THE LONG PLAY

The Long Play with Al Neff" is a continuing Sunday evening Feature on The GOAT. This year, Every Sunday Evening, Album Rock WXYG, The GOAT will feature a full album at 8:00 PM from the halcyon musical days of 1974.

1974 was one of the top Years in Album Rock history. Another year of tough choices every week. So many great ones to choose from.

We hope you’ll tune in the evening of Sunday, June 2nd for “Rush”, the debut album by Canadian rock band Rush. It was released on March 18, 1974, in Canada by Moon Records, the group's own label, before it was released internationally by Mercury Records later that year. Recorded five years after the band's formation, this first release shows much of the hard rock sound typical of many of the popular rock bands emerging earlier in the decade. Rush were fans of such bands as Led Zeppelin, Yes and Cream, and these influences can be heard in most of the songs on the album.

Original drummer John Rutsey performed all drum parts on the album, but was unable to go on extended tours because of complications with his diabetes and so he retired from the band after the album was released. Rutsey worked on lyrics for the album, but never submitted them to the other members of the band. The lyrics were instead entirely composed by vocalist/bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson. Rutsey was soon replaced by Neil Peart, who served as both drummer and primary lyricist on all subsequent Rush albums.

The initial recording sessions were produced by Dave Stock at Eastern Sound Studios in Toronto in two days during the Summer of 1973. They were scheduled late at night during the 'dead' time in studios because of the band's low budget and the rates during this period were the cheapest. By request of the band's management, Rush included their version of "Not Fade Away", a staple of the band's live-set during that time, for a possible single-release. The song was eventually released as Rush' debut single in September 1973, backed with "You Can't Fight It", a song originally planned for inclusion on the album, but that idea was scrapped in favor of new songs. From this original recording session, "In the Mood" and "Take A Friend" would be included in the final album.

However, Rush were unhappy with the quality of the first sessions. They moved to Toronto Sound Studios in November 1973 and produced these sessions themselves while achieving a significant improvement in recording quality, with the help of engineer Terry Brown.They added new overdubs to existing backing tracks of "What You're  Doing", "Before and After" and "Working Man" from the first session. In the meantime, the band had written new songs that were recorded entirely at Toronto Sound: "Finding My Way", "Need Some Love" and "Here Again". These new songs took the place of songs from the earlier sessions. Both studios used 8-channel multitrack recorders, which was quite primitive for 1973, but the group quickly learned to make the best use of the technology that was available.

In July 2008, Rush discovered a version of "Working Man" with an alternative guitar solo. They allowed the makers of the popular rhythm game Rock Band to use the master tapes for the song's inclusion.

The band and its management formed their own company, Moon Records, and released the album in Canada. Only 3,500 copies of the original Moon Records LP, catalogue number MN-100, were pressed. The first version of the LP has a cream-coloured label with a blue Moon Records logo and black type.

The album was soon picked up by WMMS, a radio station in Cleveland, Ohio. Donna Halper, a DJ working at the station, selected "Working Man" for her regular play list. Every time the song was played the station received phone calls asking where to buy the record. Copies of the Moon Records album were imported to the Cleveland area and quickly sold out. In the 2010 documentary film Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, Halper says that "Working Man" was the perfect song for the Cleveland rock audience, as it was still mostly a factory town in 1974. WMMS later sponsored one of Rush's first performances in the United States, in Cleveland on August 26, 1974.

The record's popularity in Cleveland quickly led to the re-release of the album by Mercury Records. The first Canadian Mercury release on the standard red Mercury label is nearly as rare as the Moon version. It also had the Moon number MN-100 between the run-out grooves, indicating that it was pressed from the same metal stampers as the Moon disc. "A special thank you to Donna Halper for getting the ball rolling" was added to the album credits of this and all later versions.

At this point manager Ray Daniels scraped together an additional $9,000 for producer Terry Brown to professionally re-mix all of the recordings for better sound quality. This remix version was used for later releases, most of which used the Mercury "skyline" record label instead of the red label. A later Moon Records version of undetermined origin has a pink label with grey moon craters.

The original album logo was red, but a printing error made it appear more magenta in color. This is one of two Rush albums where the cover artwork had printing errors, the other album being Caress of Steel.

The complete album, along with Fly by Night and Caress of Steel, was included as part of the 1978 Anthem release Archives.  

Rush received positive reviews upon its 1974 release. Writing for the Ottawa Citizen, Bill Provick gave praise on the band's "immediate acceleration" and "driving, crisp sound", although he felt that "the energy needs a bit more channeling and the arrangements need a touch more refining". Billboard wrote that it "serves up a dose of good hard rock highlighted by the often Robert Plant-like lead vocals of Geddy Lee and the powerful guitar work of Alex Lifeson and solid drumming from John Rutsey."

Tune In and Turn On the evening of Sunday, June 2nd, and every Sunday evening at 8:00 PM for The GOAT'S "The Long Play with Al Neff.”  

Don’t forget, right after the “Long Play”, we do a “Replay” of this week’s GOAT GUEST DJ SHOW.