Great Rock Albums of 1986: Rush- Power Windows


Continuing on with the tour of 1986, I thought no better album to get back to the year than Rush’s “Power Windows” album. Here’s an example of how my weird mind works. “Power Windows” was released during what has been called Rush’s ‘synth period’ of the 1980s, which was started by their previous album, “Grace Under Pressure.” The funny thing is that I never considered this particular album to be so synthed out. If anything, the album reminds me very much of their classic “Moving Pictures” album, except with the very hard tracks like “Tom Sawyer” and “Limelight” removed. If the band had included such hard rocking tracks on this album, than there might have been a rival to my all time favourite Rush album.

The first two tracks explain my point clearly. True, there are synthesizer heavy moments on both songs but I can still hear Alex Liefson’s guitar chords powering their way through on both songs and he delivers good guitar solos on both. Furthermore, the keyboards are done with true musicianship and not the stupid 80s chops way. (A label on pop music of the decade spawned by Frank Zappa.) Nevertheless, these first two tracks really cook and they’re the best ones on the album.

Back in 1986, I wasn’t sure about the best known two singles from “Power Windows,” “Manhattan Project” and “Marathon.” Like many metalheads, I was slightly disappointed that they weren’t as hard rocking as the two I mentioned from the “Moving Pictures” album. Saying that, Liefson and Lee do put together a pretty good guitar/bass combo on “Marathon.” Fortunately, even then, I wasn’t one to dismiss this great band on that account. Friends bought the album and I had several listens and I can fully appreciate how hard the Rush trio worked on every song. The musicianship on each and every song is first rate. But then again, what else would you expect from Rush?

Talking about synth pop, the opening drumbeat on “Territories” does sound very 1980s but that is soon taken over by some intricate guitar work and keyboards interplay. I do like what Alex does on this track with his guitar and even if the initial drum sound seems a bit 80s, Neil Peart does show his usual outstanding form on the track. The track is a further statement against the belief that Rush were totally synthed out in the 1980s. While not a metal tune, the guitar work is far better than what any 1980s synth pop band could have ever done.

This reminds me of something I said when I posted about “Grace Under Pressure” but I think it needs saying again. People seem to only see Geddy Lee as a singer and don’t fully appreciate his skills on the bass and synthesizers. He’s an ace on both of them. In fact, I will go out on a limb and say that the bass lines on “Power Windows” are the best of any Rush album. Of course, Alex and Neil deserve all the credit due them on the album too.

Track Listing:

  1. Big Money
  2. Grand Designs
  3. Manhattan Project
  4. Marathon
  5. Territories
  6. Middletown Dreams
  7. Emotion Detector
  8. Mystic Rhythms


Geddy Lee- vocals, bass, synthesizers

Alex Liefson- guitar

Neil Peart- drums, percussion

Additional Musicians

Andy Richards- additional keyboards

The Choir- additional vocals

This band didn’t need Steve Lukather for this album.

Rush is why I hate people using labels. For those who haven’t heard me rant about this previously, some idiot heard “Tom Sawyer” once and decided to call Rush a heavy metal band and other idiots picked up on the label. Rush were never a heavy metal band, their music is far to complex, though I am not saying metal is simple. Rush are a brilliant hard working band as “Power Windows” clearly shows.

Next post: Frank Zappa- Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Invention

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5 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1986: Rush- Power Windows”

  1. Great writeup Sir!
    I love this one and need to get it on vinyl at some point! For all the bells and whistles on this album, I love it when they strip down to that 3 piece and just rock it out like no one’s business like they do during Lifeson’s solo on ‘Big Money”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Possibly the only time Rush was metal, or at least very hard rock, was on their debut album ‘Rush’ with original drummer John Rutsey. All in all it’s a pretty hard album.

    Liked by 1 person

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