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Exit...Stage Left

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(114 Reviews)

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  • With so many reviews posted on this album I’m just going to cut to the chase. I really like Rush. I have 14 of their albums and had more back when I still owned the vinyl versions. Exit.. Stage Left is what I would call the best album to introduce an new fan to what I call Rush’s classic period when they were experimenting with what some called “soundtrack rock” as well as making a successful transision into album rock.

    Rush has shown the ability to reinvent themselves many times. While others criticize the band for not sticking to their roots I applaud them for stretching out their horizons. This album shows one of those transisions from a purely progressive art rock band to one that is more accessible to radio rock listeners at the time. Rush would go on to evolve their sound a few more times, but Exit…Stage Left is more about the art to radio move.

    Okay. Here’s the bomb I’ve been meaning to drop about this remastered version. The actual audio fidelity and mixing between this album and the non-remastered are virtually identical. If you plan on buying this album to get an update in sound don’t bother, because only the most avid audiophile will notice any of the subtle changes. What this album has that the original CD doesn’t is the song A Passage to Bangkok. Personally I don’t think the song is Rush’s best, but it was in fact on the original double vinyl album so it’s good to see everything finally on CD.

    Essentially if you have the original CD and don’t miss having A Passage to Bankok then don’t bother spending your hard-earned cash on this CD. If you do not have any version of this album then you have some choices. If you want the best possible cut there is no reason why you shouldn’t go for this remastered version. However if you ask me, go with the cheapest version and save some money. Do so ONLY if you don’t mind getting an album minus a not-so-great song (IMHO).

    Posted on March 2, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Exit Stage Left contains the most real and moving conveyances of emotion through music that I have ever heard. Some songs, like La Villa Strangiato, you have to listen to several times before you can even grasp the level of proficiency that these three musicians are playing on. Neil’s drum solo in YYZ is almost impossible to believe- in fact, it is what inspired me to take up drumming a few years ago. I have enjoyed this CD since I got a hand-me-down of the old version back in ‘94. The addition of “A Passage to Bangkok” is just one more incentive to buy the newer version. IMO, anyone who rates this CD lower than a 4 either didn’t give it a thorough listen or isn’t very musically inclined to begin with.

    Posted on March 2, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • There are several things you can judge a live album for, and this one ranks quite well on most of them. Some of the ones where it’s “weak” are: mix (uneven at times, leaning a bit more toward Geddy Lee’s bass), sound quality (between songs, specially) and the general live feel (arguably, there weren’t too many mics pointed at the audience, so you don’t hear very loud “roars” between tracks). On the flip side, the album ranks so well on so many other fronts, that the downsides pale by comparison. The musicianship, above all things, is bound to leave you speechless: Geddy Lee’s basswork and Neil Peart’s drums are out of this world (take the “YYZ” looooooong solo by the latter as the best example, easily making the entire album worth buying). The fact that the band sounds just as well live as they do on the studio says so much about their work too. Some people argue this is bad: I dare to say this is where a musician gets to prove him/herself, by matching or exceeding the studio work.All in all, given the items mentioned before, while not the best live album EVER, this is a great piece to add to your music collection to sum up the band’s work as well as to enjoy outstanding performances of several of their classics which by now have become prog rock standards.

    Posted on March 2, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • In case some of you are wondering if you should A)Upgrade your original Exit…Stage Left CD with the new remastered one or B)Wondering which version to get, I have some simple answers for you. You see I had the original CD and then bought the Rush Remasters version hoping for some audio improvements. The remastering done on the new CD brings practically zero improvements to the original mastering. Only the most intense audiophiles with expensive sound systems will likely notice a large enough improvement to make a difference. I’m pretty picky about audio fidelity and when comparing the two versions face to face I couldn’t find any differences at all.

    So now that the whole remastered question is out of the way we can cover another question: that missing song. This CD is missing a song that was originally on the double vinyl album the CD is supposed to replace. That song was A Passage to Bangkok. That song was left out because the CD couldn’t hold the entire double album and a song had to be taken out to make room (this was before the newer 80 minute CD’s). Personally I think they made a good call. A Passage to Bangkok is not all that great of a song if you ask me. It’s not bad, but if you had to take one out that would be it.

    The last question I hear between the two is cover art. You see, these Rush Remasters boast about not only having the music remastered but also the original album art being restored on the CD sleeve. To be honest the original Exit…Stage Left CD is true to the original album art so there is no need to get the new album for that either.

    So essentially this version of Exit…Stage Left is still a winner and its only failing grace is the exclusion of the song, A Passage to Bangkok. If you have this album and are thinking about taking the double dip keep in mind the remastered CD won’t sound any different, will only look a little different, and will have the single advantage of an additional track. If you have neither and don’t mind missing out on one song in leu of maybe a cheaper CD then there is no reason why you shouldn’t buy this album instead of the Rush Remasters version.

    Posted on March 2, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Suitably enough, Rush recorded a live album to top off the most successful period in their careers. Permanent Waves and especially Moving Pictures had secured reams of popularity for the power-prog trio, so a high-energy live compilation was the perfect coda to this hallowed chapter in the band’s history.The tracks here cover a fairly broad range of Rush’s catalogue up to this point, but skip over the debut and Caress of Steel. Although this collection largely covers the band’s shorter, more commercial songs, they never forget the progressive rock wings on which they once soared. I’d say the song selection is perfect. Alongside hits like “Freewill,” “Tom Sawyer,” and “The Spirit of Radio” are progressive epics like “Xanadu” and “Jacob’s Ladder.” One of my favorite moments on the album comes with “La Villa Strangiato,” an astounding instrumental tour-de-force that concretizes the band’s standing as musicians’ musicians. Live, this song SMOKES. Lifeson’s first solo in this song is infused with tenfold the passion of the original, and I can’t help but get chills up and down my spine listening to it. Still, while the energy is there and the songs are great, overdubs render the album a wee bit too polished, and the band’s blazing live ebullience is diluted somewhat.Still, this album many wonderful moments. The precise, stunning drum solo during “YYZ,” “Closer to the Heart” with the entire crowd joining in with Geddy on vocals, the ultra-high energy performance of “Red Barchetta,” the serene melodies of “Broon’s Bane” as a seque into the hard-rocking “The Trees”…the list is endless. I was kind of disappointed by the album’s dubious representation of the concert experience. At the end of most tracks, the sound fades out and then comes back in for the next song. It’s like it’s taking snippets from several concerts instead of capturing the seamless performance. Most live albums cut superfluous crowd noise and chitchat, but blend crowd noise together so that it flows smoothly from song to song anyway. This works better in preserving the feel of the actual show. Annoyingly, here you’ll often hear silence between the tracks and it creates a frustrating disjointed “concert” experience.But it’s not so bad. As a high-energy live “greatest hits” type package, Exit Stage Left can’t be beat. Rush rules the world, and this captures them at their best.(Oh, and make sure you get the Remastered edition, which has “A Passage to Bangkok,” a rockin’ song that was not included on some of the earlier pressings.)

    Posted on March 2, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now