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30 July 2010 @ 07:47 am
Bp's Song of the Week #88: Max Webster "Battle Scar"  
Still riding the musical high of two incredible Rush shows last week, I’ve been taking trips down the Rush live memory lane by spinning favorite live recordings from through the years. But I’ve already included 2 Rush entries this year so I can’t toss another SotW out there from my favorite Canadians to celebrate this wonderful tour.

I have been listening to a bunch of other albums in between, including the new Dollyrots, Black Country Communion, David Ford, etc. and their day will come for the SotW I’m sure, but what better time to check out a track from another brilliant Canadian band, Max Webster. It was actually 30 years ago this week, July 28, 1980, that the members of Max Webster (featuring Kim Mitchell) joined forces with Rush at Phase One Studios in Toronto for a rare collaboration:

“We set up both bands live,” recalled Geddy Lee (Rush bassist, vocalist), “and we had this producer, Jack Richardson, standing in the middle with a baton, sort of conducting us. We were all in a circle and he was in the middle and we just recorded the tune.” Well, not actually recorded. Neil (Peart, Rush drummer) recalled that they had the song down after the third or fourth take, but everyone was enjoying themselves so much that they did it about 40 times.
[excerpt from Bill Banasiewicz’s Rush: Visions]

The result was “Battle Scar,” featuring each band trading vocals, riffs, and drum fills. I will say that this was one of a handful of songs that got me through my senior year of High School, you know, the tumultuous teenage years when your little dramas that seemed so important then, but seem not quite so now. This was in constant rotation during both my Junior and Senior years and I can remember I would use it to test the sound for the school play that I was sound and lighting manager for. Of course nothing on stage needed to be too loud, but that didn’t stop me from testing the PA with “Battle Scar” at deafening levels.

The intensity, distorted guitars, and “wall of sound” drums spoke to my need for a release of energy; “feel the way I feel.” And this song had so many release points between the thundering drum fills, vocal howlings, and blistering guitars. It didn’t matter that I had no idea what the hell the lyrics meant, it just felt good to sing them: “bust the busters, screw the feeders, make the healers, feel the way I feel.”

Max Webster “Battle Scar”

It wasn’t until the fall of ’92 that while spending way too much time in the WRHO studios that I stumbled upon an actual Max Webster LP in the music library. And not just one, but four classic albums. Up to this point all I knew about them was “Battle Scar” – remember we’re talking way before you tube and downloading, etc. No small city record store was stocking old Canadian groups from the ‘70s. I quickly borrowed the LPs (Hangover, A Million Vacations, Universal Juveniles, Mutiny Up My Sleeve, and Live Magnetic Air) so I could study them on my own turntable (yes, as a college freshman I owned a record player, in ’92 before they were cool again. I was in the throws of collecting A LOT of U.K. vinyl of Marillion at the time). A whole new world was opened up when I first heard “Paradise Skies” – the majesty, the guitar, it was pure perfection in a 3-minute song. The rest of the albums were eye opening and stunning.

Check them out now for yourself. Listen to “Lily” – 7-minutes of passionate, urgency, tenderness, frenetic yet soaring guitarwork…..

More Max Webster:
Paradise Skies
April in Toledo
Here Among the Cats