Rush Discography (Studio Albums)

"Rush" by Slayerlane via DeviantArt

Photo Credit: "Rush" by Slayerlane via DeviantArt

Rush was a three-piece rock band that existed from 1968 to 2018. Music was never quite the same once they had invaded the airwaves with their interplanetary sound, thanks to three infinitely talented players and an expansive career. Thanks to 2012’s Clockwork Angels, Rush officially impacted five decades of musical entertainment, making them one of the most enduring bands of all time, especially when one considers the level of quality across the board. The entire rock world suffered when it endured the loss of Neil Peart in 2020. He was one of the greatest drummers ever, and few people realize he was the band’s primary lyricist. Given the band’s uniqueness and contributions to metal, progressive rock, and pop music, it is surprising that Rush was held in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for 20 years before the trio finally got inducted.

It may take some listeners much time to become adjusted to the sound of Rush, to fully appreciate the band’s influence, abilities, and transformations. Geddy Lee’s high-pitched impassioned vocals, 15-minute progressive rock songs driven by Alex Lifeson’s guitar virtuosity, and Neil Peart’s overtly literary lyrics may not be everybody’s cup of tea. Still, Rush successfully translated innovative approaches to music in a way that’s easy on the ears. They are great for what they are, unmistakable, and something that rewards you the deeper you dive into the discography. And since the trio will never play again, there is no better time to get into such a legendary band. Here is a list of Rush’s studio albums:

Rush

Rush by Rush debut album cover

Released: March 1, 1974

Moon

The first Rush album has a good mix of hard-rock songs with glimpses into the experimental instrumental virtuosity they would explore soon enough. It is the only Rush studio album to feature John Rutsey on drums, who also helped with lyrics during his short time in the band. Alex and Geddy wrote most of the words themselves, as well as the song structures. And when Rutsey quit the band after only four months from the record’s release, the two members found the missing puzzle piece, soon-to-be-legend Neil Peart.

Worth noting is how Rush sounds like other hard rock outfits from this era, specifically Led Zeppelin, whose singer shares a similar vocal range to Geddy Lee. That is most prominent on the penultimate track, “Before and After.” Although the final and most popular tune on the album, “Working Man,” may not reinvent the wheel, it does benefit from being the most solid-sounding song from the album. But it’s still most important to see the elements of progressive rock before they became tapped to their fullest potential on the very next album. So, give this record a listen, especially if you’re starting the deep dive.

Popular songs:

  • “Finding My Way”
  • “In the Mood”
  • “Take a Friend”
  • “Here Again”

 

Fly by Night

"Fly by Night" by Rush album cover

Released: February 15, 1975

Moon

Fly by Night was big for Rush, launching them into the top ten charts in their native Canada. As soon as you listen to the first track, you know Neil Peart has entered the building. The album showcases the band adventuring towards more conceptual tunes, that feel cinematic and engaging with the listener. But it’s still fairly straightforward rock music with some tasty riffs and drumming. The band’s new drummer and lyricist immediately took the band to the next level. The presence of Peart pushed Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee to step up their game. All the players pushed their peak performance abilities to their limits during this session, and that shows on each track.

The title track “Fly by Night” is golden-era Rush, as far as any fan is concerned. It perfectly encapsulates that early Rush sound – excellent inventive performances from all three members, intense, strange lyrics, and a driving melody with an insanely catchy hook. The production is also engaging. All three instruments interact deliciously in the audio mix, with plenty of space for Lee’s shrill, rocking vocals. Not only is the man talented vocally, but the bass playing is mean and effortlessly busy, too. The guitars are very expressive and layered nicely, and the drums are pounding away at intricate driving rhythm patterns with salacious time-defying fills.

Overall, here begins the unofficial blueprint for Rush, or at least, the Rush you may know. The band co-produced Fly by Night with Terry Brown, starting an eight-year-long work relationship on Rush albums. Though, let it be known the musical departure dumbfounded the label at the time. The folks at Moon were in for a surprise.

Popular songs:

  • “Fly by Night”
  • “Anthem”
  • “Best I Can”
  • “Making Memories”

 

Caress of Steel

Caress of Steel by Rush album cover

Released: September 24, 1975

Mercury

Caress of Steel sees Rush leaning freely more and more into their progressive rock sensibilities that were but murmurs on the previous record, released only half of a year before. In that sense, Caress is another landmark album for the group, propelling them forward in their journey toward great experimental rock. Their non-progressive tunes are groovy and reflect some very absorbing synergy. The clearest indicators of this progression towards prog rock are two songs on the record. The first is “Necromancer,” which contains three tunes blended in a seamless sequence – “Into the Darkness,” “Under the Shadow,” and “Return of the Prince.” The total runtime of that sequence alone is roughly 12.5 minutes! 

The second prog song, “The Fountain of Lamneth,” occupies the entire side B of Caress of Steel. This five-part song tends to be more in the realm of folk-rock, but it becomes very rock-oriented and spaced out on the backend. That said, it seemed nobody understood what the band was doing. The album was considered a commercial failure by critics and the label at the time, and fans didn’t quite take to it, either. It’s become a more sacred moment in the discography over the years.

Popular songs:

  • “Necromancer”
  • “The Fountain of Lamneth”
  • “Bastille”
  • “Lakeside Park”

 

2112

"2112" by Rush album cover

Released: March/April 1, 1976

Anthem

Rush received one last chance with their label Mercury, which is funny considering 2112 became one of the band’s most critically acclaimed albums. And it’s not hard to see why it became an instant sensation. It contains some of their best and most challenging work, creating one of the first progressive metal albums known to music history. This time, the prog songs were front and center instead of getting tacked on behind the more accessible tunes. The entire first side of the album is one 20-minute-long track, called “2112.” That risk paid off for the band, despite the threat of getting dropped by their label. To this day, it tops several Greatest Albums of All Time lists.

Popular songs:

  • “2112”
  • “The Twilight Zone”
  • “The Temples of Syrinx”

 

A Farewell to Kings

"A Farewell to Kings" by Rush album cover

Released: September 3, 1977

Anthem

After Rush released 2112 and toured, the band began working on its follow-up immediately, entitled A Farewell to Kings. “Closer to the Heart” is a fantastic song that has gotten its flowers (indeed, they especially loved it in the UK, where the song hit number 36 on the charts), but the remainder of the record has never quite achieved the same recognized status. From a musical standpoint, this record is vital to the progression of Rush. For example, it represents the first moment Rush started looking toward other instruments, namely the synthesizer. Additionally, the trio sought to record a mixture of complex and long on the one hand and short and more accessible on the other. 

Popular songs:

  • “Closer to the Heart”
  • “Cinderella Man”
  • “Xanadu”

 

Hemispheres

"Hemispheres" by Rush album cover

Released: October 29, 1978

Anthem

Hemispheres is one of Rush’s best and most well-balanced albums. And that becomes instantly evident upon listening. The lyrics are better, and the music feels gigantic. And though there are, on paper, only four songs to make up this album, remember two of those are extended, well-executed prog songs. The song that opens the album, “Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres,” which has six parts, is long enough to take up the entire side of Hemispheres. Some mini-sequences are longer than others, featuring more singing than others, and overall, the prog masterpiece runs about 18 minutes. 

Side two is as strong in different ways. The two of average length may seem straightforward in their approaches, but they rock. “Circumstances” has a great breakdown. And “The Trees” is a relatively accessible number, wherein its lyrical obsession with trees will refresh any such hugger, specifically a fan of J.R.R Tolkein or any other literary giant of such significance. “La Villa Strangiato” closes out the record, and it is bound to become the favorite of many budding Rush fans actively listening to this collection of songs. Hopefully, wanting to listen to this tune several times will inspire you to keep coming back to the record in sittings.

Popular songs:

  • “Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres”
  • “Circumstances”
  • “The Trees”
  • “La Villa Strangiato”

 

Permanent Waves

"Permanent Waves" by Rush album cover

Released: January 14, 1980

Anthem

Though Permamnet Waves did not lean as heavily into the strange, obscure, and progressive, it’s still one of the essential Rush albums when set suitably into its chair of context. It continued the trajectory successfully by pushing the band even higher on the US and UK charts. In that sense, it accomplished what it set out to accomplish, which was to construct more radio-friendly songs with a slight prog-rock blueprint. “The Spirit of Radio” is doubtless the most popular tune on the entire album, and it features some very tasteful riffs and synth lines. But the epic prog-rock song and 9-minute album-closer “Natural Science” showed the band had no plans of ceasing musical exploration. 

Popular songs:

  • “The Spirit of Radio
  • “Entre Nous”
  • “Freewill”
  • “Natural Science”

 

Moving Pictures

"Moving Pictures" by Rush album cover

Released: February 12, 1981

Anthem

Moving Pictures, right before 2112, is the definitive Rush album. And you will know that by the first song, “Tom Sawyer,” the most ubiquitous Rush song by a country mile. And though that tune may get played all the time on classic rock radio, there are so many incredible things happening in that song each time you put it on. The synth lines, the bass, the guitar riffs/solos, the lyrics, the vocals, and the drums all do some knockout things. Not bad for one of the most requested Boomer rock songs, eh?

What hasn’t gotten written about these songs? They have influenced generations of rock stars, wannabees, or otherwise. “YYZ” and “Limelight” are among the most revered rock songs, though they pale in comparison to “Tom Sawyer” regarding radio play. “YYZ” is a standout instrumental song with a short run time but tons of depth, venturing into progressive metal bliss. It also famously got nominated for a Grammy and appeared on Guitar Hero 2. “Limelight” is another anthemic song that does an impressive job at combing Rush with a pop-friendly sound.

Overall, Moving Pictures showcased an incredible appreciation for Alex Lifeson’s guitar work, which drove the structure of the music. Also, the album balanced progressive song structures with awareness but did not surrender to the mainstream rock community worldwide. These two factors have made the work legendary, and it remains the group’s most sold record in the States.

Popular songs:

  • “Tom Sawyer”
  • “YYZ”
  • “Limelight”
  • “Vital Signs”

 

Signals

"Signals" by Rush album cover

Released: September 9, 1982

Anthem

The ninth studio album, Signals, made its way swiftly to the first position on the Canadian charts, third in the UK, and tenth in the US. During the tour for Moving Pictures and their live album Exit… Stage Left, the band started amassing new tunes to record, all of which gravitated towards the glimmering new technology of the era. In some ways, it was the end of a most pivotal period for the band, as their longtime assistant and co-producer, Terry Brown, left after co-producing this, their eighth album together. But the trio was nowhere close to slowing down as shown by each ferocious or thoughtful tune, though there had begun a fundamental shift in style. That, of course, was more synth action than the electric guitar. And while it started a rift within the band and among listeners, nobody had any idea what was coming next.

Popular songs:

  • “New World Man”
  • “Subdivisions”
  • “Countdown”

 

Grace Under Pressure

"Grace Under Pressure" by Rush

Released: April 12, 1984
Anthem

Despite finding a producer at the last moment, Grace Under Pressure achieved chart success, reaching the fourth, fifth, and tenth positions in Canada, the UK, and the US, respectively. It even became a platinum-selling album. And it’s easy to see why. Moving Pictures and Signals had shown the band blending concise tunes with long passages stringing together miniature songs. There was no fluke. The lyrics had molded into cutting-edge literary content, reminiscent of steampunk and other forms of speculative fiction. The crowning achievement might be “Distant Early Warning.” It’s a popular song among the fans, and it’s got such an awesome synth turnaround riff. And it also sacrifices nothing in its ability to rock while also blending some reggae elements.

Sure, there had been stylistic changes, but at the core, always, was Rush doing Rush – crafting sophisticated yet immersive batches of songs with very heady lyrics. But while synths were present, the guitar was much more prominent in the songs featured on the band’s tenth official output. That is on full display when things pick up on the album’s second song, “Afterimage.” It’s a very Eighties-sounding rock song on a very Eighties-sounding record.

Popular songs:

  • “Distant Early Warning”
  • “Afterimage”
  • “The Enemy Within (Part I of Fear)”
  • “The Body Electric”
  • “Red Sector A”

 

Power Windows

"Power Windows" by Rush

Released: October 14, 1985

Anthem

In 1985, the band had ventured further into synth-driven rock music. Orchestral instruments, guitars, and drums ornament the electronic-driven musical arrangements equally. Meanwhile, Neil Peart’s lyrics explore eerie subjects. Most importantly, the balance was more in check than in the past two albums. Ultimately, Power Windows did not contain that level of memorability that 2112 had, partly because it seemed the guitar work of Alex Lifeson got pushed to the backburner. It might not stick out as one of the essential Rush albums, especially during this period, but it’s a fine listen.

Popular songs:

  • “The Big Money”
  • “Mystic Rhythms”

 

Hold Your Fire

"Hold Your Fire" by Rush

Released: September 8, 1987

Anthem

Hold Your Fire saw the band improve in some ways and dwindle in others. Overall, though its shakey chart success does foreshadow the slight commercial decline of a rock outfit once at the forefront of rock music, the band was far from falling from grace. Moreover, the album’s quality in its performances and ambition proved as strong as ever. While the pop-oriented sound makes the band feel dated marginally, there are some undeniably solid tracks. The production is dazzling in its unique approach to the instruments, while the bass and drums sound as driving as ever on these sprawling 80s new-wave-Esque ballads. In that sense, Hold Your Fire succeeds outside of and despite the shadow of Rush’s previous work.

Popular songs:

  • “Time Stand Still”
  • “Prime Mover”
  • “Force Ten”

 

Presto

"Presto" by Rush album cover

Released: November 21, 1989

Anthem

Presto has one of the strongest starts in Rush’s works since Moving Pictures. That’s thanks to “Show Don’t Tell,” which balances hard-rock, funk, and electronic sections in the form of a straightforward rock tune at the highest quality. It also features Geddy’s best bass playing in almost a decade. The riffs are immersive, and it’s nice to see Rush putting songwriting – not merely the inclusion of specific instruments – at the core of its recorded work. Fortunately for Rush, the trio was heading into the Nineties, full speed ahead. But the world had, ultimately, become burnt out on the direction Rush had traveled as the Eighties unfolded. Listeners wanted guitar-driven music and for Rush to ditch the pop-focus and synth-first approach that had come to dominate their output during this era. Ultimately, Presto is a refreshing and necessary reset moment in the Rush discography.

Popular songs:

  • “Show Don’t Tell”
  • “The Pass”
  • “War Paint”

 

Roll the Bones

"Roll the Bones" by Rush album cover

Released: September 3, 1991

Anthem

Roll the Bones proved what the band needed just a few months before Nirvana would release Nevermind and officially cement grunge’s undeniable presence in rock music and the cultural mainstream. “Roll the Bones” is a genuinely rocking song, one of the band’s best songs since “Tom Sawyer.” As a whole, the record blends in with the era in which it got released. It has a modern dance sensibility and plenty of funky bass grooves and electric guitars interplaying with synths before a folky immortal chorus section hits, which eventually gives way to a very spirited guitar solo. And then Geddy Lee raps – and not just once. Even with that, Rush can overcome their dad-rock shortcomings with genuinely inspired music that proved a commercial success.

Popular songs: 

  • “Roll the Bones”
  • “Ghost of a Chance”

 

Counterparts

"Counterparts" by Rush album cover

Released: October 19, 1993

Anthem

With the success of Roll the BonesCounterparts saw Rush rise even higher commercially, especially in the United States, thanks to two factors. First, the trio refused to sacrifice spontaneity for refinement, which should be the goal of every band. Second, and most importantly, the band centralized the guitar in the music. The band’s Primus and Pearl Jam’s influences may not be readily apparent on any casual listen. But these old-timers kept making fresh music that appealed to the rock masses during a new generation of a musical renaissance. And that’s because they knew they had to keep learning and stay on their feet, a drive that separates the band during this era of music and in the grander history of rock music.

The song “Stick It Out” topped the charts in America for a month and the instrumental track “Leave That Thing Alone” turned enough heads to score a Grammy nomination. But not all was well behind the scenes: the guitarist and bassist/synth player worked together to craft the songs but were at direct odds due to increased internal and external tensions. Meanwhile, Neil Peart wrote the lyrics alone, focusing intensely on fleshed-out themes. Ultimately, despite pressures, Counterparts is arguably Rush’s finest moment.

Popular songs:

  • “Stick It Out”
  • “Leave That Thing Alone”
  • “Nobody’s Hero”
  • “Animate”

 

Test for Echo

"Test for Echo" by Rush album cover

September 10, 1996

Anthem

Test for Echo was another success for Rush, and it is the second essential Nineties album from the group. The album topped the charts in America and Canada, largely thanks to the return to form rock style. Urgent patterns and eclectic soloing define the instrumental section, whereas the lyrics function at a high level of word-play, imagery, and meaning. The songwriting as a band feels tight, and it feels like the group has picked up where it had left off before taking to electronic influences. There are genuinely metal moments, which had become sorely missed in the Rush discography. 

Sure, some points on this album sound like the rest of the bands from the Nineties surrounding them. In that sense, this album is a prime example of why Rush could survive for so long without going stale or selling out. They could reinvent themselves constantly, which is the key to any artist’s artistic survival. Unfortunately, something entirely out of human control threatened everything: tragedy.

Popular songs:

  • “Driven”
  • “Test for Echo”
  • “Resist”
  • “Half the World”

Vapor Trails

"Vapor Trails" by Rush album cover

Released: May 14, 2002

Anthem

The background of Vapor Trails, the band’s 17th official record, is beyond tragedy. Neil Peart lost his entire immediate family – his daughter and wife – in 1997. As a result, the band went on a long, much-needed hiatus. Peart hopped on a motorcycle and became a vagabond. Meanwhile, his bandmates had no clue if another Rush album was on the horizon. Eventually, about four years later, it became clear that another album was possible. This time around, though, there were no traces of that pesky synthesizer that had marked the band’s previous era of ups and downs. Instead, the band homed in on its experimental rock roots, and for the better. It charted at the third and sixth positions in Canada and the US, respectively. Still, the band ultimately grew to disapprove of much about the album’s overall production. One assumes that might be more because of the impulse of artistic self-criticism, as the songs themselves are liable to get enjoyed by any casual listener.

Popular songs:

  • “One Little Victory”
  • “Ceiling Unlimited”
  • “Secret Touch”
  • “Ghost Rider”

 

Snakes & Arrows

"Snakes and Arrows" by Rush album cover

Released: May 1, 2007

Anthem

Snakes & Arrows is an album any band in their thirties could only hope to create. On top of that, it charted very well in Canada and the US, and one of its tracks, “Malignant Narcissism,” became Grammy-nominated. There’s a focused drum sound to the record, with guitars and bass offering several dense layers elevated by rich and non-intrusive production. Though the band sounds identifiable, it’s incredible to hear how the late 2000s rock sound is ubiquitous yet tempered in Rush’s output. Seriously, this band soaked up four generations of rock music and always put their unique spin on them. As a result, this, the 18th Rush studio album, is worth your time.

Popular songs:

  • “Far Cry”
  • “Spindrift”
  • “The Larger Bowl”

 

Clockwork Angels

"Clockwork Angels" by Rush album cover

Released: June 12, 2012

Roadrunner

Clockwork Angels is the final Rush album and the nineteenth installment in the band’s 43-year-old existence. It also serves as one of their highest-charting albums, making it a fitting end to an epic career. In another sense, it might be one of the best albums they ever made, with plenty of songs rocking way harder than they need. The band decided to transform the album into a conceptual one after Peart had developed its story extensively. That included leaning heavily into the drummer and lyricist’s steampunk inspirations which had been unnamed but present in most of the band’s work. And the fact that the songs – without which lyrics would mean nothing – are diverse in sound and perspectives. Listening to this album, it becomes no wonder that the band co-released a comic book to accompany this magnificent opus and swan song, liable to impress any diehard or casual fan.

Popular songs

  • “Caravan/BU2B”
  • “Headlong Flight”
  • “The Wreckers”
  • “The Anarchist”
  • “The Garden”

via GIPHY

Rush’s discography has no doubt been extensive, yet, still remains impressive, especially when considering the quality of music the band has rolled out over the past 5, nearly 6, decades. Geddy Lee’s unmistakable vocals, Alex Lifeson’s guitar virtuosity, and Neil Peart’s talent behind the drums keep the die-hard fans listening over and over, and give newcomers to Rush something truly unique to experience.  So, whether it’s your first time or one-hundred-first time, sit back, relax, and enjoy the talented musical entertainment Rush has to offer.