In to the ’80s Rush released their best known album Moving Pictures, but the band’s follow up – Signals in ’82 signaled a change from the hard rock / prog metal guitar driven sound to a slightly lighter sound with a lot more keyboards. Despite this Signals is one of my top 3 or 4 Rush albums with tracks like “Subdivisions” and “Analog Kid”. The next album Grace Under Pressure was more in tune with the ’80s, a great album, but less heavy. I saw that tour (my first Rush show), as well as the follow up tour for Power Windows. That latter album was the start of a period where I began losing interest in the band and moved on, with Rush’s next 3 albums being lighter, with more keyboards and less hard rock – Hold Your Fire, Presto, and Roll The Bones — albums I didn’t get til well after their releases, and Rush LPs I played the least. But in 1993 Rush would return to a hard rock guitar driven approach with the album Counterparts, released in October, it would peak at #2 on the US Billboard charts. I remember “Stick It Out ” being the first track to be aired and I thought it was a cool heavy track, and upon hearing the rest of the album I was convinced Rush had returned, with songs like “Cut To The Chase”, “Nobody’s Hero”, “Between Sun & Moon”, and my favorite from that album – “Animate” – what a great album! Gone were excessive [most all] keyboards, rap breaks, techno… it was back to guitar, bass and drums, and the organ on “Animate” was a nice touch. Influenced by the ’90s scene, but still Rush – and heavier than they had been in over a decade.
Prior to the next Rush album Alex Lifeson would release his side-project Victor in January of ’96 (featuring the singer from I Mother Earth). Counterparts was followed up in September of ’96 with Test For Echo, another great sounding album. I thought it was a solid follow up / partner with the classic title track, plus “Driven”, “Half The World”, “Time and Motion” etc… Test For Echo would be a top 10 album in the the US, Canada, and Finland. Both albums sporting blue covers, with the latter being a classic Hugh Syme design featuring an inuksuk (a stone figure in the shape of a human). Both albums would be co-produced by Peter Collins, featuring 11 tracks each.
And strangely (well it was the times) – neither album would see a domestic vinyl release until 2015 (well Counterparts was issued in Europe and Brazil on vinyl initially). In November of 2015 both albums were issued on 2-LP 200 gram vinyl editions [separately], with the 4th side being an etched design. I remember finding these no problem at the time and getting both for under $25, but both are highly sought after now, with these editions fetching over $300 on Discogs! I wonder if we’ll ever see box sets of these 2 albums(!?) 🙂
Test For Echo would be the last Rush studio album for nearly 6 years, as the band would be on hiatus following the loss of Neal Peart’s daughter and wife in ’97 & ’98. In that period before 2002’s Vapor Trails there were a few compilations, as well as the excellent Different Stages : Live, and Geddy Lee’s solo album My Favorite Headache. I see a number of Rush album rankings online usually have Test For Echo near the bottom of the list, with Counterparts much higher, but I like the pair fairly equally, a great period, and far more enjoyable to the few that came before them.