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Rush: Presto: Hybrid SACD Edition

In transit between genres, Rush go goth-pop.

In late 1989, Rush, moving from Mercury to Atlantic, decided to ease off on their “computers and synths period”, reverting to rock. Presto is strong on songs, but retrospectively it still sounds very much of the 80s (something which the crisp SACD sound emphasises).

Produced by Rupert Hine, it boasts echoing drum sonics and a glistening sheen. The Trevor Horn-like rhythms of Scars could almost be ABC or Frankie Goes To Hollywood. This is not a bad thing. In fact the marriage of clean, concise arrangements and Rush’s innate, shrill, histrionic edge often punches above its weight.

The trio wrote some powerful hooks and choruses, with tracks like Chain Lightning and The Pass excelling as a breed of accidental power-pop. War Paint, with its rousing, anthemic refrain of ‘boys and girls together/paint the mirror black’ is like a trashy gothic Sweet. A better Rush album than most Rush fans realise.

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.