THE BAND: Geddy Lee (vocals, bass), Alex Lifeson (guitars, mandola), Neil Peart (drums & percussion).
THE DISC: (2002) 13 tracks clocking in at approximately 67 minutes. Included with the disc is a 22-page booklet containing song titles/credits, song lyrics, individual band member photos, and thank you’s. Music written by Lee and Lifeson. All song lyrics by Peart. Recorded at Reaction Studios, Toronto. Label – Atlantic.
COMMENTS: I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews on “Vapor Trails”… and not just here on Amazon. I for one, like this album. It’s no “2112″, “Permanent Waves” or “Moving Pictures”… but I like the album as a whole. I also know that the years leading up to this album were difficult for the band, especially Peart. “Test For Echo” came out in 1997 to mixed reviews at best. In the same year Peart lost his wife and only child. Only a live album “Different Stages” (1999) would be released from 1998-2001. So in 2002, with Peart back on board (remarried, and a year long North American motorcycle trip covering 50,000+ miles behind him – as well as his book of the same trip now in print “Ghost Rider: Travels On The Healing Road”), “Vapor Trails” would be the end result. The album reached #6 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart. “One Little Victory” (charted at #10) and “Secret Touch” (#25) were the only two songs to hit the US Mainstream Rock list. “Vapor Trails” has several highlights – the fast paced rocker “One Little Victory” with its thundering drums (also featured on my favorite car racing game on PS2, “Need For Speed: 2″), the melodic “Ceiling Unlimited”, the lyrics from Peart’s “Ghost Rider”, Lifeson’s guitar work on “The Stars Look Down”, the cool title track, the heavy “Freeze”, and the crowd favorite and semi hit “Earthshine”. The synthesizers are gone, and on the surface the songs seem heavier than normal. Two minor things hinder this release – a few sub-par filler tunes (“Peaceable Kingdom”, “How It Is”, and “Sweet Miracle” are actually tough to get through), and the sound production. I don’t have a professionally trained ear, but even I can tell when the volume is turned up – to an acceptable loud level; not glass breaking, ear bleeding, or concert level – the sound becomes very muddy and somewhat distorted. I agree with many of the reviews here in that the volumes (during production, mixing and/or mastering) were simply too high. With that being said, for me, this is the most enjoyable album since “Roll The Bones” (1991). Take “Vapor Trails” for what it is… not a classic, but overall some good tunes from a historical rock band (3.5 stars).