Friday, May 2, 2008

Rush, Vapor Trails


This 2002 album was Rush’s first after Übermensch drummer/lyricist Neil Peart’s personal tragedies in the late 1990s.

The car-accident death of his only daughter in August 1997 and his wife’s subsequent death 10 months later prompted Peart to tell Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson to consider him retired. But in 2001 Peart returned to the band to write and record Vapor Trails—the name being a plural version of one of the album’s strongest songs.

Peart has worked with art director Hugh Syme since the mid-1970s to create covers that match the content of the many Rush albums. As always, Syme delivers here, capturing in one blistering image the lyrical themes of transition and transcendence as well as the harder edge to the album—which features deeper guitar and bass chords and (finally) eschews keyboards.

9 Comments:

Blogger taotechuck said...

Man, David... For your first post, couldn't you have picked something that I don't hate? I mean, I want to embrace you with open arms and all, but dude... Rush? Rush circa 2002? You're killing me, here.

Neil Peart is, hands down, one of the worst writers I've ever encountered. His words are as fraught with literary peril as LaHaye and Jenkins, the boneheads who write the Left Behind series. The themes aren't necessarily bad, but the ways those themes are expressed are vomitabulous.

I guess since the artwork is lame (BOO HISS FOR BAD PHOTOSHOP!) and the music is boring, they fit together like peanut butter and chocolate. Assuming by "peanut butter" you mean plain rice cakes and by "chocolate" you mean diet soda.

May 4, 2008 at 9:51 PM  
Blogger Andre du Plessis said...

I like the cover... no idea what is is but I do like the colour. Never heard this album though. I also was totally unaware of Neil's misfortune. According to previous post the album wasn't very good then ?

May 5, 2008 at 5:56 AM  
Blogger taotechuck said...

Don't take my word on whether the album is any good. I don't think there's been a good Rush album for at least a couple of decades. Sure, there's been a decent song here or there, but even those have been as inconsistent as an 80-year-old on a low-fiber diet.

May 5, 2008 at 6:45 AM  
Blogger David Amulet said...

Chuckles: Tell us how you REALLY feel! heheh

No, I didn't vet my choices for my first few covers by anyone. (Then again, Tom Waits bores the bile out of me ... but that's why we aren't all music-fan clones of each other. Well, that and lack of appropriate technology.)

I'll be the first to agree that nothing matches Rush in the mid-'70s. I'll also argue that Vapor Trails is light-years better than Rush in the '80s and '90s.

A few other observations: It's unfair to equate Peart of LaHaye/Jenkins (then again, it's unfair to compare Hitler or Stalin with them, they are so evil). But the Peart equation is unfair because they have the freedom to write freely, which lyrics don't allow. Nobody has any excuse to write text in wide-open books that badly.

I've read Peart's book writing. It's bloody dreadful. But there aren't many rock writers who have a better track record of attempting (and often, I'd say, succeeding at) thoughtful statements in the difficult art form of lyrics.

And art taste is even more subjective than lyric taste. I like this cover, perhaps because a few of Rush's covers in the '80s are so horrible to my eyes but also because it evokes something in me.

But that's just me.

May 5, 2008 at 4:00 PM  
Blogger taotechuck said...

Ah, Mr. Omelet, you've proven to be a worthy adversary. You wield snark and wit like the two sides of a double-edged sword, yet you temper the blow with the leather sheath of knowledge. You leave me little recourse but to resort to childish name calling.

I begrudgingly give you the point about Peart making some thoughtful statements in the form of lyrics, but only because you acknowledge that his fiction writing is bloody dreadful. And you're right: he's not as bad as L&J, if only because he doesn't use fear to hold his audience.

(For what it's worth, I do fear hearing another song about going to a party where everyone is gay, but it's okay, hip hip hooray.)

I still think the art blows, but hey... if we have to have a blind guy contributing reviews, I'm glad it's you.

May 5, 2008 at 10:28 PM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

The music is decent, but they still have not had a really good album since Grace under pressure. The cover is okay, looks like someone had a campfire mishap and sent a blazing yet blackened marshmallow flying into the air. Most of their covers from say 2112 to Signals were good, but since then it's like a bunch of want to be arty type stuff.

May 6, 2008 at 9:02 AM  
Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

without stepping into the fray, one thing that's appealed to me about Peart outside of his drumming is the fact he took his cycle out from Canada down into the US by means of healing after losing his daughter...I found Ghost Rider to be superfluous, yes, but at the core was a man rectifying his pain on the open road and to me, that appeals to the human spirit

May 7, 2008 at 5:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rush has proven themselves over and over for more than 30 years.
Who else has survived the Rock music industry longer then they.
You are why out of line about Neal Pearts writings, he is a very well rounded writer and drummer.
Its you guys that don't know how
to write anything positive or worth while reading.

October 27, 2010 at 5:02 PM  
Anonymous Dave said...

Album Art: Picture in your minds eye, the Higgs Bosun suddenly deciding to colapse the universe in one split second, Dark Matter and gravity losing all pull, all matter flying apart at the molecular level with no gravity to hold even a single molecule in orbit. All that ever was and will be, vaporizing and floating away. The Album Art - The Earth caught at the moment of vaporization, just before it all pulls away.

July 17, 2014 at 7:19 PM  

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