After the Vapor Trails Tour ended in the Fall of 2002, Rush took most of 2003 off, only playing in public for the Toronto SARS benefit concert.  As 2004 rolled around though, the band realized they were coming up on their 30th Anniversary as a band.  What to do for such an occasion?  They already had numerous greatest hits packages to their name, so that was out.  Perhaps a huge, expensive box set for the hardcore crowd?

Or how about an eight song EP featuring songs by bands that inspired Rush when they were young musicians, sold for the stupidly cheap price of $7.98?  I can scarcely describe how much I like this album and how it was sold and marketed.  Cover albums are a dime a dozen, and are usually done as quick cash-ins when older artists run out of ideas.  “Feedback” is different though.  These are songs that Rush played countless times when they were young adults in countless bars and high school dances when they were first trying to make it big.  You can tell they still know the songs by pure sense memory, but the performances come with the skill only seasoned musicians who have literally played together for thirty years can bring to the table.

What’s more, it’s a delight to see Rush engage in a little hero worship, showing a side of themselves we hadn’t really seen up until now.  Their admiration for The Who, The Yardbirds, and Buffalo Springfield is front and center, with each band getting two tracks per (Love and Cream each get one as well).  And yes, I know “Summertime Blues” was first made famous by Eddie Cochran and later Blue Cheer, but the way Rush plays it is definitely inspired by The Who’s version from the “Live At Leeds” album (and with a quick musical reference to “Foxy Lady” by Jimi Hendrix at the beginning).

Another part of the fun is how Rush doesn’t really try to “re-interpret” the songs, playing them rather straight, but nonetheless with the polish they’ve gained through their long career (“Seven And Seven Is” has a bit of a faster pace than the original version by Love though).  And while the production itself is polished and bright, it still tries to mimic the sounds of classic 60’s rock records, just through Rush’s current prism.  Uni-vibes, Wha-wha pedals, and reverse delays are all over “Heart Full of Soul” and “Mr. Soul”, and Alex’s guitar has a fat, fuzzy grit to it.  His solo during the Cream version of Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads” at the end is easily the highlight of the record.

If I had to nitpick, it is kind of a bummer that they didn’t record some of the backing vocal sections on some of these songs.  The spoken word sections of “Summertime Blues” were some of my favorite parts, and the haunting backing vocals of “Heart Full of Soul” is part of what makes that song great.  With the later, those parts are mimicked somewhat with the guitar, but Geddy still could have recorded those parts himself with his voice and it would have sounded just as good.

But all in all, “Feedback” was a unique, creative, and fun little gift to Rush’s fan base on their 30th birthday.  For the price, I highly recommend picking it up.