthusiasm. I think Tormato might appear to garner more favour because it has been the subject of discussion so many more times than Time And A Word.
    I love Starship Trooper most of all on YA, Yours is no disgrace second, and A'venture is nice little tune. Of Time & A Word, my favorites are Then, Prophet, and fantastic rearrangement of Buffalo Springfield song, Everydays.. Well and Time & A Word itself is great song.. really this album is unfairly overshadowed.)

  22. #22
    PE Member Since 4/9/2002 NeonKnight's Avatar
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    Lakeside Park is one of my all time favorite Rush tunes. However, I heard it on the live one first, so I think I prefer that version.

    Great teenage ballsy name for COS.
    “Where words fail, music speaks.” - Hans Christian Anderson

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yves View Post
    Doesn't Geddy comment about this album, in the movie, that they were pretty high when they wrote and recorded it?
    He says that in Beyond The Lighted Stage.

    Quote Originally Posted by NeonKnight View Post
    Great teenage ballsy name for COS.
    Huh?

  24. #24
    I think "No One at the Bridge" is one of the very most moving things they ever did. And although Alex's humility is admirable, the guitar solo goes far beyond being a Hackett rip.

    This album is their most wildly diverse musically. So many different textures in the arrangements long before they integrated keyboards. The music summons up all kinds of vivid visual images in my mind. It probably takes longer to get into when someone's just exposed. But it's also the only Rush album that always seems fresh when I revisit it.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by undergroundrailroad View Post
    I think "No One at the Bridge" is one of the very most moving things they ever did. And although Alex's humility is admirable, the guitar solo goes far beyond being a Hackett rip.

    This album is their most wildly diverse musically. So many different textures in the arrangements long before they integrated keyboards. The music summons up all kinds of vivid visual images in my mind. It probably takes longer to get into when someone's just exposed. But it's also the only Rush album that always seems fresh when I revisit it.
    "No One at the Bridge" is my favorite piece of music on the album and I agree with the rest of your post 100%.

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