Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Camera Eye (1981) - Rush

The appeal of Rush vocalist/bassist Geddy Lee’s shrill voice is obviously a divisive issue (as is drummer Neil Peart’s lyrics). However, if need be, one could overlook such individual vexations and regard Lee’s voice as an adjunct, aiding and abetting the song’s overall flow, rhythm and arrangement. At the very least, “The Camera Eye” is lyrically immersing—a fastidious perspective fostered through photographic pursuits—and vocally engaging—with Lee managing to diplomatically temper melody with harmonious restraint.

Against a background of car horns honking in the distance, a (now) démodé synthesizer patch sprouts to the germination of modulating gurgles. A snare breaks the gridlock with military rudiments, yielding to the warm purring of Alex Lifeson’s guitar. As the cityscape swirls with activity, the pace opens to a leisurely tour of its outskirts. In approaching the city limits, the tempo shifts into high gear, purposefully racing toward the bustling epicenter. Drummer/lyricist Neil Peart has learned to absorb every detail of his surroundings—lighting, angle, composition. Like the camera lens, he is able to capture the moment in his mind’s eye, and admire the minutiae that pedestrians hastening to their destinations fail to appreciate. In New York, in London—he is in tune with the life energy enveloping him, telling him its stories. Lifeson’s guitar occupies the soundscape with measured arpeggios, then sizzles in kinetic outbursts and axial riffs, buttressed by the signature growl of a Rickenbacker articulating Lee’s nimble bassline in rhythmic melodies. Peart plies his trade in an architecture of propulsion and scattershot fills of cracking snare and tumbling roto/rack/floor toms betwixt distinct ambulatory breaks. Lifeson’s solo glides into the coda, meting out notes with poise before collapsing onto the floor in a hissy-fit. As the 11-minute excursion abates, a straggling synthesizer trails off in errant pulses as Peart retires to his darkroom.

  • Listen to "The Camera Eye" and purchase from iTunes Music Store.
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