We have upon us now Rush: Album by Album, a new tome about the legendary power trio Rush, the third in a trilogy by Martin Popoff. (The earlier entries are Rush: The Illustrated History and Contents Under Pressure: 30 Years of Rush at Home & Away.) If we take it as a given — and we should — that to be a Rush fan is to be a completist, this book will make completists very happy. The current book features interviews with 20 musicians, writers and superfans discussing each album at great length. The line-up is sometimes quite stellar as Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, journeyman guitar hero Paul Gilbert, and Dream Theatre drummer Mike Portnoy regale the reader with personal memories, analyses and insights, all of which reveal not only an unusually high level of knowledge about the band, but also that they all have — to a person — committed a great deal of thought to the music.
“There were a lot of surprises,” Popoff said in a recent interview with CultureSonar. “I’m not talking about surprises in terms of the interviewees knowing a lot of cool trivia, which they did, but what was really surprising was the depth of knowledge all of these people were giving me. It’s great when you get such enthusiasm for a project.” Indeed, one of the more compelling aspects of Rush: Album by Album is that it doesn’t seem to go out of its way to spend more time with the band’s more well-known albums at the expense of the lesser lights. Every album, be it 2112 or Moving Pictures or Caress of Steel, is given between eight and ten pages of often interesting and occasionally astute commentary. Popoff clearly knows his subject inside and out, and allows his interviewees the space to expand on their favorite releases. Each chapter features two to four critiques, selected by the amplitude of their particular enthusiasms.
“I never knew ahead of time how much people would do their homework,” Popoff said. “These people are accomplished citizens, and across the board that they have good sturdy brains in their heads. In the end, this allowed us to get really good, solid, stuffed information.” Even after nearly a decade of new critical examinations and a renewed interest in determining the importance and significance of the band — even after finally entering the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013 — Rush is still living through a critical reimagining. For the Rush obsessives (and you know who you are), Rush: Album by Album is one more signpost along the way of what could, finally, be a fuller acceptance of the band’s place in rock’s overall pantheon.
Photo credit: Rush by Kevin Winter (courtesy Getty Images)