It’s all anyone’s talking about, when not talking about Justin Trudeau.
Rush. Potentially. Perhaps. Going. Into. The Rock. And Roll. Hall. Of Fame.
Excited? Me neither. Still, many have this week voiced “it’s about time” words of praise, even as Gram Parsons, Fela Kuti, The Troggs, Afrika Bambaataa, Burning Spear, James Carr, Willie Nelson, X, Ali Farka Touré, Marc Bolan, Toots and the Maytals, Guided By Voices, Sun Ra, Merle Haggard, The Zombies, The Carter Family, The Shadows, The Jam and, yes, The Monkees continue to be shunned by the supposedly hallowed hall.
Is this to be Rush’s moment? It likely depends on what the band’s label is preparing in the way of a retrospective (and which artists other labels are lobbying for… the prestigious institution has an uncanny knack for dividing the spoils evenly between the majors). But if Rush is to be recognized, let it be for the lineup that graced the trio’s debut album: arguably, the finest album Led Zeppelin never made.
That would mean a posthumous honour for John Rutsey, whose competent drumming was the backbone of the band’s self-titled first album. Moreover, Rutsey did not impose pretentious lyrics on the band, in contrast to his replacement, a man responsible for such ponderous poetry as Bytor and the Snow Dog or the conceptual A Farewell to Kings. Prior to Neil Peart’s arrival, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson had a nice little rock and roll band going.
An exception to the pretension can be made for the glorious Lakeside Park, a peppy number whose influence became clear to me years ago when, upon meeting an American in England, I was asked the following question about Canada: “What’s the 24th of May?” (As in, “Everyone would gather on the 24th of May/ Sitting in the sand to watch the fireworks display.” To Americans, this evidently has long been taken as a reference to some sort of mysterious Canadian cult ceremony. Well done, Neil Peart.) Of course, Geddy Lee has since said the following of Lakeside Park: “What a lousy song!”
Further proof, as if any were needed, that Rush has difficulty deciphering the lousy from the good. Perhaps the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame can do it for them.