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Customer Review

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Superb musicianship badly let down by vocals!, 24 Nov. 2011
This review is from: Time Machine 2011:Live in Cleveland (Audio CD)
Before I start - me: Rush fan since Hemispheres.

As expected, the musicianship on this record is absolutely top class - although the recent leanings of Rush towards "looseness" seem to be on the point of taking over from the technical perfection of yesteryear. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as you'll hear all sorts of little pieces where things have been changed rhythmically and sonically throughout. There are points where you think to yourself "that was a bit lazy", but these are few.

OK - the drum solo. It's mostly a new composition by Peart, which is pleasing, and contains so many aspects of drumming it's probably worth a thesis on its own. Neil is legendary for his dedication, effort and humanity, and he shines here. Good man!

The actual recording isn't quite as crispy clear as it could be, with separation occasionally suffering. Overall, the music is very listenable, though, and the twists on familiar material are very welcome - e.g. Closer to the Heart has interesting variations, and the intro to La Villa verges on the humorous.

But ... and it's a big but ... it has to be said that Geddy's vocal consigns this recording to the edge of the bargain bin. It is truly shocking to hear him struggle to reach high or sustained notes, although he seems more than comfortable with mid-range lines. And even more shocking that this record was allowed to be released - we all know how Rush like to release live albums which add to the studio recordings of songs, but overall this one is nowhere near the standards they've set themselves. As early as Time Stand Still, the listener's attention is grabbed by Geddy's vocal failings, and the rest of the record is spent cringing in expectation of him not reaching the high notes you know are coming up.

Classic Rock magazine's review comments on Geddy "finding a more mellifuous waft rather than the yelping of old". I fear this is euphemistic. No mellifluous waft here, with many songs sounding like a karaoke singer trying (and failing) to impersonate Geddy. You can hear that his technique has changed - he's singing from deeper in his throat nowadays, which probably contributes to the transitions from mid to high range just not working.

Having said that, the instrumentals are stunning - YYZ, in particular, thunders along with Geddy seeming to put in an extra effort, constantly sitting just in front of the beat and giving the whole thing new life. Possibly the best version of YYZ out there.

Overall I can't help thinking that the exorbitant ticket prices on the last UK tour were well thought out, with the full knowledge of Geddy's new-found limitations, as a last pay-day before taking things a lot easier. On this showing, the band should seriously be thinking about packing it in - or getting additional vocal help for the older material (ooh, controversial!). It would be a shame to lose the chemistry and musicianship of Rush, but all good things come to an end. The combination of ticket prices and this recording will probably prevent me from going to see Rush live again, and they really are a band I love.

(In no way do I mean to cause offence or hurt to the band or Geddy, but surely their ears must have told them this was way below par. I can only imagine it's a contractual obligation album and they had no choice but to release it.)
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