Exit... Stage Left

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Exit... Stage Left
Live album by
ReleasedOctober 29, 1981 (1981-10-29)
  • June 10–11, 1980 at The Apollo, Glasgow (Side 2)
  • March 27, 1981 at The Forum, Montreal (Sides 1, 3, 4)
ProducerTerry Brown
Rush chronology
Moving Pictures
Exit... Stage Left
Singles from Exit... Stage Left
  1. "Tom Sawyer"
    Released: October 1981 (UK) [1]
  2. "Closer to the Heart"
    Released: October 23, 1981 (US) [2]
Professional ratings
Review scores
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music[4]
Rolling Stone[5]

Exit... Stage Left is the second live album by the Canadian rock band Rush, released as a double album in October 1981 by Anthem Records. After touring in support of their eighth studio album Moving Pictures (1981), the band gathered recordings made over the previous two years and constructed a live release from them with producer Terry Brown. The album features recordings from June 1980 on their Permanent Waves (1980) tour, and from March 1981 on their Moving Pictures tour.

The album received a mostly positive reception from music critics and reached number 6 in the United Kingdom, 7 in Canada, and 10 in the United States. It was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for selling one million copies in the latter country. A same-titled home video was released in 1982 that documents the band on the Moving Pictures tour. Exit... Stage Left was voted the ninth best live album of all time by Classic Rock magazine in 2004.[6]

Recording and production[edit]

Side two of Exit... Stage Left was recorded from June 10–11, 1980 at The Apollo in Glasgow, Scotland, during the band's tour for their seventh studio album, Permanent Waves. The remaining three sides were recorded on March 27, 1981 at The Forum in Montreal, Canada during the subsequent tour of their eighth album, Moving Pictures.

After the 1981 tour, the band retreated to Le Studio in Morin Heights in Quebec, Canada to edit and mix the recordings they had made on the two tours, which Neil Peart noted totalled over 50 reels of two-inch tape.[7] The band went through the material to find the best performances for inclusion for a live album. Whenever they found a technical fault or a wrong note affecting an otherwise acceptable performance, they replaced it using material from other shows in their collection of tapes.[7] In 1993, Geddy Lee revealed that the band had to add in new sections in the studio to correct passages with out-of-tune guitars.[8] None of the individual band members is credited with the album's production; the duty fell to their longtime producer, Terry Brown. During the production, Rush wrote and recorded "Subdivisions", a new song that would be released on their following studio album, Signals.[7]

Upon the album's completion, Peart said the group were happier with Exit... Stage Left than with their first live album All the World's a Stage, noting that the latter suffered from uneven sound quality.[7] In subsequent years however, Lee developed a more critical view of Exit... Stage Left, noting that the group tried to make it sound "too perfect" in part by reducing the levels of audience noise,[8] while Alex Lifeson for his part thought the album sounded too clean and not as raw as All the World's a Stage, and as a consequence the band aimed to reach a "middle ground" between the two with A Show of Hands, Rush's third live release.[9] Nevertheless, the album remains a fan favorite.

Rush performs a short rendition of "Ebb Tide" before "Jacob's Ladder".[7] "Broon's Bane" is a short classical guitar arrangement performed by Lifeson as an extended intro to "The Trees." The song is named after Terry Brown, nicknamed "Broon" by the band. The song is not featured on any other live or studio recording by Rush. Also on the album, Lee refers to Brown as "T.C. Broonsie" when introducing "Jacob's Ladder".

The original CD issue removed "A Passage to Bangkok", as CDs could only hold 75 minutes at the time. It was included on the 1997 remaster, as CD capacity had increased to 80 minutes by that time. Before the remastered version was released, the same live version of "A Passage to Bangkok" was released on the compilation Chronicles in 1990.

The second verse of "Beneath, Between, & Behind" is omitted. On "La Villa Strangiato", the introductory classical guitar solo from the original recording is played on electric guitar and doubled in length, Lee sings part of a nursery rhyme in Yiddish during the "Danforth and Pape" section (the liner notes include a translation of his words), and a short bass and percussion solo is added before the "Monsters! (Reprise)" section.


The title comes from the catchphrase of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon character Snagglepuss. The term "stage left" is a stage direction used in blocking to identify the left side of a theater from the point of view of the performer, as opposed to the point of view of the audience.

The whole title came from a character in an American cartoon called Snagglepuss. He's a great little creature, a lion, and every time there's trouble he flees, uttering 'Exit... stage left' or 'Exit... stage right'. But the fact of the matter was that the album cover picture was taken from stage left. And coincidentally that's the direction in which Snagglepuss runs most of the time.

— Geddy Lee, Sounds magazine No. 66, November 1981

We wanted to have Snagglepuss's tail on there. You know, 'Exit Stage Left', with a picture of just his tail. Forget it! They wanted all kinds of legal hassles and tons of money.

— Neil Peart, Jam! Showbiz, October 16, 1996


An item from each of Rush's previous eight studio album covers can be seen on the front and back cover of this live album, though each has been modified in some way. The snowy owl from Fly by Night flies above Apollo, the man in the suit from Hemispheres, who stands next to Paula Turnbull, the woman from Permanent Waves.[10] On the back cover, the puppet king from A Farewell to Kings sits atop a box stenciled with the band logo from Rush. Next to him is a painting of the Caress of Steel album cover, held by one of the movers from Moving Pictures, with another mover standing behind. Next to this is Dionysus, the nude man from Hemispheres. Behind this scene, the starman from 2112 hangs in the background, next to an "EXIT" sign. The scene was shot in Toronto's then-abandoned Winter Garden Theatre.

Rush's first live album, All the World's a Stage, is also represented by the cover's background image, taken at a concert at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo, New York. Both album covers show Rush's live setup on an empty stage, although the band no longer used the white carpet by the time of Exit... Stage Left's release.


A limited-edition promotional 6-track vinyl sampler: Rush 'N' Roulette, included excerpts of six tracks from Exit...Stage Left. The promotional album used a unique mastering process in which concentric grooves were inscribed so that different material would be played depending on where the stylus was put down on the record's surface. [11]

Exit... Stage Left was re-released on CD in 1997 as part of the "Rush Remasters" series.

  • The tray has a picture of three fingerprints, light blue, pink, and lime green (left to right, mirroring the cover art of Retrospective II) with "The Rush Remasters" printed in all capital letters just to the left. All remasters from Moving Pictures through A Show of Hands are like this.
  • Includes the track "A Passage to Bangkok" which was left off the original CD issue due to time constraints.
  • On some copies, each of the band members' photos are reversed from the original. This error has since been corrected on post-1997 reissues of Exit... Stage Left.

Exit... Stage Left was remastered again in 2011 by Andy VanDette for the "Sector" box sets, which re-released all of Rush's Mercury-era albums. It is included in the Sector 2 set.[12]

Exit... Stage Left was remastered for vinyl in 2015 by Sean Magee at Abbey Road Studios as a part of the official "12 Months of Rush" promotion.[13] The high definition master prepared for this release was also made available for purchase in a 24-bit/48 kHz digital format at several high-resolution audio online music stores. These remasters have significantly less dynamic range compression than the 1997 remasters and the "Sector" remasters by Andy VanDette. Sean Magee remastered the audio from an analog copy of the original digital master, using a 192 kHz sample rate. But since Exit... Stage Left was originally mixed on digital equipment at 16-bit/44.1 kHz, no audio above 22 kHz exists in the original digital master or any of the remasters, which is why many digital music stores are only selling the album at a maximum sample rate of 48 kHz.[14]

Track listing[edit]

">" indicates a segue directly into the next track.

All tracks are written by Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart, except where noted

Side one
1."The Spirit of Radio" 5:11
2."Red Barchetta" 6:46
3."YYZ" (includes a Neil Peart drum solo)Lee, Peart7:43
Side two
1."A Passage to Bangkok" 3:45
2."Closer to the Heart" (>)Lee, Lifeson, Peart, Peter Talbot3:08
3."Beneath, Between & Behind"Lifeson, Peart2:34
4."Jacob's Ladder" 8:46
Side three
1."Broon's Bane" (>)Lifeson1:37
2."The Trees" (>) 4:50
3."Xanadu" 12:09
Side four
1."Freewill" 5:31
2."Tom Sawyer"Lee, Lifeson, Peart, Pye Dubois4:59
3."La Villa Strangiato" 9:37



Chart (1981-1982) Peak
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[15] 7
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[16] 19
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[17] 28
UK Albums (OCC)[18] 6
US Billboard 200[19] 10


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[20] Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[21] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[22] Platinum 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ "Rush singles".
  2. ^ "Releases" (PDF). FMQB Album Report. 16 October 1981. p. 29. Retrieved 24 August 2022.
  3. ^ AllMusic review
  4. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195313734.
  5. ^ "Rolling Stone review". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2017-09-30. Retrieved 2017-08-27.
  6. ^ BBC News Entertainment Thin Lizzy top live album poll Archived 2021-04-02 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 16 April 2006.
  7. ^ a b c d e Peart, Neil (7 January 1982). "Exit Stage Left: A Rush Update By Rush Drummer Neil Peart". Kerrang!. Archived from the original on 19 September 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  8. ^ a b Noble, Douglas J. (November 1993). "Counter Attack". The Guitar Magazine. Archived from the original on 19 August 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  9. ^ Sharp, Keith (January 1989). "The Weigh-In". Music Express. Archived from the original on 19 August 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2017.
  10. ^ "Permanent Waves Album Cover Details Explained". 2112.net. November 29, 2009. Archived from the original on March 8, 2012. Retrieved July 3, 2014.
  11. ^ Discogs | https://www.discogs.com/Rush-Rush-N-Roulette/release/3772080 Archived 2019-08-28 at the Wayback Machine | Accessed 13 July 2019.
  12. ^ "Andy VanDette on Remastering 15 Rush Albums | the Masterdisk Record". Archived from the original on 2014-08-23. Retrieved 2014-04-22.
  13. ^ "12 MONTHS OF RUSH: 14 ALBUMS FROM MERCURY ERA FOR RELEASE IN 2015". Rush.com. Archived from the original on 11 July 2015. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  14. ^ "Rush – new 2015 vinyl and hi-res reissues thread". Steve Hoffman Music Forums. Archived from the original on 10 July 2015. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  15. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 0426". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 6 February 2022.
  16. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Rush – Exit... Stage Left" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  17. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Rush – Exit... Stage Left". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  18. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  19. ^ "Rush Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  20. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Rush – Exit... Stage Left". Music Canada.
  21. ^ "British album certifications – Rush – Exit Stage Left". British Phonographic Industry.
  22. ^ "American album certifications – Rush – Exit...Stage Left". Recording Industry Association of America.

External links[edit]