Although an actual description does not exist as to what songs can comprise a greatest-hits collection, it is generally assumed that the disc will contain the biggest and best-charting singles that have been issued by an artist. So it may seem odd for Rush to release a greatest-hits collection when the group has had just one Top 40 pop singles' hit in their long career; but if you factor in the amount of rock radio airplay given to these songs, then The Spirit of Radio contains, in essence, the greatest hits of Rush. Spanning their 13-year association with the Mercury label, The Spirit of Radio contains 16 of Rush's best-known songs that have been floating around the rock radio airwaves for years. Arranged chronologically from 1974's Zeppelin-esque "Working Man," to 1987's majestic "Time Stand Still," this concise, single-disc collection represents Rush during their most productive period. Previous attempts by Mercury to summarize Rush's career have resulted in a pair of sprawling double-disc collections (1991's Chronicles, and 1997's two-volume Retrospective) that provided too much material for the casual fan. The Spirit of Radio trims the excess fat and presents a lean set of songs that showcase all the best elements of Rush: guitar-driven rock ("Fly by Night"), arena rock anthems ("The Spirit of Radio"), social commentaries ("The Trees"), epic sci-fi excursions ("2112 Overture/The Temples of Syrinx"), and bold synth experiments ("Subdivisions"). Along with what is arguably their most enduring classic track, "Tom Sawyer," and their biggest pop hit, "New World Man," the songs on this compilation have become radio staples that continue to garner airplay decades after their initial release. In that regard, The Spirit of Radio more than qualifies as a greatest-hits package, and provides an excellent overview of one of rock's most successful and innovative bands.
AllMusic Review by Aaron Latham