Saturday, April 25, 2009

Rush - Hemispheres

When I was younger, roughly 13 years old, I bought a lot of albums. I was a completest, even at a young age if I liked a band I had to own EVERY possible thing they had. This is why I own 17 Bon Jovi Albums, every Yes album, and, after hearing YYZ on the radio one night, every Rush album. Now, years later, Hemispheres is the only album I can actually listen to all the way through. I didn't lose my appreciation for them as musicians, or become a naysayer (I'll always defend Rush), it just got to a point where I realized that while it's technically great music and they were a very important band, most of it is pretty fucking cheesy. It's OK, you can admit it. I did. Hemispheres was my favorite then and, since it's the only one I can still stomach, I guess you could say that it's still my favorite Rush album.

But that's not why it's here.

La Villa Strangiato has one of the best Neil Peart moments ever recorded. The band begins trading short solos (like jazz musicians) and Peart uses his space to to really showcase his smooth hi hats and thundering drum rolls. He always wrote impressive and interesting drum parts even with the workload he had within this band (at this point Peart wrote all the lyrics on top of his drum parts)

But that's not why this album is here either.

It's here because of one thing, and one thing only.

Woodblock solo.

In the middle of The Trees Peart uses not one but FOUR woodblocks in an attempt to sonically represent the sounds of trees fighting against each other. It's fairly simple, just a few sixteenth notes played in straight rhythm, but I am sure that thousands of Peart fans rushed (no pun intended) to their local instrument store to buy themselves a stand full of wood blocks upon hearing that song for the first time. I don't even own a single woodblock let alone many woodblocks that would require the use of a stand (thanks Waynes World). This would go on to create a seperation in drummers for years to follow (as well as raise LP, the main percussion supplier's, stock). From this moment on you were either a woodblock enthusiast, which evolved into cowbell, chime and eventually Octoban enthusiast, or you were a drummer who kept his kit simple (either by choice or by lack of finances). It is an important shift in the attitudes of drummers, and it happened with this record. Of course I am just making all of this stuff up, but at least it gives you something to think about.

Like I said earlier, if you want to break it down, using a series of woodblocks to mimic the sounds a forest of Maple trees would make as they battle the oppressive Oak trees is completely fucking cheesy, but Rush fans don't care. Neil Peart will always be a god to them (and frankly, to me too) regardless of the cheese moments Rush has.

I guess I just can't not think about it.

Audio/Visual evidence: La Villa Strangiato, The Trees

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