Rush - Counterparts
Hard Rock
11 songs (54:17)
Release year: 1993
Rush, Atlantic Records
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Marking the fifteenth album from the Canadian trio, 1993’s Counterparts continues even further down the path started on Presto and Roll The Bones. Many call it Rush’s Grunge album, which is a little unfair; although there’s clearly some influence from the Alt-Rock scene of the time, it’s still first and foremost Rush. What this change of influences means in real terms is that the shackles on Alex Lifeson are gone completely, and his guitar is a lead instrument. And, as with most Rush albums where this is the case, the results are great! Despite keyboards still popping up here and there, the band has rediscovered how to use them to the music’s best advantage, and the role that they take in songs is compelling.

The songs themselves are excellent, easy to listen to, easy to remember, and with enough complications to keep old school fans like myself happy. Opener Animate bursts forth with drums, before a loud bassline and guitar follows, Geddy’s infectious singing at perhaps its catchiest ever. The theme for this album seems to be much more emotional than the political and fantastical topics of before, even to the point where this seems to be Rush’s sexiest album. I mean, look at that cover! I could spend time constructing a lengthy argument based around song titles (Stick It Out, The Speed Of Love, Leave That Thing Alone... and so on) but I’ll leave it there... at the very least, Counterparts is a very personal album, and as such it’s easier to get into than some of the others.

The increased guitar presence certainly helps, moments like Stick It Out’s soloing glorious after the synthy nonsense we’ve been putting up with. Cut To The Chase is Rush at their most danceable, the bassline as catchy as it gets. Now that Geddy has fewer keyboards to occupy his fingers, it seems that he’s rediscovered the joys of a good complex bass riff, and there are plenty throughout the album, reacting as well as ever with Alex’s fantastic playing and Neil’s sticksmanship. Although on first listens The Professor seems to have simplified things a little, it is soon obvious that he’s at the top of his game, as ever. There’s not a great deal of show-off moments, the odd roll here and there, but you’d be hard pressed to find a better drummer.

I’m struggling to find anything truly wrong with Counterparts. AIDS ballad Nobody’s Hero is another standout, Michael Kamen’s orchestration (as gorgeous as ever) backing a sensitive topic that the band surprisingly don’t deal with as hamfistedly as you’d expect. There are no real bad songs, although Speed Of Love might only click with you after multiple listens, and the spoken word section on Double Agent seems to have been an afterthought. Still, a nifty little instrumental in the form of Leave That Thing Alone is more than enough to make up for a couple of duff tracks, and Cold Fire is a great track, mixing balladic emotion and guitar rocking-out perfectly. Everyday Glory seems to divide people; it does sound a little like U2 but it’s a great song (so I love U2; shoot me) and closes the album well.

Counterparts was the band’s highest charting album in the US, reaching number 2 on the Billboard 200, held back only by Pearl Jam’s Vs. It’s a slight step down after Roll The Bones, but still almost vital to fans, showing the band to be as capable of making engaging Rock music after twenty years in the business as their peers. Even if you find yourself having trouble with it, keep listening; like most Rush albums released after the early 80s, it gets better with time.

Killing Songs :
Animate, Stick It Out, Cut To The Chase, Nobody’s Hero, Between Sun And Moon, Leave That Thing Alone, Cold Fire, Everyday Glory
Goat quoted 86 / 100
Thomas quoted 80 / 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 - Roll The Bones reviewed by Goat and quoted 87 / 100
Rush - A Show Of Hands reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
To see all 26 reviews click here
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