Presto (album) - Musical Style and Direction

Musical Style and Direction

The album is generally held by fans to have marked the beginning of a transition period, moving away from a sound dominated by synthesizers and toward more traditional rock instrumentation and pop songwriting. In an interview in Canadian Musician, Geddy Lee explained:

"We wanted to be more of a singer’s album, and I think you’ll notice that the arrangements musically support the vocal. . . . Neil’s lyrics to me are a lot more heartfelt. Presently, they’re experience oriented. I think they deal with living . . . This album was a real reaction against technology in a sense. I was getting sick and tired of working with computers and synthesizers. Fortunately, so was Rupert . . . . We made a pact to stay away from strings, pianos, and organs—to stay away from digital technology. In the end, we couldn’t resist using them for colour."

"Scars" features a complex drum pattern in which both acoustic and electronic drums are utilized. The pattern was derived from a tribal rhythm Neil Peart experienced while on a bicycle tour of Africa (later chronicled in his first book, The Masked Rider: Cycling in West Africa). Peart has gone on to incorporate this pattern into his live drum solos. The song also features the use of a sequencer in place of, and often mistaken for, a bass guitar.

According to Geddy Lee during the Rush in Rio concert (as well as the recent "Box Set" episode on VH1 Classic), “The Pass” is one of the band’s favourite songs. In a 2011 interview, Peart said of Presto, "That was an album that, for all of us, should have been so much better than it was... If we could do one again, it would be that one, because we still love the songs from it, but... you can never make magic happen."

During the 1990 Presto Tour, the title track itself was never played. It was first played live during the Time Machine Tour in 2010.

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