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Speculation on Rush's Tape Archives

rocky chains

New member
I've been seeking live Rush recordings for most of my adult life, with a heavy emphasis on the pre 1981 periods. What's out there reveals what we all know - a hard working band that played many, many shows.

Like me, I imagine that most fans of live recordings put up with the harsh sounds of bootlegs for a few reasons, including:
(1) The experience of getting a window into what it was like on a given night of a tour, a blush of a feeling of "being there."
(2) Being able to feel the energy and hear the reactions of the audiences.
(3) Hearing the different way the band approached performing individual songs; differences from the studio recordings; changes within a tour; and changes from tour to tour.

Regarding #3 above - Take the example of Bastille Day. Tour after tour the song became more honed on stage. By the time of the A Farewell to Kings tour in the UK, they were tight as hell, and FAST. Alex used a harmonizer on his guitar solo. Geddy through in some pulsed twang slide notes to punctuate some of the stops (like before the guitar solo section). Geddy had some amazing echoed shrieks (even with his flu voice). And the end of the song had an extra dramatic retard (slowing the tempo) for a grand flourish ending. By this time, these performances were just stunning and a very different experience to the studio version, and to the version on All the World's a Stage. My Rush experience would be anemic without having heard the honing Bastille Day over the course of 3 years of touring.

This phenomenon is even more evident in pieces like Working Man and By-Tor and the Snow Dog, which were performed tour after tour and just kept building and refining. And this didn't end in the 1970s. Look at how Bravado evolved and improved on stage. Or Between the Wheels. Or Secret Touch. Or even Roll the Bones (Alex's subtle guitar noodling in the rap section).

This long introduction is to set up my question as to what Rush might have in their vaults in terms of live recordings. There is some evidence/indication that a number of shows were recorded professionally and never released in their entirety or at all (3 nights at Massey Hall 1976, 4 nights at the Hammersmith Odeon 1979, many shows in the UK 1980, many shows in Canada 1981, etc.). Some of this is starting to see the light of day with the 40th Anniversary releases. Perhaps more will surface in our lifetimes. Power Windows tour, HYF, Counterparts, and TFE all had many shows recorded.

But to speculate here - what might they have recorded cheaply for their own enjoyment and for the purpose of posterity. For example, on the Fly By Night tour, or Caress of Steel tour, I can't imagine that they didn't set up a tape recorder and capture some nights for themselves. Good candidates are the Massey Hall shows in June 1975 and January 1976. Off the soundboard, or if that wasn't possible, by setting up some mics to a basic tape deck. And in later tours of the 1970s, when they were a bigger deal, they must have recorded many shows (all?) off the soundboard. The Hemispheres tour soundboards certainly indicate that. One would think the band has soundboard recordings from AFTKs tour as well.

Has anyone heard of Rush recording and archiving shows in this way? If it did happen, it doesn't seem likely that such recordings would ever be made available, but boy would that be something!

Many, many years ago RushArchives.com was registered and the scuttlebutt was the band was going to do what Primus (and other bands) had and sell live recordings online. Of course that never happened.

They definitely recorded shows. Maybe hit up Howard Ungerleider or Lorne Wheaton on social media and ask.
Thank you Dave. That's a good suggestion to reach out to HU and LW, if only to scratch the curiosity itch.

Related to tall this is a quote from Alex in this interview, which I have squirreled away in my memory: "And I was cleaning up the back room…I’ve gotten rid of a bunch of stuff over the years…and I just found a case that was way up on the top shelf, and at the bottom of this box were a bunch of reel-to-reel, unlisted, unmarked, recordings…and I can only imagine that they’re pre-‘74. So, they would probably be from between ‘70 and ’73…recordings from that period. So, they would probably have songs like “Run Willie Run,” and “Slaughterhouse,” and “Garden Road,” and all of those early songs that we wrote and played during our bar days."

Maybe the band will auction this type of stuff off, like they've been doing with other items (Alex's guitar collection, Neil's car collection, Neil's Caress of Steel era drum kit, and more).