When talking about "Moving Pictures", superlatives are quickly at hand: It is Rush's best-selling album. The album that made sure that even casual listeners couldn't help but devote themselves to this phenomenon - in front of the home stereo as well as in the packed arenas. The album that contains the band's most famous song and the only album that the Canadian trio performed live in its entirety. But what's behind the 40 minutes that saw the light of record shelves on February 12, 1981? We take a look at the genesis of this milestone, present exclusive interviews with producer Terry Brown and artworker Hugh Syme, and have also unearthed a contemporary interview with Geddy Lee.
One of the most intriguing statements related to the album comes from Neil Peart. It's as brief as it is meaningful: "I think 'Moving Pictures' is where Rush was really born," the drummer and lyricist, who died last year, goes on record in the documentary Beyond The Lighted Stage (2010). It's worth listening to twice: A band that has previously released seven albums - including "2112," which also falls into the classic category - is now supposed to be born only, after six years in the "permanent" lineup? It's a statement that sticks in the mind. And preceded by Neil's no less revealing words, "We became us."
To understand what birth, and thus identity formation, is rooted in, it's worth digging a little deeper: Normally, birth requires two parents. In Rush's case, the mother is hard rock, to whose breast the musicians clung in their early days. The Who, Cream, Led Zeppelin - these are just some of the names that keep coming up. Already after the self-titled debut (1974), however, the father interfered. His name: progressive rock. "We wanted to write stuff that was heavy and complex at the same time," says Geddy Lee, and the frontman adds what would continue to characterize the band's basic approach to mergers and integrations of styles and stylistic devices to come: "There was no 'Let's put these two styles together.' If we take one element and combine it with the other, we'll create something new as a result.' No. We were never that into ourselves, and certainly not that calculating. It was an organic reaction to what we wanted to play." So it wasn't a calculation that paid off when "2112" broke through in 1976. But rather an overwhelming response to Rush's unconditional will to free development. The "marriage" was continued with "A Farewell To Kings" (1977) and crowned by "Hemispheres" (1978), which for many represented the peak in terms of "anti-commercialism". In the eclipsed book "ROCK (Part 1)" the album is aptly characterized with the words "You can't get more progressive rock". Apt also in the sense that this marriage had reached its limits.
After the end of the "Hemispheres" tour, the band took a longer break. Only to usher in the next era in their history. Two factors were to play a role in the creation of "Permanent Waves", which later also had a significant influence on "Moving Pictures": The first was that fresh wind was brought into the marriage by willingly allowing new currents to enter: Names like Talking Heads, The Police or Ultravox come up in interviews, and the conscious decision to compose shorter, more direct songs corresponded more strongly with these bands than with the "prog dinos", who were in any case to a large extent busy (re)finding themselves. A significant move, with which Rush on the one hand showed themselves open to all sides, but on the other hand also maintained a certain kind of unpredictability. Neil Peart: "The changes around us in the late seventies were also important. We were young enough and also fans enough to be a part of it and respond to it when punk became New Wave."