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Exit...Stage Left is a live album by Canadian band Rush, released in 1981. A video release of the same name, with slightly different content, was released in 1982 on VHS and later on LaserDisc, and in 2007 on DVD.

The album was voted 9th best live album of all time in a poll by Classic Rock Magazine in 2004.[3]

Album editing and changes[]

The first, third, and fourth sides of the original vinyl issue were recorded in Canada during the Moving Pictures tour, while the second side was recorded in the UK during the Permanent Waves tour.

The original CD issue removed "A Passage to Bangkok", as CDs could only hold 75 minutes at the time. It was included on the 1997 remaster, as CD capacity had increased to 80 minutes by that time. Before the remastered version was released, the same live version of "A Passage to Bangkok" was released on the compilation Chronicles in 1990.

Track listing[]

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

Side one
1."The Spirit of Radio"5:11
2."Red Barchetta"6:46
3."YYZ" (Lee, Peart; includes a Peart drum solo)7:43
Side two
4."A Passage to Bangkok"3:45
5."Closer to the Heart" (Lifeson, Lee, Peart, Peter Talbot)3:08
6."Beneath, Between & Behind" (Lifeson, Peart)2:34
7."Jacob's Ladder"8:46
Side three
8."Broon's Bane" (Lifeson)1:37
9."The Trees"4:50
Side four
12."Tom Sawyer" (Lifeson, Lee, Peart, Pye Dubois)4:59
13."La Villa Strangiato"9:37

Live changes from studio versions[]

"YYZ" is extended from 4:24 (studio version) to 7:45 by a Neil Peart drum solo from 2:22 to 5:31. The second verse of "Beneath, Between, & Behind" is omitted. On "La Villa Strangiato," the introductory classical guitar solo from the original recording is played on electric guitar and doubled in length, Lee sings part of a nursery rhyme in Yiddish[4] during the "Danforth and Pape" section (the liner notes include a translation of his words), and a short bass and percussion solo is added before the "Monsters! (Reprise)" section.


Title and cover art[]

The title comes from the catchphrase of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon character Snagglepuss. The term "stage left" is a stage direction used in blocking to identify the left side of a theater from the point of view of the performer, as opposed to the point of view of the audience.

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The whole title came from a character in an American cartoon called Snagglepuss. He's a great little creature, a lion, and every time there's trouble he flees, uttering 'Exit...stage left' or 'Exit...stage right'. But the fact of the matter was that the album cover picture was taken from stage left. And coincidentally that's the direction in which Snagglepuss runs most of the time.

— Geddy Lee, Sounds magazine No. 66, November 1981

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We wanted to have Snagglepuss's tail on there. You know, 'Exit Stage Left', with a picture of just his tail. Forget it! They wanted all kinds of legal hassles and tons of money.

— Neil Peart, Jam! Showbiz, October 16, 1996

An item from each of Rush's previous eight studio album covers can be seen on the front and back cover of this live album, though each has been modified in some way. The snowy owl from Fly by Night flies above Apollo, the man in the suit from Hemispheres, who stands next to Paula Turnbull, the woman from Permanent Waves.[5] The puppet king from A Farewell to Kings sits atop a box stenciled with the band logo from Rush. Next to him is a painting of the Caress of Steel album cover, held by one of the movers from Moving Pictures, with another mover standing behind. Next to this is Dionysus, the nude man from Hemispheres. Behind this scene, the starman from 2112 hangs in the background, next to an "EXIT" sign. The scene was shot in Toronto's then-abandoned Winter Garden Theatre.

Rush's first live album, All the World's a Stage, is also represented by the cover's background image, taken at a concert at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo, New York. Both album covers show Rush's live setup on an empty stage, although the band no longer used the white carpet by the time of Exit...Stage Left's release.


Album - Billboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
1981 Billboard Top LPs & Tapes 10


A Passage to Bangkok / Freewill (USA 12" promo)

Closer to the Heart / Freewill (USA 7") (#69 Billboard Hot 100; #21 US Mainstream Rock)

Closer to the Heart / The Trees (UK 7")

Tom Sawyer / A Passage to Bangkok (UK 7")

Tom Sawyer / Red Barchetta / A Passage to Bangkok (UK 12")

Remaster details[]

Exit... Stage Left was re-released on CD in 1997 as part of the "Rush Remasters" series.

  • The tray has a picture of three fingerprints, light blue, pink, and lime green (left to right, mirroring the cover art of Retrospective II) with "The Rush Remasters" printed in all capital letters just to the left. All remasters from Moving Pictures through A Show of Hands are like this.
  • Includes the track "A Passage to Bangkok" which was left off the original CD issue due to time constraints.

Exit... Stage Left was remastered again in 2011 by Andy VanDette for the "Sector" box sets, which re-released all of Rush's Mercury-era albums. Exit... Stage Left is included in the Sector 2 set.[6]

Exit... Stage Left was remastered for vinyl in 2015 by Sean Magee at Abbey Road Studios as a part of the official "12 Months of Rush" promotion.[7] The high definition master prepared for this release was also made available for purchase in a 24-bit/48 kHz digital format at several high-resolution audio online music stores. These remasters have significantly less dynamic range compression than the 1997 remasters and the "Sector" remasters by Andy VanDette. Sean Magee remastered the audio from an analog copy of the original digital master, using a 192 kHz sample rate. But since Exit... Stage Left was originally mixed on digital equipment at 16-bit/44.1 kHz, no audio above 22 kHz exists in the original digital master or any of the remasters, which is why many digital music stores are only selling the album at a maximum sample rate of 48 kHz.[8]


  1. Allmusic review
  2. Rolling Stone review
  3. BBC News Entertainment Thin Lizzy top live album poll Accessed 16 April 2006.
  4. "Patty-cake, patty cake, Mother's going to buy you shoes, Father's going to buy you socks, Baby's going to have red cheeks."Notes on Exit...Stage Left linernotes". Power Windows (Rush tribute page). Retrieved 08/01/2012. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  5. "Permanent Waves Album Cover Details Explained". November 29, 2009. Retrieved July 3, 2014.
  7. "12 MONTHS OF RUSH: 14 ALBUMS FROM MERCURY ERA FOR RELEASE IN 2015". Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  8. "Rush - new 2015 vinyl and hi-res reissues thread". Steve Hoffman Music Forums. Retrieved 10 July 2015.