Oh, that first sound! The hit of a growling synth with the backing drums sounds and immediately we’re into Tom Sawyer. This song is an icon of prog rock, and a herald for the arrival of the 80’s. Deep heavy bass and guitar accompany Geddy Lee’s piercing vocals, the growling synth underlays the track with a higher riff being repeated in the absence of vocals. There isn’t much to say about this track that hasn’t already been said in some form; it’s one of those tracks that you didn’t know you knew, until you hear it.
Red Barchetta opens with a calmer guitar but quickly flows into a more classic sound in its verses. The chorus suitably heavier and that great punchy inspirational bridge in the middle. Another solid work.
YYZ frankly is amazing; for me, this is by far and away the track of the album! It opens with a drum solo, quickly joined by synths and lead guitar. The whole thing is in a 5/4 time signature and runs on and off beat to the Morse-code for “YYZ” ( – . – – / – . – – / – – . . ). The track is fully instrumental and the writing is just incredible. After our intro we get that solid deep cutting sound that continues until each of the instruments just gets their little moment. Towards the end, the synths bring that great sci-fi feel into the mix before returning to the fun of the more classic rock instruments. This track epitomises this album and is just glorious.
Limelight brings another fan favourite and again falls to the fact that the track is just so well known that I can’t bring much to the table here. It’s slightly more “classic rock” in feel than anything that has come before.
The Camera eye brings our 10:58 length epic which just feels like a completely fun exploration for the band with some of those beautiful recognisable riffs that just define the sound of this album. Perhaps this track is a little more challenging due to its length and slightly more experimental nature, but it holds its position well.
Honestly one of the only faults of the last two tracks of the album is that they follow the first five. Both are incredibly solid with Witch Hunt being the more synth heavy and just outright beautiful sounding track. Vital Signs, allows its rhythm to slip to the offbeat and back on, giving it an almost reggae sound and again is just a solid track. With that fade out, we leave Moving Pictures behind.
Prog rock really set out to introduce new elements to the increasingly defined rock genre and was pretty damn forward for its time, despite now having a mildly zeitgeist-y feel to it. What was once cutting edge now stands firmly as a classic, and well, that’s the place for it.
Is this album for you?
As Prog Rock goes, Moving Pictures is one of the most accessible to outsiders, perhaps lying a little on the popular side and that is no fault. Honestly I think any fan of classic rock should stick there nose into this album and spend some time here and I would almost recommend for most people. There will, however, be those who can’t get past a slightly dated synth sound, the heavy guitars and the higher vocals. It’s a shame but we are most definitely in a bit of a subjective place. I love it!
- Writing: 9.5/10
- Performance: 10/10
- Style: 9/10