Brazil is Michael Houellebecq’s “soccer and Formula One-obsessed shitheap.” So what better place for the dexterous digitators in Rush to reconstruct the historic Senna-Villeneuve “lap of death” and return to form yet again, like the Fall. Return to roots, too—Alex Lifeson recently qualified for the Florida Cop Hockey League, inheriting Luther Campbell’s jersey. Neal Peart’s very sophisticated sense of humor (“Leave That Thing Alone” is an instrumental) got him the job writing subtitles for the Boyle-Pontecorvo comedy City of God (“Tonight’s news: Li’l Ze’s gang has now taken over the slum and Knockout Ned is dead!”), and here’s the blowback.
Some of their ’80s new-wave stuff on Rush in Rio is played without the synths, i.e., how patient fans and math-rock bands have been remixing it in their heads for years. (Canada is the math-rock of countries.) The other “Afterimage” here is forgotten non-lyricist John Rutsey, hovering like Sugarloaf Mountain or that Jesus statue. John Rutsey is Rush’s Jesse Presley, whose brother Howard Roark’s daughter impregnated Michael Jackson. (Canada is also the Jesse Presley of countries.) Rush’s “Burning Love” is “Free Will,” and here, Geddy Lee Wailer’s coalition-defying accent is stronger than ever. The massed voice of the favela sings along with “The Trees” like it’s really Bob Marley’s “Small Axe.” Which, thanks to NAFTA, it is.
Unfortunately, the cunnilingus epic “Xanadu” is missing, as is Victor Jara’s “They’ve Got an Awful Lot of Coffee in Brazil.” Chile, Brazil—Ian Mackaye’s father probably didn’t know the difference, either. Not like anyone in D.C. ever had to worry about the coffee running out, since September 11, 1973, especially. A significant date, as it was 243 days after Aloha From Hawaii via Satellite was recorded. Elvis shrugged.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 20, 2004