New Generation of Critics Learns to Hate Rush

gl1Cowed by the recent success and outpouring of affection for the Canadian rock trio Rush, music critics have largely refrained from laying a glove on the band, which first hit the music scene in 1974 and today is enjoying something of a renaissance as it basks in the success of its most recent album Clockwork Angels.

But several music critics, including most prominently Adam Carter of Rolling Stone, are bucking the trend and slamming the band for its pretentious lyrics, over-wrought drumming, and, most of all, the screeching vocals of bass player and lead singer Geddy Lee.

“I know it’s fashionable for one to pay one’s respects to ‘legendary’ progressive rockers Rush, but I just can’t hop onto this bandwagon,” Carter says in his blog, Rock in/Site. “No one can tell me Geddy Lee has somehow learned how to sing. In fact, I would venture to say his singing has gone from sounding like the dead howling in Hades to inmates in a pentacostal prison for the deaf talking in tongues. Did I mention that it’s bad?”

npCarter, who has been one of Rolling Stone’s most popular critics in the last few years, says Rush’s Clockwork Angels album, which many rock critics have hailed as a masterpiece, is a clownish work of unrelenting tedium. “A concept album about a comic book character who joins the circus, meets a girl, is accused of being an anarchist, runs away and has some adventures, then ends up in a garden all weepy-eyed with happiness. Okay, it’s an adolescent fantasy, but it’s three 60-year-old men singing about this.”

Nigel Porter of the U.K. rock publication New Music Express (NME) says he feels comfortable carrying on his publication’s tradition of hating Rush. “I’m proud to say NME has never wavered in its hatred of Rush and you will certainly never hear an admiring word from me about these so-called fathers of progressive metal,” Porter says in a rock documentary released earlier this year by Bong Video called “Metal Through the Mania.”

Porter says he tried to have a fresh, unbiased take on Rush’s last two albums, Clockwork Angels, released in 2012, and Snakes and Arrows, released in 2007, but everything critics hated about the band in the 1970s and 1980s, when Rush was churning out familiar pieces like “Closer to the Heart,” “Tom Sawyer,” and “Limelight,” still seem on target today. “Are the concepts ridiculous? Check. Is the drumming as innovative as paint cans being dumped in a recycling vat? Check. Does the singing make you want to crush your skull with a sledgehammer? Check.”

alRush manager Ray Danniels of Anthem Entertainment in Toronto says he couldn’t care less what critics think of the band. “Some critics have liked the band, some haven’t. It’s all the same to me,” he says. “I think Rush knows what it’s about and its worldwide fan base knows what it’s about, so the fact that some frustrated musician who writes for a publication has a chance to slam the band doesn’t warrant attention from me and I’m sure from the band either.”

The band certainly has a long history of enduring snarky write-ups about its music. In one of the most legendary pieces, NME writer Barry Miles blistered the band in a 1978 piece for what he saw as a right-wing conservatism masking as hard rock. Other writers of the era picked up on the right-wing label, typecasting the band as a conservative outpost in a sea of left-wing liberalism. But the band has always rejected that label.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00123526Q/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00123526Q&linkCode=as2&tag=mediab-20&linkId=SKF7TDEK323HWDXWNeil Peart, the band’s drummer and lyricist, says that conservative label stems from his interest in uber-free-marketer Ayn Rand when he was a young man, but he’s long since moved beyond that and today he decribes himself as a left-leaning libertarian.

All this criticism seemed to fade away, though, starting about 10 years ago, when Rush jumped back into recording and touring after a five-year hiatus. In quick succession the band put out four studio albums, including an extended play (EP) album of covers http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000NVIXFK/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000NVIXFK&linkCode=as2&tag=mediab-20&linkId=JDJA64GLGXY4KXSC of such rock classics as “Crossroads,” “The Seeker,” “Mr. Soul,” and “For What It’s Worth.” The albums did well on the charts, with Clockwork Angels hitting No. 1 for a few weeks on several charts, and reviews were good. Joe Bosso of MusicRadar pronounced Clockwork Angels a masterpiece, saying several of its tracks were destined to be classics. One reviewer, Mike Hsu of WAAF in Boston, said “Headlong Flight,” the first single released off Clockwork Angels, was so good he was afraid of “losing my bladder.”

CAThe love affair with Rush reached its pinnacle last year when the band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Even long-time Rush nemesis Jann Wenner, founder of Rolling Stone and one of the founders of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, had seemed to come around, calling them the “high priests of high concept” on the night they were inducted.

But the earth still spins on its axis, day still follows night, and there are still music critics in the world that hate Rush, so all remains right in the world.

This is a work of satire. It is fictional news article not meant to be taken seriously. Photos: rb (Creative Commons). Not necessarily an endorsed use of images.

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