Released Oct 19, 1993
Written by Tim Duran
When someone asks you to name your favorite Rush album, most of us will say Moving Pictures or Signals. If you’re old school, you might even say 2112 or Caress of Steel. Those records are incredible and have no match, but in my years of listening, one record stands out above these. The record that has been swept under the rug by some is Counterparts. Bet you just slapped your forehead and thought, yeah, I’ve heard of that, but have you listened? Have you immersed yourself in one of the grungiest records the trio from Toronto has ever offered? Humor me as I spin my take on this masterfully written record.
“Animate” is the song that kicks you square in gut from the time you hit play. The song explores the human soul. Whether we believe in mysticism or God, we all have pieces of us we need to keep in check. All these fragments walk hand in hand with each other and together help us control our emotions.
“Stick It Out” is kind of part two to “Red Lenses” off the Grace under Pressure record. “Red Lenses” is about how all the crap in world that is unfixable and out of our control makes us angry and feel helpless. “Stick it Out” comes along and says that it’s alright to be angry and it’s OK to express frustration, but to do it constructively and not explode. The song encourages you to push forward and not be a coward.
“Cut to the Chase” is a type of an anthem encouraging us to be an unstoppable, self contained, well oiled machine. There are choices to make and mountains to conquer, and yes, we’re only one voice and we don’t know if we can make a difference, but you never know unless you try. These three opening numbers are some of the darkest toned songs; I’m used to their hard progressive sound, but these are just angry!
Calming things down, “Nobody’s Hero” is mellow and especially deep as it touches on a subject that Neil Peart has never written about. It involves two people very close to him who met untimely deaths from two different, but deadly, diseases. The first verse is about an openly gay male friend that he knew and hung out with, and eventually died after a long battle with AIDS. The second story is about a female who Neil did not know, but he knew her family. The verse shares how he watched the sickness shatter the lives of the family. The chorus tells us that a hero is not always glamorous and proud. A hero is the one who fights the battles when life gets tough.
The lyrics in “Between Sun and Moon” tell about the feeling of being content during those times of silence that are few and far between. Although this is one song that I still can’t grasp the real meaning of, the flow is perfect and it’s punchy as all get out!
“Alien Shore” brings home the fact that there are very few that discard the narrow attitudes of those that are chauvinistic and racist. This song has more the tone from Signals or Permanent Waves that most are used to hearing. It still has a dark atmosphere, but that follows the concept of this record.
“The Speed of Love” has a happy, hard rock beat and feel to it. It takes you on the roller coaster ride of a day in the life of a relationship. Neil rarely writes love songs, but when he does, they move and spin you ‘round dancing with the vibe of the music.
“Double Agent” is one hell of a chase. Running from shadows and phantoms, it’s a vision of the spiritual battle we all face within ourselves. It’s always our choice between what voice to hear or ignore, and which path to take.
“Leave that thing Alone” is a superb instrumental that when you lay back and listen, you can hear voices sing the lyrics – at least that’s what I feel. The funky bass lays down the foundation, the drums carry the rhythm, and the guitars revolve around everything else.
“Cold Fire” kicks things back into high gear with an almost punk attitude. It’s the story of a man in love with a woman who tells him she’ll be around as long as he doesn’t demand too much, or push her limits too far. “This isn’t fantasyland,” she says as she walks out the door.
The anthem to end all anthems ends this epic travel through the inmost part of man. “Everyday Glory” reminds us that there is a bright side to every dark time and after each failure, each put down – no matter what people say – rise from the ashes into a blaze of everyday glory. This song helped me through the death of a good friend of mine. Drowning in Kamikazes, whiskey and depression, it was this song that pulled me out of a dark pit. The cut of his death is still fresh after over 20 years of his passing, but I play this and everything is alright.