Fly by Night (album)
|Fly by Night|
|Studio album by|
|Released||February 15, 1975|
|Studio||Toronto Sound Studios|
(Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
|Singles from Fly by Night|
Fly by Night is the second studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released in February 1975 on Mercury Records. It was the first Rush album to showcase elements of progressive rock for which the band has become known. It was also the first to feature lyricist and drummer Neil Peart.
Background and recording
In March 1974, the second Rush line-up, consisting of guitarist Alex Lifeson, drummer John Rutsey, and singer and bassist Geddy Lee, released their self-titled debut album. In the following four months, however, Rutsey fell ill following complications with diabetes and had to sit out from some gigs while the group continued with a replacement, Jerry Fielding. Rutsey rejoined the group for a month of club dates before Lifeson and Lee decided it was best for Rutsey to leave due to the difficulty in managing his health on tour and musical differences between them. Lee recalled: "We were guilt-ridden at first, but we realised that it's just the way it had to be. He wasn't happy and we weren't happy".
Rush auditioned five drummers, the fourth of which was Neil Peart of a local band named J R flood. The three played along to "Anthem", a song mostly written while Rutsey was in the group that Rush later recorded for Fly by Night. Lifeson and Lee were so impressed with Peart's style they felt embarrassed for the fifth drummer who had prepared by writing charts to their songs to follow. Peart joined on July 29, 1974, Lee's birthday, two weeks before the band's first US tour kicked off on August 14 at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, opening for Uriah Heep and Manfred Mann. By the end of the year the group had written new material for a follow-up album.
After a five-day break Rush recorded Fly by Night in December 1974 and mixed in January 1975 at Toronto Sound Studios during a gap in their US and Canadian tour. Lifeson said it took around five days to record and once the mixing had finished, the group packed their cases and travelled to Winnipeg for a gig on January 15. It was the band's first album co-produced by Terry Brown who would maintain this role through to Signals (1982). Lifeson was pleased with the songs on the album and felt like it was a second beginning for the group. Lee recalled the difficulty that their label's management had in understanding the material on the album, particularly "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" as they had wanted material in the style of their debut.
The band wanted each song on Fly by Night to show a different side to their writing and playing which resulted in an album of varied styles. As Peart was a keen reader he became the group's primary lyricist, which suited Lifeson and Lee because they preferred to write the music. A Rolling Stone article reasoned this shift in roles to the "massive" difference in the lyrical styles between their first album and Fly by Night which contains more literary themes and references. The songs "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" and "Rivendell" are examples of the inclusion of fantasy themes into Rush's music. The original hand-penned lyrics for "Anthem" and "Fly by Night" include different or additional lyrics not sung in the final recording, including a prologue for the latter. The tracks "Best I Can" and "In the End" were written before Peart joined the band, and were performed regularly during Rush's first North American tour.
"Anthem" originated by Lifeson and Lee while Rutsey was still in the band and features a heavier sound with more complex arrangements than previous Rush tracks. Peart named the track and its lyrics after the same-titled dystopian novella by Russian-American writer and philosopher Ayn Rand, who would become a greater inspiration to lyrics on their later album 2112 (1976).
The lyrics to "Beneath, Between and Behind" were the first that Peart wrote for Rush, for which Lifeson and Lee would write music.
The eight-minute "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" is arranged in eight distinct sections and marked a key point in the development of the group's songwriting. The first part, "At the Tobes of Hades", remained a mystery to the group years later in regard to its meaning which is what Peart liked about the track in particular. "But it's something that my friend's father used to say: 'It's hotter than the Tobes of Hades!'" It is a good versus evil fantasy song that originated from two dogs owned by Rush's manager Ray Danniels which their lighting man Howard Ungerleider named Biter and Snow Dog. Lee later said: "We must have been high one day, imagining a song about these two dogs. And then Neil went ahead and wrote it" which had the two characters fight with Snow Dog emerging victorious. He later deemed the track "a joke that got out of control". On the original vinyl release, the chimes at the end continue into a locked groove, and thus plays indefinitely on manual record players. The song "The Necromancer" from their following album Caress of Steel (1975) was described by Peart as the "mythological sequel" to "By-Tor and the Snow Dog".
"Fly by Night" is based on Peart's experience of moving from Canada to London as a young musician before joining Rush.
"Making Memories" came about after the band had taken a wrong turn on a drive. Lifeson proceeded to write a tune on his acoustic guitar, and had a fully arranged piece by the time the band had entered the studio to record.
Release and reception
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Fly by Night was released in February 1975 and reached No. 9 in Canada and No. 113 on the US Billboard 200. The title track was released as a single in May 1975, reaching No. 45 in Canada and No. 88 in the US. This was followed by "Making Memories" in May 1977. By October 1975, the album had sold 110,000 copies. The original vinyl pressings contained an inner sleeve of photographs and handwritten lyrics by Peart.
Rush supported the album with a US and Canadian tour that covered more than 70 cities from February to June 1975, opening for Kiss and Aerosmith. They performed their first major headline shows across Canada, including a sold-out gig at Massey Hall in Toronto for 4,000 people.
In a review for Statesville Record & Landmark, Pam Simon thought the album "is a strange schizophrenic album, almost evenly divided between second-rate acoustic music and the dated concept of the power-trio format". She was critical of their more heavy metal direction and the pretentious nature of their songs and picked out "By-Tor and the Snow Dog" as such an example which she called "especially horrendous". Though Simon praised Lifeson's "more than competent" guitar work and Peart's drumming, she criticised Lee's voice for sounding too similar to Robert Plant. Michael Dolgy in RPM Weekly wrote the album is "a loud but sensitive excursion into ball-blaster rock/roll". Greg Prato of AllMusic said that the album was less straightforward than their debut album, and while it was not one of their best albums, it was one of their most important.
A remaster was issued in 1997. It was remastered again in 2011 by Andy VanDette as part of the three-volume "Sector" box sets, which re-released all of Rush's Mercury-era albums. In addition to the standard audio CD, the album was also included on an audio DVD in the Sector 1 set, remixed into 5.1 surround sound.
Fly By Night was remastered for vinyl in 2015 by Sean Magee at Abbey Road Studios as a part of the official "12 Months of Rush" promotion. The high definition master prepared for this release was also made available for purchase in 24-bit/96 kHz and 24-bit/192 kHz formats, at several high-resolution audio online music stores. These masters have significantly less dynamic range compression than the 1997 remasters and the "Sector" remasters by Andy VanDette.
All lyrics written by Neil Peart, except where noted.
|1.||"Anthem"||Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson||4:21|
|2.||"Best I Can"||Lee||Lee||3:24|
|3.||"Beneath, Between & Behind"||Lifeson||2:59|
|4.||"By-Tor & the Snow Dog"
|5.||"Fly by Night"||Lee||3:18|
|6.||"Making Memories"||Lee, Lifeson||2:58|
|8.||"In the End"||Lee||Lee, Lifeson||6:44|
Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes.
- Alex Lifeson – electric guitars, 6- and 12-string acoustic guitars
- Neil Peart – drums, percussion
- Geddy Lee – bass guitars, classical guitar, vocals
- Rush – production, arrangement, cover concept
- Terry Brown – producer, engineer, arrangement
- John Woloschuk – assistant engineer
- Gilbert Kong – mastering at Masterdisk, New York
- Eraldo Carugati – cover painting
- AGI Chicago – art direction
- Jim Ladwig – art direction
- Joe Kotleba – design
- Richard Fegley – photography
- Howard "Herns" Ungerleider – By-Tor characters inspiration
- Moon Records – executive producer
|Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)||9|
|US Billboard 200||113|
|Canada (Music Canada)||Platinum||100,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000^|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
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