Vapor Trails

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Vapor Trails
Rush Vapor Trails.jpg
Studio album by Rush
Released May 14, 2002
September 30, 2013 (Remixed CD)
Recorded January 2001 – March 2002
Studio Reaction Studios, Toronto;[1] Metalworks Studios, Mississauga, Ontario
Length 67:15
Label Anthem (Canada)
Producer Rush, Paul Northfield
Rush chronology
Different Stages
(1998)Different Stages1998
Vapor Trails
Rush in Rio
(2003)Rush in Rio2003
Vapor Trails Remixed
Vapor Trails Remixed.jpg
Singles from Vapor Trails
  1. "One Little Victory"
    Released: March 29, 2002
  2. "Secret Touch"
    Released: July 10, 2002
Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic3/5 stars[3]
The Austin Chronicle3/5 stars[4]
Blender3/5 stars[6]
E! OnlineB+[6]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[2]
PopMatters9/10 stars[6][7]
Q3/5 stars[6]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[8]

Vapor Trails is the 17th studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, produced by Paul Northfield and released in May 2002. Its release marked the first studio album for the band since Test for Echo in 1996 (the longest gap between Rush albums until their retirement) because of personal tragedies that befell drummer Neil Peart in the late 1990s. According to the band, the entire developmental process for Vapor Trails was extremely taxing and took about 14 months to finish, the longest the band had ever spent writing and recording a studio album.[9] Despite controversy surrounding its production and sound quality, the album debuted to moderate praise and was supported by the band's first tour in six years, including first-ever concerts in Mexico City and Brazil, where they played to some of the largest crowds of their career. The album was certified gold in Canada in August 2002.[10]

The song "Ghost Rider" appeared on the album and was written by Peart as a tribute to his travels around the US and Canada after his personal tragedies, while "One Little Victory" served as the first single in order to announce the band's return from hiatus.

The original audio mix of the album received criticism for its heavy use of dynamic range compression. Dissatisfied with the results, Rush had two of the album's tracks mixed again and re-released in Retrospective III: 1989–2008. The positive response to that move lead to a completely revamped version of the album, titled Vapor Trails Remixed, released in 2013.[11] It was released both individually and as a part of the box set The Studio Albums 1989–2007.


Vapor Trails is the first album since Caress of Steel to not feature keyboard/synthesizer music at any point. Instead, it incorporates many layers of guitar, bass guitar, drum and vocal tracks, as well as more personal lyrics.

Much of the recordings were from one-off jam sessions and many of the original takes from those sessions were used to construct the songs. Rush made extensive use of computers and music editing software to piece the jam session recordings into songs. Neil Peart remarked,[12]

Eventually Geddy began to sift through the vast number of jams they had created, finding a verse here, a chorus there, and piecing them together. Often a pattern had only ever been played once in passing, but through the use of computer tools it could be repeated or reworked into a part. Since all the writing, arranging, and recording was done on computer, a lot of time was spent staring at monitors, but most of the time technology was our friend, and helped us to combine spontaneity and craftwork. Talk was the necessary interface, of course, and once Geddy and Alex had agreed on basic structures, Geddy would go through the lyrics to see what might suit the music and "sing well", then come to me to discuss any improvements, additions, or deletions I could make from my end.


The production of Vapor Trails has been criticized by critics and fans alike because of the album's "loud" sound quality. Albums such as this have been mastered so loud that additional digital distortion is generated during the production of the CD. The trend, known as the loudness war, had become very common on modern rock albums.[13]

As told by Rip Rowan on the ProRec website, the damaged production is the result of overly compressed (clipped) audio levels during mastering.[14]

Vapor Trails Remixed[edit]

Vapor Trails Remixed is a remixed version of Vapor Trails mixed by David Bottrill. The album was released by Atlantic Records and Rhino Entertainment on September 27, 2013, and entered at No. 35 on the Billboard 200 chart.[15] The band had been unhappy with the original album's overall sonic production. Influenced by the positive reaction to the remixes of "One Little Victory" and "Earthshine" featured on Retrospective III by Richard Chycki, Rush and Bottrill remixed the entire album. In an interview with Modern Guitars, Lifeson remarked that since the remixes were so good, there has been talk of doing an entire remix of the album.[16] He also stated:

It was a contest, and it was mastered too high, and it crackles, and it spits, and it just crushes everything. All the dynamics get lost, especially anything that had an acoustic guitar in it.

Vapor Trails Remixed is also included in the box-set of Atlantic Studio Albums called The Studio Albums 1989–2007.[17]

Track listing[edit]

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

1."One Little Victory"5:08
2."Ceiling Unlimited"5:28
3."Ghost Rider"5:41
4."Peaceable Kingdom"5:23
5."The Stars Look Down"4:28
6."How It Is"4:05
7."Vapor Trail"4:57
8."Secret Touch"6:34
10."Sweet Miracle"3:40
12."Freeze (Part IV of 'Fear')"6:21
13."Out of the Cradle"5:03



Billboard (United States)

Year Chart Position
2002 Billboard 200 6
Top Internet Albums 29
Top Canadian Albums 3


"One Little Victory"
  • Released: March 29, 2002
  • Written by: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart
  • Produced by: Rush and Paul Northfield
  • Chart positions: #10 US Mainstream Rock
"Secret Touch"
  • Released: June 10, 2002
  • Written by: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart
  • Produced by: Rush and Paul Northfield
  • Chart positions: #25 US Mainstream Rock
"Sweet Miracle"
  • Released: September 2002
  • Written by: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart
  • Produced by: Rush and Paul Northfield
  • Chart positions:


  1. ^ Titus, Christa (May 4, 2002). "Atlantic's Rush Blazes A 'Vapor Trail'". Billboard. 114 (18): 12. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  2. ^ a b c Farber, Jim (2002-05-17). "Vapor Trails Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2013-02-23. 
  3. ^ Prato, Greg (2002-05-14). "Vapor Trails – Rush". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  4. ^ Hernandez, Raoul (2002-08-16). "Rush: Vapor Trails". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  5. ^ "Rush: Vapor Trails". Billboard. May 18, 2002. Archived from the original on 2002-06-08. Retrieved 2013-02-23. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "Critic Reviews for Vapor Trails". Metacritic. Retrieved 2012-03-23. 
  7. ^ Moffat, Kael (2002-08-08). "Rush: Vapor Trails". PopMatters. Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  8. ^ Richard Abowitz (2002-04-24). "Vapor Trails". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  9. ^ Vapor Trails news archive Power Windows website Archived 2008-06-16 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved 16 March 2006.
  10. ^ "Gold & Platinum Certification". Canadian Recording Industry Association. Archived from the original on 2014-10-09. Retrieved 2009-08-20. 
  11. ^ "Rush Remix Their Polarizing Album 'Vapor Trails' – Premiere". Rolling Stone. 27 September 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2013. 
  12. ^ Vapor Trails Tour Book:Power Windows Website. Retrieved 7 June 2008.
  13. ^ "The Loudness Wars: Why Music Sounds Worse". NPR. 31 December 2009. Retrieved 2010-09-02. 
  14. ^ "explained". 2003-12-08. Archived from the original on December 8, 2003. Retrieved 2011-08-13. 
  15. ^ "Billboard 200 chart". Retrieved 2013-10-02. 
  16. ^ "Rush Blog – Rush is a Band Blog: Alex Lifeson Modern Guitars interview now online". Retrieved 2010-03-17. 
  17. ^ "Vapor Trails Remixed". 2013-08-01. Retrieved 2015-12-01. 

External links[edit]