Site indices

Previous Issue <-> Next Issue

Precedence: bulk
To: rush_mailing_list
Subject: 12/19/90 - The National Midnight Star #136  ** Special Edition **

**   ____     __           ___ ____   ___        ___       **
**    /  /_/ /_     /\  / /__/  /  / /  / /\  / /__/ /     **
**   /  / / /__    /  \/ /  /  /  / /__/ /  \/ /  / /___   **
**                                                         **
**                    __            ___       ____         **
**        /\  /\   / /  \  /\  / / /  _  /__/  /           **
**       /  \/  \ / /___/ /  \/ / /___/ /  /  /            **
**                                                         **
**                  ____ ____  ___  ___                    **
**                 /__    /   /__/ /__/                    **
**                ____/  /   /  / /  \                     **

          The National Midnight Star, Number 136

               Wednesday, 19 December 1990
Today's Topics:
               Moving Pictures tour program

Thanks to Kevin Tipple for this transcription.

                               Moving Pictures

                               A Rush Newsreel
                              Byline: Neil Peart

[ Picture opposite first page: outside shot of the Hammersmith Odeon with fans
all over. The event board reads, "RUSH ... ON THE BAR. FIVE-NIGHTER MARATHON.

... Dateline: New York City, May 9, 1980.

     In the midst of a crowded and chaotic backstage scene, following the
second of our four nights at the Palladium, a few quiet words of agreement
became the unlikely conception for this album. Prior to this, it had been our
announced intention to record and release a second live album, but an
unlooked-for charge of ambition and enthusiasm caused a last-minute resolution
to throw caution out the window! (onto 52nd St.), and dive headlong into the
making of a studio elpee instead. The reasons for this are difficult to put on
paper, being somewhat instinctive, but all of us had been feeling very
positive, and our Research and Development Dept. (sound check jams) had been
very spirited and interesting, so it was felt that the creative hiatus provided
by a live album was not really necessary at present, and it would be more
timely and more satisfying to embark on the adventure of a new studio album.

... Dateline: London, June 4, 1980.

     It is never too late to change plans, but not so with arrangements! Thus
we went ahead with the live tapings we had planned, recording our five shows at
the Hammersmith Odeon, as well as dates from Glasgow, Manchester, and
Newcastle. Then we would record some shows in this upcoming tour, and put
together a live set that would represent a wider scope of our concerts,
musically, temporally, and geographically. This is no bad thing, and should
prove to be a good move, unless we change our minds again, in which case we
could combine three tours, or four, or...

... Dateline: Toronto, July 28, 1980.

     An intense thunderstorm raged outside all day long, while indoors a storm
of a different kind was brewing. In the studios of Phase One, two complete sets
of equipment crammed the room, and two complete bands filled the air with a
Wagnerian tumult, as Max Webster and ourselves united to record a song for
their album, called "Battlescar." This could only be a very unique and
enjoyable experience, attempting something on such a scale as this, and I think
the result will testify to its success. This day also afforded Pye Dubois
(Max's lyricist) the opportunity to present us with a song of his, humbly
suggesting that it might be suitable for us, if we were interested. Having been
long-time admirers of Pye's work, we were indeed interested, and it eventually
became "Tom Sawyer," and it is interesting that an identifiable Max influence
crept into the music, by way of Pye's lyrical input.

... Dateline: Stony Lake, Ontario, August, 1980.

     The address and time of year will probably best describe the setting, as
the creative work begins in earnest. For those interested in Alex's adventures
in aviation, it may be reported that a large pile of wreckage, and a rather
sizeable hole in the top of a truck, bear witness to his prowess in the field
of radio-controlled airplanes. (There's a man outstanding in -- Never mind!)
Happily, he was somewhat more fortunate in his dealings with the genuine
article, (and on many an afternoon) could be seen buzzing and strafing the
     These exciting distractions aside, we were banished to the barn, and began
the process of assembling ideas, both musical and lyrical. "The Camera Eye" was
the first to be written, soon followed by "Tom Sawyer," "Red Barchetta," "YYZ,"
and "Limelight." Things were taking shape.
     It is interesting sometimes to retrace the sources of some of the musical
ideas; for instance, the instrumental section of Tom Sawyer grew from a little
melody that Geddy had been using to set up his synthesizers at sound checks,
then was forgotten until we were searching for a part in that song, when it
emerged as very strong theme. "YYZ" is the identity code used by Toronto
International Airport, and the intro is taken from the Morse code which is sent
out by the beacon there. It is always a happy day when YYZ appears on our
luggage tags!
     On the other end of those tags, though, it becomes increasingly apparent
to us just how valuable touring is, primarily in our development as individual
musicians, which in turn directs the progression of our music. Sometimes in the
dark days of a mid-tour depression, brought on by fatigue, homesickness, and
hence frustration, the stresses of touring would seem to outweigh the benefits,
but when we reach the 'Final Exams' of writing and recording, the evidence of
change and improvement is very rewarding.

... Dateline: Toronto, August 31, 1980.

     We return to Phase One, together with our long-suffering old standby,
Terry Brown (Broon), our co-producer and Chief Objective Ear, fouling the air
with "Gitanes," and offering criticisms and suggestions where necessary. We put
together some rough demos of the aforementioned five songs, as well as a rough
(to say the least), and riotous (to say the most), version of "Witch Hunt."
This was the winner of the most re-written song award, being very difficult to
get a handle on, but our intention had always been to use it as the 'production
number' of the album, in the tradition of such pieces as "Different Strings,"
"Madrigal," and "Tears." This frees us from our usual practice of writing as we
would play live, maintaining the discipline of a three-piece band. It would
serve as a sort of vehicle for experimentation and indulgence. For instance, we
would be using Hugh Syme's talents on the keyboards, and my entire drum part
was recorded twice (as two drummers) in one verse, while in another, a
percussion section was created by recording each sound differently. The
introduction was a very strange endeavour, as we assembled a 'Vigilante Choir'
out in the snow, and the sound of the 'haunted child' at the beginning.
Although the main thrust of our work has always been directed towards its live
presentation, it is nice to take a small dose of studio indulgence!

... Dateline: Portland, Maine, October 1, 1980.

     It was here that we concluded a short tour, mainly the eastern seaboard of
the United States, in which we rehearsed the five completed songs whenever
possible, and introduced "Tom Sawyer" and "Limelight" into our shows, although
both would undergo some changes before being committed to tape.

... Dateline: Morin Heights, Quebec, October through December, 1980.

     Once again we returned to the beautiful Laurentian Mountains, and to the
amiable ambiance of Le Studio. We had been very much looking forward to our
return here, and were not disappointed, it proving to be every bit as great as
our memories. A very friendly place.
     We were soon made painfully aware (literally) of the ambitious nature of
our project, as we had to work long and hard to capture the right sounds and
performances for each track. The only exception to this, for no apparent
reason, was "Red Barchetta." With only a few runs to get the sounds together,
it was to be that rarest of all animals (for ourselves, anyway!), a one-take
wonder. No one could have been more surprised than we, especially after the
relentless grinding it had taken to capture "Tom Sawyer," "Limelight," and
"YYZ." (Are you sure, Broon?)
     We had purposefully left one song still unwritten, with a view to writing
it directly in the studio, as we have had such good results from this
previously. Songs such as "Natural Science," and "The Twilight Zone" have
benefitted from the pressure and spontaneity of this situation, although then
it happened by force of circumstances, where now our planning includes a space
for 'no-plan.'
     "Vital Signs" was the ultimate result, eclectic in the extreme, it
embraces a wide variety of stylistic influences, ranging from the sixties to
the present. Lyrically, it derives from my response to the terminology of
'Technospeak,' the language of electronics and computers, which often seems to
parallel the human machine, in the functions and interrelationships they
employ. It is interesting, if irrelevant, to speculate as to whether we impose
our nature on the machines that we build, or whether they are merely governed
by the inscrutable laws of Nature as we. (Perhaps Murphy's Laws?) Never mind!
     ANYWAY!! The tracks were eventually finished, albeit a few days behind
schedule, when the mixing and the disasters began. In a massive electronic
freak-out revolution, the digital mastering machine, the mixdown computer, and
one of the multi-track machines, gave up their collective ghosts one after the
other, driving poor Broon to distraction, and setting us two weeks behind in
the end. After much technical tearing of hair and gnashing of teeth, the
machine maladies were finally put right, and Geddy returned to perch on Broon's
shoulder, and the Skiers of the Woods were seen no more on the Wilderness
     As with anything that drags on too long, we were glad to finally finish,
but even more glad to hear what it was we had finished! It is a curious
sensation, when listening back to a completed album for the first time, how
quickly all those months and all of those difficulties go racing by. How can a
mere forty minutes of music contain and express all of the thoughts, feelings,
and energy that goes into it?
     Then suddenly you're listening without analyzing, transformed from the
performer to the audience, feeling the responses that you hope the listener at
home will feel.
     Perhaps it is true that in a synergistic way the output does add up to all
of that input, perhaps it is all in there for the discerning listener to
experience, maybe Time travels backward at the speed of light, maybe Alex
Lifeson is 'Gub,' maybe...
     Why are you asking me all these questions?

                                  NEIL PEART

[ Text is below of picture of Neil behind his kit (with the 'man against the
star' bass drum heads) in concert. ]

     I am still releasing my hostilities on Tama drums, all with wooden
shells, and the inner side 'Vibra-Fibed.' The bass drums are 24", the toms are
6, 8, 10, 12" concerts, and 12, 13, 15, and 18" closed toms. I am still using
my 'old faithful' wood-shell snare, a 5 1/2 x 14 Slingerland, and have recently
made a switch to wooden timbales, and retired my tympani and gong in favour of
a pair of Tama 'gong bass drums,' which are open-ended bass drums on a stand,
utilizing oversize heads to give a very deep, resonant sound.
     My cymbals are Avedis Zildjians, with the exception of one genuine Chinese
China type. The Zildjians are 8" and 10" splash, 13" high-hats, two 16", and
one each 18" and 20" crash cymbals, a 22" ride, an 18" pang, and a 20" China
     In the Percussion Department are orchestra bells, tubular bells, wind
chimes, temple blocks, cowbells, triangles, bell tree, crotales, and Burma
     I use Remo clear dots on my snare and bass drums, Ludwig silver dots on
the concert toms, and Evans Looking Glass (top), and Blue Hydraulic (bottom) on
the closed toms. Clear Remos are used on the timbales and gong bass drums.
Ludwig pedals, Slingerland high-hat, Tama hardware, and Pro-Mark 747 drumsticks
are the final details.

                                  GEDDY LEE

[ Text is below a picture of Geddy standing next to his concert equipment,
leaning on his synths, white Rickenbacker double-neck (bass and six-string)
being worn. In the background is an empty amphitheater, and Geddy is dressed
casually in jeans, t-shirt, and glasses. Quite an impressive picture. ]

Equipment I will be using on the 'Moving Pictures' tour:

Oberheim-- OB-1, OB-X, and OB-8, two sets of Taurus pedals, interfaced with the
OB-8, Mini-Moog, Roland Digital Sequencer, assorted effects.

Two Rickenbacker 4001's, Fender Jazz Bass, Rickenbacker 4002, double-neck
Rickenbacker, incorporating 4001 with twelve-string guitar, double-neck
Rickenbacker, incorporating 4001 with six-string guitar, Ovation acoustic.

Two BGW 750B power amps, two Ashley preamps, two 2 x 15 Thiele-design cabinets
fitted with EVM speakers, two V4B Ampeg cabinets with JBL speakers, Yamaha
solid state guitar amp.

Electrovoice DS-35.

                                 ALEX LIFESON

[ Text is below a picture of Alex, seated on an amp amongst six of his guitars
in stage stands. His head is cocked with a rather silly expression on his face;
sort of looks like a marionette, or Michael Stipe from REM. He's dressed
casually in jeans, red polka-dotted shirt, yellow tie, and ghastly red dress
shoes. Resembles the clown that he is. ]

Gibson ES355, 345, SG Standard, 1175 double-neck, Fender Stratocaster, Ovation
Classic & Adanis, for acoustic guitars, 2 Ashley SC-40 preamps, 1 Ashley SC-66
Stereo Parametric Equalizer.

2 Marshall Combos, 2 Hiwatt 100's with 2- 4 x 12 cabinets & 1 Leslie cabinet.

Roland 301 Echo Unit, Advanced Audio Digital Delay, Electric Misstress [sic], 1
Roland Chorus, 1 MXR Micro-amp, MXR Distortion, Morley Volume Pedal, 1 ELL-BEE
(L.B.) 30-7965 Model 'C' Type R (Series XL-3427) Remote Floormount Advanced
Relay Effects Switching Configuration.

[ There are several interesting pictures/features of this program. Aside from
the usual concert and studio shots, there are a couple of Alex and Neil reading
books, Geddy with an acoustic six-string, and a picture showing (some
unreadable) the hand-inked pages of lyrics for each song, penned, I would
guess, by Peart. In the studio pictures, we see Neil looking at someone holding
a TV camera at him seated behind his kit, perhaps an interviewer. Further down
the page is (presumably) Terry Brown talking with Alex behind a mixing console.
The picture on the back cover is rather hard to explain. Basically, it looks
like the three of them goofing around during a picture-taking session. Alex has
got Geddy (I think, can't see his face) in a headlock, while Neil looks like
he's playing rock/scissors/paper with a closed fist (now don't go reading
anything into that!), and nearby is a stool with a wine glass on it. Strange.
For the thinkers, the program also has a crossword puzzle in it, with various
Rush facts and lyrics as entries. ]


To submit material to The National Midnight Star, send mail to:

For administrative matters (additions, deletions & changes), send
mail to:

There is ftp access available on Syrinx now.  The network address to ftp
to is:       or

When you've connected, userid is "anonymous", password is .
Once you've successfully logged on, change directory (cd) to 'rush'.
There is a README file giving brief information on what is contained in
the directories.  Currently available: previous issues of the NMS, lyrics,
and a relatively current subscriber's list.  Future avaiability will include
articles, interviews, etc.

To obtain previous issues of The National Midnight Star (in it's current
incarnation), lyrics, individual articles, and more are now available at an
archive file server accessible via email.  For more info, send email with
the subject line of HELP to:

These requests are processed nightly.  Use a subject line of MESSAGE to
send a note to the server keeper or to deposit a file into the archive.

[ NOTE: the address "" is no longer available for
  back issues of the NMS, due to disk space problems at their site.  This
  address may or may not become active again for this purpose; stay tuned
  here for details.                                                       ]

The contents of The National Midnight Star are solely the opinions and 
comments of the individual authors, and do not necessarily reflect the 
opinions of the management.

List Management

End of The National Midnight Star

Previous Issue <-> Next Issue