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August or September 1979 - Unknown Location [Soundcheck] [Audio - Audience]

By-Tor X-1

Staff member

1979-00-00 - Unknown Location [Soundcheck]

Track Listing:

01 - Jacob's Ladder
02 - Xanadu
03 - Synthesizer Tests
04 - Drum Solo
05 - Guitar Solo
06 - Instrumental Tests 1
07 - Instrumental Jamming
08 - Bass Solo
09 - Instrumental Tests 2
10 - The Spirit Of Radio

This is an old audience recording that seems to have never really made its way into popular circulation, and has not made its way onto YouTube like the other better known Rush soundcheck recordings of this era. The first track however, a full performance of Jacob's Ladder, has been on YouTube for several years, labeled as being early version from the late 1979 warm-up tour (Aug 17 - Sept 22), and a video commenter even went as far as claiming he allegedly recorded it himself on 31 December 1979. As we know, Rush WAS playing Jacob's Ladder during the late '79 soundchecks, due to this approx 15 second clip from an old interview. However, when I located this recording among hundreds of others, the files were labeled as 18 February 1980 at Richfield, Ohio. That isn't hard to believe since the recorded content would have also been played on the Permanent Waves tour of 1980. Yet, it should be kept in mind I've encountered multiple instances where recordings were mislabeled with incorrect dates and/or locations, though can usually be solved with a bit of research. In this case, listening to the recording itself doesn't provide any clues to help determine the location, however if you pay very close attention to how Jacob's Ladder is played, the subtle differences make it clear that it is indeed an early version that doesn't quite match the final studio and 1980 live versions, so must be from sometime in late 1979. Furthermore, when the taper is asking Geddy(?) what the name of the song is, I believe the response sounds something along the lines of "there's no name yet", but he definitely isn't saying "Jacob's Ladder".

So clearly there's still a bit of ambiguity about the date of this recording. Part of the problem with the aforementioned December 31 claim is they weren't even on tour that month, so in that case it would be more like rehearsal two weeks before the start of the Permanent Waves tour, which seems odd that they'd be doing a random soundcheck that far in advance. Geddy says "check, one, two" multiple times, and a lot of it is instrumental testing like they were preparing for a performance, so it's not just a practice rehearsal. With my best judgment, it is my opinion that the YouTube commenter claiming he recorded it on December 31 just made it all up as a ruse or something. Regardless, it's impossible to determine the location unless we're ever presented with further documentation of its origins. The reason any of this matters is because I believe that archiving this type of material with the proper details and information is extremely important.

For the past two years I've had this recording labeled with the Richfield 1980 date and location, however, now after listening to the opinions of a few other people, and listening to this recording very closely, I know the 1980 date can not be correct. Another part of the problem I recently realized with the 1980 Richfield date is that there's another completely different soundcheck recording which already goes by that date. I recently dug into the soundcheck bootleg known as "Check This Out", planning to separate the four different soundchecks it is comprised of, and I noticed the second part of that was labeled 18 Feb 1980 in Richfield, Ohio. So from now on, and maybe forever, this sound check is going to be labeled "unknown".