Rush - Hold Your Fire

Year of Release: 1990
Label: Polygram / Anthem
Catalog Number: 832464
Format: CD
Total Time: 49:01:00

Rush's Hold Your Fire (1987 (832464-2)) has long been one of my favourite Rush albums. And, "Time Stand Still" has been one of my favorite songs, in large part because the lyrics of this piece echoed my sentiments at the time of the album's release, as did, though at a different time, "Open Secrets." But, each track on the album has, over time, become a favorite. And, as ever, Neal Peart's lyrics are rich and full of meaning, both stated and implied. And, unfortunately, there are some sentiments that find resonance with newsmaking events of today. Which means that in 17 years, we (humans) haven't really changed all that much; but it also means that Peart has tapped in something quite universal about the human condition.

If Rush's sound was moving more and more toward a mainstream rock in the early- to mid-80s, by 1987 it had reached full bloom. In fact, 1987 ? 1988 was a good year for prog bands to ride the commercial radio waves -- it was the year that also saw Yes' Big Generator and Pink Floyd's Momentary Lapse Of Reason, which wasn't necessarily a good thing to progressive rock purists, but for those who were newbies, or relative newbies, it was quite exciting. Well, it was exciting for me at least.

Hold Your Fire is not the muscular album that Moving Pictures was, and so in comparison it is a softer and more "adult" album. In between, the band released Signals, Grace Under Pressure and Power Windows? each album moving further and further away from the "restless dreams of youth" and the more worldly and thoughtful, and faced with a troubled reality? Geddy Lee (bass, vocals), Alex Lifeson (guitars, vocals) and Peart were all getting older ? and from the lyrics of "Time Stands Still" you really get the sense that Neal was feeling it (even if they weren't really all that old). Where as Lee was, at times, a screecher in the band's early days, his voice had (and has) mellowed over time, deepening.

Keyboards were still a strong element in Rush's music, used to great effect on "Force Ten," mimicking the swirling image suggested by the lyrics "We can circle around like hurricanes?" And electronic drums have become an obvious (or more obvious) component of Peart's arsenal, no more so than in the explosive opening notes of the above mentioned "Force Ten," which kicks off the album. What remains true is that the trio do not write simple arrangements, and have manage (and still manage) to create an album of songs that are distinct from each other. I cannot think of any instance where you can compare one Rush song with another, except maybe for components used or progression from one year to another. Contrast. Rush is all about contrast. And even if an album isn't quite as successful as diehard fans had hoped (Test For Echo, for example), the band progresses in the truest sense in that they keep pushing forward and don't trade on "past glories." There was no Moving Pictures II, no 2112 Part 2 etc. At least this my sense of it.

"Tai Shan" and "High Water" are mellower pieces compared to the rockier "Lock And Key" and "Turn The Page," the former (the elegant "Tai Shan") using Asian elements to provide the setting ? flute-like tones for the most part. I had never been to China, but this piece's arrangement, its openness, brought forth clearly the images the lyrics painted - of expansive views from snow capped mountains. And still does to this day.* "High Water" has a haunting quality that both makes it the perfect song to end the album on, but that also leaves the album lingering in your mind. Rhythmically, it recalls "Mystic Rhythms" (from Power Windows).

Sonically, it's a stunning album, beautifully rendered, produced by Terry Brown. Textured, as great albums should be, each member of the trio playing giving a nuanced performance to each track. But, I'm biased, because I quite love this album, and love every minute of it. "Mission" is soaring; the kind of track that, just by its nature, puffs out your chest. Ironically, of course, as while the music makes you feel you have a sense of purpose, the lyrics are about envying those with just such that sense of purpose.

Hold Your Fire is undeniably Rush through and through, it just tempers the ballsy energy of their earlier albums with something a little more measured, mature. And does so wonderfully.

*Anecdote warning :-) : As I've mentioned in earlier Rush reviews, I was aware of Rush before this album, but it was this album that "sealed the deal" so to speak, I making a copy of my dormmate's LP (later buying it on cassette and, later still, CD). That same year, in autumn, she happened to travel to China. And so her written description of her trip combined with Peart's lyrics here, make me feel as if I've been, too.
Force Ten (4:31) / Time Stand Still (5:09) / Open Secrets (5:38) / Second Nature (4:36) / Prime Mover (5:19) / Lock And Key (5:09) / Mission (5:16) / Turn The Page (4:55) / Tai Shan (4:15) / High Water (5:33)

Geddy Lee - synthesizer, bass, guitar, keyboards, vocals, bass pedals
Alex Lifeson ? acoustic guitar, electric guitar
Neal Peart - percussion, drums, electronic percussion


Aimee Mann ? vocals (2)
Andy Richards ? synthesizer, keyboards
Steven Margoshes ? strings

Rush (1974)
Fly By Night (1975)
Caress Of Steel (1975)
2112 (1976)
All The World's A Stage (1976)
A Farewell To Kings (1977)
Hemispheres (1978)
Archives (1978)
Permanent Waves (1980)
Moving Pictures (1981)
Exit ... Stage Left (1981)
Signals (1982)
Grace Under Pressure (1984)
Power Windows (1985)
Hold Your Fire (1987)
A Show Of Hands (1989)
Presto (1989)
Chronicles (1990)
Roll The Bones (1991)
Counterparts (1993)
Test For Echo (1996)
Different Stages (1998)
Vapor Trails (2003)
Rush In Rio (2003)
Feedback (2004)
R30 (2005)
Gold (2006)
Snakes And Arrows (2007)
Snakes And Arrows Live (2008)
Retrospective III (2009)
Working Men (2009)
Grace Under Pressure: 1984 Tour (2009)
Icon (2010)
Time Stand Still: The Collection (2010)
Icon 2 (2011)
Rush ABC 1974: The First American Broadcast (2011)
Sector 1 (2011)
Sector 2 (2011)
Sector 3 (2011)
Moving Pictures: Live 2011 (2011)
Time Machine 2011: Live In Cleveland (2011)
Clockwork Angels (2012)
The Studio Albums 1989-2007 (2013) (boxset) Clockwork Angels Tour (2013)

Exit-Stage Left (VHS) (1982)
Through The Camera Eye (VHS) (1984)
Grace Under Pressure Tour 1984 (VHS) (1986)
A Show Of Hands (VHS) (1988)
Chronicles (VHS/DVD) (1990/2001)
Rush In Rio (DVD/VID) (2003)
R30 (DVD) (2005)
Music In Review 1974-1981 (2006)
Replay X3 (DVD) (2006)
Snakes And Arrows Live (DVD) (2008)
Working Men (DVD) (2009)
Beyond The Lighted Stage (DVD) (2010)
Classic Albums: 2012 - Moving Pictures (2010)
Time Machine 2011: Live In Cleveland (2011)
Clockwork Angels Tour (2013)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin CA

Added: April 18th 2004
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 985
Language: english


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