Caress of Steel

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Caress Of Steel
Studio album by Rush
Released September 24, 1975
Recorded June–July 1975 at Toronto Sound Studios in Toronto, Canada
Genre Progressive rock, hard rock
Length 44:59
Label Anthem
Producer Rush, Terry Brown
Rush chronology
Fly by Night
(1975)
Caress Of Steel
(1975)
2112
(1976)
Singles from Caress Of Steel
  1. "The Necromancer: Return of the Prince"
    Released: 1976
  2. "Lakeside Park"
    Released: 1976

Caress Of Steel is the third studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released in 1975. The album shows more of Rush's adherence to hard progressive rock, as opposed to the blues-based hard rock style of the band's first album.

Overview[edit]

Although Rush's previous album, Fly by Night, dabbled in longer conceptual pieces such as "By-Tor & the Snow Dog," such works were the central focus of Caress of Steel. Long pieces broken up into various sections and long solo passages are two prominent elements of the album. It is often considered notable for the inclusion of the band's first two epic pieces, "The Necromancer", and "The Fountain of Lamneth", which were also blamed for the commercial failure of the album itself, as explained in the next section; the latter runs 20 minutes total and comprises the entire second side of the original vinyl release.

The album cover for Caress of Steel was intended to be printed in a silver colour to give it a "steel" appearance. A printing error resulted in giving the album cover a copper colour. The error was not corrected on subsequent printings of the album.[1]

Geddy Lee admitted in the 2010 documentary film Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage that he thought bandmates Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart and he were "pretty high" during the making of Caress of Steel.[2]

Some cassette printings of the album altered its intended track listing, specifically switching the "Didacts and Narpets" movement of "The Fountain of Lamneth" with "I Think I'm Going Bald" (possibly because of cassette tape length and to balance out both sides). In addition the other movements of "The Fountain of Lamneth" were listed as separate songs.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2/5 stars[3]
The Daily Vault C+[4]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 2/5 stars[5]

Although the band initially had high hopes for Caress of Steel, it sold fewer copies than Fly by Night and was considered a disappointment by the record company. The album eventually became known as one of Rush's most obscure and overlooked recordings, consequently being considered underrated by fans.[6]

Caress of Steel did not attain gold certification in the United States until December 1993, nearly two decades after its release. It remains one of the few Rush albums to not go platinum in the U.S.[7]

Due to poor sales, low concert attendance and overall media indifference, the 1975-76 tour supporting Caress of Steel became known by the band as the "Down the Tubes" tour. Given that and record company pressure to record more accessible, radio-friendly material similar to their first album – something Lee, Lifeson and Peart were unwilling to do – the trio feared that the end of the group was near.[6]

However, diehard Rush fans[who?] consider Caress of Steel one of the band's pinnacle albums, clearly exhibiting Rush's master storytelling abilities and paving the way for future concept albums.[citation needed]

Ignoring their record label's advice and vowing to "fight or fall," the group's next album, 2112, ultimately paved the way for lasting commercial success despite opening with a 20-and-a-half-minute conceptual title track.[6]

This is the least represented album in the bands' live shows over the course of their career. Aside from a short instrumental snippet of the song "Bastille Day" appearing in the "R30 Overture" performed during the R30: 30th Anniversary Tour in 2004, nothing from this album has been played live since the early 1980s.[citation needed].

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Neil Peart; all music by Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Bastille Day"   4:39
2. "I Think I'm Going Bald"   3:41
3. "Lakeside Park"   4:10
4. "The Necromancer
  • I. Into the Darkness - 4:20
  • II. Under the Shadow - 4:25
  • III. Return of the Prince - 3:51"  
12:33
Side two
No. Title Length
5. "The Fountain of Lamneth
  • I. In the Valley – 4:17
  • II. Didacts and Narpets - 1:00
  • III. No One at the Bridge - 4:15
  • IV. Panacea (Lee) - 3:12
  • V. Bacchus Plateau (Lee) - 3:12
  • VI. The Fountain - 3:48"  
19:57

Song information[edit]

"Bastille Day"[edit]

Rush's Led Zeppelin influence is still prominent on this record, most obviously in the song "Bastille Day" (which discusses the storming of the Bastille in the French Revolution), though it is apparent on all three of the shorter songs on the album. "Bastille Day" reappeared on the "R30" CD and DVD as part of the instrumental "R30 Overture".

"I Think I'm Going Bald"[edit]

"I Think I'm Going Bald" was written for Canadian rocker Kim Mitchell, who at the time was the frontman of the band Max Webster and a close friend of the members of Rush. The book Contents Under Pressure stated that the song was written as a homage to Kiss song "Goin' Blind".[8]

"Lakeside Park"[edit]

Mentioned in the song "Lakeside Park", May 24 is Victoria Day, a Canadian holiday. Lakeside Park itself is a park in Port Dalhousie, St. Catharines, Ontario, where drummer and lyricist Neil Peart grew up and worked during the summer as a teenager.

"The Necromancer"[edit]

A necromancer is one who practices necromancy, a type of divination involving the summoning of spirits of the deceased to discern information about the future. "The Necromancer" starts with heavy influence from J.R.R. Tolkien's literary mythology. The Necromancer was a pseudonym used by Tolkien in The Hobbit for the character Sauron. The song departs from the story of the book as Part III sees the return of By-Tor from Fly by Night, this time as a hero and not a villain. "Return of the Prince" was also released as a single in some countries. Also in the introductory prologue to the song, the "three travellers, men of Willowdale" is a reference to the band itself, an allusion to the Toronto suburb of Willowdale where Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson grew up and formed the first incarnation of the band.

On the inside gatefold of the album, just below the lyrics to "The Necromancer", the Latin phrase "Terminat hora diem; terminat auctor opus" appears. This translates (loosely) to:

"[as] The hour ends the day; the author ends his work".

"The Fountain of Lamneth"[edit]

The final song on the album, "The Fountain of Lamneth", predates epics like "2112" and the Cygnus X-1 series, and is only 34 seconds shorter than "2112". It is the first epic song Rush had recorded, consisting of six parts which forms a complete story about a man in search of the Fountain of Lamneth, chronicling the individual occurrences of his journey.

"Didacts and Narpets"[edit]

Regarding "Didacts and Narpets" (which consists mostly of a drum solo), in the October 1991 news release from the Rush Backstage Club, Neil Peart said: "Okay, I may have answered this before, but if not, the shouted words in that song represent an argument between Our Hero and the Didacts and Narpets - teachers and parents. I honestly can't remember what the actual words were, but they took up opposite positions like: 'Work! Live! Earn! Give!' and like that." A didact is a teacher; "narpet" is an anagram of "parent", and also of "N. Peart".

Credits[edit]

Production[edit]

  • Produced by Rush & Terry Brown
  • Engineered by Terry Brown
  • Arrangements by Rush & Terry Brown
  • Recorded and mixed at Toronto Sound Studios, Toronto, Canada

Sales certifications[edit]

Country Organization Sales
U.S. RIAA Gold (500,000)[9]
Canada CRIA Gold (50,000)[10]

Charts[edit]

Album - Billboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
1975 Pop Albums 148

Singles[edit]

Information
"The Necromancer: Return of the Prince"
  • Released:
  • Written by: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson & Neil Peart
  • Produced by: Rush and Terry Brown
  • Chart positions:
"Lakeside Park"
  • Released:
  • Written by: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson & Neil Peart
  • Produced by: Rush and Terry Brown
  • Chart positions:

Remaster details[edit]

A remaster was issued in 1997.

  • The tray has a picture of the star with man painting (mirroring the cover art of Retrospective I) with "The Rush Remasters" printed in all capital letters just to the left. All remasters from Rush through Permanent Waves are like this.
  • The remaster adds the album's back cover and gatefold (which included band pictures and lyrics) to the packaging which was not included on the original CD.

Caress Of Steel was remastered again in 2011 by Andy VanDette for the "Sector" box sets, which re-released all of Rush's Mercury-era albums. Caress Of Steel is included in the Sector 1 set.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wagner, Jeff; Steven Wilson (2010). Mean Deviation: Four Decades of Progressive Heavy Metal. Brooklyn, New York: Bazillion Points. p. 23. ISBN 0-9796163-3-6. 
  2. ^ Chaney, Jen. "A Rush documentary filled with 'The Spirit of Radio'". WashingtonPost. Retrieved February 15, 2010. 
  3. ^ Prato, Greg. Caress of Steel - Rush at AllMusic. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
  4. ^ Thelen, Christopher (2001-07-08). "Caress Of Steel - Rush - Mercury, 1975". The Daily Vault. Retrieved 2012-07-31. 
  5. ^ "Rush: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c Wagner, Jeff; Steven Wilson (2010). Mean Deviation: Four Decades of Progressive Heavy Metal. Brooklyn, New York: Bazillion Points. p. 24. ISBN 0-9796163-3-6. 
  7. ^ "RIAA Database Search for Rush". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2012-01-29. 
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ "Recording Industry Association of America". RIAA. Retrieved 2011-08-17. 
  10. ^ "Gold Platinum Database". Retrieved 2014-04-22. 
  11. ^ "Andy VanDette On Remastering 15 Rush Albums". The Masterdisk Record. 2011-11-23. Retrieved 2014-04-22.