Sound — 8
You could basically take most of the elements of the later Rush albums and trace them back to thier humble beginnings in this solid record. Almost suprisingly, the overall production of the album is crisp and clear, with no instrument mixing into each other. Also present at this early stage besides the basic Rush feel is their supberb musicianship. Lifeson, Lee, and Rutsey all have thier chops and showcase them in a head-on way, while still trying to find thier niche and sound. Basically, it's a skeleton of what the band would turn into. At this time, they're here to showcase bluesy rock with (for lack of better words) thier signature progressive style - taking what other bands at the time and innovating for themselves.
Lyrics — 7
Since Peart is not here, the lyrics are, well, bland. I suppose for then they were ok, but when you listen to what the lyrics really are, you can't help but feel that they aren't creative. In fact, they felt very last-minute and tacked on (Rumour has it that was so). Even for the music, they don't share a whole lot of connectivity. The only lyrics that venture beyond the basic spectrum of rock belong to "Here Again", easily trademarked by Rush. What makes up for this is Geddy's vocal skills. Man, he still sounds great today and delivers great on this album.
Overall Impression — 9
It's difficult to really dislike this album. The basic feel of it is inviting, and it should be an album that can stand the test of time. Easily the best tracks are the epics "Here Again" and the classic "Working Man". Even though many would have you think it's very generic, it is a record you can play over and over again and almost never get tired of it. This album provided the leap Rush needed at the time; so if you can't give it listening respect, at least pay your respects for it. I can't say it enough: it's just a great listen.