Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rush vs. The Police

Playlist for this posting

  • Finding My Way
  • Free Will
  • Red Barchetta
  • Spirit of the Radio
  • Fly By Night
  • YYZ

The Police

  • Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
  • Hold In My Life
  • Walking On The Moon
  • When The World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around
  • No Time This Time
  • The Other Way of Stopping

Right, so I've been listening to the Police a lot lately, as noted in my yardwork posting, although that didn't have the greatest effect on me. And I love the Police. I always have, probably before this next described moment, but seeing this totally drove it home for me. Watching MTV back whenever it was, 1982, 1983, somewhere along there and the video for Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic comes on. What a great video! They're dancing on the studio console, they're messing with all the knobs and buttons, Stewart's playing steel drums in the back of the big truck, Andy's doing his own thing, and he and Sting are wearing cool hats, well just see for yourself: Of course there are some tragic mistakes as well, and unfortunately they seem to be coming by way of Stewart - those damn tennis shorts and his giant aviator glasses, but those were the times and that's what they were wearing, well at least some of them. But how can you deny the greatness of that song? So, I'm digging the Police and always have, even through the crazy songs on Synchronicity, but then I remember Rush and as I'm taking Buddy for a walk the other night I listen to the sampling of Rush songs that I have.

Oh wow! I forgot how great they are too. The first real album that I bought with my own money from Turtle's Records & Tapes was Rush - Moving Pictures. I sat there and listened to it and looked at the album cover and the inner sleeve with its kind of sinister pictures on it. You may remember that Rush had a reputation of being one of those devil-worshipping bands. RUSH - Rise Under Satan's Hand. Yep, that's what they said. I couldn't really see it. There is that picture of the lady being burned at the stake, but other than that...So, Rush wasn't much of a video band. I'm sure their management made them do some b/c that's what everyone was doing, but the musicianship of those three!

So, I'm walking Buddy and it hit me. These two great bands, outrageously talented bands are both these power trios with the bassist as the lead singer of each. Wow! I thought as I tried to coax Buddy past a drain culvert (another story altogether). So I started comparing the two bands. I have two friends that I consulted for this very thought process and I'm going to give you their two cents right now. For sake of keeping friends, I'm just going to say Friend A and Friend B.

Friend A: Both have 3 members. The guys in Rush are unquestionably better technical musicians though Copeland's drumming is in a league of its own and Sting probably knows more about music theory. The Police's work has more feeling, is more fun, and generally more immediately accessible; I think Rush's work objectively shows better musicianship and is appreciated for its complexity, which tends to reveal itself as accessible over time.The main thing I can add -- which I only know from nerdily from reading Neal Peart's website one time -- is that Peart was flipping through a magazine once (relatively recently, past 5 years or so) that listed rock's WORST lyricists. Number One: Sting. Number Two: Neil Peart.

Friend B: Here are knee jerk reactions to the comparisons of Rush and the Police.....both are awesome bands that had a bazillion fans, but both bands were probably technically better than most fans could even imagine. They could have been giving masters level courses in music. Also, both bands had super great guitarists that were overshadowed by higher profile personalities in the band. In fact, I almost couldn't tell you which belonged in which band........(Alex, Andy...Andy, Alex....aley, andex....)

So, they're both right. They are such in a league of their own. The Police, while more commercially viable were so far beyond what the average person knew, in terms of their music, and even their songwriting. Very introspective, especially the middle albums, and yes even Synchronicity (obviously not my favorite, but I love Ms. Gradenko). Their music is more fun even if the words don't always match the fun. [I'm going to get rid of the proper quotation marking of song titles for my sanity] Can't Stand Losing You, The Bed's Too Big Without You, Hole in My Life, Every Breath You Take, So Lonely, I could go on and on, but there's another side. They also had great love songs. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic (love from afar, perhaps, but love nonetheless), Walking On the Moon, De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da, and there may be more, but not many. They also weren't afraid of long song titles. Perhaps the longest one I know, When The World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around. Certainly they could have shortened that a little, but they didn't and that's part of what I like about them. The ego.

So, Rush. I think they are one of the great storyteller bands around. There are certain songs that make me think of mini-movies in my head, No, not like music videos, mini-movies and usually animated. Brian Wilson's SMiLE for example. When I was listening to that driving down to the beach one summer I came up with all these great little animated shorts in my head that would go perfectly with the whole album. Brian Wilson's a whole other entry, too. So, Rush has that ability, too. Lakeside Park, Red Barchetta. These are great stories. Most people may not think so, and certainly not the author of that magazine piece, but there are, as Friend B said a bazillion fans and they most definitely think so.

Musicianship. Please. I don't know if I can even write about this. Five of the six of the musicians in these bands are sick in their abilities. Some of Sting's bass playing is really cool and he definitely helped to make the sound of the band, but beside Andy's complexity and Stewart's insanity, it's just okay. Not Rush. All three of those guys are almost completely beyond the realm of imagination. The drums, the guitar, the bass. It doesn't hurt that Geddy Lee plays a Rickenbacker bass, and has a double-neck one at that. Plus he played the keyboard and bass. I've never seen them in concert, so I don't know if they pull a Doors thing with the bass box that Manzarek used, but I don't think so. Liefson's playing? He's almost too fast and too clean for himself. Ah, I can't go on with this, I don't have the chops myself to even unlock their cases.

Instrumentals. I love instrumentals. I made a mixed tape in college of all the instrumentals from my giant tape collection. It was awesome! And no one, no one wanted to hear it. What? It shows off the band without the words, and I love the words, but come on! So, I had a hard time deciding the Police's instrumental to use. I wanted to go with Behind My Camel because it's just so cool and atmospheric, but it's not a good showcase for all three, and I totally dig Masako Tango, but The Other Way of Stopping is a really good example of all three of them playing together and fitting together perfectly. Now I know that Stewart's time keeping pissed Sting off and he'd speed up his tempos too much in concert, but it gets you going, you know? Hard to keep it contained. There wasn't much a choice for me with my Rush instrumental. YYZ. I used to think of the zipper company, YKK, when I thought of this song. I think I can't adequately talk about the music of this song, but needless to say, it's also a great example of the three parts becoming one and making a complete, awesome sound.

Ugh. I'm exhausted from that. You all need to go right now and find your favorite Police or Rush song, listen to it and report back to me. All three of you. My three followers, making me feel just a little better than, well I was going to say the blogger after me when you hit "Next Blog" at the top, but he's got three followers now, too, and then you just get into these Spanish photography blogs after that guy and I don't want to spend too much time thinking about why I'm so far down the line that I'm next to the Spanish photography section. Hmm. Well, anyhoo, you've got your assignment. Love to you all.


Chris Oliver said...

I'll take the Police, because they're musicianship is a bit more invisible, if that makes sense. It doesn't get in the way of their songs. No surprise, I guess, that I'm not a big Rush fan, but I do like some of their stuff. I just find them too stiff, mostly. The Police are kinda like Steely Dan, great musicianship in service of good songs, y/n? Top 3, let's see, "Walking on the Moon," "Spirits in the Material World" and "Wrapped Around Your Finger." For Rush, maybe "Bastille Day," "The Trees" (despite the idiotic political message, it's a cool song) and of course "Passage to Bangcock" dude! I dunno, I like YYZ and Tom Sawyer and all that. The first part of The Necromancer is cool, but then it goes in some other direction I don't like. Working Man, but that's more a Black Sababth rip-off than a Rush song, but it's pretty great.

Bub said...

I agree with you, almost 100%. I really like your comment of their musicianship being "a bit more invisible". Yes, I think your comparison b/t The Police & Steely Dan is just.

Actually my knowledge of Rush is fairly limited, that's why I had to go to outside sources.

Hey, I posted a carrot for one of my profile pics and got a LaGrange College person that said they knew it was me by the carrot. Do remember Dane Heard? He was my roommate for a quarter or two. Very southern, very republican and he drove a Trans Am.

Do you know anything about Dave? Keep up with him or heard from him lately?

Glad to see that you're on crackbook. It's ridiculously addictive.

Thanks for commenting! Talk to you soon.

Laurie said...

The best has got to be Rush in my mind. The range of Geddy Lee's voice is incredible. My fav Rush song has to be, aw man I can't pick just one it would have to be Distant Early Warning or Time Stand Still or Ghost of a Chance. Aww shit, I guess if I had to pick just one, cuz it would have to be Ghost of a Chance. I love the words. And no I'm not a superfan, like my bro who has seen them like 8 times, but just a fan who knows a little. Fav Police song would have to be Driven to Tears.

mo said...

Dan worked at Turtles and thought it was the best thing ever because he loves music so much.
I think he would take a job like that again right now if it would pay the bills.

That's all I got....

Anonymous said...

Police is a good bad but I love Rush. Anyway I know this post is a few years old but I just wanted to say the painting on the moving pictures lp of the lady being burned at the stake is of Joan of Arc. A reference to religious prejudices,the theme to the witchunt song.