With the release of multi-platinum Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Rush’s self-titled 1974 debut this past April, Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) kicked off its own celebration of the legendary Canadian prog-rock band’s 40th anniversary since that first album. In 2015, vocalist/bassist/keyboardist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart, who joined the band in July, 1974, shortly after the release of that first album and two weeks before the group’s inaugural U.S. tour, will see the reissue of the remaining 14 albums in their Mercury catalog in chronological order, starting with Fly By Night, which will be available in high-quality vinyl with a download code for a 320kbps MP4 vinyl ripped Digital Audio album download; high resolution Digital Audio editions in DSD (2.8mHz), 192khz / 24-bit, 96kHz / 24-bit; and an additional Blu-Ray Pure Audio version with 96kHz / 24-bit 5.1 surround sound and stereo, on January 27. A Farewell to Kings and Signals are the other two albums which will be reissued in Blu-Ray Pure Audio.
The remaining 13 titles will be released one or two a month through the end of the year. The band performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in April 2013 at L.A.’s Nokia Theater after receiving a loving, humorous induction speech by super-fans Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins, who joined the group on-stage before a crowd of boisterous Rush supporters. “When the f**k did Rush become cool?” wondered Grohl, while recounting his own history as a rabid fan. “They broke all the rules,” added Hawkins. “And isn’t that rock ‘n’ roll?”
January 27: Fly by Night (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio / Blu-Ray Audio): The 1975 release of Fly By Night was the first to feature drummer Neil Peart, who also became the band’s lyricist. The singles included the title track and “Making Memories.” Fly By Night reached #113 on the Billboard chart, going platinum in both the U.S. and Canada.
February: Caress of Steel (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): The second album to be released in 1975, the band’s third release marked their emergence into more hard prog-rock styles as opposed to the blues-based style of the group’s first two albums. Singles included “The Necromancer: Return of the Prince” and “Lakeside Park.” Although the album peaked at #148 on the Billboard charts, it has since gone gold in both the U.S. and Canada.
March: 2112 (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): The group’s fourth album, first released in 1976, proved a breakthrough, highlighted by its seven-part title suite written by Lee and Lifeson, with lyrics by Peart, recounting a dystopian story set in the year 2112. It came in at #2 on Rolling Stone’s list of “Your Favorite Prog Rock Albums of All Time.” Most Rush fans consider it the band’s definitive recording, as the album sold 3 million in the U.S., going triple-platinum.
All the World’s a Stage (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): This 1976 double-live album was recorded at Toronto’s Massey Hall June 11-13, during the band’s 2112 tour, with the title a nod to William Shakespeare. The record climbed to #40 on the U.S. Billboard chart, and going platinum in the States and Canada.
April: A Farewell to Kings (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio / Blu-Ray Audio): This 1977 release, the band’s fifth studio album, was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales and mixed in London’s Advision Studios. It became the band’s first U.S. gold-selling album within two months of release, and went platinum. The singles included “Closer to the Heart” and “Cinderella Man,” while the album peaked at #33 on the Billboard 200 and #22 on the U.K. album charts.
May: Hemispheres (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): Another favorite of true Rush fans, this sixth studio album, released in 1978, once more explored fantasy and science fiction themes in Neil Peart’s lyrics. The final track, the ambitious nine-and-a-half minute “La Villa Strangiato,” was the band’s first instrumental The album peaked at #47 on the Billboard charts, and was the group’s fourth consecutive gold album in the U.S., featuring the singles “The Trees” and “Circumstances.”
June: Permanent Waves (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): The seventh studio album was released on January 1, 1980, and recorded at Le Studio in Quebec, becoming the first U.S. album to go Top Five, peaking at #4 on the Billboard charts. The effort marked a transition from the band’s long, conceptual pieces into a more accessible, radio-friendly style on such rock airplay hits as “The Spirit of Radio” and “Freewill,” with the album going platinum.
July: Moving Pictures (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): Rush’s eighth studio album, released in February, 1981, also turned out to be their biggest-selling in the U.S., rising to #3 on the Billboard charts (and #1 in Canada), as one of the first discs to receive the RIAA’s first-ever multi-platinum designation, scoring 4 million sales to date in the U.S. on the strength of classics like “Limelight,” “Tom Sawyer” and “Vital Signs.”
Exit… Stage Left (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): Released in August, 1981, this live album was recorded during the Moving Pictures tour at the Montreal Forum and in Glasgow Scotland, peaking in the Top 10 of the Billboard charts, buoyed by live versions of “Close to the Heart,” “Tom Sawyer” and “A Passage to Bangkok.”
August: Signals (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio / Blu-ray Audio): This September, 1982, release marked the band’s increase use of electronic instrumentation, especially sequencers and electric violin (played by Ben Mink), peaking at #10 on the Billboard charts and eventually going platinum. A total of five singles were released from the album, including “Subdivisions,” which became a live staple of their concerts, along with “New World Man,” “The Analog Kid,” “The Weapon” and “Countdown.”
September: Grace Under Pressure (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): Released in April, 1984, the band’s tenth studio album reached #10 on the Billboard chart and went platinum. Alex Lifeson called it “the most satisfying of all our records.” It was the first album they recorded without long-time producer Terry Brown, eventually producing it themselves. The song’s themes were influenced by the growing tensions in the Cold War. The music itself continued the presence of synthesizers introduced on Signals, as well as incorporating elements of ska and reggae into their sound. Singles included “Distant Early Warning,” “The Body Electric,” “Red Sector A:” and “Afterimage.”
October: Power Windows (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): This 1985 release was Rush’s 11th studio album, and the first time they worked with producer Peter Collins, who recorded the album at The Manor in the U.K., George Martin’s AIR Studios in Montserrat and Sarm East Studios in London. It was also the group’s first CD release. More keyboards and synths were introduced into the sound, with “The Big Money” and “Mystic Rhythms” made into videos for MTV. The album once more hit #10 on the Billboard 200 and eventually sold a million copies, earning platinum status. Other singles included “Territories,” “Manhattan Project” and “Marathon,” the latter two topping the U.S. Mainstream Rock airplay charts at #10 and #6, respectively.
November: Hold Your Fire (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): Released in September, 1987, Rush’s 12th studio album continues the band’s commitment to exploring new songwriting territory, with Aimee Mann contributing vocals to “Open Secrets” and “Time Stand Still,” appearing in the video for the latter. The album debuted at #13 on Billboardand eventually went gold. The other singles included “Force Ten” (#3 U.S. Mainstream Rock), “Lock and Key (#16 U.S. Mainstream Rock) and “Prime Mover.”
December: A Show of Hands (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): The band’s third live album was released January, 1989, recorded while on tour in Birmingham, U.K., New Orleans, Phoenix and San Diego during the 1988 Hold Your Fire tour, as well as in the Meadowlands in New Jersey during the 1986 Power Windows tour. The opening track “intro” features the Three Stooges theme song, “Three Blind Mice,” a song the band used to open many of their concerts during the ‘80s. That same year, the group released a video of the same name on VHS and Laserdisc featuring the Birmingham show, while a DVD version was included as part of a 2006 box set and as a stand-alone the following year. The album reached #21 in Billboard, going gold, with the singles including “Closer to the Heart” and 12” promos of “Mission” and “Marathon.”