On February 12 1981, the Canadian progressive rock trio Rush released their most popular album to date: Moving Pictures. Being their eighth studio album, it serves as a culmination of the band’s earlier roots and their new, more radio-friendly sound.
The preparation for Moving Pictures started during the tour supporting their previous album, Permanent Waves (1980). Though the band had an initial plan of creating a live album (would’ve been their second), they agreed to start working on a new studio album when the ideas they were developing during the sound checks were remarkable enough to put on tape. This is perhaps the reason why the musicality of the songs with all the riffs and sections still feel so unique and refined.
The band had the time to practice each song and be selective about what to include. The result was a commercial success, reaching number one in Canada and number 3 in the United States and the United Kingdom. The album’s highly deserved success comes from its fresh take on the genre, its approachability and the solid foundations that it was based upon.
The start of the 80’s, with the rise of punk rock, was a dangerous time to listen to progressive rock; but Rush, a band consistently named a “prog rock act”, was still standing its ground. Their approach to the genre, as can be heard from the album, was to strip it from the pretentious and superfluous aspect that it came to be associated with, while still preserving the complex instrumental sections with odd time signatures (as in “YYZ” and “Tom Sawyer”) and more importantly, the eagerness to strive beyond the public opinion of what rock can be.