With them having spent the last four decades carving out the most enduring career of all the iconic prog rock acts, hearing Rush’s self titled debut for the first time can come as something as a shock to the newcomer.
The only one of their albums not to feature drummer, lyricist and former tractor salesman, Neil Peart, Rush’s debut could be considered a more generic hard rock album that anything else they ever released, but that’s not to say it is without merit. For those rock fans who aren’t particularly enamoured with over-complicated concepts, or epic song structures, there’s much to admire in these first steps of what would ultimately become one of the lengthier journeys in rock and roll.
The simpler sound on this eponymous debut, although a world away from the side long epics to come, oddly suits Rush. Nowhere is this more apparent than “Finding My Way”, on which they get as close to they ever would to the simple pleasures of boogie rock riffage. Echoing their heroes Led Zeppelin, it’s a hell of a way to kick off the album, though oddly enough, it would not end up being the album’s best known number. Instead that distinction falls to album closer “Working Man”, a crucial first local hit, that would become a key part of their live performances.
Between these hard rocking opening and closing numbers are half a dozen examples of sparsely produced and well executed rock tunes. For those unfamiliar with Rush as a live act, hearing them rattle through a set of more simply arranged numbers is a handy demonstration of how powerful and dynamic they could be even when shorn of the more complex bells and whistles that have subsequently become their trademark.
Rush’s debut is an album that certain long time fans seem to frequently dismiss because it is so basic, yet at the same time it can also be overlooked by fans of more straightforward rock music, simply because of Rush’s heavyweight reputation for complexity. The truth is, this is a great little rock album by one of the great rock bands, recorded before they discovered the formula that would eventually seal their reputation as the thinking dude’s twiddly power trio of choice.