Remixed versions of existing albums are invariably used to shift a few more copies of an old record, often around the time of a ten or twenty year anniversary. It is therefore with great trepidation that one approaches a re-issue.
Thankfully with Rush, they have the musical substance to back up this re-release. Originally released in 2002, Vapor Trails was not an easy album in its conception. In fact quite that this album made it at all, let alone that the band still exist to play it, is something of a miracle after personal tragedy beset drummer Neil Peart during the production, and almost vowed him to quit music for good.
Thankfully he didn’t and we are able to enjoy the full remix of their 17th studio album. There is nothing in the way of additional studio tracks, bonus takes or live tracks but what you do get is the whole of the original album given a little more spit and polish.
The original release had something of a ‘garage’ sound in as much as the raw punch of Alex Lifeson’s guitars were pronounced and Peart’s snare sound was so virile and attacking that it felt like being punched in the face. What Vapor Trails Remixed has achieved is reining in the attitude in the production a little whilst still maintaining a ferocity to their sound that belies some of their progressive rock roots.
If it wasn’t for Geddy Lee’s unmistakeable angelic cries, you could easily be forgiven for thinking that it was a Foo Fighters record. The opening battle cry of One Little Victory and Ceiling Unlimited are prime examples of the more radio friendly sound that the early ‘00s saw them funnelling.
Vapor Trails will never be regarded as a classic Rush record, and with twenty other albums to choose from, this would certainly not be at the top. Fans of the prog rock wizardry they built their career on will do better to check out the classic output or more recent albums like Clockwork Angels or Snakes And Arrows. Nevertheless, Vapor Trails Remixed is a solid record with some of Lifeson’s best finger-lickin’ riffs, and Rush purists will enjoy re-discovering a largely forgotten album in the Canadian prog-pantheon.