REVIEW: Rush – Sector 2 (box set)

This one goes out to Rich from KamerTunesBlog, a great, informed site that you should check out.

I got the other two Sectors for Christmas, but this is an older review.

RUSH – Sector 2 (2011 box set, 5 CD + 1 DVD)

Damn you Rush.  Damn you!

If it wasn’t for the fact that I liked their past 5.1 mixes so much, I wouldn’t have bought each of these albums again in this box set.  And the fact that only one album (A Farewell To Kings) has been mixed in 5.1 really grinds my gears.  Because you know more is coming.  2112, recently released as a part of Sector 1, in normal stereo, is now coming again in 5.1.  It’s obvious Rush are going to continue to issue 5.1 mixes of their albums, in seemingly random order, which will probably make these box sets completely redundant in the future.

Rich Chycki did the 5.1 mix once again, and once again, it’s a pleasure to listen to.  In particular I found “Cygnus X-1” to really benefit from the treatment.  The swirly opening section made me feel as if I too was aboard the Rocinante, wheeling through the galaxies.  The album sounds three dimensional, clear, shimmery.  I’m very happy with the 5.1 mix.

Farewell is included on a standard stereo remastered CD, and also in stereo on the DVD.  I have read online that there are flaws with the stereo mix of this DVD but I’ve never played it.  I’m not that much of an audiophile that I would really care to, when I already have a CD.

The other CD’s included in the set, aside from A Farewell To Kings, are:

  • Hemispheres
  • Permanent Waves
  • Moving Pictures
  • Exit…Stage Left

…all of which I have now bought more than once.  In Moving Pictures‘ case, three times now, since they just issued that as a deluxe edition with a 5.1 surround blu-ray last year!  (Reviewed here.) Bastards.

I’m not going to review each individual album in this set.  That comprehensive task would require separate blog entries of their own.  They’re all great, of course.  Some (Moving Pictures) more so than others (Hemispheres) in my own personal opinion.  And of course, within this box set you will get such classics as “Closer To The Heart”, “The Trees”, “The Spirit of Radio”, “Freewill”, “YYZ”, “Limelight”, and “Vital Signs”.  In addition there are plenty of brilliant album tracks like “La Villa Strangiato” and “Natural Science”.

The box itself is attractive enough, and if you’re sucked into buying all three, then they all fit together on your shelf as one handsome library.  But you already own some of these albums, if not all, don’t you?  The bait is that 5.1 mix of Farewell.  And it pisses me off that Rush would treat their fans in that way.  Why not just remaster and re-release these albums on their own and in a box set?

The individual album packaging is nice enough too, mini record sleeve reproductions, with a nice booklet with lyrics and liner notes for the whole shebang, all taken from the albums.  As far as the booklet goes, there’s no exclusive essays or other content that is new to me.

And as for the new remastering?  I can’t tell the difference between this and the 1997 remasters.  I can’t.  Sorry.  I’m sure an audiophile would call me an idiot for saying so.

I probably won’t buy Sectors 1 and 3, not unless the prices drop dramatically.  I was able to re-gift my original Rush remasters off to other people, which is one way of dealing with the duplicates, but I’m not going to be getting rid of my deluxe Moving Pictures, since it has the blu-ray and a David Fricke essay.  So I’ve got two copies of that, and people who collect 5.1 mixes and have Sector 1 will end up with two copies of 2112.  Nice eh?

A Farewell To Kings 5.1 mix:  5/5 stars

Sector 2 box set:  1/5 stars

62 comments

  1. That’s disappointing! These strike me as being poorly thought out. I wonder how much input Rush actually had in these?

    If you compare these to the Genesis Box Sets where EVERY album came with a 5.1 mix and excellent bonus concert/documentary footage these start to look a bit half-baked. I don’t know why they couldn’t have done them that way.

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    1. I don’t think they had too much input into these beyond OK’ing the 5.1 mixes. At least I didn’t get any of the problematic ones that had quality control issues! The Fly By Night CD in Sector 1 ended up being flawed in the first run of sets, and people had to get them replaced. Thankfully that wasn’t a problem with mine.

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        1. I’ve very rarely had a problem that required a disc to be replaced. The only time in recent memory that this happened was with a Marilion 4 DVD box set. One of the discs was duplicated, one missing. But they promptly fixed it up. They have great customer service at their site. In fact I ordered their two most recent live sets just this week!

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        2. I’ll have to go look, actually.

          It’s called Wish You Were Here. I think the Bootleg Bingo is in that set too.

          I’ve stopped collecting their DVD’s just for lack of time/money, but audio is still my main format and I still collect all their audio discs.

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        3. I’ve got that one! I’ve not watched it much… forgot Bootleg Bingo was on that. I always just watch the Popular Music disc. I think I mentioned that before, it’s great. Breathtaking version of White Russian on it.

          I went through a phase of getting everything but only because there was always cool songs on them that I didn’t have live versions of… but I started to get diminishing returns as I bought more and I’m not totally sold on their newer stuff so I’ve just drifted off. I’m sure I’ll come back round at some point and want to catch up. I did quite fancy the Christmas one they brought out a couple of years ago.

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        4. At this point I’ve come to far to quit collecting. I spent close to $300 on their Marillionrochester CD. Yeah. That was in 2001 but still.

          I haven’t been solidly into a new Marillion album since Marbles. But this year, Somewhere Else started to grow on me, since I got it on the new vinyl re-release. So there is always hope with them, that you can grow to appreciate an album even years later. Happiness is the Road is just so long, it’s gonna take time.

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        5. Blimey… that’s a lot of coin! You could probably have bought Rochester for that. Maybe not. What was on that one that made it such a must have?

          Somewhere Else took a few listens but I really enjoyed that one. Especially once I’d seen them do those tracks live as they worked a lot better in concert.

          Happiness is the Road just didn’t grab me at all. And it’s not any longer than Marbles really is it? But that grabbed you enough that you kept going back for more. How does the new one compare?

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        6. I think Marbles might be shorter? It definitely had fewer songs.

          Rochester was given away only to people to donated to their 1997 tour fund, and each one was autographed. They say that it will never be reissued and so far they have stayed true to that — you can’t even download it.

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        7. That sounds like a cool collectible. Yeah, I think Marbles was probably a bit shorter. It does have some really long tracks on it though. Not sure if Happiness is as epic… I’ve not listened to it enough!

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        8. I have a sense that Marillion are stuck spinning tyres a bit. From Marbles to the new one, there’s not enough variety of sound. Yes they do stretch out and “Gaza” on the new album is a good example of that. I just feel that their overall sound is not evolving much. That they keep doing this soft-prog-piano-rock stuff. You know what I mean? The last album that felt like it was a change of pace was Marbles to me. I think maybe they need to get a new producer involved or something, and take some chances next album, instead of doing things the same way.

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        9. I’m so glad you feel that way! I was starting to think it was just me. I think they also struggled for so long and Marbles ushered in a new era of success. Maybe they’re scared to branch out any more in case they blow it? I’d prefer them to change things up a bit.

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        10. I think a producer would help. Some of their best stuff was done with Dave Meegan. Obviously for a band like Marillion who fund everything themselves, a producer can be an excessive cost with limited returns. Artistically though I think it would be money well spent. I’m not saying they need to get Bob Ezrin, just a fresh set of ears to shake it up a bit.

          Look what a fresh producer has done for bands like Maiden and Priest.

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        11. Yeah, absolutely. Some fresh ears and someone to help them push the boat out a bit. I suppose they must be happy as they are! Maybe if less people pay for their next one upfront they might re-think but I can’t see that happening somehow. Too many Marillion fans are just die-hards!

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        12. Yeah, and besides, you do want them to keep going regardless.

          I wonder how far into the future a proper Fish reunion is. Not a permanent one mind you, but I do believe that they could get away with recording a single.

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        13. I certainly wouldn’t want them to stop. I just think I’ll let them get on with it for a while. I didn’t do the pre-order thing for the last one and I doubt I will in future. I’d rather concentrate my attention (and money) on the stuff that’s moving me at the moment.

          And it’s probably just the mood I’m in right now too. I might end up going back to Happiness and the new one and think they are the best things ever!

          I really don’t see a Fish reunion happening at all. I think they could definitely get it to work though if they wanted to. For a one-off gig/tour or a single. Some of Fish’s recent stuff has been on a par, if not better, than some of Marillion’s stuff. And not too far removed style wise either.

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        14. I can’t remember which order they came out in but I’d recommend Raingods with Zippos and Field of Crows. 13th Star was pretty good too, although I keep forgetting to listen to that one. To be honest, there is a 2CD comp called Bouillabaise that did a really good job of picking out the best tracks too. I often listen to that.

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        15. I have Kettle of Fish, which is just one disc, but an entirely solid one. I love how he goes from pop tunes like “Chasing Miss Pretty” and “Big Wedge” to more adventurous stuff like “Brother 52” — one of my favourite Fish tunes, ever.

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        16. Funny how easy we get off topic here — I don’t think we ever really stick to what we started out discussing (Rush)!

          “Goldfish and Clowns” is great but I really can’t pick a favourite on the Kettle of Fish. I love “Internal Exile” and I love when Fish talks about Scotland. His passion is obvious and it makes my own Scottish blood stir for the land I’ve never seen!

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        17. Is Scotland as snow-covered as Canada currently? There is a smooth blanket of white under the stars right now, unbroken by footprint at this time of the morning (6:42 am).

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        18. Yuck — I prefer the snow, honestly.

          You know the Rush video for “Tom Sawyer”, when they’re recording in Le Studio, that big window behind them? That’s what it looks like today, just a big ol’ blanket of snow!

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        19. I love the setting in that video! That’s cool.

          Thing about Scotland is the weather changes approximately every 5 minutes. After making the comment about it being wet and grey, I nipped out to grab a latte… and it was sunny! Pishing again now though.

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        20. I could do without the pishing myself. Nothing is worse than a cold winter pish!

          Ever see the Anvil movie? I always feel bad for Lips when he’s dragging all those catering containers through the snow, but that’s Canada!

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        21. Yeah. It happened. I was in Athabasca, British Columbia and I couldn’t wait to make a snowball in August. Well I never made the snowball because I slipped and fell on the glacier! I can remember some lady laughing at me as I cried!

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  2. Seen at Hmv on Boxing Day one of the sectors sets going for $74.99,sorry I will pass….I do like the 2112 deluxe,that’s worth the coin …

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  3. Mike, thanks for the shout out to my blog at the top. Much appreciated. I bought all three of the Sector box sets when they were released. Like you, I was frustrated that they only included one 5.1 mix with each box, since it was clear that they would eventually get to the entire catalog and why not make the box sets the definitive Rush statements? The main reason I bought them was because my Rush CD collection consisted of all the original pressings (from the ’80s, I believe), so they were un-remastered and the packaging was spartan. Most of them didn’t include lyrics or even the original album credits (how much fun was it to read each percussion instrument played by Neil on the original album packaging of A Farewell To Kings and Hemispheres?). It was nice to finally have updated CDs with full lyrics (in the booklets) and all original album credits, and the 3 surround sound DVDs were an added bonus. I also like the look of the boxes themselves.

    Also, I’m still fairly unimpressed by all of Rush’s surround sound mixes, although A Farewell To Kings is the best of the batch, with “Xanadu” being a particular highlight. As I’ve mentioned in previous conversations, once you’ve heard the 5.1 mixes by Steven Wilson (either for his own projects like Porcupine Tree or for reissues by Jethro Tull, ELP, Caravan & King Crimson) you get spoiled for what 5.1 can sound like. Whereas the Rush mixes separate various instruments & vocals into different speakers, with certain sound effects drifting in & out of the mix, Mr. Wilson’s 5.1 mixes create a blend of sounds into a unique mix that truly surrounds you with music, like an expanded stereo mix that, well, surrounds you. I hope you’ll check out some of his work, and then I’ll be curious if you agree with me about the drawbacks of other 5.1 mixes. Even the Pink Floyd 5.1 mixes (of Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here), which are excellent, are still a notch below. And to clarify, I don’t have some high end system. My surround sound set-up is pretty basic. I also think the Rush mixes have gotten better since their first few live DVDs (Rush In Rio is particularly horrible in 5.1), so I look forward to your assessment of the Moving Pictures blu-ray. I’ll have to be convinced to spend that kind of money on that album again.

    As for the albums included in the Sector 2 box set, it doesn’t get much better than this batch. I got into Rush with the release of Permanent Waves in 1980 (“Entre Nous” was the first Rush song I ever heard), so that album holds a special place for me, but just for the inclusion of “La Villa Strangiato” and “The Trees,” Hemispheres will always be my favorite of their sci-fi-prog era. And what more can be said about Moving Pictures? I got to see them on that tour, and they were at the peak of their powers. Perfect playing, perfect songwriting and perfect production. If you have to introduce someone to Rush, that’s the place to start.

    Okay, I’ve already taken over this post with my comment. I apologize for that. I really enjoyed this post, even though our opinions differ greatly on much of this box set. Now that you received the other two Sectors for Christmas, I look forward to reading your reviews on them whenever you get to it. Have a great weekend.

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    1. Quite an essay Rich and quite a lot of good points! At this stage and at this price, why not a 5.1 mix of each album? And I agree, you know that many more of these albums will get the 5.1 treatment. I would like to see something like Permanent Waves next.

      I plan on getting some of the Tull 5.1. That beautiful Thick As A Brick set is beckoning me…

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    2. Rich, on your copy of Sector 3, did you notice that Hold Your Fire seems to be a slightly different mix? I’ve compared the two versions of “Time Stand Still” and if you listen to the drums, they ARE different. After the first chorus, right after Geddy sings “Time Stand Still” before the second verse, there are now two drum hits. They weren’t there before. That’s the easiest way to tell. Have you noticed this?

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      1. To be honest I never did an A/B comparison, but I do remember hearing a few things that sounded different from what I’m used to (it’s been a year since I played these discs, so the details escape me). I do remember getting replacement discs from Universal for a CD and a DVD, but once again I don’t remember which ones those were. Is it possible they had to correct the Hold Your Fire CD?

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        1. I’m not sure to be honest. It looks to me like the two replacement discs offered are Fly By Night (CD) and Farewell to Kings (DVD). No mention has been found of Hold Your Fire.

          I do still have the original album, so I’m not sweating it…in fact BECAUSE I have the original album I’m looking at this as sort of a bonus, an alternate version.

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        2. I think you’re right about those replacement discs, so I guess Hold Your Fire is an alternate version. I actually got rid of my original ’80s-manufactured discs when I got the Sector box sets, but I do have them all saved on my hard drive if I need to hear the original version. Hold Your Fire isn’t an album I return to that often, so I won’t sweat the discrepancy. I just wish they had notified fans about the different mix/version, but maybe they weren’t even aware of it.

          When those Genesis box sets came out a few years ago, they made it clear that the CDs were new mixes. They were noticeably different from the original mixes so I kept my earlier CD pressings. For the most part, though, I’ll use those box sets for the surround sound mixes, which while not being done by Steven Wilson were still done incredibly well.

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        3. Megadeth remixed their catalogue and advertised it as such. I never had the originals for Megadeth, but I didn’t care that much, I just wanted the albums in some form.

          Ozzy remixed his first three albums, and made it known that the first two were remixed/re-recorded, but NOT Bark At The Moon. So when I got it, I was mildly surprised. But again, I still had my original, so I just looked at it as a bit of a bonus.

          I’d prefer bands are always straight up about remixing, when it’s done, so I don’t accidentally let go of my original versions prematurely!

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        4. Nothing’s worse than the ZZ Top Six Pack, a 3-CD set released in the late-80s that included remixed versions of six of their earlier, pre-Eliminator albums. That was during the era of big, echo-y drums, and all those classic ’70s recordings were ruined by the remixing. Sadly, several of those albums are unavailable in any other version on CD.

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        5. Seriously?? I thought ZZ Top had reissued their catalogue recently. That sucks! I didn’t know that. I mean, I knew they remixed them for the Six Pack but I didn’t know they the originals were unavailable on CD. Still?

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        6. That’s my understanding. They’ve released remastered versions of a handful of their albums, but I believe several of them are still only available via those horrible ’80s mixes. The remasters I have are great, so whenever they get to the rest of the Top catalog, I’ll be getting my hands on them.

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        7. Well thanks for the warning!

          I have the ZZ Top Chrome Smoke & BBQ box set, and I believe those tracks are originals, but of course that’s not complete albums.

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        8. A friend of mine got me the 2-CD remastered “Best Of” from a few years ago, and the sound is fantastic, but like you said, it’s not the complete albums. I still have the Six Pack, but only to have access to the songs in some form. If/when the rest of the catalog is remastered, I will be unloading that collection.

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        9. If you unload it, let me know. It was rare that I saw a copy of the Six Pack come in, in decent enough shape, so I don’t own it. I think I’d still like to. Regardless of the remixes, if both versions are available out there, what the hell right?

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        10. I will definitely keep you in mind if/when the original mixes become available, although if it’s a valuable collectable at that point I will probably be greedy & sell it on Amazon. I’ve reached the point where I don’t need multiple copies of the same albums except for a handful of artists. At least I’ve got them stored on a hard drive so I’ll always have access to the music if not the packaging.

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        11. Hey no problem — can’t fault you for being “greedy”. I’ve seen what some things go for on Amazon. I recall seeing a copy of Kim Mitchell’s first EP for $200. Yikes!

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        12. I’ve never been able to figure out why some items are collectible while others are a dime a dozen. I’ve sold some individual CDs that I’ll never miss on Amazon for close to $100. If someone’s willing to part with that much cash, I’m certainly willing to part with the album. Of course, I’m sure I have plenty of valuable items in my collection that I would never consider getting rid of.

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        13. Interesting chat guys! The amount of cash people sell stuff for on Amazon and eBay defies belief sometimes. There are often much cheaper ways of getting rare(ish) stuff. But if I could sell things at those prices I would!

          I had heard that about some of the ZZ albums. I’ve got some remasters (Fandango and Tres Hombres I think). I’m not usually bothered about albums being remixed, as long as I know. Like with Megadeth and Genesis. I thought the remixes sounded great and I wasn’t too bothered about keeping the originals just for the sake of it. The ZZ Top ones do sound like a bit of a disaster though but, luckily, they are all pretty cheap on vinyl here. My Deguello cost about £4 and looks and sounds great!

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        14. Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than $100 for any music collection, even box sets. I guess I’m lucky that I never had that collector’s gene beyond wanting to hear everything officially released by the artists I like. It’s probably saved me lots of money over the years.

          Oh wait, I just remembered the one exception to my previous statement. As a huge Big Country fan for the last 30 years, I once paid $240 for a 4-CD Japanese box set that included expanded versions of their first four albums. I would never have paid that much, but an importer I dealt with at the time (pre-internet) knew I was looking for it, so he billed my credit card & shipped it to me without checking first. Smart man, because once it was in my hands, I couldn’t imagine parting with it. Years later, after their CDs were expanded & reissued in the UK, the box set was redundant, so I sold it on ebay for more than my purchase price. Score!

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        15. VERY nice.

          I might have been able to sell my Marillion for more than I paid, I’m not sure if that still holds today when fewer people are buying physical product. I’ve never even checked to see if it’s out there on bittorrent.

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  4. The power of Rush never ceases to amaze me…People just love this band…I think I am one of three rock music fans in the entire world that does not care for them…and I am going out on a limb here because I have not found the other two yet…I may be alone? They may possibly be the most respected band ever. And I am speaking from getting into a ton of arguments and one bar fight…people just love this band!

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    1. My wife is definitely with you. I woke her up with Rush music two mornings in a row (thanks to these box sets). She is NOT HAPPY!

      I find fans in Canada vastly split: Those who love and those who hate. Those who hate usually say, “Yeah, they have an awesome drummer, but Geddy is the worst singer I have ever heard in my life!”

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  5. Speaking as someone who (sadly) does not currently own any Rush albums except Chronicles, these sets are still interesting. I mean, you still get the records, so there’s value right there, to me! For someone like you who has them all, I can see it being a wasted duplication. I also like the packaging on those, they look cool. Like Metallica’s Binge set.

    Don’t worry, they’ll make ANOTHER box set for you to buy, all the 5.1s together, eventually.

    Lots of snow here by the Bay. And I think, HMO, that’s why your weather changes so much, same as here. Being on the water leads to unpredictable weather. But yeah, we came back from Christmas and it took me over an hour to shovel out the driveway with one of those wide scoop shovels. Welcome home, eh!

    I have a glacier story too: we were up at the top of the Columbia ice fields and I needed to piss. Nowhere to go! Had to wait for the tour to be over, then drive all the way down the glacier in that tank-tracked bus at a max. of 15 km/h. How I didn’t piss myself, I’ll never know.

    Rush is definitely a love or hate thing, totally binary – people are fully ON or fully OFF, with them. My lovely wife is off, and it’s Geddy’s voice. She also doesn’t go much into the big, long solos and such. Me, I like ’em a lot! Given the funds, I would collect their records, for sure.

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    1. I have you and my buddy Peter to re-gift my old Rush discs on. I don’t know who gets what. I’ve been very torn over this. Peter is up in Inverhuron right now but when he gets home, we’ll celebrate Christmas and we’ll figure this out!

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