Subdivisions - Rush (Single)

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Subdivisions - Rush (Single)

Single Track from Rush - Genre: Rock - Release Year: 1982

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Review of "Subdivisions - Rush (Single)"

published 18/11/2010 | Hishyeness
Member since : 09/03/2009
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About me :
Checked Out. May pop back in from time to time. Best wishes and good luck. 8^)
Pro A lyrical and musical tour de force.
Cons You're joking, right?
very helpful
Quality of Lyrics/Music
How does it compare to the artist's other releases?

"Conform Or Be Cast Out"

The 1982 album, Signals, from which Subdivisions was the first single.

The 1982 album, Signals, from which Subdivisions was the first single.

In the High School Halls

If ever I was putting together a film of my life, I would pay a great deal of attention to the soundtrack. Certain songs resonate perfectly, and all it takes is a few of the opening bars to transport me back to a particular time and place and bring the memories – both good and bad – flooding back. “Subdivisions” by Canadian Progressive Rock legends, Rush, is such a song – no other comes close to so perfectly encapsulating my high school experience as a teenager in Queens, New York. Its anthemic quality, inspired lyrics, superb composition and flawless production make it a song, not just for its decade, but for the ages. Like a huge onion, it is a wonderfully layered composition that never fails to deliver something new every time I listen to it. Almost thirty years after its first release, I’m still peeling.

In the Shopping Malls

Rush released Subdivisions in 1982 and it is currently available as a digital download from various outlets for around £0.69 (use for the cheapest). It was the first single (and first track) from their ninth studio album ,“Signals”. The song performed decently well on both sides of the Atlantic, receiving a fair bit of airplay, but its subsequent popularity was not reflected in its chart position at the time (No. 3 on the US Rock chart, and No. 27 on the UK charts). Subdivisions went on to become a firm fan favourite and has regularly appeared in the band’s sets on tour. Apart from “Signals” it features on several of Rush’s greatest hits compilations, with an excellent live version available on “Show of Hands”. Formed in Toronto in 1968, Rush have had the same line-up for over forty years and consist of Geddy Lee (bass, keyboard and lead vocals) Alex Lifeson (guitar) and Neil Peart (drummer and lyricist). All three have been recognised as virtuoso talents on their respective instruments. It is estimated that they have sold over 40 million albums worldwide, and they rank only behind the Rolling Stones and the Beatles for most consecutive gold and platinum albums. Despite their award-winning accomplishments they remain surprisingly low profile, but enjoy an intensely loyal fan base. It seems people either love them, or hate them.
In the Basement Bars

Subdivisions is the epitome of “synth-rock” and starts simply with layered keyboards, giving the introduction a vaguely space age and industrial feel, but before long, understated drums and a subdued guitar kick-in, resulting in an almost three-dimensional rich tapestry of sound. Just as you start getting used to this toe-tapping, head-nodding composition, Geddy Lee starts Peart’s poetic narrative with his instantly recognisable voice. If you’ve never heard it before, it’s unmistakeable, unconventional, and unique, but strangely compelling to listen to. The song provides a perfect description of what it is like to live and grow up in suburbia – communities that sprawl on the fringes of the city “in geometric order” – where those who conform are rewarded and accepted, but those that dare to dream of better things, or misfits who cannot or don’t want to toe the line, are unwelcome and rejected. Those who remember the brat pack films of the 1980’s – the likes of the Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Some Kind of Wonderful, Pretty In Pink, Fast Times at Ridgemont High – would probably consider the “class” divisions between jocks, nerds, dweebs, debs, Goths, metalheads, and geeks to be the exaggerated Hollywood nonsense. However, even Hollywood needs a grain of truth to work from, and these films were more of an accurate reflection of the High School social strata than you might give credit for. That’s why Neil Peart’s lyrics in Subdivisions have so much resonance for so many people – it effortlessly and poignantly captured their experience, whether they were on the “right” or “wrong” side of the social divide. However, although that’s the specific context which drew me to the song in the first place, its themes of alienation, and remoteness in suburbia have a wider relevance, which is why, for me at least, it remains an enduring and contemporary song that is not stuck in a moment of time.

In the Backs of Cars

Quite apart from the lyrics, Subdivisions provides an excellent example of Rush musicianship at its best. Given there is an extended interlude in the middle of the song, you get a break from Lee’s vocals and can concentrate on Peart’s expert drum play (he is rightly considered one of the greatest rock drummers of all time), Lee’s keyboard skills and Lifeson’s guitar work. Although each of them is an individual talent in their own right, pooled together, they are greater than the sum of their parts. Having heard this song during all three of the Rush concerts I have been to, it’s even better played live. On tour, the band often use the interlude to showcase their virtuoso skills, especially if it appears toward the end of a set.
Be Cool or Be Cast Out

Subdivisions is much more than a song – it is a musical work of art, a social commentary, and above all, an anthem for the rejected and disaffected. If you have never heard anything by these iconic, and paradoxically under-rated legends of rock, this is not a bad song to start with. Given their enduring longevity, they have experimented with a few musical styles over the decades (their tenure is roughly divided into the early progressive rock era, the synthesiser era, and the latter return to more guitar-orientated rock), so it’s difficult to single out one Rush song as representative of the band’s “sound”. That said, Subdivisions is one of the highlights of their technology-driven rock phase in the Eighties, and well worth a listen.

Highly recommended

Any escape might help to smoothe the unattractive truth
but the suburbs have no charms to soothe the restless dreams of youth...

Hear it and see it on YouTube here:

© Hishyeness 2010

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Comments on this review

  • silverstreak published 02/02/2011
    I like the onion analogy.
  • Deesrev published 24/11/2010
    Back with an 'E' as promised: D x
  • chocoholic published 23/11/2010
    A very enjoyable read!
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Product Information : Subdivisions - Rush (Single)

Manufacturer's product description

Single Track from Rush - Genre: Rock - Release Year: 1982

Product Details

Genre: Rock

Artist(s): Rush

Release Year: 1982


Listed on Ciao since: 22/09/2010