Open main menu

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.[3] For the first time since Caress of Steel (1975), the group did not incorporate a keyboard into their music.

Vapor Trails
Rush Vapor Trails.jpg
Studio album by Rush
ReleasedMay 14, 2002
RecordedJanuary–November 2001
StudioReaction Studios, Toronto[1]
Genre
Length67:15
LabelAnthem
Producer
Rush chronology
Different Stages
(1998)
Vapor Trails
(2002)
Rush in Rio
(2003)
Vapor Trails Remixed
Vapor Trails Remixed.jpg
Singles from Vapor Trails
  1. "One Little Victory"
    Released: March 29, 2002
  2. "Secret Touch"
    Released: July 10, 2002

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.[4] 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.[5]

Contents

BackgroundEdit

In October 2000, 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.[6] 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".[7]

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".[8]. Lee and Lifeson said that they chose the studio based on its "artist friendly environment, that was very comfortable and accommodating".[9] 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".[8]

They then started work, adopting a three week on, one week off schedule with no one present apart from a technical assistant.[7][9] 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".[6] 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.[6] 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.[9]

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.[6] 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.[6][10] 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.[8] 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.[8] According to Lifeson, no tracks were completely re-recorded.[8]

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.[9] Lifeson avoided sound effects on his guitar to achieve a more raw sound.[9] At certain points in recording his drum parts, Peart had been influenced by Who drummer Keith Moon and played in his style.[10]

After taking a break in June 2001,[9] Rush began to record their new songs in mid-August.[11] 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.[12] 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.[11][12] 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.[9][13] 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.[9]

ReceptionEdit

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic75/100[17]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic     [14]
The Austin Chronicle     [15]
Billboard(favorable)[16]
Blender     [17]
E! OnlineB+[17]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[2]
PopMatters          [17][18]
Q     [17]
Rolling Stone     [19]

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.[20]

As told by Rip Rowan on the ProRec website, the damaged production is the result of overly compressed (clipped) audio levels during mastering.[21]

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.[22] 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.[23] 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.

Vapor Trails Remixed is also included in the box-set of Atlantic Studio Albums called The Studio Albums 1989–2007.[24]

Track listingEdit

All lyrics written by Neil Peart; all music composed by Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee.

No.TitleLength
1."One Little Victory"5:08
2."Ceiling Unlimited"5:28
3."Ghost Rider"5:41
4."Peaceable Kingdom"5:23
5."The Stars Look Down"4:28
6."How It Is"4:05
7."Vapor Trail"4:57
8."Secret Touch"6:34
9."Earthshine"5:38
10."Sweet Miracle"3:40
11."Nocturne"4:49
12."Freeze" (Part IV of "Fear")6:21
13."Out of the Cradle"5:03

PersonnelEdit

Credits taken from the 2002 liner notes.[25]

Rush

Production

  • 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

ChartsEdit

Billboard (United States)

Year Chart Position
2002 Billboard 200 6
Top Internet Albums 29
Top Canadian Albums 3

SinglesEdit

Information
"One Little Victory"
  • Released: March 29, 2002
  • Written by: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart
  • Produced by: Rush and Paul Northfield
  • Chart positions: #10 US Mainstream Rock
"Secret Touch"
  • Released: June 10, 2002
  • Written by: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart
  • Produced by: Rush and Paul Northfield
  • Chart positions: #25 US Mainstream Rock
"Sweet Miracle"
  • Released: September 2002
  • Written by: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart
  • Produced by: Rush and Paul Northfield
  • Chart positions:

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Titus, Christa (May 4, 2002). "Atlantic's Rush Blazes A 'Vapor Trail'". Billboard. 114 (18): 12. ISSN 0006-2510.
  2. ^ a b c Farber, Jim (2002-05-17). "Vapor Trails Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2013-02-23.
  3. ^ Vapor Trails news archive Power Windows website Archived 2008-06-16 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved 16 March 2006.
  4. ^ "Gold & Platinum Certification". Canadian Recording Industry Association. Archived from the original on 2014-10-09. Retrieved 2009-08-20.
  5. ^ "Rush Remix Their Polarizing Album 'Vapor Trails' – Premiere". Rolling Stone. 27 September 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d e Peart, Neil (2002). "Behind the Fire: The Making of Vapor Trails". Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  7. ^ a b Cantin, Paul (12 January 2001). "Geddy Lee on the Rush Reunion". Jam! Showbiz. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d e Hammond, Shawn (August 2002). "Back in the Limelight: Alex Lifeson and Rush Reignite After a Five-Year Hiatus". Guitar Player. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Priske, Rich (May 2002). "Hiatus Evaporates into Vapor Trails". Canadian Musician. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  10. ^ a b Miller, William F. (September 2002). "Neil Peart: The Fire Returns". Modern Drummer. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  11. ^ a b Saldman, Sorelle (September 16, 2001). "Rush Back in the Studio". Vancouver Province. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  12. ^ a b Simmons, Peggy. "KLBJ Interviews Alex Lifeson [Transcript]" (Interview). Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  13. ^ Cohen, Jonathan (January 9, 2002). "Rush Wraps New Album". Billboard. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  14. ^ Prato, Greg (2002-05-14). "Vapor Trails – Rush". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-08-13.
  15. ^ Hernandez, Raoul (2002-08-16). "Rush: Vapor Trails". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-08-13.
  16. ^ "Rush: Vapor Trails". Billboard. May 18, 2002. Archived from the original on 2002-06-08. Retrieved 2013-02-23.
  17. ^ a b c d e "Critic Reviews for Vapor Trails". Metacritic. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
  18. ^ Moffat, Kael (2002-08-08). "Rush: Vapor Trails". PopMatters. Retrieved 2011-08-13.
  19. ^ Richard Abowitz (2002-04-24). "Vapor Trails". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2011-08-13.
  20. ^ "The Loudness Wars: Why Music Sounds Worse". NPR. 31 December 2009. Retrieved 2010-09-02.
  21. ^ "explained". Web.archive.org. 2003-12-08. Archived from the original on December 8, 2003. Retrieved 2011-08-13.
  22. ^ "Billboard 200 chart". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2013-10-02.
  23. ^ "Rush Blog – Rush is a Band Blog: Alex Lifeson Modern Guitars interview now online". Rushisaband.com. Retrieved 2010-03-17.
  24. ^ "Vapor Trails Remixed". Rush.com. 2013-08-01. Retrieved 2015-12-01.
  25. ^ Vapor Trails (Media notes). Rush. Anthem Records. 2002. 6682510962.

External linksEdit