Friday, 24 August 2012

Rush - Clockwork Angels: A Review from the UK

It will go without saying that I was eagerly awaiting Clockwork Angels. Thirty two years a Rush follower, with Moving Pictures probably my all time favourite album, and I could hardly have said anything different.

Highlights from first few plays? Tricky one. It’s the perennial problem of only being able to find the time to listen to a new album on the road. The overall quality stood out a mile, a well thought out blend of traditional and modern. One particular passage of fast driving rock from “Headlong Flight” reminded me of By Tor And The Snow Dog – and that’s a 37 year old song. “Caravan” was familiar as a new song first played on the previous UK tour.

But what of the report that this was a concept album? No way to work this out when behind the wheel of my car. I had to find the time for a throwback to days gone by, when I would make a serious effort to sit down with the lyrics and the CD player and avoid all other distractions (save for the Chilean chardonnay)…

And then it suddenly all fell into place. The independent free thinking central character who has been brought up to believe (BU2B) in the received wisdom of the Watchmaker makes his mind up to leave his village behind and see it for himself. He evidently finds Chronos Square and the Clockwork Angels not entirely to his liking – yes, I was recalling 2112 by now, a definite echo of the Temples of Syrinx.

So off he goes on his further travels after the Anarchist’s rhetorical question “What do you lack?” The passing encounter with the travelling circus is partly related through a gem of a ballad in the form of “Halo Effect”, a prelude to the harder sound of the following triplet “Seven Cities Of Gold”, “The Wreckers” and the By-Tor echo of “Headlong Flight”. Back off the travels to the philosophical “Wish Them Well” – if only it was that easy to address personal demons that way – and a return home to tend the garden (literally) in the final song. A distinctly happier ending than 2112 – no threat of the Clockwork Angels announcing that they had assumed control here – but certainly not one that detracts from the overall force and quality of the album. The UK tour next May will be eagerly awaited.

And the most noteworthy lyric from Neil Peart this time around? Close call, but I’d give that prize to a line from The Anarchist: “A missing part of me that grows around me like a cage.”

Rush – Clockwork Angels. An overwhelming five stars.

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