RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Rush - Presto (SACD Limited Numbered Edition)
Audio Fidelity


Rating: B+

For reasons I have yet to understand, Rush has always been somewhat of a controversial band. I have always enjoyed their music; but I certainly cannot say the same for many of my friends who share very similar musical tastes. Rush’s extreme talents are beyond debate. They don’t play fluff, they sing meaningful lyrics, and consistently deliver top quality albums. Yet, to many rock fans Rush is a bit of a pariah. I don’t get it. Maybe it’s Geddy Lee’s voice and his ability to hit sky-high notes without first being kicked in the groin. I don’t know.

Audio Fidelity recently released a Hybrid SACD Limited Numbered Edition of Rush’s Presto album. This album, originally released in late 1989, marked a return to Rush’s original guitar-oriented style after previously releasing several albums that were heavily saturated with synthesizers. To be honest, some of those synthesizer-soaked albums are my favorites from Rush; but they were a clear deviation of style that even uber-drummer Neil Peart found not to be in Rush’s best interests. Presto is the course correction album to set things back on track and return some of the spotlight to guitarist Alex Lifeson.

For many years Presto kept cruising under my radar. The Hybrid SACD release breathes new life into what was always a very strong album. I’m impressed with the overall sound. It’s very crisp and up front without being overly “digital”. It encouraged me to revisit this album, and I’m glad it did.

Presto contains a lot of “oh yeah, I remember that one” songs that can sometimes get lost in the sheer volume of Rush’s extensive catalogue. “Show Don’t Tell” has long been a favorite of mine, but it is nice to revisit songs like “The Pass” and “War Paint” as well. I’ve long been in awe of Rush’s compositional and instrumental superiority, but the older I get the more meaningful Peart’s lyrics become. I like an album that is deep enough to change strengths over the years and remain relevant even as we grow older. Presto does this. 

Whether the re-release is worth is the additional price will depend upon your appreciation of the original album. If you're a Rush fan that wants to revamp your collection you should definitely get this version. If you were never able to understand why anyone likes to hear an immensely talented trio play songs with multiple time changes and intense bass lines holding their own against blazingly complex drum parts that support soaring guitars enhancing poignant vocals … well, don't bother! 

Track Listing: 

  1. Show Don’t Tell
  2. Chain Lightning
  3. The Pass
  4. War Paint
  5. Scars
  6. Presto
  7. Superconductor
  8. Anagram (for Mongo)
  9. Red Tide
  10. Hand Over Fist
  11. Available Light

By Roy Rahl