Fly by Night (album)

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Fly by Night
Studio album by
ReleasedFebruary 14, 1975 (1975-02-14)
RecordedDecember 1974
StudioToronto Sound (Toronto)
Rush chronology
Fly by Night
Caress of Steel
Singles from Fly by Night
  1. "Fly by Night"
    Released: April 23, 1975[1]

Fly by Night is the second studio album by the Canadian rock band Rush, released on February 14, 1975, by Mercury Records.[2] 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, who replaced original drummer John Rutsey the previous summer just prior to the band's first North American tour. Peart took over as Rush's primary lyricist, and the abundance of fantastical and philosophical themes in his compositions contrasted greatly with the simpler hard rock of the band's debut album.

Background and recording[edit]

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 while the group continued with a replacement, Jerry Fielding.[3] 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".[3]

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.[3] 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.[3] Peart joined on July 29, 1974, Lee's 21st birthday, two weeks before the band's first U.S. tour kicked off on August 14 at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, opening for Uriah Heep and Manfred Mann's Earth Band. By the end of the year the group had written new material for a follow-up album.[3][4]

After a five-day break, Fly by Night was recorded in December 1974 and mixed in January 1975 at Toronto Sound Studios during a gap in their U.S. and Canadian tour.[5][4][6][7] 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 concert on January 15.[8][7] 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.[3] 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.[9]


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.[3][10] As Peart was a keen reader, he became the group's primary lyricist, which suited Lifeson and Lee because they preferred to write 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.[11] 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.

Side one[edit]

"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.[3] 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).[10]

The lyrics to "Beneath, Between and Behind" were the first that Peart wrote for Rush, for which Lifeson and Lee would write music.[3]

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.[3] 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!'"[9] 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.[3][9][10] He later deemed the track "a joke that got out of control".[9] 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."[12]

Side two[edit]

"Fly by Night" is based on Peart's experience of moving from Canada to London as a young musician before joining Rush.[13]

"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.[8]

"Rivendell" is a slower ballad, named after the fictional Elven settlement in The Lord of the Rings legendarium by J. R. R. Tolkien.[3]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music[15]
Music Emissions[16]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[17]

Fly by Night was released in February 1975 and reached No. 9 in Canada and No. 113 on the U.S. Billboard 200. The title track was released as a single in May 1975, reaching No. 45 in Canada and No. 88 in the United States. By October 1975, the album had sold 110,000 copies.[12] The original vinyl pressings contained an inner sleeve of photographs and handwritten lyrics by Peart.

Rush supported the album with a U.S. 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.[18][10]

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 "heavy-metal material [which] tends toward highly pretentious compositions with epic overtones." Simon 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 "mediocre" voice for sounding too similar to Robert Plant.[19] Michael Dolgy in RPM Weekly wrote the album is "a loud but sensitive excursion into ball-blaster rock/roll".[18] 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 because it heralded the band's new direction.[14]

Ultimate Classic Rock included the album on their list of the "Top 100 '70s Rock Albums", writing "Neil Peart wasn't just the new drummer; he was the spark that pushed them to greatness."[20]


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.[21]

The complete album, along with the self-titled debut and Caress of Steel, was included as part of the 1978 Anthem release Archives. [22]

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.[23] 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.[24]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Neil Peart, except where noted.

Side one
1."Anthem" Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson4:21
2."Best I Can"LeeLee3:24
3."Beneath, Between and Behind" Lifeson3:01
4."By-Tor and the Snow Dog"
  • I. "At the Tobes of Hades"
  • II. "Across the Styx"
  • III. "Of the Battle"
    • i. "Challenge and Defiance"
    • ii. "7/4 War Furor"
    • iii. "Aftermath"
    • iv. "Hymn of Triumph"
  • IV. "Epilogue"
 Lee, Lifeson8:37
Side two
1."Fly by Night" Lee3:18
2."Making Memories" Lee, Lifeson2:58
3."Rivendell" Lee4:52
4."In the End"LeeLee, Lifeson6:44


Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes.[5]


  • Geddy Lee – bass guitars, classical guitar, vocals
  • Alex Lifeson – electric guitars, 6- and 12-string acoustic guitars
  • Neil Peart – drums, percussion, lyrics


  • 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


Chart (1975) Peak
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[25] 9
US Billboard 200[26] 113


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[27] Platinum 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[28] Platinum 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.



  1. ^ "Fly By Night single".
  2. ^ "Fly By Night LP".
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Elliot, Paul (3 February 2016). "The History of Rush by Geddy Lee & Alex Lifeson: The Early Years". Classic Rock. Archived from the original on 28 December 2018. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  4. ^ a b Gross, Michael (November 1975). "Rush-BTO's Heavy Metal Challengers". Circus Raves. No. 121. Archived from the original on December 28, 2018. Retrieved December 28, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Fly by Night (Media notes). Rush. Mercury Records. 1975. SRM-1-1023. Archived from the original on 2021-02-26. Retrieved 2018-12-28.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  6. ^ Popoff 2004, p. 23.
  7. ^ a b "RUSH Tour |". Archived from the original on 2018-12-29. Retrieved 2018-12-29.
  8. ^ a b Popoff 2004, p. 24.
  9. ^ a b c d Elliot, Paul (April 2013). "Men at Work". PROG: Rush Limited Edition. No. 35. Archived from the original on December 28, 2018. Retrieved December 27, 2018.
  10. ^ a b c d Gett, Steve. "Success Under Pressure". Archived from the original on September 15, 2019. Retrieved December 28, 2018.
  11. ^ "Rush: The Complete Album-by-Album Guide". Rolling Stone. July 10, 2008. Archived from the original on December 29, 2018. Retrieved December 28, 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Rush Dedicates Newest Album to Rod Serling". St. Catharines Standard. October 10, 1975. Archived from the original on October 29, 2017. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  13. ^ Popoff 2020, p. 192.
  14. ^ a b Fly by Night at AllMusic
  15. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195313734.
  16. ^ solitaryman (2007-07-03). "Rush – Fly By Night Review from Music Emissions". Music Emissions. Archived from the original on 2007-10-17. Retrieved 2007-11-05.
  17. ^ "Rush: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2013-07-04. Retrieved 2013-02-21.
  18. ^ a b Dolgy, Michael (July 19, 1975). "Canada's Rock 'N Roll Rush". RPM Weekly. Archived from the original on December 28, 2018. Retrieved December 28, 2018.
  19. ^ Simon, Pam (March 29, 1975). "Fly by Night: Rush". Statesville Record & Landmark. p. 21. Archived from the original on December 29, 2018. Retrieved December 29, 2018 – via
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2021-01-16. Retrieved 2019-08-16.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ "Andy VanDette On Remastering 15 Rush Albums | The Masterdisk Record". Archived from the original on 2014-08-23. Retrieved 2015-09-29.
  22. ^ "Rush – Archives (1978, Vinyl)". Discogs. 1978. Archived from the original on 20 February 2021. Retrieved 26 March 2021.
  23. ^ "12 MONTHS OF RUSH: 14 ALBUMS FROM MERCURY ERA FOR RELEASE IN 2015". Archived from the original on 2015-07-11. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
  24. ^ "Rush – new 2015 vinyl and hi-res reissues thread". Steve Hoffman Music Forums. Archived from the original on 2015-07-10. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
  25. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 6136a". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 6 February 2022.
  26. ^ "Rush Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  27. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Rush – Fly by Night". Music Canada.
  28. ^ "American album certifications – Rush – Fly by Night". Recording Industry Association of America.


External links[edit]