Various - Subdivisions - A Tribute To Rush

Year of Release: 2005
Label: Magna Carta
Catalog Number: MA 2112-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 63:25:00

Rush. That little ol' Canadian trio from the "Great White North" are being paid tribute again; and for the second time by Magna Carta, this time with Subdivisions: A Tribute To Rush. Released in the early part of 2005, this release features a gaggle of celebrity Rush fans jamming to some of Rush's bests tunes. Given how many Rush tracks fall into that category, this is only a small subset. The expected pieces are here - "Limelight," "Tom Sawyer," "Spirit Of Radio" ... and basically nothing after 80s Rush. But these are the tracks that Rush made their reputation on, so it makes sense.

At first blush, these sound almost exactly like the originals. Well, the backing band does, that is: Vinnie Moore (solo, UFO) on rhythm guitars, Stu Hamm (Satriani, Vai) on bass, Mike Mangini (Extreme, Vai) on drums, Robert Berry (3, Ambrosia), Jeff Feldman (Pulse Ultra) and Trent Gardner (Magellan) on keyboards (here I presume not all on the same track). And these folks do a great job, capturing nearly every nuance of the Rush originals. If I didn't know there were a gaggle of folks involved, I'd think we had a karoke recording here. Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration.

But, why do I say karoke? Well, that's because the featured performers are the vocalists and guitarists. And to look at who's quoted in the booklet, mainly a showcase for the guitarists. None of the singers have comments to make on how Rush influenced them at all... except one: Randy Jackson (Zebra). Let's not read too much into that, though.

There are no bad performances, just bad matching. The vocalists, aside from Jackson, are Sebastian Bach (Skid Row), Jani Lane (Warrant), Dave Brooks (Slammin' Gladys), and Kip Winger (Winger). The best match between vocals and music is Lane and Brooks - who neither sound strange singing these well known pieces ("Bastille Day" and "Temples Of Syrinx"), but also don't try at all to sound like Geddy Lee. Jackson, at least on the opener "Distant Early Warning" does try to sound like Lee, but this is not a bad thing. He's the next best matched. Then there's Bach, singing "Lakeside Park" and "Tom Sawyer"... maybe not great performances, but getting the feel of the track and not going too far away into Skid Row-land... I'd say well matched. Mismatched is Winger; nice, deepish voice, wrong material. I think he sings a bit too slow on "Limelight" -- which would be fine if everyone was at the same pace, but they're not. It just seems... odd. I know, nitpicky.

The featured guitarists are Daniel J. (solo artist, Jordan Rudess), Andreas Kisser (Sepultura), Dominic Cifarelli (Pulse Ultra), Alex Skolnick (solo artist, TSO, Attention Deficit), Jeff Stinco (Simple Plan), and Moore. Daniel J features on 2 two pieces - the aforementioned "Distant Early Warning" and "Lakeside Park." I have to ask, as regards "DEW," what is he doing?! Oh, the leads themselves are pretty cool in that classical kind of way... but they don't go with the piece at all. It's like... well, like he playing his own thing while listening to Rush, you know. I could see taking the Lifeson solos and extending them, but that's now I how hear what's happening. Two good parts that make a disjointed whole. More seamlessly melded is his performance on "LP." His solo fits, at least to me... for the most part. Kisser is the featured guitar soloist on "Limelight" - his is a better match of performance to the song itself, his second solo of the piece adding something I think, as everyone is extending the piece...

"Subdivisions" is an interesting take, softening the edges, but still retaining the essence of the piece; extending it (or so it seems), one of the better pieces here - Jackson on vocals, Cifarelli on guitar and Feldman on keys. It does seem to get a tad hurried towards the end, but maybe I'm just in hyper-critical mode, ready to pounce on the littlest thing. One of my favorite Rush songs - and there a lot of them - is the meaty "Tom Sawyer." I like this track here, but I've one little quibble... the classic Lifeson solo, here played by Citarelli, is almost lost ... kicking in a few nanoseconds later than you'd expect... Not a lead in, just a hole where the first notes should appear.

Skolnick bends the strings on "Bastille Day". This is the best performance here -- vocals and guitar, as Skolnick just kills. Just terrific. "Spirit Of The Radio" starts out so very dang close to the original that it seems very odd when Winger starts singing... Here the featured soloist is Stinco, who has a very relaxed and easy style of playing ... more a rock/AOR style than a classical/prog metal style (Neal Schon versus Michael Romeo, say.... or Daniel J.) - good job from Stinco.

Since pretty much Lee and Lifeson had had their nods, Mangini tackles "Didacts And Narpets" to bring Peart into the fold. Obviously, Peart is all over since the words are his, but... here we get a nod to Peart the drummer. It's such a short piece... hard to get a sense of it... but it didn't offend, so...

Berry did the mixing on the CD, and it sounds fab ... and maybe too good, since that's what makes J's solos stand out so much. And Berry handles vocals and guitar solos on "Different Strings" and I think owns this song. I think he's made it his own.

This is a hit and miss affair I think, mostly hit, with a few hightlights - "Bastille Day," "Subdivisions" and "Different Strings." Most of all, it will make you pull out your Rush albums and play them again.

Distant Early Warning (4:53) / Lakeside Park (6:48) / Limelight (6:15) / Subdivisions (7:49) / Different Strings (4:57) / Tom Sawyer (4:55) / Bastille Day (6:37) / A Farewell To Kings (6:52) / Spirit Of Radio (5:40) / Didacts And Narpets (1:08) / 2112 Overture/Temples Of Syrinx (7:33)

Randy Jackson - lead vocals (1, 4, 8)
Daniel J. - guitar solo (1, 2)
Sebastian Bach - lead vocals (2, 6)
Kip Winger - lead vocals (3, 9)
Andreas Kisser - guitar solo (3, 8)
Dominic Cifarelli - guitar solo (4), guitar (6)
Robert Berry - lead vocals, guitar solo (5); keyboards (all)
Jeff Feldman - keyboards (all)
Jani Lane - lead vocals (7, 11)
Dave Brooks - vocals (7, 11)
Alex Skolnick - guitar solo (7)
Jeff Stinco - guitar solo (9)
Mike Mangini - drums (all)
Vinnie Moore - guitar solo (11), rhythm guitar (all)
Stu Hamm - bass (all)
Trent Gardner - keyboards


Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin VA

Added: January 5th 2006
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Hits: 1468
Language: english


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