REVIEW: Rush – Red Stars of the Solar Federation (Live at Montreal Forum May ’81)

RED STARS_0001RUSH – Red Stars of the Solar Federation (X-Rekords, Live at Montreal Forum May ’81)

I found this bootleg when I was unceremoniously transferred from one location to another.  When I started at the other location, this was among the first CDs that came in that I just had to buy.  It’s a Rush bootleg from the legendary Moving Pictures tour.  In fact this CD is the audio of the Rush video Exit…Stage Left, which is a different audio from the LP.  It sounds like a vinyl rip.  Otherwise the sound quality is pretty good.  The audience is shrill and very loud.  There are also clearly speed/pitch issues with the audio.  (This could be corrected in Audacity, but I don’t think I could do it by ear.)  This CD is selling for over $70 currently on Discogs.  I paid nowhere near that.

Between the songs are interview snippets from the band, same as the video.  It features a few tracks that were not on the Exit…Stage Left album:  “By-Tor”, “In the Mood”, “In the End”, and “2112” which is unlisted.  The rest of the songs are completely different recordings, anyway.  I guess that’s why the asking price is $70.  They are no less perfect; no less electrifying.

“The Trees” and “Xanadu” take up one massive 17 minute track on the CD, and it’s a monument to perfection of performance and craft.  I can barely remember the sequence of all the different parts of Xanadu; I can’t imagine how Rush can play a set full of this stuff with precision and feel all the time!  All this while Geddy has to remember complex lyrics about searching for the lost Xanadu.

RED STARS_0002I love Peart’s slamming drums on “Red Barchetta”, a song I simply never tire of.  What is it about Rush songs?  They don’t burn out like so many other bands.  Not even “Closer to the Heart” has burned out on me yet, and it’s always a pleasure hearing a less familiar version.

On to “By-Tor”: it features a nicely noisy and meandering Alex Lifeson solo, surely a highlight of the entire performance.  This segues directly into a truncated “In the End”, also from Fly By Night.  This then is butted against “In the Mood” from the first Rush album in an awkward transition.  Geddy appears to change the lyrics from “Hey baby” to “Hey Cookie”.  Even this song is shortened, and segues into “Grande Finale” from 2112.  Alex ends it with some noise-laden blasting on his axe, almost stealing the spotlight from his two bandmates.  It’s a perfect storm of musical excellence and heavy rock.

Sonically,  Red Stars of the Solar Federation is vastly inferior to the current Exit…Stage Left DVD.  Yet I have a geeky love for an oddball CD like this.  While I can’t say it’s worth $70, I can say it’s worth:

3.5/5 stars

10 comments

    1. Glad you liked the review Deke! I don’t know if By-Tor is worth the price of admission with a $70 price tag though!

      I have no record of what I paid for this. Probably $7.99.

      Like

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