Exposé Online banner

Rush — Test for Echo
(Atlantic 82925 2, 1996, CD)

Various Artists — Working Man
(Magna Carta MA-9010-2, 1996, CD)

by Dane Carlson, Published 1997-02-01

Test for Echo Cover artWorking Man Cover art

My initial reaction to the new Rush album: "It's bogus." After making this statement, people claimed that it wasn't informative enough, so I sat back and rethought just what I meant. I also have listened to the album a bit more, and at a decent volume. I take back some of my initial reaction, but not all. My main gripe with Test for Echo is that it explores very little new ground, there is very little here you haven't heard before. I am amazed that this took a year to come up with, as it is picks up where Counterparts left off (though any decent Rush fan should be able to rationalize some positive out of this release), however it does rock.

As an "old" rush fan I am biased. I know how good this band can / used to be. Looking at pre-80s releases I see a band that was taking chances, discovering new ways to express the old rock formula. Taking hard rock and prog, both consisting of pop elements, and coming up with some pretty decent music. Part of the problem is having Peter Collins back at the production spot, part is Rush have found themselves a comfortable niche in the market and really don't need to push themselves, and part is me.

Rush long ago abandoned any "progginess" to their music, from 81 to 89 or so was a clean, pop driven, synth/guitar sound. The 90s see them reducing the synths and refining their sound. Today they seem to be using a "rougher, hip, alternative sound." Only it isn't all that rough, hip, or alternative. It's Rush, and while the music still has all the pop hooks, and Lifeson's typical guitar solos, it does manage a few surprises. Lifeson's guitar work shows he has been listening to Soundgarden / Primus / NIN, Geddy's bass sound is excellent as usual, and Neil is simpler, which I prefer. It's all held together by the same old pop-rock mechanics Rush have been using for years. Peart's lyrics are getting trite as well, at times clever, at times lame. If you haven't enjoyed the band in the last few years, this release is no reason to get back into them.

If Rush are content to keep using the same formula, why not Magna Carta? Working Man is yet another tribute release by those kings of tribute releases. This time around, however, the format has changed a bit. Instead of groups performing songs, Various individuals all combine to perform each song, the players all seem to come from metal bands. It seems to be recorded in several places and various times, with no real band aspect. The result is a faithful, but Heavy Metalized bunch of covers. It features 13 Rush classics, mostly from the 80s. Rush tried to block the release of this CD, equating it with death. I think they overestimated its importance or impact. With most tributes I have heard, there is very little you would want to listen to more than once and I was sure I would loathe this one as well. Though Working Man re-creates the arrangements, the players have altered the sound by their styles. It's a Heavy Metal Rush, most apparent in the vocals, and I enjoyed it as much as I did Test for Echo. The album is produced by Terry Brown, the man I consider to be essential to Rush, who was sacked after Signals. It's hard to recommend buying a tribute — they should give'em away. My advice is to save your money and for $8 get Caress of Steel, it rules.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 11, 1996 releases

Related artist(s): Rush, Various Artists, Geddy Lee, Steve Morse

Latest news

2020-06-14
Keith Tippett RIP – One of the giants of British jazz has left us. Keith Graham Tippetts, known professionally as Keith Tippett, died today at the age of 72. His work from the late 60s into the 70s and beyond includes some of the greatest jazz produced in the UK, and stands as an impressive oevre to this day. » Read more

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more

2020-05-14
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santan, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more

2020-05-06
Florian Schneider RIP – Florian Schneider, one of the founders of the pioneering electronic group Kraftwerk, has died at the age of 73. Co-founder Ralf Hütter announced that his bandmate had passed away from cancer after a brief illness. » Read more

2020-04-23
Shindig Festival Goes Lock-Down – Here's what they're saying: It's A Happening Thing! The Shindig! Magazine Lockdown Festival. In our days of no large gatherings of people, maybe it's still possible to have a music festival. Shindig! Magazine is giving it a go with a multi-artist streaming extravaganza on Saturday April 25. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

The Mother Hips - Kiss the Crystal Flake – The Mother Hips have been kicking around the Bay Area for at least a decade, having a half-dozen or so releases to date, though this is their first in a few years. Their stock in trade is great...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues