Under The Radar: Rush, Presto (1989)
Updated: Mar 25
Presto is the thirteenth studio album by Rush. The 11 track record was released on November 21, 1989 with Rupert Hine ( Tina Tuner, Stevie Nicks, Howard Jones) sitting behind the boards.
In my opinion Presto is a solid album ,but it tends to get over looked or forgotten because most long time Rush fans place the record along side the group's synth driven 80' s catalogue (1984’s Grace Under Pressure, 1985’s Power Windows, and 1987’s Hold Your Fire).
Presto definitely deserves a dusting off and a little more love. It is not only better than anyone gives it credit for, it is definitely a turning point for the band.
With Presto, Rush were starting to embrace their past .The band began experimenting rediscovering, refining their signature sound and began moving away from their reliance on keyboards and synthesizers . The end result was that the groups 1989 release was their most straight forward rock sounding album in almost a decade.
What stood out and made Presto such an enjoyable listen was that of drummer and main song writer Neil Peart's approach to the lyrics on the album.
Rush have always been synonymous for their ability to create albums with an overarching narrative or theme to them, such as the apocalyptic Grace Under Pressure and the Sci-fi driven 2112 album .
This time out the lyrics were emotional and or experience-based, dealing with subject matters such as depression, sanity, truth, justice, and heroism with each of the tracks exploring its own topic.
I thought that these down to earth and relatable themes on Pesto made the record a lot more accessible than some of their earlier releases. It definitely was an easier record to digest and get back on board the Rush band wagon.
Highlights on Presto include the first single; Show Don't Tell; the energetic rocker; Superconductor,piano-driven bluesy pop track; Available Light and the records atmospheric centerpiece The Pass, where the band addresses teenage isolation and the tragic romanticism of youth suicide.
Presto is one of those transitional albums, giving us a great window to where we see the band starting to find their footing and recapture their identity as they prepare for the next phase of their career.
So if you are a casual or long time Rush fan and gave up on the band during the 80's, then I urge you to give Presto a listen.
The record not only demonstrates the group's stellar musicianship but it showcases some of Neil Peart's most emotional driven lyrics of his career.
There is no better way to explain the impact of the lyrics then with showing a portion of them from the albums centerpiece The Pass.
Proud swagger out of the schoolyard
Waiting for the world's applause
Rebel without a conscience
Martyr without a cause
Static on your frequency
Electrical storm in your veins
Raging at unreachable glory
Straining at invisible chains
And now you're trembling on a rocky ledge
Staring down into a heartless sea
Can't face life on a razor's edge
Nothings what you thought it would be
All of us get lost in the darkness
Dreamers learn to steer by the stars
All of us do time in the gutter
Dreamers turn to look at the cars
Turn around and turn around and turn around
Turn around and walk the razor's edge
Don't turn your back
And slam the door on me