Rush’s best-selling album, ‘Moving Pictures,’ celebrates its 40th anniversary today

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the release of Rush‘s classic eighth studio album, Moving Pictures, which is the Canadian prog-rock trio’s best-selling record.

Released on February 12, 1981, Moving Pictures became Rush’s first #1 record in its home country and reached #3 on the Billboard 200, making it the band’s highest-charting album in the U.S. at the time. It’s sold over 4 million copies in the U.S. alone.

The album spawned two of Rush’s most enduring songs, “Tom Sawyer” and “Limelight,” which reached #44 and #55, respectively, on the Billboard Hot 100, and #8 and #4 on the publication’s Mainstream Rock tally.

Moving Pictures also features the popular “Red Barchetta” and the beloved instrumental track “YYZ.” The latter piece, which was a showcase for Neil Peart‘s impressive drumming skills, gave Rush their first Grammy nomination, for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.

“YYZ” was named after the airport identification code for Toronto Pearson International Airport. The intro to the instrumental features a time signature that corresponds to Y-Y-Z in Morse code.

The album’s front and back cover were created by Hugh Syme, who also played synthesizer on the track “Witch Hunt.” The cover offers a triple entendre on the Moving Pictures title, with the front cover showing movers carrying paintings and people crying while looking at a painting, while the back features a film crew capturing the whole scene.

Here’s the full track list of Moving Pictures:

“Tom Sawyer”
“Red Barchetta”
“YYZ” (instrumental)
“Limelight”
“The Camera Eye”
–“I.” (a.k.a “New York”)
–“II.” (a.k.a “London”)”
“Witch Hunt” (Part III of “Fear”)
“Vital Signs”


By Matt Friedlander
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