The Rush Record Paul Stanley Didn’t Understand
Don Henley had made a prediction about the music industry in the late ’70s. The Eagles icon had said that singles achieved more commerciality than concept albums and appealed to the audience more. The drummer even had evidence. He exemplified his theory by saying that their concept album, ‘Desperado,’ sold less than their other works because the band had tried something new.
Maybe the concept record failed in sales because the audience wanted to hear the Eagles’ usual sound since that was what they were used to. Perhaps that’s why the new concept didn’t appeal to the mainstream audience. Whatever the reason was, Henley’s predictions had truth to them as singles went on to be more successful than concept albums.
We might not necessarily consider ‘Desperado’ as the black sheep of the Eagles’ discography just because it sold less than its predecessors. Still, in Rush’s case, an album of the band was regarded as the black sheep of their catalog. No one, including the band members, understood the album, and KISS’ Paul Stanley was also not impressed.
Over the years, while touring with KISS, the two bands formed a relationship and seemed to be there for one another. Paul Stanley even once credited KISS for introducing Rush to the music scene as they were the supporting act of the American band in the early ’70s. So, when the then-new band came down with a new record, they wanted to know what Stanley thought of it.
Rush worked on this particular album for a few months, and perhaps, like the Eagles, they wanted to try something new by making a concept album. They wanted to differ from their previous blues-rock sound and take a more progressive direction. They also had stories to tell, and the best place to do that was ‘Caress of Steel.’ The album was recorded in 1975, and ultimately, each member was content with their work and believed they had added a new layer to Rush’s sound.
However, things didn’t go the way the band wanted them to, as the audience seemed not to appreciate the new album. The record also received negative comments from critics, and the band’s commerciality and sales decreased. Their label was also not impressed with the record and considered dropping them off. After the band played the record for Paul Stanley, the frontman also joined the list of people who weren’t impressed with ‘Caress of Steel.’
Alex Lifeson discussed the album in 2010’s documentary ‘Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage,’ and disclosed that they had played the record to Stanley, and well, as they played, they realized that Stanley failed to understand the concept album. As the band realized that, they also started to also question the album’s meaning.
“We played ‘Caress of Steel’ once for Paul Stanley,” said Alex Lifeson. “We had just gotten it. We played it in our van for him one night, and you could see that he just didn’t get it. A lot of people didn’t get it. We wondered if we even got it.”
Even though some of the band’s audience did appreciate the record later on, ‘Caress of Steel’ still is considered the progressive black sheep of the band. They had a story to tell, but the sound didn’t appeal to the mainstream audience. In the end, the band agreed with their fans, the critics, and Paul Stanley, as they also failed to understand the album.