Friday, July 2, 2010


I really enjoy watching documentaries about music, but if there's one band who really needed to have a documentary, it's Rush. Their story is rarely told, because the gatekeepers of music media hate them.

Also, you rarely hear big name musicians talking about how awesome Rush is, and here you get Trent Reznor, Jack Black of Tenacious D, Billy Corgan, Kirk Hammett, Gene Simmons, Tim Commerford of Rage Against The Machine, Les Claypool, Danny Carey of Tool, Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters and Zakk Wylde among others, talking about how great they are. Even a guy from Death Cab For Cutie!

And I don't think I've ever seen an interview with Neal Peart. Ever!

On the other hand, other than the unimaginable tragedy that Peart endured some years back (documented in his book Ghostrider), the band hasn't had too much controversy or drama, so I was kind of wondering if their story would really make a great documentary.  Yes it does.

Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage came out on DVD this week, and I watched it tonight.

It does a great job of telling their story - how children of immigrants Geddy Lee (son of concentration camp survivors) and Alex Lifeson came together in school and formed a lifelong friendship and this awesome band. And how they had the confidence to do what they wanted to do, and not let the record label or trends or even fans dictate their direction. There's lots of amazing footage: a young Alex Lifeson at the dinner table telling his parents he wants to drop out of school and become a musician and early footage of the performing with original drummer John Rutsey.  There's also interviews with Geddy's mom, Alex's mom, and Neal's parents, plus lots of other people around the band and interviews with all three guys that are actually revealing. Absolute essential viewing for any Rush fan, but I've heard that even non-fans enjoy the doc.

A friend and former boss of mine who does a blog on rock docs wrote about it here: he mentions that he used to like the band and then moved on because of punk. I never did that, even as I got into punk and what was known as "alternative," and neither did many of the artists interviewed for this film. One of the creators of South Park was interviewed, and comments that even rock critics who hated them for years have to give the band their props these days.  And if they don't, "then they're just being old dicks." Amen brother.

My only gripe: there were great extras, but I would have loved to see the full interviews with Reznor, Claypool, et all. The interviews with other artists was the best part of the recent Stones In Exile doc.  Maybe on the deluxe edition!

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