Definitive Philadelphia 1986 2nd Night (Cygnus 036/037)
The Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA, USA – April 16, 1986
Disc 1 (66:22) Stooges Intro, The Spirit Of Radio, Limelight, The Big Money, New World Man, Subdivisions, The Manhattan Project, Middletown Dreams, Witch Hunt, Red Sector A, Closer To The Heart, Marathon, The Trees
Disc 2 (73:13) Mystic Rhythms, Distant Early Warning, Territories, YYZ, Drum Solo. Power Windows demo Tape: Middletown Dreams, The Big Money, Mystic Rhythms, Marathon, Emotion Detector, Grand Designs, Territories, Manhattan Project
The passing of Neil Peart seems to have lit a very brief fire from the Cygnus label and this is the third new Rush release in a relatively short time. With new Rush releases on pressed disc being few and far between these days I was only moderately excited about this release since it featured material already in my collection. I was very much hoping they were going to press the Springfield 1976 recording as a new transfer directly from the master tape appeared on a couple torrent sites recently and is a major upgrade to what has circulated before. The subject of this new review is for the Definitive Philadelphia 1986 2nd Night in which Cygnus revisits the Philadelphia 86 soundboard they previously released on Power Run (Cygnus 008/009).
The Philly soundboard is a superb recording, perfectly balanced and if not for the audience being low in the mix would rival a legit release. This tape has been pressed on Philadelphia Project (Gypsy Eye 192/193) as well as the earlier Cygnus title, for this new addition the label has made a few slight changes. First off let’s start with a sound comparison, they are very similar, I detect a very slight more top and a bit more bottom end and the label was able to add a bit of clarity with their mastering and while not a major upgrade, it certainly sounds better. This recording sounds incredible when played loud and with just a tad more bottom end, you feel the power of Neil’s bass drums.
They removed about 10 seconds or less of tape on the pre intro, no biggie but certainly no reason to cut it, there was plenty of room for it. The tape cut at 3:22 during Red Sector A has been patched with the Honolulu November 25, 1984 soundboard (found on the excellent Hawaiian Under Pressure (Cygnus 016/017), the 20 second patch blends well and was very well done. Your ears will definitely notice a slight difference in sonics but very well done, the original tape had a somewhat rough cut, much less jarring. The last thing was they fixed a loud noise during Neil’s drum solo at the :54 mark, very nicely done.
On their previous release Power Run, they added the studio track Tough Break featuring the band and their crew improvising in the studio while they were preparing the Exit…Stage Left record. This time Cygnus has expanded the bonus material by offering their version of the Power Windows demo tape. For this comparison I pulled out my trusty Grand Designs The Power Windows Demos (Eat A Peach EAT 161). The circulating versions of the demos is certainly a high generation tape, the Eat A Peach took this average sounding tape that lacks dynamics and applied gentle mastering that made for a real easy listening experience. The sound on this new Cygnus title sounds like they boosted the upper frequencies thus sacrificing the lower frequencies giving the tape a shrill sound and I found it easier to listen at medium to lower volumes. Like most things, mastering is in the eye of the beholder, I prefer the Peach version better. No big deal, I do not visit these demos often.
The packaging is typical Cygnus, the front cover seems to follow more the pattern of their GUP releases, the inner tray picture features Neil standing proudly in front of his kit, The Master. I found this to be a nice tribute to one who left this world too soon. Of course there are picture discs and numbered sticker, typical fare. I do not have the Gypsy Eye Philadelphia Project title, Chambau stated he preferred that title to Power Run, it would be interesting to get his thoughts on this new title. The sound is certainly a bit better than Power Run and the small fixes they did made for easier listening. While this is a nice title, for those who already own other versions of this material, is not really necessary.