Having taken their fans on a prog-rock ride, the Toronto-based trio of bassist Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson on guitars, and original drummer John Rutsey – better known as Rush – released their eponymous debut album on March 1, 1974. Here are some little known-facts about the album that nobody at the time, save for a few key music industry people, thought would kick-off one of music’s most-successful careers.
1. Original drummer John Rutsey performed all drum parts on the album, but was unable to go on extended tours because of complications with his diabetes and left the band after the album was released. He was soon replaced by Neil Peart.
2. Originally the recording sessions were produced by Dave Stock at Eastern Sound in Toronto. Like most bands starting out, they were scheduled late at night during the ‘dead’ time in studios because of the band’s low budget and the rates during this period were the cheapest.
3. Stock had also worked on the band’s debut single (a cover of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away”, with an original composition, “You Can’t Fight It”, on the B-side). “You Can’t Fight It” was to be included on the album but was scrapped.
4. In July 2008, Rush discovered an old version of “Working Man” with an alternative guitar solo. The band gave the master tapes to the video game Rock Band for inclusion.
5. The band and its management formed their own company, Moon Records, and released the album in Canada. Only 3,500 copies of the original Moon Records LP were pressed. The catalogue number was MN-100.
6. The album was soon picked up by WMMS, a radio station in Cleveland, Ohio. Donna Halper, a DJ working at the station, selected “Working Man” for her regular play list. Every time the song was played the station received phone calls asking where to buy the record. Copies of the Moon Records album were imported to the Cleveland area and quickly sold out.
7. The response resulted in a record deal by Mercury Records for the band, and they gave Halper special thanks for her part in their early history and dedicated their first two albums to her.
8. If you have a copy of either the first Moon Records or Canadian Mercury release on the standard red Mercury label, you’re in for a bit of a windfall. These change hands for thousands of dollars today.
9. For The Mercury Records release, manager Ray Danniels scraped together an additional $9,000 for producer Terry Brown to professionally re-mix all of the recordings for better sound quality. This remix version was used for later releases most of which used the Mercury “skyline” record label instead of the red label.
10. Despite the media not giving Rush positive reviews later on in the career, Rush had decent reviews upon its 1974 release. Writing for the Ottawa Citizen, Bill Provick gave praise on the band’s “immediate acceleration” and “driving, crisp sound,” although he felt that “the energy needs a bit more channeling and the arrangements need a touch more refining.”
11. “Finding My Way” was only played in its entirety on two later tours in the ’80s: during the Grace Under Pressure tour in 1984 and the Power Windows warm-up tour in 1985 – both times as an encore.
12. “In The Mood” is the only song on the album written entirely by Lee – the music on all other songs is co-written by Lifeson.
13. The St. Louis Classic rock radio station KSHE used to play “In The Mood” every Friday night at 7:45 (“a quarter to eight”).
14. “Working Man” is heard in a 2014 TV commercial for Walmart.
15. That’s right. A Canadian band did the music in an ad to salute the American worker.