In terms of success, Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson has done it all. Not only was he an essential part of one of the most successful and influential bands of all time, but he’s also one of guitar playing’s all-time greats. Not finished there with the distinction, he’s also a noted multi-instrumentalist and has had many exploits outside of the Canadian trio. As a testament to his and the group’s brilliance, in 2013, Lifeson and Rush bandmates Geddy Lee and Neil Peart were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

From 1976’s 2112 to 1991’s Roll the Bones, Rush have many acclaimed albums to their name, so it makes sense that the question of which is Lifeson’s favourite has abounded for years. Eventually, in 2021 he answered it.

When speaking to Make Weird Music, he named one of their most lauded efforts, 1981’s Moving Pictures, his choice, definitively saying that it “was by far the greatest record that we made.”

Lifeson recalled that the trio had a great time making Moving Pictures and that everything “fell into place” for it. Ultimately, he believes the great vibe when writing and recording it led to its success. After all, the album features classics such as ‘Tom Sawyer‘ and ‘YYZ’. It’s a classic.

Lifeson said: “Moving Pictures was by far the greatest record that we made. And, from our perspective, we had such a great time making that record. We were in a great space, we spent the summer working fairly close to Toronto – to home – writing it.”

“When we went to the studio and started recording, everything about it fell into place. We really, really enjoyed the experience. I thought the material was strong and all that stuff. But the recording process itself was really a lot of fun, and for the most part quite smooth. And that doesn’t happen really very often. I could tell you horror stories about Grace Under Pressure — that was so difficult to make, and Vapor Trails.”

Explaining what made Moving Pictures such a joy, Lifeson continued: “But Moving Pictures was really a delight. When we came to ‘Vital Signs’ song, and I have to jog my memory. We had songs on the record like ‘YYZ’ and ‘Limelight’ and ‘Tom Sawyer’ that were pretty big, rock, traditional rock songs. Maybe a little more concise than our previous writing as we were moving into that kind of writing economy that we sort of moved into from the late ’70s.”

“But when we came to that, it was just really different in the way we arranged it and put it together. Starting with the sequencer and having that part, and working out a guitar part above that, around that, and Neil was really into that kind of a drum approach. To that ska sort of thing, more reggae-ish. And when I say reggae, I mean modern white reggae.”

The Rush guitarist concluded: “He was really looking forward to that, and he was messing around with electronic drums at the time too. So it all became a part of this little exploration, and it touched on certain things that were coming to the world from that point forward. So that’s really it, I don’t really remember too much else about it.”


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