Fly by Night – 1975
Less than a year after their debut, Rush’s second studio album Fly By Night was released. Neil Peart was now on full-time drum duty and also took on lyricist duties. Of the eight songs on this album, Peart is credited with the lyrics on six of them. Where his influence really peeks through is the more prominent drums throughout the entire album.
Fly By Night would rank lower on the Billboard 200 than the band’s debut album, even though it is far superior both musically and lyrically. The highest it got was to #113 and didn’t hit gold and platinum status until 1993. In fairness, it does have a different sound than their first, so fans would have to adjust to the new vibe, and they would. Rush already had a cult following, and this album cover is one of their most recognizable to this day.
Fly By Night – Track 1: Anthem
Rush’s sophomore studio album opens again with Lifeson ripping apart the fret board with a memorable riff all Rush fans recognize when they hear it. The lyrics are based in novelist Ayn Rand’s influence on Peart, as well as other literary geniuses do throughout the rest of their track catalog. You can immediately tell a step up in quality of composure from the first album, and Lee’s vocals put the finishing edge on this rock classic.
Fly By Night – Track 2: Best I Can
While this song is catchy, it feels like a filler. Let’s face it, not every song on every album will be a hit. Sadly, this one wears that hat. Not that it’s a bad song at all. It’s a head-bobber beat with a good guitar solo and a noticeable upgrade to feature the drums. It’s good rock and roll, but a little plain vanilla rock and roll.
Fly By Night – Track 3: Beneath, Between and Behind
This speedy track takes a veiled swipe at the U.S. and our proud ways, but it’s all good. It was the 70’s and the Vietnam War had just officially ended, so it fits in the timeline. The riffs are tight, the vocals are good, and the beat is Rush at it’s head-banging best.
Fly By Night – Track 4: By-Tor And The Snow Dog
This is the song that I feel showcases Rush’s musical abilities to take wild chords, geeky lyrics and a whole lotta talent and cram it in the fan’s faces. The song is based on an unfortunate incident with a roadie between a big and small dog at someone’s house. Next thing you know, the multi-act song is written as a fantasy epic. One fan on YouTube said this song makes them want to buy a 70’s van and airbrush the battle scene on the side of it. Rock on, I’d love to see that!
The lyrics are great, but the third movement, titled “Of The Battle” steals the show, with a duel between Lee’s bass and Lifeson’s electric. If you close your eyes while it’s playing, you can hear the fight in the notes, and it’s nerdifyingly glorious. Yes, I know that’s not a word, but I like it, so it stays! This also isn’t the last we see of By-Tor. He comes back as the hero on their next album in The Necromancer.
Fly By Night – Track 5: Fly by Night
The title track of this album relates to Peart’s personal experience of moving across the Atlantic from Canada to London prior to joining Rush. Sometimes personal experience makes for the best story-telling, and it’s no different with lyrics. Fly By Night would become a fan favorite tune and a Rush staple in their arsenal of songs. Ironically, it failed to chart as a single, but was a huge hit in the UK.
There is also an intro written that has never appeared on a recording, but paints a different picture of what the lyrics turned out to be.
“airport scurry – flurry facesUnrecorded intro lyrics to Fly By Night
parade of passers-by
people going many places
with a smile or just a sigh
waiting, waiting, pass the time
get in line – gate thirty-nine
the time is not here yet…..“
Fly By Night – Track 6: Making Memories
An underrated entry in my opinion. Making Memories carries a funky beat and paints an optimistic picture of life on the road, presumably about their lengthy U.S. tour schedule. Some fans claim if you play this song immediately following Beneath, Between and Behind, they really make one longer song that goes together for a longer story.
The acoustic work on this track is a shining highlight and not what you usually hear from Rush. It feels like an amped-up Doobie Brothers tune, but still a welcome addition to the album.
Fly By Night – Track 7: Rivendell
A little slow compared to most Rush songs, but a neat song to drop in. The literary influence on Peart is really felt here with his Tolkien-inspired lyrics. It’s not quite rock and roll, but a beautiful song nonetheless.
I chose this cover for the sample of this tune because honestly, as much as I like Geddy Lee’s voice, this song sounds even more beautiful with a female voice, and this young lady named Summer Woods does a nice cover that’s close to the original. Plus, Rush loves their fans. I think they would approve. If you want to hear Rush do it, it’s an easy Google search. What… do I have to do everything for you? 😀
Fly By Night – Track 8: In The End
The album ends with a soft landing on In The End, or at least that’s what you think. Over its almost-7 minutes, it gets faster and louder with Lifeson’s wailing guitar solo. It’s a ballad-feeling tune overflowing with positivity, another signature of Peart’s lyrics. Many YouTube commenters relate this one to a lost love, or a fond memory of a place or someone they knew “back in the day.” A song that evokes strong emotion is powerful, indeed.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best)…
I give Fly By Night an 8 out of 10. This is definitely an upgrade from their debut and has, again in my opinion, more catchy tunes with long-term hit power. This is an overall solid album with a high replay value from start to finish. It has rock, it has ballads, it has signature Rush guitar and bass licks, and drums galore begin to show up, as they should. Fly By Night will always rank high in my favorite Rush albums list.
Next week, get ready for Caress of Steel, and the triumphant epic, 2112!
In memory of Neil Peart, 1952-2020
Since a week ago when I kicked off my Rush review, I heard the tragic news of the passing of Neil Peart. From myself, all of us at That Hashtag Show, and the fans that read us, we mourn his passing and wish the best for his family and friends. Here is what Rush’s official Facebook page posted:
It is with broken hearts and the deepest sadness that we must share the terrible news that on Tuesday our friend, soul brother and band mate of over 45 years, Neil, has lost his incredibly brave three-and-a-half year battle with brain cancer (Glioblastoma). We ask that friends, fans, and media alike understandably respect the family’s need for privacy and peace at this extremely painful and difficult time. Those wishing to express their condolences can choose a cancer research group or charity of their choice and make a donation in Neil Peart’s name.
Rest in peace brother. Neil Peart: September 12, 1952 – January 7, 2020
His passing brings to my mind these lyrics, and how true they are.
“When we are younglyrics from Dreamline, off the album Roll The Bones
Wandering the face of the earth
Wondering what our dreams might be worth
Learning that we’re only immortal
For a limited time.”
Sourced from: Rush