Book Review – Rush: The Illustrated History

By: Skip Daly

RUSHIllustratedClocking in at 190 pages, Rush: The Illustrated History from Martin Popoff is a worthy addition to the Voyageur Press line of illustrated books [previous installments have paid tribute to Zeppelin, Queen, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, and others].

Having previously penned the brief, official Rush biography Contents Under Pressure, as well as played a role in the research efforts for Banger Films’ excellent Beyond The Lighted Stage documentary, Popoff has the pedigree to effectively spearhead a book like this.

Though not an official publication, the author incorporates some tidbits which are certainly “outtakes” from his earlier research, the most fascinating of which comes in the first few pages, as he includes some additional anecdotal information on the band members’ early lives.

While Popoff’s text serves as the primary narrative thread that holds the book together, there is more at work here.  A panel of “rock critics” shared duties on penning new reviews of Rush’s entire album catalog. While these reviews provide a nice overview of the band’s catalog, I generally find them about as interesting and valuable as, well, reading album reviews – inherently, they represent a single opinion.

As for Popoff’s own text, he effectively references interviews, reviews, and other sources, including a couple of this humble reviewer’s own previous pieces for Guitar International.  Things are presented in a thought-out, chronological fashion, and I haven’t spotted any major factual or organizational “bloopers” as of this time.

The most interesting parts of the book for this hard-core fan are where Popoff is obviously drawing from previous information collected from “insiders”, such as when he quotes the exact date that Alex Lifeson’s parents first arrived in Canada. Less effective is the occasional heavy-handed writing style [example from the introduction: “…this book in fact serves the superfan sod-bustingly robustly.“] – but such over-the-top moments are thankfully rare.

The real beauty of this book however, as one hopes could be said of an “illustrated history”, lies in the images and their thoughtful presentation.

When I heard Rush: The Illustrated History was coming, I was afraid we’d see a collection of repackaged-yet-already-familiar images.  While there are certainly some familiar images contained here, there are also a fair number of shots that I had not seen before.  That is a joy, as is the fact that the author went the extra mile to include information on when and where the photos were taken.  There are no “casual” Rush fans, and this book will make a nice addition to any Rush fan’s collection of books about the band.


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