Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Help end the seal slaughter now!


The serene beauty of the ice floes will be shattered and the sparkling snow will be stained with blood and littered with carcasses as tens of thousands of baby seals are slaughtered in the largest massacre of marine mammals on the planet. 

You can help end the abuse and slaughter of defenceless animals, including Canada's seals, by supporting PETA today. By becoming part of our photo mosaic for just £10 or as much as you can afford, you can join our important demonstration against the seal slaughter and help PETA turn up the heat on Canada. 

The photo mosaic banner will be printed and used as part of an eye-catching demonstration outside the Canadian Embassy in London. You will also be able to see the photo mosaic taking form on our website, so be sure to check back often. 

Any donated funds left over after producing our latest seal slaughter campaign poster will help fund other aspects of PETA’s work to save animals from abuse and will be spent whenever the need is greatest. 

Click here to donate


Saturday, 26 March 2011



Thursday, 24 March 2011

Friday, 11 March 2011

Heroes - Rush

Continuing my series of Heroes blogs, I'm going to do something different and write about a group, rather than an individual. The first group to get this treatment are Rush. I've been a fan of Rush for over 25 years. I've seen them twice in concert and own all of their albums. They fill the world's biggest stadiums and arenas, but unless you're a fan, you've probably never heard of them.

Rush - Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart - are without question one of the most inventive and compelling groups in rock history, equally famed for both its virtuoso musicianship and provocative songwriting. Rush is one of rock’s most influential bands, ranking third for most consecutive gold and platinum albums behind The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. The band have engaged legions of devoted fans over the decades and is admired by generations of musicians.

Rush were formed in August 1968 in Toronto, Canada. They are comprised of lead singer, bassist and keyboard player Geddy Lee, lead guitarist Alex Lifeson and lyricist, percussionist and drummer Neil Peart (who replaced original drummer John Rutsey who left after recording their debut, eponymous album).

Since releasing their debut album in March 1974, Rush have become known for their high level of musicianship, complex compositions and eclectic lyrical motifs, drawing from such influences including science fiction, fantasy, philosophy, as well as addressing humanitarian, social, emotional and environmental concerns.

I first came across them when I was about 15, via the live album Exit...Stage Left, which was released in 1982, and is still one of my favourite Rush albums. The album was voted 9th best live album of all time by a 2004 poll in Classic Rock Magazine. The opening track Spirit of Radio is surely one that most people will have heard, they probably just won't know it as a Rush song. I love the opening guitar riff by Alex Lifeson. The final lyrics to the song:

"For the words of the prophets were written on the studio wall,
Concert hall,
And echoes with the sounds of salesmen"

are an allusion to the famous final lyrics from the Simon and Garfunkel classic "The Sound of Silence":

"The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sounds of silence."

What I have always loved about Rush is that they have continually changed their musical style over the years. Their eponymous debut album was very much a blues inspired heavy rock album. They then encompassed progressive rock, and have gone through a period where they made intensive use of synthesisers.

Rush have never been afraid to push musical or lyrical boundaries, and have shied away from mainstream success, instead preferring to write music for its own sake, rather that for any particular mass market. For such independence alone they deserve to be lauded. While so many other bands deliberately set out to achieve and maintain mainstream success, Rush have never been bothered by it. Making music that they enjoy has always been far more important, and this is one of the reasons why they are so widely respected among their peers.

Many groups have cited Rush as an influence, including Metallica, Primus, The Smashing Pumpkins and Dream Theater. In fact, when I played the drums in my own bands when at school / college, we used to play a Rush cover. One of my biggest drumming influences was Neil Peart. His precision style of playing, the way he used the entirety of his impressively large drum set, and his many complex, polyrhythmic patterns were always inspirational. Neil Peart is arguably one of the greatest rock drummers of all time!

At the time of writing they are scheduled to release their next album later in the year called Clockwork Angels. I'm looking forward to it. I'm going to see Rush in concert in May at the NEC in Birmingham, and cannot wait, it's going to be a great concert! I'll post a review here to let you know how good it was.