Music Review: Rush’s “Moving Pictures”

Music Review: Rush's

Michael Young

Moving Pictures was the eight album released by progressive rock band Rush. Their first definitive album, it contains two of their most successful and famous songs, “Tom Sawyer” and “Limelight”.

“Tom Sawyer,” the first song off the album, is considered by many to be the most popular and famous Rush song. As per the Rush usual, it is a complex and unique song. It has an extended period (over a minute) instrumental section, without any lyrics. 

The second song, “Red Barchetta”, is a long one, clocking in at 6 minutes. It begins and ends with a simple, yet very unique, guitar riff. Another progressive tune, it has an impressive guitar solo, with bass bringing it together. 

An interesting part of “Red Barchetta” is its ending, in which, while the song gets quieter and slowly fades out, the music gets more intense, and picks up in speed.

The third song, “YYZ,” is named after the airport code for Toronto Pearson International Airport, where bassist Geddy Lee hails from. It’s an instrumental of pure musical talent.

Opening with a dark-sounding guitar riff featuring synths, the song sounds primarily upbeat or neutral in its entirety. It has a notoriously hard bass line and an intense and progressive guitar part. 

To put in mildly, “YYZ” is not an easy song to learn, and playing it on the guitar or bass requires quick finger, and stamina for that.

“Limelight,” the fourth song and second single on the track, is seemingly the most traditional song off the album. It has a classic guitar sound and and and a very recognizable bass riff, which is especially prominent during the guitar solo.

“The Camera Eye” is the longest song on the album, coming in at nearly 11-minutes. It has many different sounds to it, notably one of its guitar riffs. The next track, “Witch Hunt,” is a slower and darker song than any other on the album.

The seventh and final song off the album, “Vital Signs,” was released as a single in the UK. Fittingly, as Rush is a progressive rock band that deviates from the norm, the song is about deviating from the norm. Like “Limelight,” it has a prominent bass line, which, unlike “YYZ,” is somewhat manageable for the average bassist.

Overall, Moving Pictures is a perfect example of what Progressive Rock, or Prog-Rock, should be. Something I didn’t mention to now is that Rush is known for using non-standard time signatures, which is shown in “Tom Sawyer” and “YYZ”.

Moving Pictures is a masterpiece in ways, from the outright difficulty of “YYZ” to the more traditional “Limelight”, and from the synth-heavy “Tom Sawyer” to the simple and complex sounds of “Red Barchetta”.

Overall, Moving Pictures is a rare album that is truly musically impressive.