The production on Counterparts is a bit too smooth, which means that the passion that normally infuses Rush's music (and prevents it from being too coldly intellectual) is weakened. The songs themselves are good, including... more » the singles "Animate", "Nobody's Hero", and "Stick It Out". Other standouts are "Cut to the Chase" and "Cold Fire". Though Rush's brand of slick, sophisticated progressive rock isn't exactly trendy, it is what they do best, and they've wisely stuck to it. Therefore, although Counterparts isn't on a par with Moving Pictures or Permanent Waves, it's still a strong effort. --Genevieve Williams« less
The production on Counterparts is a bit too smooth, which means that the passion that normally infuses Rush's music (and prevents it from being too coldly intellectual) is weakened. The songs themselves are good, including the singles "Animate", "Nobody's Hero", and "Stick It Out". Other standouts are "Cut to the Chase" and "Cold Fire". Though Rush's brand of slick, sophisticated progressive rock isn't exactly trendy, it is what they do best, and they've wisely stuck to it. Therefore, although Counterparts isn't on a par with Moving Pictures or Permanent Waves, it's still a strong effort. --Genevieve Williams
Michael Stack | North Chelmsford, MA USA | 03/23/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am often in the minority in my view of this, but I feel "Counterparts" is the Rush masterpiece of the '90s, and may well be their best album. I've often heard of it referred to as Rush's stab at alternative, which I really don't agree with either-- certainly, the band was influenced by a return of guitar-based rock music to the forefront of popular consciousness, and no doubt that assisted in this album fully embracing the guitar as main driver behind the music, but this is the direction the band had been heading for the past several albums-- after the synth wash of "Grace Under Pressure" and "Power Windows", "Hold Your Fire", "Presto", and "Roll the Bones" all walked the path of guitar based performance. What may have been more alternative influenced on this record was the focus on rock rhythms rather than the budding focus on funk and even hip hop rhythms that was so present on "Roll the Bones".
As a result of this sonic shift, this album features some of the most inspired playing by guitarist Alex Lifeson in a long time-- Geddy Lee's bass, so often the most interesting component in Rush material on the past few albums, moved into a more traditional rock roll, freeing Lifeson to fill space better (mind you, Geddy Lee still has one of the most distinctive voices on the bass guitar in rock music, and is instantly recognizable). I also find that Lee's singing is superlative, perhaps the best he's done-- his confidence as a vocalist allows him full control over his range and he fills each song with an investment of emotion I don't feel we'd heard from him in the past. Lyrically, the album also continues the evolution of previous records-- Neil Peart's early albums were fantasy/science fiction influenced, often allegorical or parable. As time wore on, he brought his lyrics into a more modern society, into the current view. The past few Rush albums began to show a trend of lyrics with a much more personal bent, this album continues that trend-- themes largely of love and relationship dominate the album, and even the more globally minded songs ("Nobody's Hero") have a personal slant to the lyrics.
To talk a bit about the songs themselves, there really is a wealth of stunning material here. The rolling, jangly opener, "Animate", with its synth soaked bridge, stands out as one of the best cuts on the album, ditto for instrumental "Leave That Thing Alone", which musically manages to portray a haunting, tense feel.
Beyond these two, the album seeks several directions, easily viewed in its thematic content-- the two I mentioned previously fit in with a sort of struggle in relationships theme that's all ofver the album, including the great, driven "Cut to the Chase" (with another stunning Lifeson guitar solo), "Alien Shore", lyrically an explosion of metaphor, musically its funky in a way much of the material on the last album was, and one of the album's singles, "Cold Fire", a bitter love song with clever word play (how can you not love a love song with the line "she said, 'this is not a love song'") and a sufficiently affected vocal delivery by Lee.
There's also definitely an undercurrent of sort Whitmanesque uplifting of the everyday people, the single "Nobody's Hero", reflecting on how the death of a loved one means everything to some but nothing to most, and the fairly obvious message of "Everyday Glory", the latter a powerful, swelling song, again with a great vocal by Lee.
Finally, there's a handful of experimental songs-- Rush seeking new directions continuously stabs out in a number of ways-- "Stick It Out", with its overt guitar (and great bass playing in its bridge) doesn't quite succeed as well as you'd hope, nor does the straightahead "Speed of Love". The funkier songs on the record though, the unique "Between Sun & Moon" (with great lyrical word play and a monster riffing) churns and chugs and spins and explodes in its chorus, one of the great, overlooked Rush songs, and one of Peart's cleverist moments as a lyricists, and the bizarre, funky, bass-driven "Double Agent", with its strange spoken word vocal, as the peak of '90s Rush experimentalism, it does far better than expected.
Overall, this is a great album, with a lot of varied, intriguing, and successful material. Experimentation abounds, and Rush does well with it. Highly recommended."
Rush's best since Power Windows
Sakos | United States | 06/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Counterparts is one of Rush's best albums, almost up there with the stuff from their classic period. It's just an extremely well-written, well-recorded and awesomely-performed record from start to finish. The opening duo of Animate and Stick It Out are fantastic and two of Rush's finest moments. Just amazing songs, Animate being a relentless and wrenching song with great lyrics and Stick It Out just kicking you in the gut it's so heavy. Other great cuts on here are the touching Nobody's Hero, the gritty Between Sun and Moon, and one of Rush's coolest instrumentals, Leave That Thing Alone. I also really like Double Agent and Cold Fire. All in all, a great album and the best Rush album of the 1990's era."
Solid Rock with a Progressive Flavor
Lonnie E. Holder | Columbus, Indiana, United States | 10/07/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"On the positive side, nearly every song on this CD is at least good. Some are excellent. On the negative side, Rush's in your face progressive rock sound is an influence rather than a focus of the music. I suppose that Rush may have felt the need to try different things, and this album is the result. The music on this CD is well-produced and slick, but in its production it does lose some of what has appealed to many Rush fans. In places the music sounds like it was influenced by Foreigner, which is a bit strange given Rush's longevity.'Animate' kicks the CD off with a solid rock beat. The song is solid, but portions of the lyrics are poetry. Strangely, the very interesting portions of the lyrics are balanced by some of the most simplistic lyrics modeled a bit after 'The Moody Blues' song 'One More Time to Live' from 'Every Good Boy Deserves Favour.' While the lyrics of the latter worked well at the time, the 'polarize me, sensitize me, etc.' lyrics of the former seem as though they could have been approached differently.'Stick It Out' kicks out with power, with better balance between the music and the lyrics. Some of the lyrics are poetic, but the music is pure power to drive the poetry into your brain.'Cut to the Chase' has a strong flavor of the Rush of old, and is one of my favorite tracks on this CD. There are a couple of changes in tempo in the music that match the lyrics really well. Further, the plaintive notes in the instruments complement the vocals nicely; a solid and interesting song all around.I struggle somewhat with 'Nobody's Hero.' The music here is interesting, but the lyrics seem to struggle, either in fit to the music, or the topic, which seems a bit confused from the outset. While I want to like this song, I suspect the lyrics needed different music and vice versa.Then we come to 'Between Sun and Moon,' a fantasy song in the spirit of progressive rock. One of my favorites that combines the power for which Rush is known so well with wonderfully smoky lyrics that obscure enough to make you feel versus think too hard; a great listening song to listen to the spell-binding combination of lyrics and music.The next song has a title that makes you think it might be a science fiction song, but 'Alien Shore' is about the difference between male and female. The bass rumble could almost be threatening, but really is trying to hammer the point that we need to understand each other; we need to reach each other; we need to reach the alien shore. This song is solid rock with a modest flavor of blues in the heavy rock, and more than a touch of progressive elements.'The Speed of Love' follows. However, the speed seems to be something you would achieve when mired in molasses. The lyrics are too mellow and never break out the way they seem as though they should. The music matches the lyrics, but the change in tempo that you keep expecting just never happens.We change structure and style with 'Double Agent,' which has received mixed reviews. I like this song. I didn't like it at first, but after listening to it numerous times, and reading the lyrics, I believe this song verges on the borders of nu-metal or thrash. The hard-driving drums and bass combine with the dark lyrics to yield a surrealistic vision of the land between wake and sleep, between right and wrong, and between darkness and light. A song worth making the attempt to understand in its musical and lyrical entirety.The instrumental 'Leave that Thing Alone' is solid rock. There are moments when you capture a flavor of the Rush from the days of 'Moving Pictures.'The CD closes with 'Cold Fire' and 'Everyday Glory.' The two songs bear some similarity in that they have a certain consistency to them, though the topics are quite different. The songs are decent, but once again they seem a bit tame for Rush, and perhaps a bit on the commercial side.One difficulty with a group such as Rush is that we continually expect them to top themselves, and when they create acceptable rock, we can be disappointed. We probably shouldn't be. After all, not every work of an artist will be a masterpiece. This album is a worthy addition to your Rush collection; generally good, occasionally excellent, and very accessible throughout."
A Newer Rush Masterpiece
Ryan Silberstein | 12/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I started listening to Rush two years ago (only 18, cut me some slack on that one), I started with their early stuff, 2112 (still my favorite), A Farewell to Kings, Fly By Night, etc. Then I progressed (pun intended) to their "middle" era, of Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures. I finally picked up Counterparts when the remaster was released, and was surprised to hear such a solid album. I enjoy Signals, but Presto didn't impress me all that much, and neither had Test for Echo. Counterparts, however, is a gem. Nobody's Hero, Between Sun & Moon, Alien Shores, and Double Agent are the standouts for me, but it is truely a sold album. I highly recommend it."
My favorite rock album ever.
John D. Noonan | LeClaire, Iowa United States | 05/26/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I feel that this is probably overall the best rock album that I have ever purchased. Every song (except for maybe "Speed of Love") ranks as one of my favorites. The instrumental track, "Leave That Thing Alone," is one of the best rock instrumentals I have ever heard. Every song is thought provoking and the musicianship is top notch."