When I was a growing up in the 1970’s my neighbor owned a custom van. Both sides of the vehicle were the canvas for a larger than life painting of an owl, with piercing yellow eyes and outstretched wings; a meticulous airbrushed version of Hugh Syme’s original album artwork for Rush’s second album, Fly By Night. This was a van that belonged to a true Rush fan, a place where any music would do as long as it was all Rush all the time.
My musical journey with the band started in earnest a few years later with my oldest sister’s copy of Exit Stage Left. There was and is something special about listening to music on vinyl. I remember holding the album, reading the liner notes and seeing the artwork that Hugh Syme designed for the album, it would have looked great on an Econoline van.
Fast forward to 2019, the five LP box set Clockwork Angels Tour (Rhino/Atlantic Records) arrives in the mail. In the era of streaming music, it feels almost remarkable to see and hold an LP box set. Clockwork Angels Tour is an exquisitely packaged and pressed live recording from Rush’s tour to support the studio album Clockwork Angels. While it is possible to stream thefive-album box set,this is a body of work that begs to be consumed in a linear fashion, on vinyl. Clockwork Angels Tour is an epic 31-song musical journey, that rolls, twists and intertwines, each song effortlessly slides into and beyond the other.
The majority of the tracks from the exceptional Clockwork Angels album are found on Sides C-F of the box set. These songs are not a separate act of the play, but a musical thread that weaves the incredible talent and development of Rush, it’s the evolution and pursuit of the craft. With Rush this pursuit never seems to be complete, it is the process and the product.
The brilliance of the band’s 38 years of musical creativity is on display, this is not a greatest hits album it’s a sample of the live experience with Rush. It’s a complex story that seems to be aimed at drawing you in and placing you within the interplay of all things that came before and will come after. Clockwork Angels Tour is a musical and artistic work of art, that begs you to slow down, take some time and lose yourself in the remarkable musical talent of Rush. —Brian Dzwonek