What I find more conspicuously surprising than that he (and perhaps the other two) don't realise how strong the early material is, is that they don't realise how very bad the later albums are, from HYF onwards.
And yet I must except Clockwork Angels from this rule. For with the dying gasp of their powers, the three men of Rush reached for glory - and glory did not elude their grasp.
Generally I agree but for me it's not Hold Your Fire, it's Roll The Bones that starts the decline. Counterparts tries to rebound and does to a degree. Test For Echo has some good songs but some bleh songs and overall seems weak.
I've often wondered what Rush would have been if Neil's personal tragedies not happened. I think that event, and Geddy's solo album, had a big effect on Rush's sound. I think Geddy brought some "My Favorite Headache" sound into Vapor Trails and Snakes & Arrows to a lesser degree and I don't mean that in a positive way. I don't mind MFH but I certainly don't want Rush to sound that way. Clockwork Angels is clearly better than the preceding few albums.
Geddy and Alex seem to have more of an appreciation of the older material than Neil does but knowing Neil's personality, it's not surprising that he feels the way he does about the old stuff