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Working Men ( Live)


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Performer Notes
  • Rush is no stranger to best-of compilation albums, they've released a slew of them. They are also no stranger to DVDs. To mark their 35th anniversary, they've released Working Men, which is both; it marks their first best-of live compilation exclusively from the DVD sets Rush in Rio (2003), R30 (2005), and Snakes & Arrows Live (2008). There is also an unreleased cut from R30 -- a killer version of One Little Victory. While fans may simply regard this as a record company cash grab, hardcore fans know how closely Rush monitors each release and controls all aspects of their career. On hearing these tracks without benefit of the visuals, it becomes lucidly clear that in the 21st century, Rush plays more like a hungry act looking to prove themselves rather than as seasoned veterans jaded by the entire business. The instrumental interaction between Neal Peart, Alex Lifeson, and Geddy Lee is utterly uncanny, the anticipation and the willingness to add flourishes and to challenge one another in the bridges and solo sections reveal their command of the material and their empathies for one another's playing strengths. One of the more revealing things on a live record such as this one is the sophistication in Lee's vocal delivery now that his singing voice has deepened with age. The only time on the entire disc when it doesn't entirely work is when he tries to recapture his old, piercing caterwaul on 2112, but in that spontaneity there is not only charm, but the shock that he can still get close to that pitch. The track list contains material from every period in the band's history, from Working Men and Closer to the Heart, to Tom Sawyer and Dreamline. One Little Victory, from the Vapour Trails album -- the set that brought them back to their hard-rocking roots -- roars out of the gate with a Peart drum break and charges head-on into the maelstrom, with melody eking out of Lee's overdriven, pulsing bassline and Lifeson's banging metal riffs. It's completely inspiring. In sum, this is far from a throwaway compilation; it sums up the band's energy and renewed commitment in the 21st century, and reveals in audio what the DVDs did so spectacularly: that Rush is as vital and creative as ever; and they rock far harder than virtually any of the younger bands who try to emulate their creativity and natural energy, or ape their trademark progressive power trio invention. ~ Thom Jurek
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