REVIEW: Rush – Fly By Night (including 5.1 mix)

Click here for Aaron’s loving review of this album, from his Rush “Partial Series”.  

RUSH – Fly By Night (1975 Anthem, reissued 2011 in the Sector 1 box set)

Gotta love this album cover.  It is classic.  Always has been.

This, the first album ever to feature “The Professor” Neil Peart on drums and lyrics, is the birth of the new Rush, the Rush we know today. Slowly shedded were the straight-ahead rock sounds, although their shadows remain (“Best I Can”, for example). In the stead were acoustic guitars, songs about Elvish cities, and much more complex arrangements. Fly By Night remains today a beloved and important slab o’ wax in the mighty Rush canon.

For the most part Fly By Night remains heavy although the rawk groove is gone, replaced by…well, I don’t know what to call it. In it’s place is sheer ability, filtered through the Canadian lens; the snow-white brilliant abilities of Lifeson, Lee and Peart, barreling straight through the winter night, determined to just frickin’ play their tails off. (How did ya like that run-on sentence?) To listen to this monster is to listen to three kids who knew they were better than the other kids on the block. Maybe the songwriting wasn’t entirely there yet but the pieces were falling into place.

You can’t beat “By-Tor” for its piercing vocal and metallic romp, yet it bends and slithers through a lengthy instrumental section. “Anthem” harkens back to the groove of album #1, yet foreshadows the heaviness of album #3. It remains one of Rush’s most identifiable rampages. The title track reveals hippy-like happiness sheathed within the band’s monstrous technical abilities.  “Making Memories” is fun acoustic-based classic road rock.  “Rivendell” is a personal favourite, an ode to the home city of Elrond and his Elf kin.

Like many Rush albums of the early 1970’s, some of this music might be impenetrable to the uninitiated. However, one must push through it in order to appreciate where this band came from and where it was going.

Finally, when this album was reissued in the Sector 1 box set, a 5.1 mix on DVD was included as a bonus.  I couldn’t leave you without speaking about that mix, briefly.  It’s a pretty straightforward surround mix, presumably because as Rush albums go, Fly By Night is a lot more straightforward than the later discs.  Not a lot of tracks and instrumentation to play around with.   It’s clear though, and it’s a pleasure to listen to.  I only wish I had the ability to listen to 5.1 mixes more frequently, so I could get to know this disc a little better.

As for Fly By Night?

4/5 stars. The best was yet to come….

 

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44 comments

        1. Why, because my bird has missiles and yours doesn’t? The cover of Budgie’s Bandolier has a bird riding a horse with a rifle. That’s pretty bad ass too. On Nightflight he’s got a laser gun and a space ship.

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        2. Never heard Nightflight but it has my fave Budgie cover. SFV wins overall, it’d totally destroy most LP cover birds/animals I can think of

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        3. Nightflight is one of the few that I own. They are terribly expensive here on CD. $30 for a remaster. Nightflight is excellent — it’s pure early 80’s metal. With the gallops, the riffs, the artwork.

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  1. Couldn’t agree with u more Mike….loved the fact that they brought back By Tor on the Vapor Trails tour…..
    I also really like the sonics of this album,don’t know why but I just like the mix……
    Great stuff

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        1. No absolutely not. Or in life. I’ve read 3 of his books. I would say he likes to keep busy. Not necessarily keep busy “working” but keep busy living. Even when he was at his lowest, he got on his motorcycle and drove around the continent for a few months.

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        2. I keep being impressed with that homemade emoticon but then forgetting to use it – looking forward to breaking out \m/ \m/ when I get to the next, as you say, rawk record!

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  2. I loved this record. I could play it over and over and still hear new things.

    Somewhere in this pile I have the old vinyl of it. Sadly, some moron scratched it up pretty good, so I haven’t tried playing it.

    Thanks for the link-back! I will advise everyone to read and enjoy Mike’s more knowledgeable and measured review first, before following the link to mine, as mine always skew more towards breathless and slobbery.

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    1. Bah, no self-criticism necessary. It inspired me to do this review.

      Vinyl, even scratched up, would be great to have in the pile — you can make it into some awesome wall art.

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  3. Sorry…I don’t really like Rush. I have the “Fly By Night” and few others of theirs on cassette somewhere…but don’t listen to them anymore.

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  4. Call me an un-patriotic Canuck, and flay me alive with gold-plated drumsticks while spinning in a dryer, but this is the only Rush album I like, and really only “Bytor” and the title cut at that.

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