Rush - Power Windows
Mercury Records
80s Rock
8 songs (44:30)
Release year: 1985
Rush, Mercury Records
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Moving even further into the 80s than its predecessor Grace Under Pressure, Power Windows is notable in the Rush catalogue for the increased guitar presence, as well as the more obvious experimentation. Of the musicians, Geddy especially is on fire here, the interesting basslines and keyboard squawks making a big part of the music. Obviously, Neil is as good as ever, but his drums are far back in the production, and the intricacies are lost unless you’re listening for them. Alex may be more audible, but he’s still being held back, mostly using his guitar for textured sounds, and when he does get a solo, it sounds compressed and inorganic in the worst of ways. Looking at this album in the harshest way possible, it’s a painfully-dated sounding relic that will only get listens for nostalgic value.

Having said all that, and considering that this is a Rush album, rather than any other band, Power Windows is actually very good when considered for the songs alone. The band’s skills are more than intact, and even more dated-sounding moments like Manhattan Project are excellent, that chorus forcing its way into your head and never leaving. Other songs are equally as good, although it’ll take a few listens to figure that out. The futuristic/power theme running through the album links the songs lyrically too, from Marathon’s usage of a marathon, for, well, whatever the hell it is, to Territories’ rather hamfisted examination of immigration and nationalism. You’d think that the child of Holocaust survivors would have a little more respect for people forced to leave their homelands, but Geddy blithely sings lines such as ‘Why move around the world when Eden was so near?’. The band makes up for it with a final verse advocating ‘world citizenship’ but as ever I fail to see quite why Peart’s lyrics are so highly regarded. He has his moments – the ‘let’s get the hell out of here’ vibe of Middletown Dreams especially striking a chord with me – yet all in all the lyrics aren’t half as effective as the music is.

All of the songs are well over five minutes long, and none drag, even six-minute workouts like Territories. Fine, Mystic Rhythms is pretty godawful, but the deceptively simple moments in songs like Grand Designs more than makes up for it. As with 80s Rush that isn’t either Moving Pictures or Permanent Waves, this needs a bit of time to get into, and a certain amount of tolerance for 80s mainstream cheese. And how can I not mention the video for Big Money, which is, as my colleague James remarked, possibly the most 80s thing ever? Fine, it may not be as dated and verging-on-the-insane as some of their other videos, Time Stand Still being especially hilarious – but damn, Geddy looks so proud of his hair... of course, Rush have never managed to make a video without being ridiculous, yet the 80s ones were especially bad. Fortunately, Power Windows has enough of worth to make the whole silly decade less of a problem.

Killing Songs :
Big Money, Grand Designs, Manhattan Project, Middletown Dreams
Goat quoted 74 / 100
Aleksie quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Rush that we have reviewed:
Rush - Clockwork Angels reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 90 / 100
Rush - Beyond The Lighted Stage reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Rush - Test For Echo reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Rush - Counterparts reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Rush - Roll The Bones reviewed by Goat and quoted 87 / 100
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