RUSH – “Caravan” / “BU2B” (2010 CD Anthem single)
“Parts one and two of Clockwork Angels, a work in progress”.
That’s pretty monumental. Rush were releasing two key tracks from their forthcoming studio album, a full concept album this time, well in advance. Two years in advance. Notably, this was a full concept album start to finish. In the 70s, Rush were more known for half concept, half non-conceptual records. The bands that Rush inspired like Queensryche and Dream Theater had done full concepts. Now the original masters were taking a shot.
On the final album, “Caravan” is track one and “BU2B” is track two. On this single the order is swapped. “BU2B” (“Brought Up to Believe”) opens, although its intro changes on the album version. “BU2B” absolutely slams. “I was brought up to believe that the universe has a plan…” Perhaps it opens this single because it sums up the overall album concept. In a fictional world run precisely by a “Watchmaker”, a rebellious protagonist feels pulled in a direction different from that assigned to his life. Questioning his reality, he embarks on his own adventures despite his mandated mundane role in society. Musically, after the metallic riff has done its business, Neil Peart takes the spotlight a moment as the song shifts. Geddy lays down the heavy bottom end while Alex strikes hither and yon with lightning-like licks. Clearly a classic in the making.
“Caravan”, the final album opener, sounds pretty much the same as the record. It establishes the setting, “in a world lit only by fire…” The riff is a major feature, a deliberate, descending rock monster that feels just right in the guts. The lyrics paint a picture of a steampunk world, half explored, with alchemy and ancient knowledge.
Clockwork Angels wound up as one of the greatest final albums by any band anywhere any time. This single is a nice add-on, a reminder of the long careful gestation period that created a masterpiece.