Track By Track
In 1993, Canadian progressive rock band Rush released their fifteenth studio album, Counterparts. The album was a clear return to guitar-led music is opposed to the synthesizers that dominated the 80’s albums. However guitars were starting to come back to the front of the fold with Presto (1989) and it’s successor Roll The Bones (1991) continued this. Both of which were produced by Rupert Hine, even though the production sounded thin, both albums produced some memorable songs.
With Counterparts, Rush decided to go with ex-producer Peter Collins, who had produced both Power Windows (1985) and Hold Your Fire (1987). It can be argued that the album was one of Rush’s heaviest since 2112 (1976). It also contained elements of alternative rock as during the early-90’s, it dominated and Rush were another band to be influenced by it for this album.
While many Rush fans consider it to be a return to the best work, here’s my opinions on each song track by track.
A brilliant opening song, Animate starts off with a drum groove from Neil Peart followed by a happy arpeggio riff from Alex Lifeson and a grooving bass line from Geddy Lee. Definitely a feel-good song, Alex’s guitar solo is during the breakdown adds to the mood dynamics and one that isn’t talked about as often.
Stick It Out
Arguably Rush’s “grungiest” song. Stick It Out has one of the best riffs on the album during the chorus though it sounds very similar to Pearl Jam’s “Go”. By coincidence, both albums in which both songs were off were released on the same day. Mind blown! A very strong song with an aggressive feel to it. The vocal interplay ain’t too shabby either!
Cut to the Chase
A criminally underrated and below the radar song. Cut to the Chase has one of Lifeson’s best ever solos. Another heavy and aggressive song, normally Lee or Peart steal the spotlight, but here it’s Lifeson! Though Neil Peart’s drum fills before the last chorus are pretty sick.
Up until Clockwork Angels (2012), a song like this was rare to come by, due to the fact it had a string arrangement. The strings added to the song massively as it was dealing with a very serious theme, people who Geddy Lee knew who had died of AIDS. Once again, Alex Lifeson’s guitar plays a big part in the song as well, with the solo after the first verse being very tearjerking.
Between Sun & Moon
A more pop-influenced song, I’d actually forgotten about Between Sun & Moon, I like it’s structure, it’s not as predictable as other songs on the album, yes, it has a key change, but it does work! Not as memorable as some of the other songs but it ain’t too shabby.
I had this album on my iPod and sometimes I would listen to each song in alphabetical order, as you can expect the song would be near the beginning. The song has some good rhythms in it and has some good guitar work from Lifeson. If you listen to the lyrics, you’ll probably think it’s a love song. It works though.
The Speed of Love
If you guessed “Alien Shore” was about love, well this next one is an obvious one because of the title. Another underrated song, the bass during breakdown is pretty cool, quite a rare song in my opinion. I find it quite “smooth” actually.
This was another one I forgot about for a while but upon hearing for the first time in eight years, I couldn’t forget it. Another one with a heavy feel. Pretty unique as Geddy Lee speaks through the verses. Never thought that was him at first as his speaking voice as much deeper than his singing voice. I notice that a lot of songs on this album aren’t as talked about as others, and this one is one of them. Would’ve loved to see it on at least one tour setlist.
Leave That Thing Alone
My third favourite instrumental behind “Strangiato” and “YYZ”. LTTA has more groovy feel to it, with Geddy Lee’s bass dominating, I would kill to be able to play that song on bass. I think that all three of the band were on top of their game when it was being recorded. Very enjoyable to listen to, no wonder it got played live a lot. One of the standout songs from the album in my opinion.
Another one I’d forgotten about, “Cold Fire” has more pop feel to it with the melodies and riffs in there. The song is still ear candy though, it does remind me of an 80’s hard rock song in a way. But lyrically, I think it’s a song I can relate to personally but that’s just what I think. I think the riff in the chorus is very underrated in my opinion.
One of the more serious songs on the album, the song has a happy tune but a sad theme, when you get to the chorus, it can be a bit of a tearjerker. I thought it could’ve fit on Roll The Bones as well but it’s Counterparts through and through. Like “Cut to the Chase” and “Speed of Love” it’s criminal that this song has missed out as it’s a very strong song. It also has a message as well, no matter how s**t your situation is, you’re always able “rise from the ashes”.
To conclude, Counterparts has to be one of Rush’s most underrated albums. I don’t even think there’s a single weak track on the album it’s every song fits in just fine. I thought the production was awesome, with the drums sounding much louder. Geddy, Alex and Neil were on top form with this album as well, for me, this is one of Alex Lifeson’s best albums as it’s got some incredible guitar work, normally Geddy or Neil steal the spotlight but for me, it was Alex this time. One of my favourite Rush albums post-Hold Your Fire.
Review by Andrew Greig