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11 Years Ago: Rush Explore Their Influences on ‘Feedback’ EP

Released on June 29, 2004, as part of a celebration of their 30th anniversary, the Feedback EP did a little crate-digging to pay tribute to some of Rush‘s early influences.

The trio had cut their teeth on mid-to-late ’60s rock and roll, drawing not only on the brash sounds of bands like Blue Cheer, the Who, the Yardbirds and Cream, but also on the styles of Buffalo Springfield and Love. With Feedback, Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart tipped their collective hat to all those bands.

Kicking off the EP is a rousing rendition of Eddie Cochran’s classic “Summertime Blues.” It’s been covered countless times, notably by both Blue Cheer (No. 14 in 1968) and the Who (No. 27 in 1970) – though neither matched the chart success of the original, which shot to No. 8 in 1958. Rush’s version takes equally from the Who and Blue Cheer, melding the styles of both those bands together, while proudly putting the Rush stamp on it.

Two Buffalo Springfield songs are tackled here. The Top 10 hit from 1967, “For What It’s Worth,” as well as the early Neil Young song “Mr. Soul” are both done up Rush-style here, with “Mr. Soul” coming out the better of the two. The Yardbirds’ “Heart Full of Soul” keeps things rolling as Alex Lifeson pays back a bit to Jeff Beck. As with all the songs done up here, Rush keep faithful to the original.

Another nod to the Who is given via a nice take on “The Seeker.” The original record was released as a single in the spring of 1970, and though it failed to make the Top 40, it has long been a favorite of Who die-hard fans.

It’s pretty safe to say that Rush have never truly dipped their musical toes into the genuine blues. Hence it’s no surprise that their take on Robert Johnson’s standard “Crossroads” owes more to Cream’s version. The guys rock it out, no doubt, but ultimately it’s a bit lackluster compared to Cream’s take. Perhaps the most obscure song included here is Love’s “Seven and Seven Is,” which first appeared as a single in the summer of ’66, when it sailed up to No. 33 nationally. While Rush don’t come anywhere near the fire and drama of Arthur Lee and company, you gotta give ’em credit for trying.

Feedback was released to coincide with Rush’s R30 tour, and was a good way to acknowledge where they came from musically, and possibly, giving their fans a little education along the way. One other significant thing to note about the EP is that this is the closest Rush has ever gotten to returning to the no-frills, straight-ahead rock of their 1974 debut album, with no odd time changes, book smart lyrics or planets of the solar federation circling anywhere. While all that stuff – and more – became signatures of Rush, it was (and is) exciting to hear them just plug in and crank it up.

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