Thursday, May 5, 2016

When Music Mattered - Moving Pictures (1981)

There are albums that take time to grow on you and become classics, then there is Moving Pictures which was a classic from the first moment I heard it. Moving Pictures is perfect because the first side is filled with songs every rock fan from the 80s and 90s knows, and the second side is something Rush obviously did just for the hardcore fans. When you put the whole thing together, you get an album that still sells really well in an era of musical geniuses like Beyonce (editorial note for sarcasm).

As with most classic albums, the band played all of its own instruments and wrote all of the songs. It is actually kind of fun to read the recording credits for the record and see the huge lists of instruments that each of the band members played. This is a three-piece unlike anything we have ever seen before, or will ever see again. To have this much talent in a band of three people is not only unusual, it is a once in a century thing.

Most people would argue that 2112 is the album that broke Rush out into the mainstream, and they might be right. But it was Moving Pictures that took Rush to a level that most bands only dream of. This is the album that got the kids at the school bus stop asking about the next Rush tour, and the album that made Rush concert t-shirts topics of conversation.

Rush had been honing their craft for years prior to Moving Pictures, and if you listen to the Rush albums that lead up to Moving Pictures then the sound of this record really is no surprise. Permanent Waves had more than a few glimpses into the genius that would create Moving Pictures, but the sound in Moving Pictures is much more refined. By the time the band got to recording Moving Pictures, their musical talents as a group were at their peak. Rush would never be any better at writing and playing music than they were when they made Moving Pictures, and it shows.

Whenever I listen to this record, the idea that all of the instruments played on this record were played by the guys in the band fascinates me. The reason this strikes me as so remarkable is the sheer volume of instruments used to put this music together. Yes, Geddy Lee was playing with synthesizers and keyboards heavily by this point, but much of the music we hear on Moving Pictures is made by real instruments. The band used Geddy's synthesizers to pull much of those sounds off live, but there is a genuine sound to this record that would not have been possible if the band had used only synthesizers. I think that genuine approach helped to make these songs as memorable and classic as they are.

Moving Pictures is an album you can put on the stereo and just listen to through headphones to pass the time. It is as much an experience as it is an album, and it is something that will never be accomplished again in our lifetimes. Not only do I think Moving Pictures is a classic album, it is also one of the most monumental achievements in the history of rock music. The best part is that Rush feels the exact same way about their own album.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

George N Root III is a music fan who loves listening to Moving Pictures. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or send him a message at