Rock fans the world over will have placed lavish box sets at the top of their Christmas wish list this year and they don’t come much more lavish than the three-part Rush Sectors collection.

But what lies beneath the glossy packaging and mini flight case look (if you buy all three)? rushonrock editor Simon Rushworth reveals all in a reviews special. 


If you’re younger than 40 and you stumbled upon Rush in the mid-80s there’s every likelihood you’re still catching up with the majority of the band’s pre-Presto output. This might be the time to remedy that.

Sure you’ll own all of those key tracks that frequently crop up on various Best Ofs and the band’s brilliant live albums. But if you’ve been holding off adding every Rush record from 1974’s self-titled debut to 1989’s A Show Of Hands then Sectors is the set for you. 

Or at least it should be. It’s already been widely reported that Sector One (Rush thru All The World’s a Stage) suffers from glitches to Fly By Night and Sector Two (A Farewell To Kings thru Exit…Stage Left) has a few problems on the A Farewell To Kings DVD-Audio. And we can confirm this is, indeed, the case.

But two out of 15 ain’t bad: it’s important to look at the bigger picture. And what a picture it is. Each Sector boasts five remastered albums in perfect reproduction ‘mini vinyl’ sleeves plus a comprehensive all in one lyric booklet.

We’ve read criticism of ‘lazy folding’, ‘scratched CDs’ and many other complaints but our Sectors (those audio glitches aside) looks, feels and sounds like the business. For those who feel it doesn’t pass muster plans are already afoot to offer replacement sets.

In our view it does no good to dwell on the negatives. What we’ve got, we love.

It has, of course, been a vintage year for everybody’s favourite new cult band. The all-conquering Time Machine tour took live music to a whole new level with the majority of observers united in the view that the trio had never been in better form.

The accompanying live CD and DVD are dazzling and then there was the DVD-Audio release of Moving Pictures – played in its entirety on the band’s latest world tour and re-released in a package perfect for true audiophiles.

Sectors caps a titanic 12 months. Fans old and new will love poring over the album detail, immersing themselves in the glory of a generally tip-top remastering job and recalling just how few troughs and how many peaks Rush experienced during the first 15 years.

Sector Three is the surprise package – and not only because it’s the only glitch-free box. Kicking off with 1982’s Signals it revisits UK top five hit Grace Under Pressure, follow-up Power Windows, Hold Your Fire and the fabulous live record A Show Of Hands. All five albums prove that the 80s were, by no means, a fallow period for Lee, Peart and Lifeson – far from it.

Hold Your Fire might once have been regarded as a lazy nod to late 80s excess but tracks like Time Stand Still and Mission are now rightly recognised as up there with the band’s very best work. Here they sound awesome.

Back to the start and Working Man, the closing track on the band’s self-titled debut, screams potential, talent and that trademark will to experiment. Moving through the sectors and there are few records in the history of progressive rock that can hold a torch to A Farewell To Kings, with the incredible, epic Xanadu juxtaposed with the commercially cute Closer To the Heart.

This is a lavish tribute to a phenomenal band. And if you don’t mind your box sets missing replica ticket stubs, faux laminates, T-shirts, official sweets and signed photos (and we don’t) then choose Sectors. It’s all about the music – even if a little bit of that music is missing…