Presto (album)

Last updated

Presto
Rush Presto.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 21, 1989 (1989-11-21)
RecordedJune–August 1989
Studio Le Studio, Morin Heights, Quebec
McClear Place, Toronto, Ontario
Genre
Length52:11
Label Anthem
Producer
Rush chronology
A Show of Hands
(1989)
Presto
(1989)
Chronicles
(1990)
Singles from Presto
  1. "Show Don't Tell"
    Released: November 1989
  2. "The Pass"
    Released: 1990

Presto is the thirteenth studio album by Canadian rock band Rush. It was released November 21, 1989 by Anthem Records and was the band's first album released internationally by Atlantic Records following the group's departure from Mercury. After the Hold Your Fire (1987) tour ended in 1988, the group members reconvened in December to decide their next step and agreed to take six months off before starting on a new album. Presto marked another change in Rush's sound, with guitar taking a more dominant role in the writing and a reduction in synthesizers and a return towards more guitar-driven arrangements.

Contents

Presto reached No. 7 in Canada and No. 16 in the United States. "Show Don't Tell," "The Pass" and "Superconductor" were released as singles from Presto; the former charted at No. 1 on the U.S. Album Rock Tracks chart. [4] Rush supported the album with the Presto Tour from February to June 1990. Presto reached gold certification by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling 500,000 copies. [5] The album was remastered in 2004 and 2013, the latter as part of the 2013 box set, The Studio Albums 1989–2007 . In 2015 it was reissued after being remastered by Sean Magee at Abbey Road Studios following a direct approach by Rush to remaster their entire back catalogue. [6]

Background

In May 1988, Rush wrapped up touring the band's previous album, Hold Your Fire (1987), [7] which was followed by the band's third live release A Show of Hands in early 1989. [8] The group then decided not to renew contracts with international distributor Mercury Records; Lifeson said they departed because the relationship had become stale by this point. [8] Peart later wrote that with the band now "free of deadlines and obligations" for the first time in fifteen years, they chose to take advantage by taking a six-month break. [9] In December 1988, the group gathered at Peart's house to discuss the next step and agreed to start a new studio album after the break. [9] [10]

Writing

Work on Presto began with Rush renting a studio in the country to write and rehearse new material. They adopted their usual method of Lifeson and Lee working on the music while Peart worked alone on the lyrics. Peart wrote: "At the end of the day I might wander into the studio, ice cubes clinking, and listen to what they'd been up to, and if I'd been lucky, show them something new." [9] Rush worked at the studio during the week and returned home on weekends. [9]

Presto marks the beginning of Rush's return to a more guitar-driven sound from what is known to many as Rush's "synthesizer period" of the band's last four releases. When Lifeson and Lee discussed what musical direction to take, they agreed that the core of the band's sound, emotion, and energy had come from the guitar, something that they wanted to return to for Presto. [9] This resulted in a much more satisfying album for Lifeson. [8] Lifeson had felt constricted in his guitar playing since synthesizers began playing a more dominant role in the songwriting and performance on Signals (1982), which had continued through the 1980s. [11] Lee explained that Rush wanted Presto to be "more of a singer's album, and I think you'll notice that the arrangements musically support the vocal[s] ... Neil's lyrics to me are a lot more heartfelt [...] This album was a real reaction against technology in a sense. I was getting sick and tired of working with computers and synthesizers [...] We made a pact to stay away from strings, pianos, and organs—to stay away from digital technology. In the end, we couldn't resist using them for colour." [12]

In a contrast to previous albums Grace Under Pressure, Power Windows and Hold Your Fire, the album does not contain an overall running lyrical theme, or what Peart described as "heavy" lyrical messages, instead adopting a more loose approach with each track making its own statement. [10] Peart used the word "response" to describe the lyrical content as a whole. "The idea that you don't go through life just looking at things. It doesn't matter if you've been all around the world - you may have seen it, but if you haven't felt it, you haven't been there." [13] Peart added: "There are many threads and a strong motif of looking at life today and trying to act inside it." [14]

After several songs had been worked out, the band felt it was the right time to present what they had to a co-producer. However, their initial choice, Peter Collins, who'd worked on Power Windows (1985) and Hold Your Fire, reluctantly declined the offer to work on Presto as he wished to produce other bands. Though Rush felt confident enough to undertake production duties themselves, they still wanted someone they could trust and to provide an objective point of view to their ideas. [9] Among the various candidates was English producer, songwriter, and keyboardist Rupert Hine, whose experience with a variety of artists attracted the group. Peart recalled the time when they presented their ideas to Hine: "We were a little bemused [...] at the end of some of them he actually seemed to be laughing! We looked at each other, eyebrows raised as if to say: "He thinks our songs are funny?" But evidently it was a laugh of pleasure; he stayed 'til the end". [9] At Hine's suggestion, the group brought in Stephen W. Tayler as the recording and mixing engineer. The sessions with Rush and Hine together were productive; initially, 10 days were assigned for pre-production work with one track for each day, but it was complete after just one-and-a-half days. [8]

The album's title was an idea that Rush had considered to use for A Show of Hands, but when Peart had started writing for a song entitled "Presto" it was then used as the title. [15] [10]

Recording

Presto was recorded from June to August 1989. [16] As part of their deal with Hine, the band agreed to record parts of Presto in London. [15] Presto was finished around four weeks ahead of schedule. [8]

When the album was complete, Rush sought a new record deal and signed to Atlantic Records after executive Doug Morris had wanted to sign the group for a number of years and made an attractive offer. [8]

Songs

Side one

"The Pass" concerns a friend of Peart's who joined him on a cycle ride and once discussed juvenile suicide, which inspired the lyrics for the song. [11] Peart named it the song he had worked the hardest on due to the delicate nature of the subject. [13] The song became a group favorite; Peart picked the track as the reason to choose Presto as one album of theirs that they would re-record if they could. [17]

"Scars" features a complex drum pattern in which both acoustic and electronic drums are utilized. The pattern was derived from a tribal rhythm Neil Peart experienced while on a bicycle tour of Africa (later chronicled in his first book, The Masked Rider: Cycling in West Africa ). He went on to incorporate this pattern into his live drum solos. The song also features the use of a sequencer in place of, and often mistaken for, a bass guitar.

Title track "Presto" was not performed live until 2010 for the Time Machine Tour. Lifeson said the song is about "feeling more active in your heart than in your head, not having the answers to problems." [11]

Side two

"Superconductor" deals with the superficiality of mainstream music. That topic also appears in other songs such as "Grand Designs" from the Power Windows album.

In "Anagram (for Mongo)," every line contains one or more words that are formed by using letters in another word from that same line (e.g. "There is no safe seat at the feast"), and certain lines contain anagrammed words (e.g. "Miracles will have their claimers"). Its title was inspired by the character Mongo from Blazing Saddles . [15] Lifeson spoke about the lyrics: "It doesn't mean anything, it was just a fun thing, but there are some great twists in there." [11]

"Red Tide" has been seen as a commentary on climate change and the growing problem of global warming. [18]

"Hand Over Fist" was originally an instrumental that Rush had intended to include on Presto, but Peart continued to submit lyrical ideas to Lifeson and Lee; one in particular fit to the music well enough and the plan for an instrumental was scrapped. [15] In the album's tour book Peart used the symbolism that the hand game "rock, paper, scissors" represents, which was made into a nursery rhyme and used as a lyrical chant in "Hand over Fist." [15]

Artwork

The album's sleeve was designed by Rush's longtime collaborator Hugh Syme: a black-and-white design depicting a levitating magician's hat on a hill with a rabbit emerging from it. The field in the foreground has many rabbits. [8] Rush had devised its concept and presented it to Syme who then produced several ideas depicting what they suggested. Lifeson recalled the moment when they saw the design they went with: "We all started laughing hysterically, 'This is great, it's perfect!'" [8]

Release

Rush produced three music videos for Presto: "Show, Don't Tell," "The Pass" and "Superconductor.". [8]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [19]
Rolling Stone Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [20]
Sea of TranquilityStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svgStar empty.svg [21]

Gregory Heaney of AllMusic described the album as 'workmanlike' and removed from the creativity of their earlier works. However, he asserts that the songs aren't terrible, just a sense that something is not quite clicking, perhaps due to the length of time it had been since the band wrote more-traditional, guitar-based songs. [22] However, before such a review was posted on November 10, 2012, the site had listed a favorable 4.5 star (out of a possible 5) review of the album by Mackenzie Wilson. Wilson described the album as one that "intelligently leads Rush into the '90s without musical bleakness". [19]

Track listing

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

Side one
No.TitleLength
1."Show Don't Tell"5:01
2."Chain Lightning"4:33
3."The Pass"4:52
4."War Paint"5:24
5."Scars"4:07
6."Presto"5:45
Side two
No.TitleLength
7."Superconductor"4:47
8."Anagram (For Mongo)"4:00
9."Red Tide"4:29
10."Hand Over Fist"4:11
11."Available Light"5:03

Personnel

Credits taken from the album's CD liner notes. [16]

Rush

Additional personnel

Production

Charts

Chart (1989)Position
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100) [23] 60
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100) [24] 70
UK Albums (OCC) [25] 27
US Billboard 200 [26] 16

Certifications

RegionCertification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada) [27] Platinum100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI) [28] Silver60,000^
United States (RIAA) [29] Gold500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Related Research Articles

Rush (band) Canadian rock band

Rush was a Canadian rock band formed in Toronto in 1968, consisting of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart. After its formation in 1968, the band went through several configurations before arriving at its classic power trio lineup with the addition of Peart in 1974, who replaced original drummer John Rutsey right after the release of their self-titled debut album, which contained their first radio hit, "Working Man". This lineup had remained intact for the duration of the band's career.

<i>Signals</i> (Rush album) 1982 studio album by Rush

Signals is the ninth studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released in September 1982 by Anthem Records. After the release of their previous album, Moving Pictures, the band started to prepare material for a follow-up during soundchecks on their 1981 concert tour and during the mixing of their subsequent live album Exit...Stage Left. Signals demonstrates the group continuing with the use of synthesizers, sequencers, and other electronic instrumentation. It is their last album produced by their longtime associate Terry Brown, who had worked with them since 1974.

<i>Hemispheres</i> (Rush album) album by Canadian rock band Rush

Hemispheres is the sixth studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released in October 1978 by Anthem Records. After touring to support the band's previous release, A Farewell to Kings, during which the group gained popularity in the UK, Rush started work on their next album. As with the band's previous studio album, Hemispheres was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Monmouthshire and Trident Studios in London with longtime engineer and arranger, Terry Brown. Rush continued its progressive rock sound with the side-long "Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres" and the nine-minute instrumental "La Villa Strangiato".

<i>A Farewell to Kings</i> 1977 studio album by Rush

A Farewell to Kings is the fifth studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released in September 1977 by Anthem Records. After touring their previous album 2112 (1976), which saw the group reach a new critical and commercial peak, they started work on a follow-up. They decided to record at Rockfield Studios in Wales, the first time Rush recorded an album outside of Toronto. The band expanded their sound with each member playing new instruments that they had not previously used, and recorded a mix of concise and long songs.

<i>Fly by Night</i> (album) 1975 studio album by Rush

Fly by Night is the second studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released in February 1975 on Mercury Records. It was the first Rush album to showcase elements of progressive rock for which the band has become known. It was also the first to feature lyricist and drummer Neil Peart.

<i>Vapor Trails</i> 2002 studio album by Rush

Vapor Trails is the seventeenth studio album by Canadian rock band Rush. It was released on May 14, 2002, on Anthem Records, and was their first studio release since Test for Echo (1996), the longest gap between two Rush albums. After the Test For Echo tour finished in July 1997, drummer and lyricist Neil Peart suffered the loss of his daughter and then his wife in separate tragedies. As a result, the group entered an extended hiatus during which it was not certain they would continue. They eventually reunited in January 2001 to rehearse material for a new album, recording for which lasted until November. For the first and only time since Caress of Steel (1975), the group did not use any keyboards or synthesizers in their music, incorporating many layers of guitar, bass and drums instead.

<i>Roll the Bones</i> 1991 studio album by Rush

Roll the Bones is the fourteenth studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released September 3, 1991 on Anthem Records. The band began working on Roll the Bones after a brief creative hiatus following the tour promoting their previous release, Presto.

<i>Permanent Waves</i> 1980 studio album by Rush

Permanent Waves is the seventh studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released on Jan. 14, 1980, through Anthem Records. After touring to support their previous album, Hemispheres (1978), the band began working on new material for a follow-up album in July 1979. This material showed a shift in the group's sound towards more concise arrangements and radio friendly songs, though their progressive rock blueprint is still evident with "Jacob's Ladder" and the more than nine-minute closer "Natural Science." Bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee also employed a more restrained vocal delivery compared to previous albums. Permanent Waves was recorded in 1979 at Le Studio in Morin-Heights, Quebec with production handled by the group and Terry Brown.

<i>Grace Under Pressure</i> (Rush album) 1984 album by Rush

Grace Under Pressure is the tenth studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released April 12, 1984 on Anthem Records. After touring for the band's previous album, Signals (1982), came to an end in mid-1983, Rush started work on a follow-up in August. The band had decided to not work with longtime producer Terry Brown, who had collaborated with Rush since 1974. The new material accentuated the group's change in direction towards a synthesizer-oriented sound like its previous album. After some difficulty finding a suitable producer who could commit, the album was recorded with Peter Henderson.

<i>Power Windows</i> (album) 1985 studio album by Rush

Power Windows is the eleventh studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released on October 29, 1985 by Anthem Records. After touring in support of their previous album, Grace Under Pressure (1984), the band took a break and reconvened in early 1985 to begin work on a follow-up. The material continued to display the band's exploration of synthesizer-oriented music, this time with the addition of sampling, electronic drums, a string section, and choir, with power being a running lyrical theme. Power Windows was recorded in Montserrat and England with Peter Collins as co-producer and Andy Richards on additional keyboards.

<i>Rush in Rio</i> 2003 live album by Rush

Rush in Rio is a three-disc live album by Canadian band Rush, released on October 21, 2003. The album is also available as a two DVD set. With the exception of the last two tracks on the third disc, the album was recorded at Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on the final night of the Vapor Trails Tour. The other two tracks were taken from previous shows on the same tour. "Between Sun & Moon" was recorded at the Cricket Wireless Pavilion, Phoenix, Arizona, on September 27, 2002, and "Vital Signs" was recorded at the Colisée Pepsi, Quebec City, Quebec, on October 19, 2002.

<i>Hold Your Fire</i> 1987 studio album by Rush

Hold Your Fire is the twelfth studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released on September 8, 1987. It was recorded at The Manor Studio in Oxfordshire, Ridge Farm Studio in Surrey, Air Studios in Montserrat and McClear Place in Toronto. Hold Your Fire was the last Rush studio album released outside Canada by PolyGram/Mercury. 'Til Tuesday bassist and vocalist Aimee Mann contributed vocals to "Time Stand Still" and appeared in the Zbigniew Rybczyński-directed video.

<i>A Show of Hands</i> 1989 live album by Rush

A Show of Hands is a live album by the Canadian rock band Rush, released in 1989. The band released a video of the same name, originally on VHS and LaserDisc, the same year. A DVD version was released as part of a box set in 2006, and as an individual DVD in 2007. In 2015 it was reissued after being remastered by Sean Magee at Abbey Road Studios following a direct approach by Rush to remaster their entire back catalogue.

<i>Counterparts</i> (album) 1993 studio album by Rush

Counterparts is the fifteenth studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released October 19, 1993 on Anthem Records. After the band finished touring its previous album Roll the Bones (1991) in mid-1992, the members took a break before starting work on a follow-up.

<i>Test for Echo</i> 1996 studio album by Rush

Test for Echo is the sixteenth studio album by the Canadian rock band Rush, released on 10 September 1996 on Anthem Records. It is the final Rush work before the tragic events in Neil Peart's life that put the band on hiatus until the recording of Vapor Trails in January 2001. It is also the final Rush album co-produced by Peter Collins.

Limelight (song) Rush song

"Limelight" is a song by the Canadian progressive rock band Rush. It first appeared on the 1981 album Moving Pictures. The song's lyrics were written by Neil Peart with music written by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson. "Limelight" expresses Peart's discomfort with Rush's success and the resulting attention from the public. The song paraphrases the opening lines of the "All the world's a stage" speech from William Shakespeare's play As You Like It; the band had previously used the phrase for its 1976 live album. The lyrics also refer to "the camera eye", the title of the song that follows on the Moving Pictures album.

Roll the Bones (song) 1991 single by Rush

"Roll the Bones" is a song by the Canadian rock band Rush. It was released as the second single from their 1991 album of the same name.

<i>Clockwork Angels</i> 2012 studio album by Rush

Clockwork Angels is the nineteenth and final studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released June 12, 2012 on Roadrunner Records. During the band's year-and-a-half break following its Snakes & Arrows Tour, the group decided to write a new studio album. The album was recorded in April 2010 at Blackbird Studio in Nashville, Tennessee and from October to December 2011 at Revolution Recording in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

"Marathon" is the fourth track on Canadian rock band Rush's 1985 album Power Windows.

<i>The Studio Albums 1989–2007</i> 2013 box set by Rush

The Studio Albums 1989–2007 is a box set by the Canadian rock band Rush. It contains the band's seven studio albums released from 1989 to 2007 and was released on 7 CDs on 30 September, 2013. The albums are Presto (1989), Roll the Bones (1991), Counterparts (1993), Test for Echo (1996), Vapor Trails (2002), Feedback (2004) and Snakes & Arrows (2007).

References

  1. "Presto (1989)". Stereogum. Archived from the original on April 2, 2021. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  2. "Rush: 'Presto' Album Review". Odissey. Archived from the original on March 11, 2018. Retrieved March 11, 2018.
  3. "Presto – Rush". AllMusic. Archived from the original on June 10, 2012. Retrieved May 5, 2018.
  4. Archived July 8, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  5. "Music - What The Hell Happened To... 06.08.09: Rush - Presto". 411mania.com. June 27, 1990. Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved August 20, 2014.
  6. "Abbey Road - Engineers - Sean Magee". Archived from the original on December 14, 2020. Retrieved December 14, 2020.
  7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 14, 2019. Retrieved January 13, 2019.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Wilding, Phil (November 25, 1989). "The Meaning of Lifeson". Kerrang!. No. 266. Archived from the original on January 14, 2019. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Peart, Neil (1990). "Scissors, Paper, Stone by Neil Peart". Anthem Records. Archived from the original on January 14, 2019. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  10. 1 2 3 Sharp, Keith (February 1990). "Something Up Their Sleeves". Music Express. Vol. 14 no. 144. Archived from the original on January 26, 2020. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  11. 1 2 3 4 Elliot, Paul (December 9, 1989). "The Magic Circle". Sounds. Archived from the original on January 15, 2019. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  12. Krewen, Nick. "Rush: Presto change-o" Canadian Musician 12.2
  13. 1 2 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 14, 2019. Retrieved January 14, 2019.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. "Presto Change-O" - Canadian Musician, April 1990 Archived February 1, 2014, at the Wayback Machine . 2112.net. Retrieved on May 12, 2014.
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 Coburn, Bob (December 4, 1989). "Geddy Lee on Rockline for Presto". Rockline. Archived from the original on January 14, 2019. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  16. 1 2 Presto (Media notes). Atlantic Records. 1989. 7 82040-2. Archived from the original on January 14, 2019. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  17. Corus Radio - YouTube Archived February 12, 2012, at the Wayback Machine . Exploremusic.com. Retrieved on May 12, 2014.
  18. Rush: Presto - Album Review Archived February 2, 2014, at the Wayback Machine . Cygnus-x1.net. Retrieved on May 12, 2014.
  19. 1 2 Wilson, Mackenzie. "Rush - Presto (Archived Entry from Allmusic.com)". Archive.org. Archived from the original on June 10, 2012. Retrieved September 6, 2017.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  20. Bob Mack (January 25, 1990). "Presto". Rolling Stone . Archived from the original on June 9, 2013. Retrieved August 16, 2011.
  21. Pardo, Pete (2019). "Review: Rush: Presto – Sea of Tranquility – The Web Destination for Progressive Music!". seaoftranquility.org. Archived from the original on March 1, 2019. Retrieved February 28, 2019. Pete Pardo
  22. Heaney, Gregory. "Presto - Rush". Allmusic . Archived from the original on June 10, 2012. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  23. "Offiziellecharts.de – Rush – Presto" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  24. "Dutchcharts.nl – Rush – Presto" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  25. "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  26. "Presto Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  27. "Canadian album certifications – Rush – Presto". Music Canada . Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  28. "British album certifications – Rush – Presto". British Phonographic Industry . Retrieved July 3, 2020.Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Presto in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  29. "American album certifications – Rush – Presto". Recording Industry Association of America . Retrieved July 3, 2020.