Moving Pictures
Moving Pictures.jpg
Album by Rush
Released February 12, 1981
Recorded October - November 1980 at Le Studio, Morin Heights, Quebec
Genre Prog-Rock
Length 40:04
Label Mercury Records
Producer Rush and Terry Brown
Professional reviews
Rush chronology
Permanent Waves
Moving Pictures
Exit...Stage Left

Moving Pictures is the eighth studio album by Canadian rock band Rush. The album was recorded and mixed October in November 1980 at Le Studio, Morin Heights, Quebec and released February 12, 1981.

Following the formula of their previous album, Permanent Waves, Moving Pictures follows a more radio-friendly format and includes the hit singles "Tom Sawyer" and "Limelight", as well as radio standard "Red Barchetta". Also, some of the songs, such as "Vital Signs" include raggae influences.

Moving Pictures is one of two Rush albums listed in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (2112 is the other).


One of Rush's best-known songs, "Tom Sawyer," is a mainstay in Rush's live show. Lyrics for this track were written in collaboration with Max Webster lyricist Pye Dubois. James Hetfield of Metallica admitted that they "lifted" the riff for their song "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)."

The second song on Moving Pictures is "Red Barchetta." The lyrics were inspired by the short story 'A Nice Morning Drive' by Richard S. Foster. Peart, however, has reported that the car that inspired the song's title is a Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta.

Next is the Grammy-nominated instrumental "YYZ." The track's title is the IATA Airport Code for Toronto Pearson International Airport. It is played repeatedly in Morse code (-.--/-.--/--..) at the beginning of the song. The song is featured in Rush's live album, Exit... Stage Left and includes a drum solo from Neil Peart.

"Limelight" is another perennial radio favourite. The lyrics are autobiographical, based on Peart's own dissatisfaction with fame and its intrusion into personal life. The song contains two self-references: the first, the line "living in a fish-eye lens, caught in the camera eye" references the next track, "The Camera Eye," while the line "all the world's indeed a stage, and we are merely players," references their 1976 live album All the World's a Stage (as well as the famous line by William Shakespeare).

Side two of the original vinyl release opened with "The Camera Eye," Rush's final extended song, as well as the last to be longer than ten minutes. Lyrically and musically it is an attempt to capture the energy and moods of two of the English-speaking world's great cities: New York City (first verse) and London (second verse). Unlike all the other songs on the album, it had not been performed live since the Signals tour of 1983. However, it was brought back for the band's Time Machine Tour along with the rest of Moving Pictures in its entirety.

The sixth song, "Witch Hunt," features voices during the intro (that according to Alex Lifeson on In the Studio with Redbeard, which devoted an episode to Moving Pictures, were recorded outside Le Studio in sub-zero temperatures with the band and crew ranting and raving in a humorous way) and sound effects made by Lee's Oberheim keyboards, before jumping into the rock section of the song. It features graphic designer and musician Hugh Syme on keyboards (Rush's longtime artwork creator), and the entire drum part was recorded twice in one verse, with a percussion section created by recording each sound differently. "Witch Hunt" would become a part of the Fear series of songs, which includes "The Weapon" from Signals, "The Enemy Within" from Grace Under Pressure, and "Freeze" from Vapor Trails. Strangly, it is the third part of "Fear", even though it was released first.

The last track on the album is "Vital Signs," which starts off with a distinctive sequencer part made by Lee's OB-X synthesizer, showing distinct reggae flavour. Reggae influences began on Rush's previous album Permanent Waves and would later creep into tracks found on the band's next studio release, Signals.

Cover ArtEdit

The album cover is a monument to triple entendre. On the front cover there are movers who are moving pictures. On the side, people are shown crying because the pictures passing by are emotionally "moving". Finally, the back cover has a film crew making a "moving picture" of the whole scene. The album cover was taken in front of the Ontario Legislative Building at Queen's Park.

One of the pictures being moved is the back cover of thier 1976 2112 album, while another is the famous Dogs Playing Poker painting.


Work on the album began in August 1980 at Stony Lake, Ontario. "The Camera Eye" was the first to be written, followed by "Tom Sawyer," "Red Barchetta," "YYZ", and "Limelight." "Tom Sawyer" grew from a melody that Lee had been using to set up his synthesizers at sound checks.

At Phase One Studios with producer Terry Brown, they began recording demos. "Tom Sawyer" and "Limelight" were polished in October by playing them live on a warm-up tour and then they started the main recording at Le Studio in Quebec. "Red Barchetta" was recorded in one take, while others took many. There were problems with equipment failures and they finished three days behind schedule.

On April 8, 2010 it was announced via the official Rush website that Moving Pictures will be played in its entirety for the first time ever on the 2010 Time Machine Tour.

Track listingEdit

All songs written by Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart except where noted.

  1. "Tom Sawyer" (Lee, Lifeson, Peart, Pye Dubois) - 4:31
  2. "Red Barchetta" - 6:10
  3. "YYZ" (Lee, Peart) - 4:23
  4. "Limelight" 4:20
  5. "The Camera Eye" 10:59
  6. "Witch Hunt (Part III of Fear)" 4:44
  7. "Vital Signs" 4:46


  • Geddy Lee - Bass guitars; Oberheim polyphonic; OB-X; Mini-Moog; and Taurus pedal synthesizers, vocals
  • Alex Lifeson - Six and twelve string electric and acoustic guitars, Taurus pedals
  • Neil Peart - Drum kit, timbales, gong bass drums, orchestra bells, glockenspiel, wind chimes, bell tree, crotales, cowbells, plywood



  • Ray, Rhonda, L.B., Terry Brown (as Dear Olde Broon) (a great mind thinks alike), happy birthday Ms. Broon (wrong again, eh, Hovis!)
  • Tama, Avedis Zildjian, and Rickenbacker - Continuing appreciation to the people and products

  • Albert, Huey, Dewey, and Louie - Mixing companions
  • Featuring Daisy as "Ski Bane"
  • Coolidge dog painting from the Archives of Brown & Bigelow, St. Paul, Minnesota
  • 'Red Barchetta' inspired by 'A Nice Morning Drive' by Richard S. Foster
  • Executive Production by Moon Records
  • Correspondance: P.O. Box 640, Thornhill, Ontario, Canada L3T 4A5


Moving Pictures became the band's biggest selling album in the U.S., hitting #3, and remains the band's most popular and commercially successful studio recording to date. The album was certified quadruple-platinum with four million copies sold as of January 27, 1995.

Country Chart Position Date
U.S. Top LPs & Tapes (Billboard 200) 3
U.K. Albums Top 100 3 February 21, 1981
Canada RPM 50 Albums 1 April 4, 1981
Netherlands GfK Dutch Album Top 100 19 July 3, 1981
Norway VG-lista Topp 40 Album 34 March 9, 1981
Sweden Sverigetopplisten Albums Top 60 32 February 27, 1981


Country Organization Sales Date
U.S. RIAA Gold (500,000) April 13, 1981
U.S. RIAA Platinum (1,000,000) April 27, 1981
U.S. RIAA 2x Platinum (2,000,000) October 12, 1984
U.S. RIAA 4x Platinum (4,000,000) January 27, 1995
U.K. BPI Silver (60,000) February 24, 1981
Canada CRIA 4x Platinum (400,000)


Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs issued a Gold CD remaster in 1992 that is currently out of print (the USA version was also released in a special longbox version).

The German (800 048-2) and Canadian (ANC-1-1030) issues were also released in blister packages.

A Mercury Records remaster was issued in 1997.

  • The tray has a picture of three fingerprints, light blue, pink, and lime green (left to right) with "The Rush Remasters" printed in all capital letters just to the left. All remasters from Moving Pictures through A Show Of Hands feature this logo, originally found on the cover art of Retrospective II.
  • The remastered CD restores all of the original artwork found on the vinyl copy of the album as well as the lyrics, and includes the moving picture of drummer Neil Peart which was missing on the original CD issue.

The first pressings of Moving Pictures on compact disc were missing the first beat of "Tom Sawyer" by mistake. This was corrected in subsequent CD releases.

Compact DiscEdit

Country Label Catalog Year
United States Mercury 800 048-2 1984
United States Mercury P2-00048 1984
United States Mercury P2-34631 1997
United States Mercury 314 534 631-2 1997
United States Mercury D-114681
United States Mercury D-118809
United States Mercury UDCD-569 1992
Canada Anthem ANMD-1082 1997
Canada Anthem VANK-1030
Canada Anthem ANMD-1030
Canada Anthem ANC-1-1030
Canada Anthem ANK-1030
Canada Anthem 522664T
Argentina Mercury 800 048-2
Brazil Mercury 800 048-2
Brazil Mercury 534 631-2
Brazil Mercury 314 534 631-2
France Mercury 800 048-2
Germany Mercury 534 631-2
Germany Mercury 800 048-2 1987
Japan Epic/Sony 25-8P-5076 1988
Japan Atlantic AMCY-289 1991
Japan Atlantic AMCY-2296 1997
Japan Warner WPCR-13479 2009
Japan Yukimu UDCD-569
Russia RDRCD-081
United Kingdom Mercury 534 631-2


Country Label Catalog Year
United States Mercury SRM-1-4013 1981
Canada Anthem ANR-1-1030 1981
Columbia Mercury 6337-160 1981
Netherlands Mercury 6337-160 1981
Sweden Mercury 6337-160
Japan Epic/Sony 25-3P-2611 1981
United Kingdom Mercury 6337-160 1981

Cassette Tape Edit

Country Label Catalog Year
United States Mercury 314 534 631-4 1981
United States Mercury 822 549-4 1981
United States Mercury MCR4 1-4031 1981
Canada Anthem 4AN-1-1030

8-Track Edit

Country Label Catalog Year
Canada Anthem 8AN-1-1030


  • Released: February 1981
  • Written by: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson & Neil Peart
  • Produced by: Rush and Terry Brown
  • Chart positions: #55 US Hot 100, #4 US Mainstream Rock
"Tom Sawyer"
  • Released: October 1981
  • Written by: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart & Pye Dubois
  • Produced by: Rush and Terry Brown
  • Chart positions: #44 US Hot 100, #8 US Mainstream Rock, #25 UK
"Vital Signs"
  • Released: March 1981 (Europe)
  • Written by: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson & Neil Peart
  • Produced by: Rush and Terry Brown
  • Chart positions: #41 UK