There is probably no other group that has as a fanatical a following as Rush. It seems like there’s no in-between with the band – you either love them or hate them, intensely. There’s no denying that Rush has had some huge hits though, and “Tom Sawyer” is one of their biggest. Here’s the isolated guitar track from the song. Listen for the following:
1. The guitar uses the same sound throughout the song. It’s a big stereo chorus that takes up a lot of space. In a power trio there are fewer instruments and mix elements so you have to make each one bigger in the mix and that’s what happens here.
2. There’s also a room reverb with a short decay on the guitar. It may even be the original room ambience.
3. The guitar solo is clearly an overdub with a slightly different sound. It doubles with the original guitar at the end of the solo and again at the end of the song.
4. As you’d expect, Alex Lifeson plays with extreme precision, although there are a few notes here and there that are ever so slightly rushed (like in the outro). Boy, you have to be pretty picky to even hear or care about them, and certainly you never hear them in the context of the mix. That said, this was an amazingly precise performance given the time it was recorded in (1980) and the tape technology that was in use.