The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - 'Plays The Music Of Rush'

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The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - 'Plays The Music Of Rush'

A more than passable job with Rush’s interestingly constructed songs.

Orchestras playing the classic tunes of the most popular rock and metal bands: a litany of disasters or brave forays into an alternative musical world? I proffer no answer, for the question is rhetorical. But love ‘em or hate ‘em, the latest attempt is not one that at Fireworks HQ we can allow to appear without remark, for Rush is a band finely revered by many of the writers and a goodly number of our readers too. They have been a personal favourite of mine since I first heard the magnificence of ‘2112’ and saw them live on the tour supporting that very album back in 1976. Their continuing importance within the current scene is brought into sharp relief when one considers that their 2012 release ‘Clockwork Angels’ was this magazine’s album of the year, no fewer than seven of the writers having it amongst their top 5, four of them as their numero uno!

Having listened to the present release a considerable number of times, finding new pleasures and facets of interest on each occasion, I have found it to be a minor – if not complete – triumph! “Forsooth, sir!! I challenge ye to a duel for disrespecting the music of a band that cannot and should not be sullied in this way!” Look – I’ve studied various Rush-related forums and am fully aware of the harsh criticism received by this album from some quarters, while also noting that others see it as fitting acclaim for the RPO to cover nine of the band’s most cherished tracks (‘2112 Overture’, ‘The Spirit Of Radio’, ‘Tom Sawyer’, ‘Subdivisions’, ‘Closer To The Heart’, ‘Red Barchetta’, ‘Limelight’, ‘Working Man’ and ‘Fly By Night’). My comments are dispassionate while you, dear reader, must make up your own mind!



Various musicians accompany the orchestra and two renowned guitarists provide solos in ‘Red Barchetta’ and ‘Working Man’ (respectively Maiden’s Adrian Smith and Marillion’s Steve Rothery). I think that both are pretty decent, but neither, of course, is actually Alex Lifeson and it could be argued that it would be better to have had a fully orchestral rendition. However, elsewhere, the band and orchestra complement one another more effectively, as on ‘…Overture’, ‘…Spirit…’ and the storming version of ‘Subdivisions’. All three feature The Windrush Choir to a greater or lesser extent, ‘Subdivisions’ including operatically inclined (but not extreme) female and male solos, which some might find incongruous. (I don’t!)

I do think that overall the arrangers/orchestrators of the various tracks have done a more than passable job with Rush’s interestingly constructed songs, while the Orchestra and Choir perform imaginatively and enthusiastically. I will be pulling this one out for a listen from time to time, so it gets a “thumbs up” from me. Your perspective might be very different…!!

Paul Jerome Smith

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