I watched the Rush documentary Beyond the Lighted Stage last night on VH1, and it was everything the rapturous reviews I'd read in advance said it would be...and less. The home movies and stuff from their early days were fun and charming, revealing the quiet Canadian suburban existence and high school geekiness that fueled bassist Geddy Lee's and guitarist Alex Lifeson's lifelong friendship and creative partnership, and the inner life of hyperliterate, introspective drummer Neal Peart. The stories of their gradual rise to U.S. stardom following the recording of their debut album were interesting, especially (credit where due) the parts about their touring with KISS.
The movie made me want to listen to a lot more Rush than I've heard to date. All I own by the band is Gold, a two-CD compilation that's weirdly sequenced (it's not chronological, nor is it thematic as far as I can tell) but offers a pretty solid overview of what they do. Now I'm thinking I need to hear their whole string of '70s and early '80s albums; I'm not quite sure where I'll stop, but it'll probably be somewhere around Presto.
I'll admit it; the valentine aspect of the movie (and it's a valentine, top to bottom), while it made me interested in the music, also disappointed me. I would like to have seen more discussion of their working methods, and more in-depth discussion of each album's musical differences from the one before. But that would have required a six-hour film, and it would have had about one-sixteenth the potential audience of this one, with its good-natured jibes at the male-dominated nature of their fan base, its interviews with celebrity fans (Jack Black, members of Metallica and Tool and Primus and Smashing Pumpkins and Dream Theater and Rage Against the Machine), and all the rest. This is the kind of documentary every band wishes someone would make about them—a celebration and an ideal introduction. And who knows? Maybe the ultra-nerdy stuff I want is on the home version, which is a two-DVD set.