Different Stages: Live

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On their fourth live album since their inception in the early '70s, Rush's three-CD Different Stages: Live is similar in approach and feel to their first in-concert release, 1976's All the World's a Stage. Instead of overdubbing and cleaning up the performances as they did on their last two live albums (1981's Exit...Stage Left and 1988's A Show of Hands), the tracks are left raw and rocking. And with very limited use of synthesizers (which plagued A Show of Hands), the results are often extremely impressive. The first two discs are comprised of renditions of hits from Rush's past couple of tours (1994's Counterparts and 1997's Test for Echo), while the third is a long-lost classic show from London's Hammersmith Odeon in 1978. On discs one and two, such Rush standards as "2112," "Tom Sawyer," and "The Spirit of Radio" are joined by recent material ("Dreamline," "Stick It Out," "Roll the Bones," etc.) and obscure tracks ("Natural Science," "Analog Kid," etc.), which makes for a perfect balance of material. But it's the third disc that will have longtime fans frothing at the mouth -- for the first time ever on an official release, live versions of "Cygnus X-1," "A Farewell to Kings," and "Cinderella Man" are presented. Even though no material from the mid- to late '80s is included, Different Stages: Live will delight Rush's adoring throng of fans.

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