Rush; Yes

Beware the former longhairs this week: With aging prog-rock giants Yes and Rush hitting the Smirnoff Music Centre separately in a three-day period (it's like a non-coincidence out of an M. Night Shyamalan movie, isn't it?), there's no telling what one of them might do should you impede his or her intake of instrumental dexterity and sort-of-baked cosmic concept. Especially the Yes fans, since they're likely overestimating their strength thanks to last month's release of In a Word, Rhino's new five-disc boxed set dedicated to the English band's 34-year history. They've got reason to buzz, too: This thing's got all the hits, in addition to a handful of previously unreleased tracks and a bunch of long-ass not-quite-critical essays (including a characteristically sappy little foreword from Almost Famous director/arena-rock apologist Cameron Crowe). Inevitably, there's some recent stuff included that's a real buzzkill compared with the still-astonishing late-'60s/early-'70s material, but you'd be amazed how much better "Owner of a Lonely Heart" sounds today than it did in 1983. Or maybe you wouldn't, if you've been rocking to Rush's latest, the surprisingly feral Vapor Trails. It's kind of cool to hear how stimulated these guys still sound, especially considering how readily some in the nü-metal pack have appropriated the band's metaphysical squishiness (that'd be you, Brandon Boyd). I'm not necessarily prepared to say I'm down with Rush, but I can certainly appreciate a well-executed musical moment when I hear one, and Vapor Trails boasts at least one real doozy: "It's not the heat," Geddy Lee whines over an angular groove that's basically Fugazi for dads on "Ceiling Unlimited," "it's the inhumanity." Cancel my plans; I'm gonna be busy this weekend.


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