It seemed back in the day that many bands had two, maybe three great songs amongst a bunch of fillers on albums.
Especially the final track.
Thus you’d run out and buy a new record based on what you heard on the radio only to discover what you heard on the radio was pretty much it. If my analysis has any truth then quite possibly the final song on many albums rarely got played, either because the rest of the album after the singles played was so bad the listener didn’t bother finishing or the final track was a complete throwaway.
Of course, this belief may hold no weight for most but just for me, reinforced by those albums I bought – based on what I heard on the radio – proving me right, leading me to sticking with what I already knew and not wanting to be burned again when discovering a new band.
And what I knew best was Rush.
Rush rarely had fillers and some would say, no fillers. Clearly, every song cannot always resonate (even from your favorite band) but Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart made it a point to not fill their albums with fillers by putting forth their best effort in every song on every album. If a song didn’t make the cut it was scrapped and tossed, therefore those hoping the Estate of Rush releases never before heard tracks or “lost” songs will never be satisfied.
With a few exceptions, Rush managed to bookend their albums with a song just as strong as any of the others and not with one that sounded like something they needed to get through just to add one more track for a complete album. When listening to Rush if I skip past a song whether because I’ve heard it enough already or I just don’t like it rarely do I bypass the final song. Therefore, let’s discover the best album closing songs Rush has to offer.
Best Rush Album Closing Tracks
Deciding on which of the 20 available songs for this Top 10 list took about two minutes, determining the order proved a far more difficult task. Lots of classic Rush songs resulted from the last track on the album.
10. Cygnus X-1 – Book One – A Farewell to Kings
“Cygnus X-1” almost didn’t make the list as “Something for Nothing” nearly took the final spot. After the success of “2112,” Rush keeps the gas on prog rock storytelling within songs as “Cygnus X-1” further separated Rush from the rest of the hard rock bands of the day. The 10 minute long track closes A Farewell to Kings and the sequel “Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres” opens the next album, Hemispheres. How clever.
9. Between the Wheels – Grace Under Pressure
I don’t exactly love the beginning keyboards, then used sparingly throughout, but a lot goes on in this one and the melody of the chorus fully accentuated by Lifeson’s guitar solo easily make up for the few seconds of the opening moroseness for this final song off Grace Under Pressure.
8. Working Man – Rush
The breakthrough song for the band off their debut album when WMMS radio in Cleveland sent it through the air waves. A hard rock beast, Rush probably did more and better with “Working Man” live than any other song and if you’ve never seen the obliterating guitar shredding from the watch below.
7. Countdown – Signals
Rush crafted a song around the launch of the Space Shuttle. I said, “Rush crafted a song around the launch of the Space Shuttle.” Is there anything these guys can’t do?
6. In the End – Fly By Night
“In the End” ended Fly By Night, Rush’s second album and a song quite different from the rest on the album. Rush generally doesn’t flood a lot of sentiment into their songs but this one infuses some tenderness with a light acoustic accompanying Geddy Lee’s soft vocals before a very effective pause… then Alex Lifeson dropping the guitar for some generous 70s hard rock. This one will make you smile in the end.
5. The Garden – Clockwork Angels
I thought of this song when Neil Peart passed.
4. Available Light – Presto
If anyone tells you Geddy Lee can’t sing or he sounds like the damned howling in hades, play “Available Light.” Majestic vocals with varying range and an all-around great song that changes pace from slow and pensive to the type of melodic rock you expect from Rush. The second of only two songs on this list Rush did not play live.
3. La Villa Strangiato – Hemispheres
A masterpiece from Rush, “La Villa Strangiato” closed the four-song Hemispheres album with the band’s first and longest instrumental taking more than nine and a half minutes to play. Alex Lifeson said in a 1996 interview with Guitar World that Rush recorded the song in one take though he re-recorded his solo later, and other accounts say the song was recorded in parts.
2. Natural Science – Permanent Waves
Rush wasn’t ready to close the book on long prog rock compositions just yet as they ended 1980’s Permanent Waves with this nine minute long opus that sounds as close to organized chaos as you’ll get and multiple songs in one.
Best Final Song on a Rush Album
1. Everyday Glory – Counterparts
Lots of fan favorites emerged from the final song off a Rush album and the band obliged by playing all but two live and routinely incorporated most of them into the setlist every tour even if part of a medley.