Power Windows (album)

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Power Windows
Rush Power Windows.jpg
Studio album by Rush
Released October 15, 1985
June 3, 1997 (remastered CD)
Recorded April to June and August 1985, The Manor Studio, Oxfordshire;
Sarm East Studios, Angel Studios and Abbey Road Studios, London;
AIR Studios, Montserrat
Genre Progressive rock, new wave
Length 44:44
Label Anthem (Canada)
Atlantic (Japan)
Epic/Sony (Japan)
Vertigo (United Kingdom)
Producer Peter Collins and Rush
Rush chronology
Grace Under Pressure
Power Windows
Hold Your Fire
Singles from Power Windows
  1. "The Big Money"
    Released: September 26, 1985
  2. "Territories"
    Released: 1985
  3. "Manhattan Project"
    Released: October 1985
  4. "Mystic Rhythms"
    Released: 1986
  5. "Marathon"
    Released: 1989

Power Windows is the 11th studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released in 1985. Recorded at The Manor and Sarm East Studios in England, and AIR Studios in Montserrat, it was the first Rush album produced by Peter Collins, and the first to be released directly to CD.

Power Windows introduced more synthesizers into the band's sound. The music videos for "The Big Money" and "Mystic Rhythms" both received significant play on MTV. During the period when the album was produced, the band were expanding into new directions from their progressive rock base,[1] having "tightened up their sidelong suites and rhythmic abstractions into balled-up song fists, art-pop blasts of angular, slashing guitar, spatial keyboards and hyperpercussion, all resolved with forthright melodic sense".[2]


In February 1985, work started at Elora Sound in Canada for three weeks, in a barn with a 24-track studio. Vocalist and bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson were working on songs that could fit the lyrics drummer Neil Peart wrote at a small desk there, with Peart at the same time trying to write lyrics adaptable to Lee and Lifeson's music. During his time there, Peart researched the Manhattan Project to prepare to write lyrics for the song of the same name. He also wrote rough outlines for "The Big Money," "Mystic Rhythms" and "Marathon". Lee and Lifeson sorted through jams and Lifeson’s riff tapes to write music for these songs, with each song taking up to a week. They then began on "Middletown Dreams", "Marathon" once again, and then "Grand Designs".[3]

Peart went through tapes to the five new songs in a Miami hotel room in March, getting ready for the warm-up tour gig in Lakeland, Florida.[3] At this point, the band met up with engineer James "Jimbo" Barton, recommended by producer Peter Collins. Later at Elora, the songs whose lyrics Peart was formerly struggling with, "Territories" and "Manhattan Project", began to come together. Peart was also working on lyrics to a ballad called "Emotion Detector", which seemed to work perfectly with the music they were jamming on at the time. The music to "Territories" was also arranged, and a tape of seven songs was created. They had trouble with writing the music to "Manhattan Project", but Collins contributed ideas to this and other songs.[3]

In April, at The Manor Studio in England, basic tracks were recorded more quickly than usual, in the span of a few weeks, to capture more spontaneous performances ready for overdubs. Andy Richards was brought in to provide extra keyboard programming and performances. The drum tech was sent to London to pick up African and Indian drums for use on "Mystic Rhythms", and bongos were also used on "Territories".[3]

Lifeson began recording guitar overdubs in May at AIR Studios in Montserrat. Next, in June, at Sarm East Studios in London, he began on guitar solos, and Lee did vocals. They moved to a townhouse in July for mixing, a decision on the track listing, and the artwork, credits, and photos. Strings were recorded for the album by a 30-piece orchestra in Studio 1 at Abbey Road Studios in August. A 25-piece choir was also recorded at Angel Studios for the ending of "Marathon". In September, Lee oversaw the mastering in New York, and proofs were approved for the album cover.[3][4][5]

Themes and lyrics[edit]

Power Windows lyrics are focused primarily on various manifestations of power. For example, the song "Manhattan Project" explores the origins and consequences of the U.S. military's development of the atomic bomb, and "Territories" comments on nationalism around the world. Like "Subdivisions", from the album Signals, "Middletown Dreams" explores suburban monotony and the average person's attempts to temporarily escape it.[3] As well, "Grand Designs" was partly written to criticise mainstream music, which the group felt was too superficial. The song also echoes individualistic themes, such as non-conformism.[6]

After the 1985 Power Windows Tour had concluded, Peart told an interviewer that Rush's sound "is changing from having been progressive to not being progressive."[7] He said that Rush's recent musical style might "seem simpler" to an outside observer who is focusing solely on performance technique, but that the simpler-seeming music was just as difficult to compose and perform.[7]


The pictures on the front and back covers were taken by photographer Dimo Safari, and the model is Neill Cunningham from Toronto.[8]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[9]
Rolling Stone (favourable)[10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 2.5/5 stars[11]
Kerrang! 4/5 stars[12]
Rock Hard (de) 9/10[13]

Power Windows has been met with mostly positive reviews from music critics. AllMusic's Eduardo Rivadavia described the album as Rush's coldest album, citing the sparse, horn-like guitar playing of Lifeson, the prominent synthesizer of Lee and Peart's crisp, clinical percussion and stark lyrical themes. However, he also described the album as one that rewards patience and repeated listens.[14] Rolling Stone magazine, in a positive review of the album, highlighted a number of bands that seemingly influenced Power Windows, such as The Police, U2, Genesis and Siouxsie and the Banshees. The review concludes that Power Windows may be the missing link between Yes and the Sex Pistols.[10] In 2005, the album was ranked number 382 in Rock Hard magazine's book The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time.[15]

Track listing[edit]

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

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "The Big Money"   5:36
2. "Grand Designs"   5:07
3. "Manhattan Project"   5:09
4. "Marathon"   6:11
Side two
No. Title Length
5. "Territories"   6:20
6. "Middletown Dreams"   5:19
7. "Emotion Detector"   5:11
8. "Mystic Rhythms"   5:54



Additional Personnel[edit]

  • Andy Richards – additional keyboards
  • Jim Burgess – additional synthesizers
  • Anne Dudley – string arrangement
  • Andrew Jackman – conductor, choir arrangements
  • The Choir – additional vocals


  • Rush and Peter Collins – arrangements and production
  • Jim Barton – engineer
  • Matt Butler, Stephen Chase, Dave Meegan, Heff Moraes – assistant engineers
  • Bob Ludwig and Brian Lee – mastering
  • Hugh Syme – artwork, cover design

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1985) Peak
Canadian RPM100 Albums[16] 2
Dutch Albums Chart[17] 44
Swedish Albums Chart[18] 26
UK Album Chart[19] 9
US Billboard 200[20] 10


"The Big Money"
  • Released: September 26, 1985
  • Written by: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson & Neil Peart
  • Produced by: Peter Collins and Rush
  • Chart positions: No. 45 US Hot 100; No. 4 US Mainstream Rock;[21] No. 46 UK[22]
  • Released: 1985
  • Written by: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson & Neil Peart
  • Produced by: Peter Collins and Rush
  • Chart positions: No. 30 US Mainstream Rock[21]
"Mystic Rhythms"
  • Released: 1986
  • Written by: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson & Neil Peart
  • Produced by: Peter Collins and Rush
  • Chart positions: No. 21 US Mainstream Rock[21]
"Manhattan Project"
  • Released: 1985
  • Written by: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson & Neil Peart
  • Produced by: Peter Collins and Rush
  • Chart positions: No. 10 US Mainstream Rock[21]
  • Released: 1989
  • Written by: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson & Neil Peart
  • Produced by: Peter Collins and Rush
  • Chart positions: No. 6 US Mainstream Rock[21]

Sales Certifications[edit]

Country Organization Sales
U.S. RIAA Platinum (1,000,000)[23]
Canada CRIA Platinum (100,000)[24]
UK BPI Silver (60,000)[25]

Remastered edition details[edit]

Although the original recording had a SPARS code of DDD and was considered to be of good quality, a remastered edition was issued in 1997. The remastered edition follows the trend of newer albums, as it is considerably louder.[26]

  • The tray has a picture of three fingerprints, light blue, pink, and lime green (left to right) with "The Rush Remasters" printed in all capital letters just to the left. All remasters from Moving Pictures to A Show of Hands feature this logo, originally found on the cover art of Retrospective II.
  • Includes the original grey border around the back cover image, along with lyrics and credits.

Power Windows was remastered again in 2011 by Andy VanDette for the "Sector" box sets, which re-released all of Rush's Mercury-era albums. Power Windows is included in the Sector 3 set.[27]

Power Windows was remastered for vinyl in 2015 as a part of the official "12 Months of Rush" promotion.[28] 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 Power Windows 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.[29]


  1. ^ McDonald, Christopher J. (2002). Rush, Rock Music, and the Middle Class: Dreaming in Middletown. Indiana University Press. p. 127. ISBN 9780253004048. 
  2. ^ Fricke, David. "Power Windows". Rolling Stone Magazine. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Banasiewicz, Bill (1988). "Catching the window - a glimpse beyond". In Chris Charlesworth. Rush - Visions: The Official Biography. London, UK: Omnibus Press. pp. 84–87. ISBN 0-7119-1162-2. 
  4. ^ "Power Windows Tour Book". Power Windows - A Tribute to Rush. Anthem Records. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  5. ^ "Power Windows". Power Windows - A Tribute to Rush. Anthem Records. 
  6. ^ http://rushvault.com/2011/02/07/grand-designs/
  7. ^ a b Berti, Jim; Bowman, Durrell (2013). Rush and Philosophy: Heart and Mind United. Popular Culture and Philosophy. 57. Open Court. p. 217. ISBN 9780812697292.  Quoting an interview with Scott K. Fish published in January 1986 Modern Drummer magazine.
  8. ^ http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/music/2016/01/20/rushs-power-windows-a-window-into-record-store-owners-past.html
  9. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Power Windows - Rush". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  10. ^ a b Fricke, David (30 January 1986). "Power Windows". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  11. ^ "Album Reviews: Power Windows". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 22 December 2010. Retrieved 11 July 2016. 
  12. ^ Dickson, Dave (17 October 1985). "Stained Glass". Kerrang!. 105. London, UK: Morgan Grampian. p. 18. 
  13. ^ Rensen, Michael. "Rock Hard review". Retrieved 24 May 2013. 
  14. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Power Windows". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  15. ^ [...], Rock Hard (Hrsg.). [Red.: Michael Rensen. Mitarb.: Götz Kühnemund] (2005). Best of Rock & Metal die 500 stärksten Scheiben aller Zeiten. Königswinter: Heel. p. 56. ISBN 3-89880-517-4. 
  16. ^ "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 43, No. 14, December 14, 1985". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  17. ^ "Rush - Power Windows (Album)". Gfk Dutch Charts (in Dutch). Media Control Charts. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  18. ^ "Rush - Power Windows (Album)". Swedishcharts.com. Media Control Charts. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  19. ^ "Power Windows Chart Stats". Chart Stats.com. Retrieved 2011-11-21. [dead link]
  20. ^ "Power Windows - Rush". Billboard.com. Billboard. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  21. ^ a b c d e "Power Windows Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  22. ^ "The Big Money Chart Stats". Chart Stats.com. Retrieved 2012-03-11. [dead link]
  23. ^ "RIAA Database Search for Power Windows". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  24. ^ "Gold Platinum Database - Title: Power Windows". Music Canada. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  25. ^ "BPI Certified Award Search for Rush". British Phonographic Industry. Archived from the original on 2013-01-15. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  26. ^ Rowan, Rip (31 August 2002). "Over the Limit". ProRec. Archived from the original on 2007-10-05. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  27. ^ http://www.themasterdiskrecord.com/2011/11/andy-vandette-on-remastering-14-rush-albums
  28. ^ "12 MONTHS OF RUSH: 14 ALBUMS FROM MERCURY ERA FOR RELEASE IN 2015". Rush.com. Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  29. ^ "Rush - new 2015 vinyl and hi-res reissues thread". Steve Hoffman Music Forums. Retrieved 10 July 2015.