Picking the most influential Rush album is a tough undertaking, particularly as a Canadian. In Canada, “What is your favourite Rush album?” is asked at citizenship tests, job interviews, wedding ceremonies, divorce proceedings and first dates…. and you better get it right, OK!
Now, personally, “A Farewell To Kings” and “Permanent Waves” were the first Rush albums I owned and as such are “closer to the heart”. Those two, reasonably, could be the best Rush albums, that or “Moving Pictures”, right? However, “Fly By Night” (1975) is slowly becoming my favourite Rush album, despite it being the one that I have didn’t listen to that much when I was younger, having never owned it.
“Fly By Night“ was Rush’s sophomore album after their first, self-titled debut, “Rush” (1974). This second album is notably the first Rush album to feature Neil Peart, after replacing original drummer, John Rutsy. Now, to be clear, the first Rush album is awesome and Rutsy’s contribution should never be undermined. However, there is no Rush without Neil Peart and his transformative effect can be immediately heard, from the beginning of “Fly By Night” with (their) “Anthem”. An “anthem” quite literally, it became a defining moment for the band. The song is a sort of self-scribed manifesto about being fearless in your convictions.
Know your place in life is where you want to be
Don’t let them tell you that you owe it all to me
Keep on looking forward, no use in looking ’round
Hold your head above the crowd and they won’t bring you down
Anthem of the heart and anthem of the mind
A funeral dirge for eyes gone blind
We marvel after those who sought
The wonders in the world, wonders in the world
Wonders in the world they wrought
“Fly By Night” also features other great songs. “The Best That I Can” definitely sounds more like their debut. “Beneath Between And Behind” and “Making Memories” (songs they had and performed before Peart) to me are Rush at their most Zepplin-esque on this album (but you know, in a good way). “By-Tor & The Snow Dog”, is a dog that has bite and also shows Rush’s first real foray into multi-titled, longer progressive rock jams. Something that was hinted at in “Working Man” (that appeared on the first album) with its different changes, but here its more deliberate and experimental with different time changes and moods. Finally, The title track “Fly By Night” is a perfect slice of melodic pop with some great fills.
Be sure to check Rush’s “Fly By Night” mixed with Chilliwack’s “Fly At Night” on Cottage Country Vol. 22: