REVIEW: Rush – Chronicles (1990)

It’s the final instalment of GREATEST HITS WEEK! All week we were examining some pretty cool greatest hits albums.  I saved the best for last — one of the very greatest, Greatest Hits albums ever. Once again, thanks to Aaron over at the KMA for the idea (which I stole).  For his original Greatest Hits Week, click here! 

If you missed a prior review, here they all are:

Monday:  EXTREME – The Best of Extreme: An Accidental Collication of Atoms? (1997)
Tuesday: JUDAS PRIEST – The Best of Judas Priest (1978/2000 Insight Series)
Wednesday: JUDAS PRIEST – Greatest Hits (2008 Steel Box)
Thursday: HELIX – Over 60 Minutes With… (1989)


 

RUSH – Chronicles (1990 Anthem)

Yeah, oh yeah!
Ooh, said I, I’m comin’ out to get you
Ooh, sit down, I’m comin’ out to find you
Ooh, yeah
Ooh yeah
Findin’ my way!

I just can’t stress how important this album is to me.  I had always followed Rush, and been interested in what they were up to.  I had never taken the plunge and bought any albums.  I wouldn’t have had a clue where to begin anyway.  In July 1994, I was hired at the Record Store thus kicking off the exponential growth of my music collection (and tastes).  With birthday money, I finally acquired my first Rush:  Chronicles, the massive 2 CD set that was released for Christmas of 1990.

For my first listen, I didn’t play the whole thing from front to back.  I picked out the songs I liked best, and programmed the CD player.  I revisited favourites like “Tom Sawyer” and especially “Subdivisions”, and then the next day, listened to the whole thing.  One song jumped out at me immediately:  “Red Sector A”.  Holy shitballs!  “The Temples of Syrinx” was the next one that grabbed me on second listen, along with “Freewill”, “Limelight”, “The Trees” and “What You’re Doing”.  I had feared Rush would be a bit over my head if consumed in this quantity, but it turned up to be just my poison.

Even though Chronicles is the first Rush “greatest hits” compilation, and has arguably been replaced by the three volumes of Rush Retrospective, I still think that it is a perfect entry point.  I think back to my early experience of trying to figure out where to start with this band.  They seemed to have a lot of different sounds over the years.  I know today that anybody looking to buy their first Rush album can comfortably start with Moving Pictures.  But what about those who want a little bit more music than that, in the form of a detailed sampling?  Then Chronicles is the one.

Appropriately, Chronicles goes chronologically which works for a band like Rush.  Their evolution over the years has been very natural and organic, not at all jumpy.  That makes for a smooth listen.  Each studio album gets two tracks, with a few exceptions:  Moving Pictures is represented by three, while the most recent Presto has one.  Additionally, 2112 has one track, albeit actually the first two parts of “2112” itself.  The neat thing, though, is that for its time Chronicles actually had three rare live tracks too.  Back in the early days of CD, they couldn’t get as much music onto the disc as they can today.  “What You’re Doing”, “A Passage to Bankok”, and “Mystic Rhythms” were all cut from their respective CD releases for time reasons.  They were released on Chronicles, on CD, for the first time ever.  All three are brilliant versions, especially the electrifying “What You’re Doing” from All the World’s a Stage.

I was hooked.  Using the tracks and liner notes from Chronicles as a guide, I began adding more Rush to my collection: 2112, Signals, Moving PicturesA Show of Hands, plus the more recent Counterparts and Roll the Bones too.  I see no reason that new fans today can’t use the album as a gateway the same way I did.  It’s still in print, even though the more recent Rush compilations are readily available.

There are minimal exclusions missing from Chronicles.  Some notable songs are absent, such as later singles “Superconductor” and “The Pass” from Presto.  This isn’t hard to understand.  Rush wouldn’t have wanted to compete with the current studio album they were still promoting!  The price is the only issue.  Even after all these years, Chronicles is still found for over $20, unless you go for a used one, much like I did!

5/5 stars

RUSH CHRONICLES

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49 comments

  1. I think this is the one I have. My biggest problem is the lack of ‘YYZ.’ Guess I should splurge for Moving Pictures.
    This came out in ’90? I thought ‘Show Don’t Tell ‘ was more recent than that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t own any Rush. Appears to be another good entry level compilation, though – and the Greatest Hits albums certainly picked up! I can only think of a few I really like, but my favourite in my own collection is Stone Temple Pilots’ Thank You – Just for the bonus DVD, right enough.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh no doubt. This is where we run into the scheduling issue. I’m doing one post every day and I can’t keep up the pace, because doing stuff like STP has to take time, proper time, to do it right. I can’t just phone it in. That’s not my style.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ll like stuff I have lined up next week much better! No more greatest hits for a while.

      I have a mega Dio review coming. Tomorrow is something for Seinfeld fans. I think you’ll like the Dio for sure…..

      Like

  3. they all sound good … of the greatest hits one .. all considering … you gave the most credo to the Helix one… citing reasons that make more sense than the normal greatest hits package. Atleast you didnt do one or all of the 16 Kiss compilations this week …. Even you as a Ultra Kiss fan know they bastardize their fans with all those stupid greatest hits collections

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Possibly one of the best compilation albums ever. Easily worth a 5/5.

    As far as compilations, I might put out a Nickelback Greatest hits cd. All I would have to do is put a blank cd in a case and let the money roll in.

    ;)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you sir! I enjoyed taking a break from the usual this week. It’s a different kind of review style, than to write about a straight studio album. Plus it was just fun to bitch at the start of the week.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I was never a Rush-fan. But I got this double CD because everybody were on my case about how great Rush are. I still haven’t got it, I’m afraid. I pick this CD up one in a while and put it on to see if anthing has changed. In me, that is. But so far, it’s the same – I hear that Rush are all killer musicians and that they are very good at what they do, but they’re not for me, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When the baby is born the doctor says “It’s a boy(girl), Eh.”
      The nursing wards are filled with the sounds of Rush, Bob & Doug, Max Webster, The Hip, and Triumph. Babies are issued toques, lumber jackets, hockey sticks, Canadian Tire money and Tim Hortons card.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. I had guy friends into Rush and the radio. One of them lent me Chronicles. Then my sis came home one summer and left her Chronicles. I listened to that thing all summer.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Great summer music, for driving. I have to see if I brought any Rush with me on my flash drives — would be great driving music for going home today. (We did Def Lep and Thin Lizzy on the way up.)

          Liked by 1 person

        3. THAT IT IS. Good call Sarca. Not that you really needed to, but you just climbed a notch on my “Respect chart”.

          On Thursday night I was listening to a lot of miscellaneous tracks from Counterparts — an incredible album.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Well done Mikey and well said it about it being a great starting point. By the time this came out in 90 i already had everything on cd/vinyl so I skipped it but it’s funny when Rush puts out Greatest Hits Comps it doesn’t bother me when Aerosmith and Kiss do it its like piss off!
    By the way thanks for not doing a Kiss Greatest Hits Vol 300! Review ..well played Mauer!(that’s for the baseball fans out there)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have to admit Deke there was a time when Rush were pushing it with the Hits stuff. We got Retrospecting III…with a couple remixes thrown in…and then worst of all, Working Man, which was nothing but greatest hits from LIVE albums with ONE unreleased live version. I wrote an Amazon review on that one a long time ago. I should resurrect.

      Like

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