One of the best albums EVER recorded. It’s sublime. The music, performances and production are incredible. Everyone who says ‘too many keyboards’ should just listen to the bass lines and guitar solos on this record. Out of this world.
The effects used on the very new sounding synths were an atmospheric extravaganza. Ditto for the sounds Alex and Neil achieved. Clever use of reverb propels the synths into large atmospheric soundscapes and some good sequenced synths that have a very musical rock feel. “Power Windows” virtually predicted the coming of Microsoft and the whole Wall Street business thereafter. Even the cover art is startlingly premonitory. It captured the time, was ahead of its time, and it saw the future. Still one of the best albums ever.
label: Mercury – 826 098-2 M-1
Format: CD , album
Genre: Hard rock , prog rock
1 The Big Money 5:36
2 Grand Designs 5:05
3 Manhattan Project 5:05
4 marathon 6:09
5 Territories 6:19
6 Middletown Dreams 5:15
7 Emotion Detector 5:10
8 Mystic Rhythms 5:54
Released October 14, 1985
Recorded April–August 1985
Arranged By – Peter Collins , Rush
Arranged By [Choir], Conductor [Choir] – Andrew Jackman *
Arranged By [Strings], Conductor [Strings] – Anne Dudley
Bass Guitar, Pedalboard [Bass Pedals], Synthesizers, Vocals – Geddy Lee
Drums, Percussion [Electronic], Percussion – Neil Peart
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar – Alex Lifeson
Engineer – Jimbo “James” Barton *
Keyboards – Andy Richards
Lyrics By – Peart *
Music By – Lifeson *, Lee *
Producer – Peter Collins , Rush
Recorded By [Assistant] – Dave Meegan , Heff Moraes , Matt Butler , Paul Wright , Steve Chase *
From inlay: Manufactured and Marketed by PolyGram Records
℗1985 PolyGram Records
Printed in Germany.
From CD: Made in Germany by Polygram
Barcode: 0 422-826098-2 3
Matrix / Runout : 826 098-2 04
Rights Society: GEMA
Label Code: LC 0268
SPARS Code: DDD
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: 1986
Just like Signals and Grace Under Pressure, Power Windows is another album with 8 songs. Musically, Alex Lifeson has much more to do on this album guitar playing wise, plus there’s an addition of more synthesizers. Lyrically, this might be one of the best RUSH albums. These lyrics make Power Windows a very interesting one as the lyrics deal with manifestations of power.
Track by track review
1. THE BIG MONEY: Alex Lifeson opens up the music immediately on Power Windows with his signature and famous chord. The Big Money is one of RUSH’s biggest hits and the album’s biggest hit for that matter. Seconds after the chord, come in some synthesizers. Lyrically, this song is talking about a lot of money and could apply to people that have a lot of money. I like where Neil takes these lyrics, discussing the good and bad side effects of money. The chorus is everything you’d enjoy about a RUSH song because it’s pretty catchy. Best part of the song is the instrumental section because of its solo from Alex. It’s a nice one, I swear he never has a bad guitar solo. This is a great opening track.
2. GRAND DESIGNS: Since Alex opened up the album, Geddy opens this one with a catchy synth line. Before the song gets to the verses, when Geddy sings “A to B — different degrees”, I really like how long he sings that high note. Lyrically, it’s talking about worldly issues. There’s a faster paced riff in the pre-chorus before the actual chorus that I really like. But just like The Big Money, the best part of the song is the guitar solo. I really like Alex’s bending and pinch harmonics in the solo. And also, I love the ending where Alex repeats that riff in the pre-chorus over Geddy’s synth line while Geddy sings a lot of “Oh’s.” You might sing along to that. This is a great song.
3. MANHATTAN PROJECT: Alex opens up The Big Money, Geddy opens up Grand Designs, and Neil opens up this song with his drums. One thing I really like about Power Windows is that all 3 members at least get to open a song. They really play a significant role. Guitar wise, it’s more laid back than the first two tracks, as this song is rather backed up more by Geddy’s vocals, his synth and Neil’s drumming. Lyrically, it’s talking about the world-changing, the history-making nuclear bomb that was dropped on Japan. In the middle section of the song, you’d think there’d be a big guitar solo but it’s a strings section. But after the final chorus, there is a short guitar solo. Even though it’s nice, it falls flat. It’s a great song but the song falls a little flat.
4. MARATHON: I really like this song a lot. This is one of my favorites from the album. This is an absolutely solid 6 minute track to close out the first half of Power Windows. Lyrically, Neil uses metaphors of running a marathon to compare it to human potential. It’s a perfect analogy, honestly. The lyrics are inspiring, motivating and all at once, encouraging. The chorus is pretty solid once again. Best part of the song, said it before and I’ll say it again – the instrumental section. Following the 2nd chorus, Geddy sends the song into a groovy bass riff and shortly after, Alex plays a very nice riff before going into an epic solo. This is a great song.
5. TERRITORIES: Neil’s drumming opens up this song, and there’s a string section following. Alex goes into a solo. I hear some David Gilmour influence in Alex’s early solo in this song. Lyrically, it’s a call for unity, a wake up call for peace, a warning to get along despite of differences. I absolutely love the message Neil approaches on this song. This song has some great guitar work from Alex as well, riffs here and there especially in the pre-chorus, the 2nd verse and then some great riffs in the instrumental section even though the chords he plays in the instrumental section do feel like a solo. Geddy’s vocals on this track and entire album are amazing as he comes back and sings some really high notes especially in the ending. Amazing song.
6. MIDDLETOWN DREAMS: This is a rather laid back song in the beginning opening up with some chords, some synth and a stellar bass line in the first few seconds of the song. The lyrics talk about growing up in a small town and eventually greeting a much bigger world than what we grew up in. The riffs pick up after the chorus, some of the better riffs from Alex actually. I swear Power Windows has some of the greatest instrumental work from RUSH in the 80’s, because there is another solo even though it’s short, it’s amazing. This song has some of the album’s best guitar work and I really like the band’s decision to let Alex Lifeson have more guitar on this album. Geddy closes out the song with some very high notes and they’re amazing. Wish we could all sing that high as he can. This is a great song.
7. EMOTION DETECTOR: This song is a little bit like Manhattan Project, absolutely dominated with synths in the 5 minutes. There is a little bit of guitar in the instrumental section leading to the verses. The lyrics to this one talk about the complications of love, because let’s face it, love is complicated. The lyrics are a brilliant cut to an album already filled with powerful lyrics. I like how Geddy sings these lyrics, especially the ending when he sings “Feelings run high.” The guitar solo on this track is seriously one of my favorite solos from Lifeson. He does not shred, and he does not have to, the notes he plays does all of the talking. This is one epic solo and just before you think it comes to an end, Alex does a fantastic bend and goes in to the other part of this amazing solo. I consider this song my favorite off the entire album.
8. MYSTIC RHYTHMS: And here we are, at the final song on the album, the close to 6 minute track, Mystic Rhythms. Drums open up this song. The beat is pretty similar to the pattern on The Body Electric. Shortly after, Geddy makes his way in to the song with his bass and synthesizer. The guitar work is a lot like Manhattan Project as it’s rather laid back and it’s on an acoustic guitar. The chorus itself is catchy just like plenty of other RUSH songs. This song does not have a solo even though it could have. This song stands out on its own because of Geddy’s vocals. Not a bad song but actually pretty good.
And there it is, the review for 1985’s Power Windows. I really like the attention this album got in 2013. Why? Because out of these 8 songs, 5 of them had live renditions on the band’s 2nd to last live album, Clockwork Angels Tour. I think they were done pretty well live.
I want to know what you personally about Power Windows by RUSH. Power Windows, honestly, is an album where it may take take some patience and a listen or two to appreciate. This is a great RUSH album, very satisfying to listen to once the album is appreciated. The music is amazing and so are the lyrics. I really like these songs, I think the album is better than Grace Under Pressure. I think this is their most 80’s album, Alex Lifeson plays more on guitar on this album, which is very nice to hear.
- The Big Money
- Grand Designs
- Middletown Dreams
- Emotion Detector
- Mystic Rhythms
And now it’s time to move further through the RUSH discography review. We’re almost done with the synth era, 1 more studio album and 1 more live album to finish it up. And next up we’re talking about one of my favorite RUSH albums, hated by some but it is a dark horse kind of album.