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Rush - Exit... Stage Left

On October 29, 1981 "Rush" released their second double live album - "Exit ... Stage Left".

So, as we mentioned in the review of the band's first live album "All the World's a Stage" from 1976, the band made it a habit to release a live album after every four studio albums. This tradition continues here as well with an album that sums up the band's four studio albums from "A Farewell to Kings" from 1977 to "Moving Pictures" from 1981, when all the songs on this double album, except two "Beneath, Between & Behind" and "A Passage to Bangkok", were taken from the above four albums.

This album represents, in some sense, the complete opposite of the first live album "All the World's a Stage".

If the first live album brought us "Rush" as it sounds on stage without filters, immature, spontaneous, bold, and rough, then this album is much more calculated, clean, and filtered, sometimes even to excessive. The studio work and early editing allow us to listen to all the instruments in better quality, while filtering audience and background noise, but it detracts a bit from the feeling that this is still a live performance.

Particularly noticeable is the fact that almost every track on this album is separated from each other by a silence gap, just like a studio album. In this way, almost every song ends with a fade out of the audience cheers while the song that follows starts with a fade in. This fact interferes with the natural flow of the album and detracts from the feeling that this is a live show.

But make no mistake, despite our little criticism of the editing, this live album is one of the band's greatest. It captures "Rush" at its peak after a series of masterful albums released between 1976-1981. The selection of songs is excellent, the performance is amazing and sometimes even surpasses the original. The playing is incredibly tight and synchronized and the sound is rich, varied and so full that it is simply inconceivable that all the instruments heard here are played solely by three people, with no effects and no intervention of any added players.

The songs on the album were recorded in two different sessions during the years 1980-1981. The second side of the vinyl was recorded at the Apollo Hall in Glasgow, Scotland at the band's performances on June 10-11, 1980. The rest of the album's songs were recorded at the Forum Hall in Montreal, Canada on March 27, 1981.

This live album has some memorable moments that add value to the original versions or even surpass it.

The ultimate opening song "The Spirit of Radio" illustrates the power and accuracy that this band has. The performance of the song "Red Barchetta" manages to convey the feeling and adrenaline flowing in the arteries during the fast ride on the "Red Barchetta". The instrumental "YYZ" stretches from 4:24 minutes in the album version to 7:45 in the live version and allows "the professor" to delight us with his amazing drum solo, which even more than forty years later makes us miss a heartbeat on every drum beat. Neil Peart's flirtations with the percussion in the song "A Passage to Bangkok", especially with the cowbell. The thrilling rendition of the song "Closer to the Heart" receives other strengths coming from the audience, which joins in the singing. The version of the song "Jacob's Ladder" gets an extra special and charming intro from Robert Maxwell's Ebb Tide, from 1953. The short and classic piece "Broon's Bane" is an intro for the masterpiece song "The Trees", and which you can find exclusively in this show. How short, exciting and beautiful. Alex Lifeson wrote it as a tribute to the band's renowned producer Terry Brown who was nicknamed by the band members Broon. The performance of the piece "Xanadu" is without a doubt surpasses the original and gives us a rare glimpse into the enormous variety of instruments, on which the trio is capable of playing. Geddy Lee plays on bass, keyboards, guitar, bass pedal, Lifeson on bass pedal, electric guitar, 12-string guitar, and the legendary Neil Peart plays almost anything that you can hit with a drumstick or a hammer. Listen and be amazed at how all these sounds are produced by only three people. And of course the immortal rendition of the instrumental section "La Villa Strangiato" which proves the virtuoso playing abilities of each and every member of the band and also includes a short bass solo and the addition of some amusing Geddy Lee words towards the end, which did not appear in the album version.

A year after the release of the album, the band released a video version of VHS which was filmed during the band's performance on March 27 at a forum in Montreal. As you may recall, most of the album's songs were recorded during this show, but the VHS version includes a different order of songs and additions, such as "Limelight", "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" and the mini medley at the end of the show, that includes the songs "In the End", "In the Mood" and "2112: Grand Finale".

The album cover gives us a look at the stage that is filmed from its exit left angle, just like the name of the album. The cover is also a kind of retrospective of the band's albums and includes one detail from each of the first eight albums. For example: the logo of the first album, the owl of "Fly By Night", the clown of "A Farewell to Kings", the naked man from the album "Hemispheres", the model from the album "Permanent Waves", the workers from the album "Moving Pictures" hold a painting of the album "Caress Of Steel", the logo of "2112 "and more ...

And now in a slightly personal tone, this album is very special to us. This is the live album that is the most played by us of all the band's live albums. Countless hours of listening, and even more so hours of watching the VHS edition of the show, that was released a year later in 1982. This album accompanied us for more than four decades and in every listening or watching evokes in us very many good memories and feelings.

For Listening: Spotify, Apple Music

And this time you must also watch the VHS show, it's just an amazing show that will give you a chance to take a closer look at the amazing abilities of the band members Here:

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