Caress of Steel is the third studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released in September 1975 on Mercury Records. It marked a development in the group's sound, moving from the blues-based hard rock style of their debut towards progressive rock.

Caress of Steel
Rush Caress of Steel.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedSeptember 1975
RecordedJuly–August 1975
StudioToronto Sound Studios, Toronto, Canada
Genre
Length45:00
LabelMercury
Producer
Rush chronology
Fly by Night
(1975)
Caress of Steel
(1975)
2112
(1976)
Singles from Caress of Steel
  1. "Return of the Prince"
    Released: 1976
  2. "Lakeside Park"
    Released: 1976

Background and recordingEdit

By mid-1975, Rush had stabilised with a line-up of guitarist Alex Lifeson, bassist and vocalist Geddy Lee, and drummer and primary lyricist Neil Peart, who had joined the group in 1974. They released Fly by Night (1975) which marked Rush's first foray into multi-part and conceptual songs with "By-Tor and the Snow Dog". The group were on a rise in popularity, and received a Juno Award for Most Promising Group.[1] In June 1975, they finished touring Fly by Night which culminated in a Canadian leg that had them as headliners for the first time.[1]

While preparing on their follow-up album, Rush took the extended and conceptual song elements that they had introduced on Fly by Night and made it the central focus for their new material. This marked the development in their sound as a result, from their blues-inspired hard rock towards progressive rock. Peart recalled that the band approached Caress of Steel feeling "serene and confident" and all three members were proud of the result. He considered the album a "major step" in their development with its variety in musical dynamics and original ideas.[2] Lee said that the band were "pretty high" while making the album.[3]

The album was recorded in July 1975 at Toronto Sound Studios in Toronto, Ontario. Mixing took place in the same studio.[1]

SongsEdit

Side oneEdit

"Bastille Day" displays the band's Led Zeppelin influence and concerns the storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution.

"I Think I'm Going Bald" was written for Canadian rock musician Kim Mitchell, who at the time was frontman of Max Webster and a close friend of Rush. It was inspired by "Goin' Blind" by Kiss, for whom Rush had frequently been an opening act during their early period.[4]

"Lakeside Park" is about the same-titled park in Port Dalhousie, St. Catharines, Ontario, where Peart grew up and worked during the summer as a teenager.

"The Necromancer" is a 12-minute track in three parts. It concerns a necromancer, someone who practices necromancy, a type of divination involving the summoning of spirits of the deceased. The song was influenced from works by author J. R. R. Tolkien; the necromancer is an alias used by the character Sauron in Tolkien's novel The Hobbit.

The introduction has the lyric "Three travelers, men of Willow Dale", a reference to the band as Lifeson had formed the first incarnation of Rush in the Toronto suburb of Willowdale. The final section, "Return of the Prince", sees the return of the character By-Tor from the song "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" on Fly by Night, but in "The Necromancer", the character is a hero and not a villain. "Return of the Prince" was released as a single in some countries.

Side twoEdit

"The Fountain of Lamneth" is the band's first of three side long tracks, the others being "2112" in 1976 and "Cygnus X-1, Book II: Hemispheres" in 1978. It consists of six parts and tells the story of a man in search of the fountain of Lamneth who chronicles the occurrences of his journey. The second part, "Didacts and Narpets", consists mostly of a drum solo. In 1991, Peart said that the shouted words heard are an argument between the central character and the Didacts and Narpets (an anagram of “addicts” and "parents"). He could not remember what the words were, "but they took up opposite positions like: 'Work! Live! Earn! Give!' and like that."

CoverEdit

The album cover for Caress of Steel was intended to be printed in a silver colour to give it a "steel" appearance. A printing error resulted in giving the album cover a copper colour. The error was not corrected on subsequent printings of the album.[5] The cover artwork for Caress of Steel was designed by Hugh Syme, the first Rush album to feature his work. Syme has designed the cover artwork for every Rush album since.

On the inside gatefold of the album, just below the lyrics to "The Necromancer", the Latin phrase "Terminat hora diem; terminat auctor opus" appears, which translates (loosely) to:

"[as] The hour ends the day; the author ends his work." The source of this phrase is Christopher Marlowe's play Doctor Faustus (1588).

ReleaseEdit

Caress of Steel was released in September 1975. By March 1976, it had sold around 40,000 copies in Canada.[6] Although the band initially had high hopes for the album, it sold fewer copies than Fly by Night and was considered a disappointment by the record company. The album eventually became known as one of Rush's most obscure and overlooked recordings, consequently being considered under-rated by fans.[7]

Due to poor sales, low concert attendance and overall media indifference, the 1975–76 tour supporting Caress of Steel became known by the band as the "Down the Tubes" tour. Given that and record-company pressure to record more accessible, radio-friendly material similar to their first album – something Lee, Lifeson and Peart were unwilling to do – the trio feared that the end of the group was near. Ignoring their record label's advice and vowing to "fight or fall", 2112 ultimately paved the way for lasting commercial success, despite opening with a 20-and-a-half-minute conceptual title track.[7]

Caress of Steel did not attain gold certification in the United States until December 1993, nearly two decades after its release. It remains one of the few Rush albums to not go platinum in the United States.[8]

ReceptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic     [9]
The Daily VaultC+[11]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [10]

Caress of Steel has received poor reviews from professional critics. AllMusic's Greg Prato described the album as "one of Rush's more unfocused albums",[12] while Daily Vault's Christopher Thelen called it "a tentative step for Rush, one which would lead to their masterpiece in conceptual work", in reference to the group's next album, 2112.[13]

RemastersEdit

A remaster was issued in 1997.

  • The tray has a picture of the star with man painting (mirroring the cover art of Retrospective I) with "The Rush Remasters" printed in all capital letters just to the left. All remasters from Rush through Permanent Waves are like this.
  • The remaster adds the album's back cover and gatefold (which included band pictures and lyrics) to the packaging which was not included on the original CD.

Caress Of Steel was remastered again in 2011 by Andy VanDette for the "Sector" box sets, which re-released all of Rush's Mercury-era albums. Caress Of Steel is included in the Sector 1 set.[14]

Caress of Steel was remastered for vinyl in 2015 as a part of the official "12 Months of Rush" promotion.[15] The high definition master prepared for this release was also made available for purchase in 24-bit/96 kHz and 24-bit/192 kHz formats, at several high-resolution audio online music stores. These masters have significantly less dynamic range compression than the 1997 remasters and the "Sector" remasters by Andy VanDette.[16]

Track listingEdit

All lyrics are written by Neil Peart; all music is composed by Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee except where noted.

Side one
No.TitleLength
1."Bastille Day"4:39
2."I Think I'm Going Bald"3:42
3."Lakeside Park"4:10
4."The Necromancer"
  • I. "Into the Darkness" – 4:20
  • II. "Under the Shadow" – 4:25
  • III. "Return of the Prince" – 3:51"
12:34
Side two
No.TitleLength
1."The Fountain of Lamneth"
  • I. "In the Valley" – 4:18
  • II. "Didacts and Narpets" – 1:00
  • III. "No One at the Bridge" – 4:21
  • IV. "Panacea" (Lee) – 3:16
  • V. "Bacchus Plateau" (Lee) – 3:15
  • VI. "The Fountain" – 3:50"
19:57

PersonnelEdit

Rush

  • Geddy Lee – vocals, bass guitar
  • Alex Lifeson – 6- and 12-string electric and acoustic guitars, classical guitar, steel guitar
  • Neil Peart – drums, percussion

Production

  • Rush – production, arrangements
  • Terry Brown – production, engineer, arrangements
  • Howard "Herns" Ungerleider – roadmaster
  • Ian "Rio" Grandy – roadcrew
  • Liam "L.B.L.B." Birt – roadcrew
  • J.D. "Kool Mon" Johnson - roadcrew
  • AGI – art direction
  • Hugh Syme – graphics
  • Terrance Bert - photography
  • Gerard Gentil – photography
  • Barry McVicker – photography
  • Ray Danniels – management
  • Moon Records – executive production
  • Dedicated to the memory of Rod Serling

ChartsEdit

AlbumBillboard (United States)

Year Chart Position
1975 Pop Albums 148

CertificationsEdit

Country Organization Sales
U.S. RIAA Gold (500,000)[17]
Canada CRIA Gold (50,000)[18]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c "Caress of Steel Press Kit". Mercury Records. August 29, 1975. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  2. ^ Peart, Neil (1977). "Rush – World Tour 77-78 – Exclusive Concert Edition – "A Condensed Rush Primer"". Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  3. ^ Chaney, Jen. "A Rush documentary filled with 'The Spirit of Radio'". WashingtonPost. Retrieved February 15, 2010.
  4. ^ [1] Archived December 23, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Wagner, Jeff; Steven Wilson (2010). Mean Deviation: Four Decades of Progressive Heavy Metal. Brooklyn, New York: Bazillion Points. p. 23. ISBN 0-9796163-3-6.
  6. ^ Harrigan, Brian (1982). "RUSH by Brian Harrigan". Retrieved January 10, 2020 – via 2112.net.
  7. ^ a b Wagner, Jeff; Steven Wilson (2010). Mean Deviation: Four Decades of Progressive Heavy Metal. Brooklyn, New York: Bazillion Points. p. 24. ISBN 0-9796163-3-6.
  8. ^ "RIAA Database Search for Rush". Recording Industry Association of America. Archived from the original on June 26, 2007. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
  9. ^ Prato, Greg. Caress of Steel – Rush at AllMusic. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
  10. ^ "Rush: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on June 10, 2013. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
  11. ^ Thelen, Christopher (July 8, 2001). "Caress Of Steel – Rush – Mercury, 1975". The Daily Vault. Retrieved July 31, 2012.
  12. ^ "Caress of Steel - Rush | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  13. ^ "Rush: Caress Of Steel | Daily Vault". dailyvault.com. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  14. ^ "Andy VanDette On Remastering 15 Rush Albums". The Masterdisk Record. November 23, 2011. Archived from the original on August 23, 2014. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
  15. ^ "12 MONTHS OF RUSH: 14 ALBUMS FROM MERCURY ERA FOR RELEASE IN 2015". Rush.com. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
  16. ^ "Rush – new 2015 vinyl and hi-res reissues thread". Steve Hoffman Music Forums. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
  17. ^ "Recording Industry Association of America". RIAA. Archived from the original on October 17, 2015. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
  18. ^ "Gold Platinum Database". Archived from the original on March 29, 2014. Retrieved April 22, 2014.