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Was Rush too derivative?


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#1 timbale

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 02:14 AM

During the Dan Rather interview, Geddy Lee's explanation as to why Rush were denied airplay was that they were "too derivative".

 

Does this ring true to anybody?

 

With the exception of the first record, I've always thought Rush were a particularly un-derivative band.  I mean, as a fan, I can hear their influences (and how those changed over the years) but Rush has always seemed like a band that fans and non-fans agree that they always just sound like Rush.

 

And since when has been derivative kept you OFF the radio?  Even in the time he is referring to, it seems to me radio was full of stuff that sounds like other stuff.  Radio, even in its heyday (with the exception of some great alternative shows) was never some great champion of originality.  If Rush REALLY sounded like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd mixed together with some Black Sabbath and Genesis, wouldn't they have been all over the radio?

 

It just seems like an absurd argument... and it was a moment where I thought, oh, a member of the band might not be the person who has the most reliable perspective on why they didn't get radio airplay. 


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#2 Wandering Hermit

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 03:32 AM

Good points. Agreed.


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#3 chemistry1973

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 05:24 AM

Totally. Though I think at times Rush were shamelessly derivative in order to get ON the radio.

Also, Rush got plenty of airplay. They conquered rock radio. Geddy is being a bit confusing.

Perhaps he’s thinking of the Counterparts era, where, yeah, they bit off a bit too much. I still loved that record though.

Shit, Roll the Bones was a hit. The album was their biggest seller since MP.
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#4 chemistry1973

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 05:28 AM

Rush had what very few other bands had.

An Eddie Van Halen.

Neil Peart was their Eddie Van Halen.

The fact is that Rush was monstrously more influential than a pop band of the era.

I love the Police for example, but no one wants to learn Message in a Bottle on guitar or drums. They want to learn Panama. Or Tom Sawyer.

Hall and Oats AND Tears for Fears have to tour together to do the numbers Rush can do on their own.
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#5 AsIfToFly

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 05:37 AM

Totally. Though I think at times Rush were shamelessly derivative in order to get ON the radio.

Also, Rush got plenty of airplay. They conquered rock radio. Geddy is being a bit confusing.

Perhaps he’s thinking of the Counterparts era, where, yeah, they bit off a bit too much. I still loved that record though.

Shit, Roll the Bones was a hit. The album was their biggest seller since MP.

I think Geddy was referring to the pre-2112 days.  

 

And I agree with the OP.  Yes, the first album was a bit derivative, but WM getting played on the radio gave Rush their break.  So yes, being derivative at first helped them at least to some extent in terms of getting on the radio.  As they got more progressive they didn't get played as much, at least until PW/MP.



#6 Three Eyes

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 06:26 AM

Wiki has "The Necromancer: Return of the Prince" listed as the first single from CoS. Jesus, no wonder the tour went "down the tubes." There's actually a 45 out there with just Return of the Prince on it?? I love the song but that's your single?


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#7 Three Eyes

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 06:29 AM

Well looky here.

 

R-6063452-1459794807-9733.jpeg.jpg

 

 

Someone in the comments section said the riff is like Velvet Underground's Sweet Jane. I never put that together before but it's true.

 


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#8 fenderjazz

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 03:25 PM

Of course they were derivative but got more original as they combined influences that hadn’t gone together before. Progesssive Metal. It’s what they are most known for. They took Yes, early Genesis and Led Zeppelin and fused it together for about 5 or 7 albums. You didn’t hear much heavy progressive rock back then. Yes had maybe one or two songs that ventured into heavy. Black Sabbath and Zepppelin had maybe two or three songs that ventured into progressive.

I think their reggae experiments were probably the most derivative time but they did it with some classical and progressive moments. The keyboard era too. Rush may not be 100% original at any time but the combination of influences are often original.

#9 timbale

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 04:26 PM

Well looky here.

 

R-6063452-1459794807-9733.jpeg.jpg

 

 

Someone in the comments section said the riff is like Velvet Underground's Sweet Jane. I never put that together before but it's true.

 

 

Always thought of it as a rip off of Baba O'Riley...


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#10 Saint Ronnie

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 05:31 PM

Wiki has "The Necromancer: Return of the Prince" listed as the first single from CoS. Jesus, no wonder the tour went "down the tubes." There's actually a 45 out there with just Return of the Prince on it?? I love the song but that's your single?

 

Some bad decision making regarding CoS final product. Return of the Prince as a single is horrible idea, better to go with Lakeside Park.

 

Another issue with CoS was making Side 1 4-5 minutes longer than side 2. That made the 8-track and cassette version of the album problematic. Either drop ITIGB or LP from the album and use them as a B-Side. Keeping Lakeside Park in the live set list would have been cool - hearing a non-album track live and then to finally appear on ATWAS would have worked nicely imo. 

 

 

All 4 "sides" has either a fade out or fade in or both. Made for a disjointed listening experience

 

R-4695375-1372511794-6407.jpeg.jpg


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#11 Saint Ronnie

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 05:34 PM

An even worse 8-track playlist 

 

1b59f5d622d9d23c99433defbed3221b.image.6


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#12 A Rebel and a Runner

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 07:39 PM

Didn't they flip "Didacts and Narpets" with "I think I'm Going Bad" on the cassette?  I think my dad owns a copy where they're the two that got switched for run-time purposes.


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#13 Three Eyes

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 07:57 PM

Some bad decision making regarding CoS final product. Return of the Prince as a single is horrible idea, better to go with Lakeside Park.

 

Lakeside was the second single. Probably too late by then.  B)

 

The album had to be a tough sell to radio. Rush were a hard-prog hybrid as FJ noted and didn't slot well. They weren't singing about chicks or getting loaded (until Passage to Bangkok, anyway). Radio didn't want history lessons or fretting about hair loss. lol.


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#14 Three Eyes

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 09:10 PM

Rush's mid-70s albums were pretty schizophrenic. What did they want to be? Prog? Hard prog? Hard rock? Hard pop? Folk rock? They had songs representing all of these sub-styles. Probably gave the label fits. Look at the top 100 singles of '75. It's mostly pop and soft rock with maybe a couple weird exceptions (Bowie's "Fame"). The only possibility for the pop chart would have been Fly By Night, Lakeside Park or maybe Rivendell. lol. Closer to the Heart actually did chart at #36 on the British singles chart in '77. Take that, Brit trolls.

 

So in '75, Rush was most likely trying to break into the FM progressive rock format which was probably already morphing into AOR by then.

 

Some interesting - and not too long - Wiki reading on the history of those formats.


Hey there goes Alex. He's loaded with money. Wow he's really set himself up great.


#15 baldiepete

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 10:03 PM

Rush's mid-70s albums were pretty schizophrenic. What did they want to be? Prog? Hard prog? Hard rock? Hard pop? Folk rock? They had songs representing all of these sub-styles. Probably gave the label fits. Look at the top 100 singles of '75. It's mostly pop and soft rock with maybe a couple weird exceptions (Bowie's "Fame"). The only possibility for the pop chart would have been Fly By Night, Lakeside Park or maybe Rivendell. lol. Closer to the Heart actually did chart at #36 on the British singles chart in '77. Take that, Brit trolls.
 
So in '75, Rush was most likely trying to break into the FM progressive rock format which was probably already morphing into AOR by then.
 
Some interesting - and not too long - Wiki reading on the history of those formats.


No trolling required. That’s when they were good :D
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#16 AsIfToFly

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 10:41 PM


Didn't they flip "Didacts and Narpets" with "I think I'm Going Bad" on the cassette? I think my dad owns a copy where they're the two that got switched for run-time purposes.


You are correct. It really makes TFOL..interesting

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#17 nickslikk2112

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 10:43 PM

 Closer to the Heart actually did chart at #36 on the British singles chart in '77. Take that, Brit trolls.

Think it got even higher on my local radio station's - Hallam FM - singles chart.

 

Old Rush Good, New Rush Bad :)


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Old Rush Good, New Rush Bad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


#18 Slim

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 12:30 AM

They were strongly derivative of Zeppelin up to and including 2112, I would say. There's a huge Police influence in later albums, a bit of the U2 / Simple Minds schtick as well. I don't mind it really. As to whether this ever kept them off the radio, no idea.



#19 chemistry1973

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 03:17 AM

I think we can agree that The Spirit of Radio is ironically derivative, if not just straight up derivative.

#20 jeffro

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Posted 28 November 2017 - 12:53 PM

I think Geddy is just wrong here. Rush were never embraced by the masses/denied airplay was because their music was so (in his own words from another interview) weird.

 

What I remember as it applies to radio airplay here in CT was that Rush would often get some airplay when a new record was coming out or when they had a gig at either Hartford or New Haven. At all other times, radio airplay was very hit or miss. They certainly didn't get the airplay that other more mainstream popular rock bands did. Not by a long shot. At least not around here.


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