Vapor Trails is the seventeenth studio album by Canadian rock band Rush. It was released on May 14, 2002 on Anthem Records, and it is their first studio release since Test for Echo (1996), the longest gap between two Rush albums. After touring finished in July 1997, the group entered an extended hiatus following personal tragedies that happened to drummer and lyricist Neil Peart. They reunited in January 2001 to rehearse material for a new album, recording for which lasted until November. For the first time since Caress of Steel (1975), the group did not incorporate a keyboard into their music.
|Studio album by|
|Released||May 14, 2002|
|Studio||Reaction Studios, Toronto|
Atlantic (outside Canada)
|Vapor Trails Remixed|
|Singles from Vapor Trails|
Vapor Trails reached No. 3 in Canada and No. 6 in the US. "One Little Victory" was released as the album's lead single in March 2002 and went to No. 10 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart in the US. This was followed by "Secret Touch". The album went gold in Canada in August 2002. The Vapor Trails Tour lasted from June to December 2002, which saw them play to the largest crowds of their career in Brazil. Following the band's dissatisfaction with the album's overall production, two tracks were remixed for the Retrospective III: 1989–2008 box set. The positive feedback from this resulted in Vapor Trails being remixed by David Bottrill and released in September 2013 as Vapor Trails Remixed, both as a separate release and as part of The Studio Albums 1989–2007.
After Rush finished their Test for Echo Tour in July 1997, the group entered a five-year hiatus following the personal tragedies in drummer Neil Peart's life, losing his daughter Selena in August 1997 and wife Jackie in June 1998. Peart took a hiatus to mourn and reflect, during which he travelled extensively throughout North America on his BMW motorcycle, covering 88,000 km (55,000 mi). At some point in his journey, Peart decided to return to the band. In the book, he writes of how he had told his bandmates at Selena's funeral, "consider me retired." However, in October 2000, after a period of recuperation, Lee announced during promotional interviews for his solo album My Favourite Headache that Rush were to get together in the following January with the intention to write and rehearse material for a new studio album. Lee said that the album was not made for simply new music, but for "the psychological health and welfare of all the people who have gone through a very difficult time".
Writing and recordingEdit
The trio gathered at Reaction Studios in Toronto on January 10, 2001, but did not play anything for three weeks. They discussed what they wanted to achieve and how the album should take shape. Lifeson said it was to get "a feel for each other's frame of mind. We needed to see if everybody was really up for it".. Lee and Lifeson said that they chose the studio based on its "artist friendly environment, that was very comfortable and accommodating". Among the topics discussed was the album's musical direction which became a source of difficulty as initially, they had little agreement on what it should be. Upon reaching a consensus, Lifeson said the three found common ground "on every aspect of the recording".
They then started work, adopting a three week on, one week off schedule with no one present apart from a technical assistant. The group was hopeful that there was still chemistry amongst them to make an album. They adopted their usual method of writing with Lee and Lifeson working together on musical ideas in the studio control room while Peart works elsewhere on the lyrics, this time using a pen, paper, and a computer. Peart wrote about their attitude towards the sessions: "We laid out no parameters, no goals, no limitations, only that we would take a relaxed, civilized approach". Peart looked through his scrapbook of notes and phrases that he had collected and explored ways of connecting them together to form a complete lyrical idea. Lee and Lifeson developed ideas largely through jam sessions typically kicked off by setting a pattern on a drum machine and playing along, recording every session using Logic Pro. This was to avoid making a demo tape of a collection of songs and re-record them at a later point. This way early takes became the basis of the songs which kept the music fresh using as many original takes where possible.
After several weeks Peart presented the ideas he had formed, but Lee and Lifeson had not put down any concrete pieces of music. Peart recalled they were not yet "serious" and still wanted to play and explore ideas as sifting through what they had put to tape was a tedious process and disrupted their creative flow. Peart had completed six sets of lyrics at this point but was not getting feedback from his bandmates as they had done before, so he paused on lyrics and focused on his book Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road. The three became dissatisfied with what they had come up with and thought it was too forced, which led to their decision to take some weeks off. They felt refreshed and more focused upon resuming and they were able to work out complete songs and not just sections. The songs that emerged from these early jams were "Peaceable Kingdom", "Ceiling Unlimited", and "Nocturne", and they contain some parts put down from the original takes. According to Lifeson, no tracks were completely re-recorded.
Vapor Trails is the first album since Caress of Steel (1975) not feature a keyboard instrument. This was an important factor for Lifeson who often worried about their presence on previous Rush albums, but Lee agreed not to use them. Instead, Lifeson spent a greater amount time devising guitar parts that were "richer on tonality and harmonic quality" that were adequate enough for the background tracks. Lifeson avoided sound effects on his guitar to achieve a more raw sound. At certain points in recording his drum parts, Peart had been influenced by Who drummer Keith Moon and played in his style.
After taking a break in June 2001, Rush began to record their new songs in mid-August. Initially they decided to write 13 tracks for the album and pick the best 10 or 11 for the final selection, but when the time arrived they agreed to include all of them. They were joined by English producer Paul Northfield, who had worked on several previous Rush albums and assisted in the arrangement to some tracks when the group felt stuck. The band are credited as co-producers. In December 2001, the group left the Reaction Studios and started mixing the album at Metalworks Studios with David Leonard. The mixing was complete in March 2002, after which it was sent to Masterdisk in New York City for mastering by Howie Weinberg. Rush chose him having liked the sound of the other albums that Weinberg had worked on.
|The Austin Chronicle|||
The production of Vapor Trails has been criticized by critics and fans alike because of the album's "loud" sound quality. Albums such as this have been mastered so loud that additional digital distortion is generated during the production of the CD. The trend, known as the loudness war, had become very common on modern rock albums.
Vapor Trails RemixedEdit
Vapor Trails Remixed is a remixed version of Vapor Trails mixed by David Bottrill. The album was released by Atlantic Records and Rhino Entertainment on September 27, 2013, and entered at No. 35 on the Billboard 200 chart. The band had been unhappy with the original album's overall sonic production. Influenced by the positive reaction to the remixes of "One Little Victory" and "Earthshine" featured on Retrospective III by Richard Chycki, Rush and Bottrill remixed the entire album. In an interview with Modern Guitars, Lifeson remarked that since the remixes were so good, there has been talk of doing an entire remix of the album. He also stated:
It was a contest, and it was mastered too high, and it crackles, and it spits, and it just crushes everything. All the dynamics get lost, especially anything that had an acoustic guitar in it.
|1.||"One Little Victory"||5:08|
|5.||"The Stars Look Down"||4:28|
|6.||"How It Is"||4:05|
|12.||"Freeze" (Part IV of "Fear")||6:21|
|13.||"Out of the Cradle"||5:03|
Credits taken from the 2002 liner notes.
- Geddy Lee – bass guitar, vocals
- Alex Lifeson – electric and acoustic guitars, mandola
- Neil Peart – drums, cymbals
- Rush – production, recording
- Paul Northfield – production, recording
- Chris Stringer – recording assistance
- David Leonard – mixing
- Joel Kazmi – mixing assistance
- Howie Weinberg – mastering
- Roger Lian – additional mastering and sequencing
- Lorne "Gump" Wheaton – equipment care
- Hugh Syme – art direction, paintings, and portraits
Billboard (United States)
|Top Internet Albums||29|
|Top Canadian Albums||3|
|"One Little Victory"
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