The album "A Show of Hands", is the third live album of "Rush". It was released on January 9, 1989.
As is well known, the Canadian trio has already made it a habit to summarize every four studio albums in one live album.
These four albums are all from the electronic era of "Rush", in which the synthesizer dominated the band's sound at a high level. Therefore, naturally, it is a different live album, both in terms of sound and content. Anyone who watches the DVD released by the band in parallel with the release of the album (released on February 21, 1989), will find that this difference was also reflected in the appearance of the band members, as well as in the instruments they used. The clothes and hairstyles matched the period, Geddy Lee's keyboard system was substantially expanded and re-arranged and Neil Peart's drum set was doubled and included electronic drums.
The show features 14 songs, all taken from the four aforementioned albums released between 1982-1987, with the exception of "Witch Hunt" taken from the 1981 album "Moving Pictures" and "Closer To The Heart" from the 1977 album "A Farewell to Kings".
For the first time, the album was produced by the band members, independently, without outside help. Guitarist Alex Lifeson said they were dissatisfied with the "clean" production of the previous live album "Exit... Stage Left" and thought it was not faithfully conveying the way the band sounded on stage. He noted that in the current album, they tried to set the balance between the way the first live album "All the World's a Stage" with its rough and immature sound, and the clean and processed sound of "Exit... Stage Left", in which an effort was made to prefer clean sound over authenticity.
Another thing that the band members tried to fix in this live album, is the extent of the editing intervention in the studio, compared to the previous live album. The band tried to minimize the "corrections" made in the studio as much as possible and to reduce the re-recordings intended to replace such and/or other flaws in the recording and/or in the live performance. To achieve the desired result, the band members decided to record as many performances as possible during the tour, so that they could choose the best performance of each song. However, the task turned out to be not simple at all. The band members were faced with 40 hours of recording, of which they had to filter and select only an hour of recorded material. Geddy Lee said that the difference between the versions of a particular song was so great, that at times the same song recorded with the same equipment and microphones placed in the exact same place, at the same performance hall, night after night, sounded fundamentally different.
In the end, more than half of the materials selected were from the last live performance of the tour, which accompanied the album "Hold Your Fire", held in Birmingham, England. Geddy Lee said the shows in England were at the end of the tour, the band was remarkably "oiled" and perfectly synced, they felt relaxed and already accustomed to the cameras and recording equipment, so they played more freely and spontaneously.
Although the band's performances last a minimum of 130 minutes, the band made an effort to cram as many songs into one disc as possible. They didn't want to burden the fans with the purchase of a double disc. Under these circumstances, there were quite a few songs played on the tour from which the songs were selected, but did not end up on the album. At the same time, whoever holds the DVD version of the show will learn that the setlist is not only longer, but includes songs that were not included on the audio disc and vice versa. In this way, the songs "Subdivisions", "Limelight", "Time Stand Still" and "Distant Early Warning" were not included in the video version, which included additional tracks that were not included on the album: "YYZ", "The Spirit of Radio", "Tom Sawyer", "Prime Mover", "Territories" and the medley "2112/Overture/The Temples of Syrinx/La Villa Strangiato/In the Mood". It turns out that the person who owns the album and the DVD got a more or less complete picture of the setlist played during the tour.
You could say that this album is a kind of compilation album of hits, from the years 1982-1987. It comprehensively and accurately sums up a very significant period in the band's history. An era in which the synthesizers dominated the guitars and the "electronic" surpassed the "acoustic". After the release of the album the band will make a conscious decision to almost completely abandon the keyboards and it entered the next decade with a different and updated sound.