How Rush’s Debut LP Cover Perfectly Matched Their Raw Songs
Some albums deserve a lavish gatefold with surrealist art allusions, much like Rush's 1978 LP, Hemispheres. Others, like the prog-rock band's raw 1974 debut, need just the bare essentials.
Rush is one of only two covers in the band's canon not art-directed by visual wizard Hugh Syme, who took on that role starting with 1975's Caress of Steel. But it's still one of the group's definitive pieces, expertly summarizing the sounds within the sleeve.
It doesn't get much simpler: the band name — in bold, regal block betters — seemingly crashing into the frame like a meteor, leaving debris in its wake. (The original Moon Records pressing had "Rush" in red lettering, but the later Mercury versions featured a pink-ish hue.)
Paul Weldon's design conveyed the primal power-trio energy of early staples like "Working Man" and "Finding My Way," as he noted in Jon Collins' 2005 book, Chemistry. "I used the explosion graphic because I felt that it represented the nature of the band," he recalled. "For a three-piece group, they had a lot of power and force in their sound."
The simplicity was also a practical matter. As Weldon noted, "In Rush's early days, they didn't have much money and so I kept it to a [two-color scheme]."
After adding drummer and lyricist Neil Peart in mid-1974, Rush quickly expanded their music into proggier, more philosophical territory. In that sense, Rush is an outlier in their catalog — a primitive baby step that hardly previews the majesty of their classic work. The cover, however, remains iconic — a sort of de-facto visual trademark.
"The first album cover was very commercial with its bright explosion and the logo," bassist Geddy Lee recalled in Syme's 2015 book, Art of Rush. "You could tell that the record company was already thinking about a logo."