Title - 'Presto: SACD' (Audio Fidelity)
Artist - Rush
In reflection, I think what was so refreshing about Presto upon release was the lack of synthesizers. This is not a complaint however as Signals through to Hold Your Fire is one of the most exciting phases of Rush's career. But I think it came full circle with the breathtaking beauty of Hold Your Fire. Rush had simply taken this style of their music to the end of its cycle.
'The Pass' and title track 'Presto' perfectly showcased the new sound of Rush with the latter track featuring acoustic guitars aplenty and one of Lifeson's most simple, yet effective solos to date. Indeed Lifeson's guitar work as a whole enjoyed a healthy step towards the forefront of the Rush sound.
Presto stands alongside Counterparts as one of the landmarks of Rush in the 90's. Counterparts further developing the musical themes of electric and acoustic (guitars and percussion) sounds combined.
For my money, stand out tracks include the African beat 'Scars' (could have been Rush's only dance track ever if they had wanted to market it that way); the intense ballads 'The Pass' (aforementioned, and which deals with teen violence and/or suicide) and 'Available Light' (which has a piano lead); the pop-metal hit 'Superconductor'; and the musically intense 'Chain Lightning' and 'Show Don't Tell'.
This is also the last Rush album to really touch on teen issues (in 'The Pass' and 'War Paint'), yet even here, it is from a more "grown up" perspective than such oldies as 'Subdivisions', 'Analog Kid', or 'Circumstances'.
Indeed, the lyrically creative 'Anagram' is a fun little gem. It uses anagrams/partial anagrams in a clever and engaging way. Opening lyrics: "There's a snake coming out of the darkness/Parade from paradise" (The letters in the word "snake" come out of the word "darkness"; "Parade" gets its letters from the word "paradise", and so on).
Lyrically, we can see some of Peart's most poetic efforts, the best of which can be found within 'Chain Lightning' and 'The Pass.' The magic of Presto lies in the midnight winter atmosphere it evokes and the finely air brushed production helps shape and define these cool, diamond like songs. Sure it's a "strange" album, but that is simply another reason for me to love it!
Reviewed by: Russell A. Trunk