Sunday, 16 February 2020

Big D Builds A Fighting Falcon

The latest installment in a series I like to call "Building Models When Utterly Hamfisted"

After umming and awwing for far too long I decided to make start on the hefty pile of modelkits sat on my kitchen table and selected the one which might be easiest. Plus it only cost me a quid so if I lost my temper and yeeted it across the kitchen, I wouldn't have lost much. 

  I was surprised and relieved to see that all the bits were inside although I couldn't help noticing that the instructions and the decal sheet seem to have gone astray. 

Saturday, 11 January 2020

R.I.P Neil Peart

  I woke up this morning to the news that Neil Peart had succumbed to brain cancer.  This hit me quite hard as I have been a Rush fan for many years now and a particular fan of Neil Peart's amazing drumming and intelligent lyrics.

 Let me try and tell you about it. 

 The year is 1988. 
  I've just hit legal drinking age and I'm standing in the Chains pub, just off Stafford's town square, studying the jukebox.    I'm still a relative beginner when it comes to rock music, having only started getting into Rock & Metal in the last year or so, so when I see the name "Rush" on one of the tracks I am vaguely aware that they're sort-of Heavy Metal, or at least seem to get lumped in with metal a lot.

I decide to give them a try. 
This is the song I heard that very first time I encountered Rush. .  

Rush- Time Stand Still

 I was honestly blown away.  Remember that at the time "Rock" music was full of perms and pop-metal. Bon Jovi and Def Leppard were the kings of the world although if you liked something heavier then there was always Iron Maiden and their breakneck guitars with Guns & Roses and Metallica coming up fast, like angry sharks headed for a hapless surfers.  The point being, this wasn't like anything I was hearing elsewhere. Maybe it wasn't so heavy but the song had an energy of its own, perfectly balanced instruments where everything mattered,  heartfelt lyrics about desperately trying to hold on in a changing world and the interplay between Geddy Lee and guest Aimee Mann.

 After that  every single time I went in the chains I put this song on. I can confirm that it still gives me goosebumps.      

 Not long afterwards I finally got around to buying my first Rush LP.  IIRC, I bought it from Joe's second-hand record stall in the market.  Now Joe was one of Stafford's characters. An Asian dude who loved music and was always happy to see his regulars. Every time I went anywhere near his stall I always ended up wandering away with an armful of stuff after I got carried away.

 Here's the album I bought on gatefold vinyl.  

 Picture sourced from:

...Complete with band pic inside.

  That's Neil Peart in the middle. Note that he's right alongside the guitarist )Alex lifeson) and the vocalist (Geddy Lee) which does kind of show how all three musicians were equally important to the rush sound. 

  I have to admit, I was astonished when I got 2112 home. Not only was the sound different to Time Stand Still but it really did sound like I was listening to a completely different band. This was a lot heavier - probably closer to the Heavy Metal I thought originally expected Rush to be - with the guitars a lot more in evidence  and Geddy Lee's voice a lot higher.

 But once I got used to it, 2112 became one of my favourite records. The epic, side-long sci-fi concept 2112 balanced heavy and soft, mood and thunder in a way nobody else quite matched and on the other side Rush proved that they could do all-out rock, gentle ballads and moody with equal ease.


  Already I was getting used to the idea that Rush were never going to spend their careers repeating the formula that worked.  They are one of the few bands where you can genuinely divide them into Eras without being ridiculous.

 And of course Rush weren't a "Heavy Metal" band. I know this now. If anything, the 70s stuff was a  bridge between heavy blues rock and Prog while later albums where a lot more radio-friendly but never by-the-numbers AOR.  

  The lyrics  changed too, from Sci-fi  to contemplation of the role humanity had in a modern world. The same band that screamed about The Priests Of The Temples Of Syrinx.would them go on to write "Losing it" which may be one of the saddest songs ever about written about getting old and not being able to achieve any more.

  That's entirely down to Neil Peart who wrote practically all the lyrics from the second album onwards. Remember this is when most bands where still singing about girls, monsters and rocking like a hurricane.

  I haven't even mentioned the drumming yet. Holy crap. Neil Peart's drumming is legendary.  There's a reason he's right up there with Bonham and Keith Moon because like them Peart used the drums like a lead instrument. Just listen to the fills and transitions of Tom Sawyer and marvel.

 Listen to YYZ. Listen to his drum solos on the live albums and marvel how Neil Peart structured his solos to tell a story that never outstayed its welcome. Go back and listen to Time Stand Still and hear how he propelled the song along without overpowering it. Listen to Xanadu because it's a fucking awesome song.

  Neil Peart is one of the reasons Rush have always been such an interesting band and he is rightly held in high regard by musicians everywhere.

Hearing that Neil Peart had died made me sad but for damn near 30 years before this, Neil Peart and Rush brought me so much joy.

Neil Peart 1952- 2020

Rest In Peace
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