It’s hard to imagine that any type of rock album isn’t a labor of love for everyone involved. It’s the kind of concert most people dream of having, so every time in the studio is supposed to be an absolute blast, right? It may seem so, until you start to run out of ideas.
When you live this 24/7 lifestyle, things are going to start to get a little crazy every once in a while, and you end up posting things that are way below your normal standards. That’s not to say that everyone thinks these songs are bad. In some cases, these are some of the most famous songs in the band’s repertoire, with people almost defining these acts by this single song. In the minds of the band though, those were the few times they went off the rails and started forming some truly awful habits.
Just because a song is on a list like this doesn’t mean it’s crap either. Sometimes artists have too many emotions attached to a song, and seeing it go out into the world and become something else is sometimes a bit more than they can handle. Because ultimately your songs are your children and you have no control over what happens to them later.
There’s been a pretty big dividing line in the Rush fan camp over the years. There are people who love everything the band has done, and then there are those who cover their ears and insist that the synth period they went through in the 80s does not exist. And while albums like Grace Under Pressure and Signals have their fair share of great material, even the band doesn’t really like defending Tai Shan.
Granted, you could at least see what they were trying to do with it, fitting in with the free jazz elements that crept into Hold Your Fire. Between the greatest songs like Time Stand Still, Tai Shan is more an experience than an actual song, drawing inspiration from the Eastern culture that Neil Peart was interested in at that time.
It’s safe to say they didn’t skimp on the song’s authenticity either, featuring plenty of drumming techniques and rhythmic patterns unique to Chinese culture at the time. Over the years the band never really played it live that often and even Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee admitted it was a career faux pas. Still, it says a lot about an artist when something they consider a mistake can still do the trick for most other musicians in the progressive world.