This is one of my top 5 Rush albums but mostly because of 3 songs, in order of preference. The Pass, Available Light, and Show Don’t Tell.
For some years now, The Pass has been my favorite Rush song, finally replacing Vital Signs (from Moving Pictures). Not only tackling non-standard lyrical fare in typical Rush fashion (this one’s about teen depression and suicide), but this song has to have the best melody of any song they’ve ever written. The melody may have modal leanings. Dunno. I know it’s not often you hear vocalists comfortably doing major 7th and 9ths as part of the melody (basically sticking with the B-flat scale even on an E-flat chord, for example. And in typical Rush fashion, not slavishly sticking with “guitar keys”. Name a key, and Rush has probably covered it.
The melody to this song is so beautiful, I’m grateful that there’s a section where Geddy sings it accompanied by nothing but a simple bass line, and other places where phrases are punctuated by the whole band dropping out while he belts out the words. The acapella “Christ, what have you done!” still sends shivers through my spine to this day.
Available Light is another song that’s really poignant and especially meaningful to a lot of Rush’s fans who grew up with the band and are therefore the same age. In the same vein as “Time Stand Still”, not so much grousing about how much it sucks to be getting old, but expressing a desire to wrap our arms around the here and now while we still can. My favorite lyric in this one, which I think is a real stunner is “Run to light from shadow. Sun gives me no rest. Promise offered in the east is broken in the west.” using the sun as a metaphor for our cradle to grave journey.
Show Don’t Tell, I just like because it’s an unapologetic rocker that’s easy to like even on the first listen.
While I don’t particularly care for a lot of songs on this album, it’s currently my favorite just because of The Pass and Available Light.
A good album to introduce your non-fan friends who prefer ballads to hard-core rock music. Suck them in with the pair of beautiful ballads then hit them with the others that show off their musical prowess and power just a bit more.