Presto (album)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Presto
Studio album by Rush
Released November 21, 1989
August 31, 2004 (remastered CD)[1]
Recorded June - August 1989 at Le Studio in Morin Heights, Quebec and McClear Place in Toronto, Ontario
Genre Progressive rock, hard rock
Length 52:11
Label Anthem (Canada)
Atlantic
Producer Rush, Rupert Hine
Rush chronology
A Show of Hands
(1989)
Presto
(1989)
Roll the Bones
(1991)
Singles from Presto
  1. "Show Don't Tell"
    Released: 1989
  2. "The Pass"
    Released: 1990
  3. "Superconductor"
    Released: 1990

Presto is the thirteenth studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released in 1989. It was recorded at Le Studio in Morin Heights and at McClear Place in Toronto. Presto was Rush's first album with their new international label Atlantic Records, which the band signed to in early 1989 after deciding not to renew its contract with Mercury/PolyGram Records.

The band had intended to co-produce the album with Peter Collins, who had produced the previous two studio albums, Power Windows and Hold Your Fire; however, he reluctantly declined the offer for personal reasons. Instead, Rupert Hine, who had been approached for Grace Under Pressure, produced the album.

All singles released from the album ("Show Don't Tell", "The Pass" and "Superconductor") charted, with "Show Don't Tell" hitting #1 on the Album Rock Tracks chart.[2] The album itself charted at #16 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and sales of Presto earned the band a gold record (sales in excess of 500,000 copies) in the US, and Platinum in Canada.[3] The album has been remastered and reissued twice: once in 2004 as a continuation of "The Rush Remasters" series and again in 2013 as a part of the box set The Studio Albums 1989-2007.

Musical style and direction[edit]

Presto is generally held by fans to have marked the beginning of a transition period, moving away from a sound dominated by synthesizers and toward more traditional rock instrumentation and pop songwriting. In an interview in Canadian Musician, Geddy Lee explained:

"We wanted [Presto] to be more of a singer's album, and I think you'll notice that the arrangements musically support the vocal[s]. . . . Neil's lyrics to me are a lot more heartfelt. Presently, they're experience oriented. I think they deal with living . . . This album was a real reaction against technology in a sense. I was getting sick and tired of working with computers and synthesizers. Fortunately, so was [co-producer] Rupert [Hine]. . . . We made a pact to stay away from strings, pianos, and organs—to stay away from digital technology. In the end, we couldn't resist using them for colour."[4]

However, the band did not return to the hard rock sounds of earlier albums until Counterparts, released 4 years after Presto, and synthesizers still play a large role on the album.

"Scars" features a complex drum pattern in which both acoustic and electronic drums are utilized. The pattern was derived from a tribal rhythm Neil Peart experienced while on a bicycle tour of Africa (later chronicled in his first book, The Masked Rider: Cycling in West Africa). He has gone on to incorporate this pattern into his live drum solos. The song also features the use of a sequencer in place of, and often mistaken for, a bass guitar.

According to Lee during the Rush in Rio concert (as well as the recent "Box Set" episode on VH1 Classic), "The Pass" is one of Rush's favourite songs. In a 2011 interview, Peart said of Presto: "That was an album that, for all of us, should have been so much better than it was... If we could do one [album] again, it would be that one, because we still love the songs from it, but... you can never make magic happen." [5]

During the 1990 Presto Tour, the title track itself was never played. It was first played live during the Time Machine Tour in 2010.

Meanings[edit]

Presto also contained much lighter lyrics than previous releases such as Grace Under Pressure. Peart said that he "was conscious that maybe a couple of the last albums were a little on the heavy side, lyrically speaking. With Presto I took a little looser approach to things. These songs have their own stories and messages without necessarily being linked by some overall theme."[6] Peart also said that "Presto doesn't have a thematic message. There is no manifesto, although there are many threads and a strong motif of looking at life today and trying to act inside it."[7]

The Pass and War Paint deal with youth issues such as suicide and trying to make oneself attractive to fit in a group or to appear beautiful. Superconductor details with the superficiality of mainstream music. That topic also appears in other songs such as Grand Designs. Red Tide has been seen as a commentary on climate change and the growing problem of global warming.[8]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2.5/5 stars[9]
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[10]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[11]

Gregory Heaney of Allmusic described the album as 'workmanlike' and is removed from the creativity of their earlier works. However, he asserts that the songs are not terrible, just a sense that something is not quite clicking, perhaps due to the length of time it has been since the band wrote more traditional, guitar based songs.[9] However, before such a review was posted on November 10, 2012, the site had listed a favorable 4.5 star (out of a possible 5) review of the album by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, of which little trace remains. Erlewine described the album as one that "intelligently leads Rush into the '90s without musical bleakness."[10]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Neil Peart, all music composed by Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee.

No. Title Length
1. "Show Don't Tell"   5:01
2. "Chain Lightning"   4:33
3. "The Pass"   4:52
4. "War Paint"   5:24
5. "Scars"   4:07
6. "Presto"   5:45
7. "Superconductor"   4:47
8. "Anagram (for Mongo)"   4:00
9. "Red Tide"   4:29
10. "Hand Over Fist"   4:11
11. "Available Light"   5:03

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Year Chart Position
1989 Billboard 200 16[12]
UK Albums Chart 27[13]

Sales certifications[edit]

Country Organization Sales
U.S. RIAA Gold (500,000)
Canada CRIA Platinum (100,000)
UK BPI Silver (60,000)

Singles[edit]

Information
"Show Don't Tell"
  • Released: 1989
  • Written by: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart
  • Produced by: Rupert Hine and Rush
  • Chart positions: #1 US Mainstream Rock
"Presto"
  • Released: 1990
  • Written by: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart
  • Produced by: Rupert Hine and Rush
  • Chart positions: #14 US Mainstream Rock
"The Pass"
  • Released: 1990
  • Written by: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart
  • Produced by: Rupert Hine and Rush
  • Chart positions: #15 US Mainstream Rock
"Superconductor"
  • Released: 1990
  • Written by: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart
  • Produced by: Rupert Hine and Rush
  • Chart positions: #37 US Mainstream Rock

References[edit]