Moving Pictures is the eighth studio album by Canadian progressive rock band Rush, released on February 12, 1981, through Anthem Records. After touring to support their previous album, Permanent Waves (1980), the band started to write and record new material in August 1980 with co-producer Terry Brown. They continued to write songs with a more radio-friendly format, featuring tighter song structures and songs of shorter length compared to their early albums. Moving Pictures received a positive reception from current and retrospective music critics and became an instant commercial success, reaching number one in Canada and number 3 in the United States and the United Kingdom. It remains Rush’s highest-selling album in the United States, with 5 million copies sold. “Limelight”, “Tom Sawyer” and “Vital Signs” were released as singles across 1981, and the instrumental “YYZ” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. Rush auditioned some of the songs on a tour before recording the album (September 11 to October 1, 1980), and supported the album on tour from February to July 1981. Here are all of Moving Pictures’ songs ranked.
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7. Witch Hunt
“Witch Hunt lays bare the dark side of the mob mentality. The tone is menacing throughout, displaying a good understanding of the persecuted class syndrome that can fuel mob action.”
6. Vital Signs
“Where to begin with this magnificient foray into white reggae à-la Police? Maybe by the fact that Geddy sang evelate instead of elevate and fuckin kept it in. It’s a testament that Rush is not always the cold technical band that most people think it is. The guy kept an obvious mistake in.”
5. The Camera Eye
“The lyrics aptly describe the sense of the city, but it is really the music which pushes this mostly instrumental work. The center section, especially, soars with Alex Lifeson’s strong melody. The bass and drums underneath, are just as strong, with this song section rivalling the breakdown in ‘Free Will’ for some of their most adventurous writing.”
See more: Rush Albums Ranked
4. Red Barchetta
“Such a beautiful song, it blows me away. There are as many great riffs in this song as a band normally gets in their whole career! The lyrics are simply marvellous, the guitar work from Alex is amazing, the solo, and the chords work so well. The drums, well the drum part was written by Neil Peart, enough said, its automatically outstanding. “
3. Tom Sawyer
“The most recognizable Rush song by far. From the opening synth drop to the dark and driving mood, this song is one of the strongest album opener in rock music. Only Rush could write a radio-friendly song that features a 7/8 mini-moog solo. Drumming is rock solid and very inventive as always.”
See more: Rush Songs Ranked
“Starting out with a simple yet a bit unconventional guitar riff, this song develops into the greatest anthem in Rush’s catalog; powerful, memorable and huge. Echoes of the dying punk scene crawl through the chorus, Lifeson gives it all for his solo and Geddy’s rendition of Peart’s text is heartfelt. Peart’s lyrics hit home for once. The perfect Rush song. The perfect close to Side A, it gives a sense of things to come on the other side.”
“Everything on this track is worth mentioning. The rythmic interplays, fast harmonic lines, jaw-dropping tightness, overall sound and tone, clever use of synth pads, Alex’s incredible modal solo, shattering samplings, the perfectly built apex of the song around 2:50..”